Paul Hari Deepan was born in Port-of-Spain Trinidad, and was
England, Trinidad, and Canada. He spent most of his career in
the pharmaceutical industry before becoming a writer.
He currently lives with his family near Nashville, Tennessee,
and volunteers as a reading mentor in the Metropolitan Nashville
school system via the PENCIL organization.
THE FRUIT OF THE DENDRAGON TREE, which won an Editorís Choice
Award at the San Diego State University Writerís Conference, is
his first novel.
Partial proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to
organizations supporting Breast Cancer research, treatment, and
education. More information on this initiative, about the
author, and the novel can be found by visiting Paulís website at
PageOneLit.com: Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a part
of your life? Who were your earliest influences and why?
Paul H. Deepan: I grew up in Trinidad, England and Canada, and yes,
reading and writing was always a big part of my life. My earliest
influence was C.S. Lewis' The Narnia Chronicles, and J.R.R. Tolkien's
The Hobbit, which were read aloud to our class at Dunross School in
Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad, by Mrs. Ross, our English teacher. Mrs. Ross
was a larger than life English lady who had a great "BBC" voice, and she
did all the accents necessary to make the characters come to vivid life.
Another influence was likely V.S. Naipaul, my father's cousin, who was
held in great esteem by my family. When I would do short stories for
school, it was often "that's a phrase worthy of Naipaul," so it was
pretty early on that I learned that "being a writer" was something
pretty special. Of course, when Sir Vidia went on to win the Nobel Prize
for literature, that just punctuated the whole notion of what a writer
could be to the world.
PageOneLit.com: Why do you write?
Paul H. Deepan: I suspect that like most writers I just can't help
myself. I seem to be addicted to the process of story-telling, whether
as a composer or a reader. It's not a very edifying response, but it may
be the one closest to the truth. As well, I've come to understand that
most people use their career or vocation as an opportunity to tell their
own stories, and writing seems to be the most direct way to share my
own story with the world.
PageoneLit.com: Briefly discuss your book new book The Fruit of the
Dendragon Tree. Where did this story come from?
Paul H. Deepan: At one level, The Fruit of the Dendragon Tree is a
Fantasy quest with a twist (and to discover the "twist" you'll have to
read the book). At a deeper level, it's a story about family
relationships: mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, mothers and
daughters, and, for me especially, fathers and sons. Certainly it
springs from the very loving relationship I had with my own Dad, and my
desire to be a similar influence in my own sons' lives as he was in
mine. It's also a spiritual story about life and death. The basic
premise of the protagonist, Jake, is that death of a loved one is to be
avoided at all costs. But as Jake evolves in the story he comes to
understand that dying is not always such a bad thing when compared to
certain alternatives of "not dying," such as being a vampire, or a
PageOneLit.com: Explain the title
Paul H. Deepan: The Fruit of the Dendragon Tree as it relates to the
The fruit of the Dendragon tree is central to the plot. It is this fruit
which will allow the protagonist, 17-year-old Jake, to save his Mom's
life, which is his basic desire in the story. But the price of this life
is death for many others, and the decision that Jake has to make at the
end, regarding who gets the fruit, is central to his growth as a
PageOneLit.com: What is it about the fantasy fiction genre you enjoy and
Paul H. Deepan: It's interesting to me, in answering this question, that
I don't read a lot of Fantasy per se. I tend to be somewhat addicted to
British murder mysteries (thanks for nothing, Elizabeth George). However
most of my all-time favorite books come from the Fantasy genre. The
Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, The Narnia Chronicles, Ursula K. LeGuin's Wizard of Earthsea books (which I came to relatively late),
almost anything to do with the Arthurian legends, but most especially
Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy (which is arguably not fantasy, but which
I tend to classify as such) have all informed my storytelling, as has
Frank Herbert's Dune trilogy, and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. I
think for me Fantasy affords the opportunity for nuanced (or even
blatant) social and spiritual commentary; inventing a new world is a way
of getting this done without the reader noticing she is being preached
PageOneLit.com: Partial proceeds from the sale of The Fruit of the
Dendragon Tree will be donated to organizations supporting Breast Cancer
Paul H. Deepan: This was a very eerie part of the writing process. My
protagonist Jake, is seventeen, and his mother has breast cancer. The
name Jake came from my older son's middle name, which is Jacob. After I
wrote The Fruit of the Dendragon Tree, my son turned seventeen, and my
wife was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. So she went through the whole
surgery, chemotherapy and radiation regimen that I gave Jake's mother
Mary in my book. We lived this rigorous therapeutic journey as a family,
and although the outcome has been positive for my wife, it isn't for
everyone. Breast Cancer touches the lives of 1 woman in 8 in the US. And
their families and loved ones. It's a much more treatable disease than
it used to be, but it's still a tough road for anybody. Anything I can
do to help with research is a good thing, I think.
PageOneLit.com: The Fruit of the Dendragon Tree won an Editor's Choice
Award at the San Diego State University Writer's Conference -- How does
that make a first time novelist feel? Congratulations on the award!
Paul H. Deepan: Thank you! This was an incredibly affirming experience.
At any time, I think when you are struggling to be established, and a
bona fide industry pro gives you this kind of attention, it's very
positive. The man who nominated me, Jim Minz, is an editor for Baen
books, which as he describes it, is a real "in your face" Sci-Fi house.
Before my appointment with him, a couple of people at the conference had
already received feedback from Jim that was, shall we say, less than
complimentary. Trying to be kind, they warned me to not be too
devastated by what he said. So I sat down with Jim, and he looks me in
the eye and says "This is the best F@8*ing submission I've read at a
F#@#ing writer's conference in F*&%ing forever."
With apologies to WInston Churchill: Never has so much profanity meant
so much to so few.
PageOneLit.com: What do you hope to achieve with Paul H. Deepan: The Fruit of the Dendragon Tree?
Well, obviously I'd like enough people to read it so that I can become
established as a writer with real influence. If enough people read the
book, I'll also be able to make a significant contribution to the breast
cancer charities I support. But in a funny way, just having written a
novel that people who don't even know me are now reading is a real
accomplishment, and I'm very grateful that I was able to finish this
work and bring it to life so that others could read it, and not just me
and a few close friends.
PageOneLit.com: What was the last book you read?
Paul H. Deepan: I have a habit of reading books over and over again, so
I must confess that I just finished re-reading T.H. White's The Once and
Future King. That's a great interpretation of the Arthurian legend, and
White has so much psychological insight into people it's not even funny.
To have spawned derivative stories like Camelot (and even Spamelot) is
quite a tribute too
PageOneLit.com: What's next?
I'm working on the sequel to Dendragon, which is to be called The King
of Tiramonde. I'm already feeling some pressure to get this done, as
there are some readers who have already said they've really liked the
characters I drew in Dendragon, and that they "can't wait to read the
sequel." I think as a new writer you try to prepare yourself for the
scenario where nobody likes your book. But the other problem to have of
course is where a lot of people like your book, and they want more.
PageOneLit.com: Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they
enhance your writing?
Paul H. Deepan: I read a lot. And, apart from writing itself, I think
reading is the best preparation for writing. But I also spend a fair
amount of my spare time working out, especially swimming. There's
something very meditative for me about swimming. For one thing, the
rhythmic breathing that is such a focus in meditation is very important.
I lose myself when I swim in much the same way that I lose myself when I
write. It's very healing to get out of your own way, and swimming lets
me do this. I write my best when I lose myself, when it feels like it's
not even me that's doing the writing. And I think that swimming helps me
practice this letting go.