04 August 2011

Interview with Paul McDonnold, author of The Economics of Ego Surplus - A Novel of Economic Terrorism

In June 2011 I reviewed the Economics of Ego Surplus - A Novel of Economic Terrorism, written by Paul McDonnold. Paul has been kind enough to touch base with me again today from Dallas Texas, to answer a few questions.

How have members of the academic community responded to your book, The Economics of Ego Surplus?
A few economics blogs and teachers have given me valuable promotion, but most of the marketing I've done so far has been to the general reading public. That seems to be where I am getting the most response. At some point I would like to market the novel to high school and maybe college economics teachers for use in their classes, and possibly develop a study guide to go along with it. But that is still down the road.

Have you had any feedback from past students? Do you miss teaching?
It's been several years now since I taught, and I haven't heard from any past students about the book. I definitely miss some aspects of teaching, like getting to know the students. Some other aspects I don't miss so much (i.e. low pay, particularly for part-time teaching). Teaching is important work that requires a lot of attention. It is difficult to do on a part-time basis, at least for me, so I haven't gone back to it.

Have there been any recent events that have inspired new ideas for a future novel?
I do have an idea for a new Kyle Linwood novel which is just in the formative stage, so I don't want to say too much. I am also revising a novella I wrote several years ago (5 Pillars, 7 Sins) which introduced Kyle Linwood. It is where the flashback scene in The Economics of Ego Surplus (TEES) comes from. I am planning to release it as a free e-book to help promote TEES.

What's your take on what's happening in Greece right now? What advice would you give their decision makers?
The problem is that Greece's policy of funding their government by taking on debt has worked its way into the culture. People have lost private initiative. They expect the government to shell out the benefits, but they don't want to pay the taxes it would take to cover it. There was a good article on this a few days ago in the New York Times ("Can Greeks Become Germans?"). We have a similar problem in the U.S. We have gotten used to government benefits like Medicare, but we don't want to pay the taxes it would take to keep them going. What is needed, it seems to me, is not just policy change but cultural change, so that we can willingly give up some benefits and/or be willing to pay more taxes to keep them going. Either option requires sacrifice, which no one seems to want to do.

What kind of workspace do you prefer to write in? Do you have any quirky habits you're willing to share?
I have a basic home office. Sometimes the solitude of writing gets to me, so I like to take my laptop to, for instance, a coffee shop at the mall and work with the activity all around!

Can you tell us anything about your novella 5 Pillars, 7 Sins, coming in 2011?
It's a story I wrote several years back and self published without working with an editor or anything. The openness of modern publishing is a two-edged sword because it can tempt a new writer to put work out there that might not be as good as it could be. That was the case with 5 Pillars, 7 Sins, so I pulled it from publication for some revising and editing.

With The Economics of Ego Surplus, I spoke to traditional publishers first and then went through a pretty heavy editing and revision process. Finally I decided to release it through a publishing company I formed myself (Starving Analyst Press) so I could get it out sooner and have a little more creative and royalty control. Also I just enjoy going the entrepreneurial route. It takes patience, not having a big publisher's resources behind you, but blogs like yours are doing good work helping books find audiences outside the traditional system.

What are you currently working on?
The new Kyle Linwood novel I mentioned before is in the very early stages. Other than that I have business clients I write things for (brochures, etc.), and am trying to get 5 Pillars, 7 Sins ready to re-release. And I occasionally get a chance to write a newspaper or magazine article.

What's the best book you've read in the last 12 months?
Good question! I read a copy of The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) which was making the rounds among some of my relatives. That was good. I am reading a couple of books now. One is The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini), which I have heard about for some time, but am only now getting around to reading.

The other is a non-fiction collection of letters written by an American Civil War era family in the South, The Children of Pride (Robert Manson Myers). Together the letters give you an intimate view of those turbulent times.

Anything else you'd like to tell your readers?
Just that if you liked the novel, spread the word. Thanks for having me!

Would you like to comment?

  1. I think it would be hard to write in a mall. You could people watch and get ideas of how characters act. However, it would be hard for me to actually get work done and not just stare.

  2. I'm not sure about writing, but I definitely enjoy reading in a cafe, or in a public area with lots of activity going on all around me. (Occasionally I do end up 'people watching' for a while though).

    Sometimes it's just nice to be out in public for a change of scenery.


Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!