I had the opportunity to interview author Richard Paolinelli. He’s the creator of the Jack Del Rio series as well as a science fiction and mystery author.

Tamara Wilhite: Your novel Escaping Infinity was a Dragon Award finalist in 2017. It won several other awards, as well. What do you think made it so popular in that regard?

Richard Paolinelli: Because it was like nothing else out there. One of the reviewers of the book stated that “it was one of the most original sci-fi novels he’d ever read.” It really could have been classified in any number of genres and/or sub-genres. There were elements of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mystery, thriller and even a touch of western. While it was not what you would call Christian fiction, and it was never intended to be one, there were theological themes within it. In fact, I’ve been adopted by a number of religious groups who are absolutely certain that I must have been raised in their faith after reading this book.

But at the heart of it, the story is a mystery for the reader to try and solve along with the main character. It also spoke to the reader that no matter how bad things were, no matter how devastating your mistake, there is always a chance at redemption for everyone who seeks it.


Tamara Wilhite: When the Gods Fell starts with a Mars mission and turns into an interplanetary war with de facto gods. How would you classify it?

Richard Paolinelli: To be honest, I’m still trying to figure it out myself. The closest I can come is to consider it alternate history/sci-fi/fantasy based on this question: What if the Ancient Astronaut theories actually are true? Starting with that premise I tried working out how it would have played out back then. What would the possible impact be for us today if it turned out our “gods” were actually our ancestors. What if the war that ultimately destroyed them and their world still had one last battle left to be fought millions of years later. As the series progresses, we’re going to find out the answers. At least, the ones I came up with.


Tamara Wilhite: It seems like you’ve written a lot of adventure-science fiction-fantasy crossovers. I’d put The Timeless novels in this category. How would you describe the series?

Richard Paolinelli: Time-travelling steampunk pirates in space! This has been a fun series of novellas to write because it was created in part along with my eldest grandson. I wanted to write a series that someone his age could read and enjoy as well as older readers too. It’s been a rewarding challenge to strike that balance between the younger and older readers so that both can be entertained. It will be a six-part series and the third installment is due out around Thanksgiving.

The surprising aspect is who has taken over as the primary character. Originally Captain Rock Congo of the ship, Timeless, and the renowned interstellar thief, Duchess Moran, were supposed to be the main characters. But it seems the Timeless’ First Mate, Little John Singapore, has decided to run the show and he’s doing such a good job of it, I’m letting him.  But basically, Congo, Singapore and the crew of the Timeless have been blackmailed into going after Moran by the authorities. She has tired of the Earth-led Alliance getting in the way of her plans and has decided to go back in time to change Earth’s history and hopefully eliminate the Alliance before it begins.

Timeless will chase Moran to ancient Sparta, Egypt, the Norse-held lands in the time of the Vikings, the early days of China and beyond. Each story begins with Singapore telling young journalist Jamison Carver about the pursuit from his prison cell on Pluto where he awaits execution as a pirate. I’d like to add that Carver is another character that has managed to shoehorn his way into a larger role in the series too.


Tamara Wilhite: Is your novel Reservations mystery, fantasy, thriller or some combination thereof?

Richard Paolinelli: It’s more of a pure mystery/political thriller and the remaining books in the series are political thrillers. There is a dose of fantasy in Reservations via the lore and legends of the Navajo, Zuni and Hopi tribes that are involved in the story. But this is a solidly down-to-earth novel.


Tamara Wilhite: I’ve read your story in the anthology To Be Men. You have stories in everything from Sherlock Holmes collections to urban fantasy. What is your favorite genre to write? 

Richard Paolinelli: I’d have to say sci-fi because I can let my imagination have free reign and not worry about real-world limitations for the most part. But to be honest I really enjoy writing in all of the genres I’ve been published in. I thought writing a pure western novel would be difficult but I was very pleased with how The Last Lonely Trail turned out. Of course, it helped having an established western co-author, Jim Christina, to write it with. I’m in a zombie anthology that is coming out on Nov. 15th, Places Outside The Wild, and no one is more surprised than me that I attempted to write a zombie story. I suppose I should put the tagline “Have Genre, Will Write It” somewhere on my website at this rate.


Tamara Wilhite: And how many short stories do you think you’ve published to date?

Richard Paolinelli: Around twenty that have either been published, are soon to be released or have run on my 1K Weekly Serials page on my blog. When I started back into fiction writing six years ago the one thing I never expected was to be writing Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Now I have three published with a fourth coming out in the next month or two. One of my stories was selected for a special “The Art of Sherlock Holmes, USA Edition 1” hardcover book. My story was given to an artist who created a painting inspired by my story. It’s both a humbling and very exciting experience to see a piece of art and know that it was something that you wrote, something that you created, that helped bring this new work of art into the world.


Tamara Wilhite: Can you explain what the Divine Trolls Comedies are?

Richard Paolinelli:  A chance to try my hand at satire and parody and send a warning shot across the bow to some folks online who needed to understand it was time for them to consider the error of their ways. Fortunately they got the message and I didn’t need to write the fourth novella of that series. Sometimes, a public spanking is required when a word in private fails to correct bad behavior.


Tamara Wilhite: What are you working on now?

Richard Paolinelli: Well, my publishing company, Tuscany Bay Books, just picked up the rights to the Planetary Anthology Series from Superversive Press. So I am working on getting the first five books (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter) ready to be re-released in February while we release the next three books in the series (Pluto, Luna, Uranus) over the next few months. We hope to release the final three (Sol, Neptune, Saturn) shortly after the re-released first five.

Writing wise, I am working on the next Timeless book, Odin’s Runes, and the novelization of Seadragon, the comic book I was the lead writer for back in 1986. Then I have a novel in a series that John C. Wright is developing. So I have a very full plate right now.

And I also have a podcast, A Scribe’s Journey, that we just wrapped up the first season on, fortunately giving me a three-month window to deal with my suddenly very busy schedule. We resume the show in February.


Tamara Wilhite: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Richard Paolinelli: Just that I’d like to thank you for interviewing me and I’d like to thank the reader for reading this and getting to know a little bit about me and my work. At the end of the day, I am a storyteller. The greatest reward I can receive is when someone reads something I have written and enjoyed every minute of the time they spent doing so.