Author Interview: Paul W. Feenstra - NZ Historical Writer

Today I’m chatting with New Zealand historical writer Paul W. Feenstra. Paul wrote his first historical, For Want of a Shilling, in 2013 and as of 2021 has written 6 novels and 1 book of short-stories, Gunpowder Green, which I'll be discussing today.

Gunpowder Green – historical fiction – story stories by Paul W. Feenstra

Kura: Welcome, Paul, firstly I have to say I was really captivated by the title of this short story collection. Gunpowder Green has such an appealing ring to me. Obviously it hints at times gone-by, but also it created a question in my mind, ‘What can gunpowder green mean?’ I thought that a clever hook.
Anyway, let’s move on to the topic at hand. Historical fiction is a popular genre in NZ, but what about historicals drove or inspired you to write in that genre?

Paul: I love the challenge of research, and then developing a style that captivates the reader that is true to the time period. Some call this 'Faction', where fiction is woven through real historical events.

Kura: ‘Faction’, I like that term! I admit while I like the idea of writing historical, I’m a bit intimidated by having to “get things right”, if you know what I mean. That sounds like a lot of extra work on top the writing! What was your favourite and least favourite part in researching for the novel?

Paul: Not being able to easily find answers to questions. The internet provides so much, but not a lot about history as it relates to daily living. Most information on the internet is current, (relatively speaking) If I want to know how to treat a cold in 1840, I don't want the answer as it applies to the year 2021, I want to know what people did back then. That type of research is challenging.

Kura: That’s a good point. And, yeah, I suspected as much – it all means extra work! You mentioned developing a style that captivates. Can you elaborate? How would you describe your writing style within historical fiction?

Paul: My novels are written with commercial success in mind. That means, they move quickly, they are descriptive, and character driven.

Kura: I like the sound of that. Fast moving plots and character driven stories are just my cup of tea. And what are the stories collected within Gunpowder Green about?

Paul: In the tradition of iconic Kiwi short-stories, Gunpowder Green is a nostalgic look into New Zealand’s unique and colourful past. Light-hearted, humorous and even thought provoking, each story is varied and highlights New Zealand rural living, a diverse culture and a forgotten yet very familiar lifestyle. The stories are varied and best suited for a general audience.

Kura: That sounds really entertaining. Another one for my ever-increasing to be read pile, for sure.
Now, while I know you didn’t exactly set out to become a writer, however, what Top 3 Tips would you give to others starting the self-publishing journey that you wished you knew when you started?


1. Learn about marketing 

2. Shelve your ego and listen 

3. Be objective.

Kura: That is some very solid advice, Paul. Thank you for sharing your insights, and Thanks to everyone for joining us by reading this interview.

And to let everyone know, you can find Gunpowder Green in all the usual places, ebook online at Amazon, and available throughout NZ in many independent book stores, including PaperPlus

But a wee tip from Paul is: if you want a print edition then he recommends purchase Gunpowder Green from MightyApe because it’s faster and cheaper.

New Zealand historical writer Paul W. Feenstra

About the author: 

Paul W. Feenstra credits a freak tennis accident resulting in his Achilles tendon snapping with him discovering a passion for writing. During the 7 month recovery Paul found himself questioning, “Did I want to continue to commute to, and work in Hollywood? Or was I destined for better things, here in New Zealand?” Paul decided to write a book and walking around Wellington's bays, he encountered a peculiar and very old, pre-WWII structure. That discovery would ultimately lead to his first historical fiction novel, For Want of a Shilling. To learn more about Paul and his books, please visit Paul W. Feenstra’s website.


Gunpowder Green, Short story collection by New Zealand historical writer Paul W. Feenstra

About the Interviewer:
Kura Carpenter is an award-winning writer based in Dunedin. She is currently working on a Cosy Mystery series with a paranormal twist. Kura is also a professional graphic designer and at her website The Book Carpenter provides NZ writers with Independent Publishing services and advice.

Top Three Ways to Support Local Writers for FREE

I get it, books are expensive. As much as you want to buy books, there’s bills to pay, kids to be feed, and you’d really like a pair of sneakers without holes so you can walk your dog through puddles without having squelchy socks afterwards – or is that just me?

So you might have found yourself asking: 

How can I support local authors for free? 

Good news, there is a number of easy ways that you can help your favourite local authors without spending cold hard cash. 

Here's my Top 3 Ways to Support Local Writers for FREE 


Number 1: Visit Your Local Library.

Libraries want to provide books that their members – that’s You – want to read.
And speaking from personal experience Libraries are extremely supportive of local authors.

[I am certainly Thankful to my local library the Dunedin Public Library for all the support they’ve given me and my fellow Dunedin Speculative Fiction Writers as pictured below]

The DPL Hosts Dunedin Speculative Fiction Writers' Panel "Genre8: Flights of Fantasy"

So go in and find out if your local library stocks the books of your local author – if not, find out how you go about recommending a book. Yes, that’s right, You can recommend books to libraries!

And when they get the book in, or if they all ready have the book on the shelf BORROW it. 

The Dunedin Public Libraries display a Collection of Local Authors books acquired during 2018

This may seem obvious, but actually borrowing a book from a library helps your favourite local author because here’s the thing, libraries keep stats on how many times books are read and authors get paid via a library fund system if their book reaches a certain threshold.

So if you feel badly that you can’t afford to buy a book, by actively borrowing those books from libraries you are still helping your local author. Win-win.

And you know what? Even though you don’t own the book, You can still write a review for the book on Goodreads.

Number 2: Join Goodreads.

What’s Goodreads? I’m glad you asked...
"Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers and book recommendations. Our mission is to help people find and share books they love."
After joining go look up your favourite authors and hit the Follow Button on their author profile page. As per the example below of local Dunedin writer Deb E Howell:

Then go through their books and add them to your hypothetical To-Be-Read pile by clicking the Want to Read button.

If you’ve already read those books even better, Click Read, and give a star rating.

Undoubtedly the best thing and most supportive is to Write A Review at this stage. A star rating is nice, but reviews get noticed, reviews count, reviews are worth three times their weight in gold.

Relax though, this isn’t hard.

Reviews don’t have to be a grandiose statement of delightful prose discussing the finer points of theme, whimsy and narrative arc versus narrative drive. They can be, but they don’t have to be.

A review can be a comment “I enjoyed this book a lot”. You’re not expected to write an essay, this isn’t a school report, just say what appealed to you. Was it funny? Sad? Who was your favourite character? Do you want to read their next book?

Trust me, Writers love feedback. Think about it, have you even had a compliment from a stranger? It makes your day, right? Same for writers. Even a simple line like, “This book made me see my city in a whole new light” will make an author’s day. Your single line review might be the difference between someone giving up or not. Seriously. You have that power.

example of a brief review that made my day :)
[By the way, If you do want to learn how to write reviews, read my Guide: How to Write A Book Review ]

Number 3: Social Media.

But maybe you’re not a member of Goodreads, maybe you don’t read all that much and just want to help your writer friend.

Well, even in this high-tech-age, it turns out that good old-fashioned ‘Word-of-Mouth’ is still valid and helpful way to support local authors, and Thanks to Social Media it’s easier than ever.

Take a photo of their book (which you borrowed from the library, or saw on the shelf in a bookshop, or perhaps you did buy a copy) and share that photo of the book cover on Your social media.

Maybe a quick post on Facebook/Instagram with “Here’s a good book I read recently” or “Here’s a book my friend wrote, you might like it” – this is something my friends have done and I’m extremely grateful. 

Look what just arrived!!! I cant wait to start reading your work of art!!!
I have been waiting ages to read this, written by my friend and fellow greyhound owner Kura Carpenter I was definitely not disappointed!! I don't think I've actually read a book so fast, just couldn't put it down. Every page was thoroughly enjoyable. Can't wait to see what comes next, and you don't even have to put a greyhound in it!! 😉😉

Speaking of Social Media, don’t forget: Find your local author friend on various social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc etc and FOLLOW them, but more than that ACTIVELY ENGAGE by liking, commenting and sharing their posts.

So that’s it, my Top Three Ways to Support Local Writers for FREE and none of that was hard, right? No money spent but plenty of support given.

You can do it! And if You have, as one author, may I say Thank You! Thank You, Readers everywhere!
Because at the end of the day Writers and Readers are a partnership, and I for one am grateful to have You on My team.

Now go read something, I’ve writing to do.


Kura Carpenter is a Dunedin Fantasy Author 
and Founding Member of the 

Author Interview: LP Ring

LP Ring author of Long Snake Moan, a Senior Inspector Choi series
LP RING author

Today I’m chatting with LP Ring author of Korean Crime Thriller Senior Inspector Choi series, Ring’s second novel in the series Long Snake Moan is just about to be released in Oct. Available Amazon HERE

Liam, you mention on GoodReads that there are 5 novels in your Senior Inspector Choi series. So, are you a plotter or a pantser? Are these all planned out in advance?

When I started out I knew who the characters were and what would happen to them. I also had an idea of how these events came about and the themes I wanted to discuss within the stories – the crimes being investigated reflect some of my views on society and the importance of a country’s history. However, I freely admit that characters have a habit of doing things I don’t always expect them to do, so it’s entirely possible that Choi and his team might end up not following my plans for them at all. I’ll have to wait and see.

How did you come up with 5 being your ideal series number?

I feel that sometimes a series of novels can go on too far and the stories can become repetitive. Some writers can end up with 10, 15 or 20 novels in a series and the stories and action seem to blend into each other to the point where even hard-core fans are left wondering who was in what story. Also, I’d love to give another genre and character a try before I’m in my dotage – it’s something that we are a lot freer to do in the self-publishing market – so five seems the number at which I’ll have said enough with these people and this situation. I’ll be ready by then for a new set of paintbrushes and a new canvas.

What drew you to writing crime novels?

I was kidded for years by this intellectual snobbery that crime fiction - isn’t as valuable as literary fiction; indeed that snobbery has fallen by the wayside in the last decade with writers like John Banville entering the crime genre. As time has elapsed I’ve realised that the characters in novels like these end up dealing with problems that can happen to anyone in any walk of life.

I’m really interested in social issues and I think that a lot of what irks us about society can be looked at in a crime novel format. Just having these themes within a story will hopefully make people think about issues they ignore on a regular basis. My favourite novel of all time is probably The Secret History by Donna Tartt. She isn’t someone you’d term a crime writer and yet that and her other two novels both feature crimes and criminality as a major motivator.

Long Snake Moan, author LP RING cover designed by Kura Carpenter,
Long Snake Moan
Book 2 in the
Senior Inspector Choi series

What era and city is Long Snake Moan set in?

The novel is set in the modern day in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea is a potentially fantastic subject as it’s a first world country that was decidedly under-developed only 50 years ago. Its history as a former colony as a country riven by civil war also makes it a fascinating study. In addition, its status as a mega-city means that a lot of things go on in it every day – things that can involve an insane number of people. On a more mundane point, Seoul also gets hit by these pretty tough winters sometimes – minus 20 degrees is not uncommon – so choosing the winter as the time of year for the first three in the series gave me the chance to add some claustrophobia to the story.

What part of East Asia were you living in before moving to NZ – is it safe to guess Korea as your novels The Tiger Awakens and Long Snake Moan are set in Korea?

I taught English in Japan for a number of years before moving to South Korea where I taught at a university. That job gave me space to write during the vacations. The winters are long and quite harsh too so there wasn’t much to do outside.

Why did you decide to go the self-publishing route?

I’m my own boss and although that means a lot of extra stuff to do besides writing, I only answer to myself at the end of the day. I had a look at a few publishing companies – quite small, niche ones - and sent off a few query letters (I think it was 4 in the end). I immediately got an automated response from one company that said if you haven’t heard from us in six months, we aren’t interested. It just struck me as incredibly disrespectful, and if the company was going to be like that, even if they were interested in my novels I just wasn’t going to enjoy the overall experience. I’d also seen how people like Hugh Hovey and J.F. Penn had been successful and happy without any publisher backing and thought I’d enjoy the process a lot more just taking care of myself.

What have been some of the hard things to overcome with your self-publishing journey?

Technology can be a major pain. I’m a bit of a technophobe so have found some of that quite tough. I’m using draft2digital at the moment though, and I’ve found that the learning curve isn’t as steep with them. It also gives me a decent ‘time spent to results’ trade off that I’m comfortable with. So I have published two novels so far this year and learned some things along the way.

If you could go back and give yourself tips as a young writer, what would you advise?

Write what you like. Don’t force yourself into writing in a genre you don’t like. It sounds obvious but for example, I’m not a romance kind of guy so my trying to write a romance novel would be absolutely crazy (even though romances are often the most popular sellers in self-publishing). I wasn’t reading the right things when I was younger as well. If you want to write anything - space opera, thriller, harlequin romance… anything, you’ve got to read as much as you can in that genre. You’ll learn how the experts do it and it will gradually filter into what you do. You’ll at least structurally be a better writer for it and have a fair idea of how the experts go about things. You don’t learn to cook or do carpentry from scratch. Writing isn’t any different.

Great advice Liam, Thanks for answering my questions today. I wish you and Senior Inspector Choi all the best for the rest of the series.

Please check out Liam's Latest novel Long Snake Moan on Goodreads.
Or  Long Snake Moan on Amazon
You'll also find him on Twitter: @l_p_ring

Or for more info checkout his Blog LP Ring on Wordpress

And Don't forget his Amazon Author page LP Ring where you'll be able to keep track of the entire series as it progresses.

The Tiger Awakens
Book 1 in the 
Senior Inspector Choi series
by LP Ring