How long does it take to become a published author? More than two years, according to Ken Paiva, 60, Mansfield resident and senior program manager at the General Electric office in Foxboro who published his first novel, “When Night Awakens,” last July.
Paiva took two years to research and write the book, and another six months to secure a publisher. Having written on nights and weekends while working full time, the fruits of Paiva’s labors appear to be well received, holding a 4.6-star rating on Amazon.com.
Paiva said it was a big rush to see his name in print for the first time.
“It’s very gratifying to see something you gave birth to and cultivated over the course of months, even years, come to fruition,” he said. “In truth, though, it is a team effort. Between all the reviewers, rewrites, query letters, and negotiations with the publisher, there are a lot of people who make it possible.”
“When Night Awakens” is a blend of literary and historical fiction, shedding light on The Battle of the Bulge and the human conflict it embodied.
Asked what intrigued him about this specific topic, Paiva explained the more he read and researched World War II, the more layered it became, and after peeling back the layers, a theme that surfaced repeatedly was the internal struggle to maintain humanity in the throes of war.
“This was a topic I found to be only sparsely documented in fictional accounts of World War II,” he added. “I took the concept to a friend who works for Penguin Publishing and he encouraged me to develop the idea. ‘When Night Awakens’ is the end result.”
His style of writing is to place his fictional characters among actual historical events. In this case, he uses a little-known but horrific engagement that took place involving the capture of the small town of Eschdorf, Luxembourg, by American forces. He builds its narrative from there.
The story focuses on a young pregnant woman and her uncle who attempt to leave the German-held town for the safety of their farmhouse in nearby woods. It chronicles their journey and those who cross their path, blurring the ideal of friend versus foe.
Paiva said his earliest influence was author Ken Follett.
“I remember reading ‘Eye of the Needle’ and not being able to put it down; that book was so engrossing,” he said.
Clive Cussler is another Paiva favorite.
Paiva’s message to young aspiring authors is to “read fervently,” starting with topics you enjoy and then expanding your palate.
“Reading opens up new worlds, helps trigger the imagination, enlightens and educates.” Paiva believes to be a good writer, one must be well-read.
Paiva has already completed a second book, “Light Through a Fractured Lens,” which centers on the occupation of France by the Germans in 1940.
Paiva is just getting started as an author, and expresses the desire to keep developing his craft. He even aspires to become a full-time writer when he reaches retirement.