Introducing Actor and New Children’s Author Paul Carafotes

Introducing Actor and New Children’s Author Paul Carafotes

carafotesLet me introduce Paul Carafotes – an award winning, actor/writer/director who is now also a children’s author. Paul has appeared in many films and television productions but his most recent accomplishment is the publication of  Charlie Bubbles – the story of a little boy named Charlie. His magical adventure begins when he discovers he can blow large bubbles! He learns the true meaning of friendship in this heart warming tale.

Learn more about Paul online and connect with him on Facebook, but first read this exclusive interview he gave just for us!

 

Tell us a bit about your family. 

 

My family is rather large. 6 children: 4 girls and 2 boys. I am the middle child, number 3. There are now 25 of us. My son Charlie who is the inspiration of the books is the 12th grandchild, named after my dad.

 

How do you work through self-doubts and fear?

 

Mostly when I feel fear, which is often, I charge on through it. I tell Charlie that is what courage is, to feel the fear and do it anyway. Now, that’s good advice if it is something like singing, writing or portraying a part in a play or movie. Not good if your planning on knocking over a fruit stand later in the day.

 

What scares you the most?

 

The unknown.

 

What makes you happiest?

 

My son laughing.

 

What’s your greatest character strength?

 

Honesty. Telling it straight.

 

What’s your weakest character trait?

 

Honesty, telling it straight.

 

Why do you write?

 

I’m a little revved up. Got lots of energy and my mind is filled with ideas. I’d go crazy if I didn’t have it as an outlet.  And sometimes I’m just driven from my bed with a phrase or a line that I will use in something. I have all these bits of papers around from years of jotting things down. Those are sometimes used as reference points.

 

Have you always enjoyed writing?

 

I enjoy it while I’m in the process of doing it. Not the beginning, but certainly when I write, “The End”.

 

What motivates you to write?

 

A good story. A good song. Usually if I’m emotionally charged up about something. Then I just have to put it down.

 

What writing are you most proud of? 

 

A play I wrote about my relationship with my dad, titled “Beyond the Ring”.  And of course, “The Adventures Of Charlie Bubbles!” storybook series. 

CharlieBubblesBook.com

 

What are you most proud of in your personal life?

 

Being a dad.

 

What books did you love growing up?

 

Big Dickens fan, Steinbeck. 

 

Who is your favorite author?

 

Hmm, tough question. At the moment Dickens, but I love Bukowski.

 

What genre of books do you adore?

 

Children books, biographies, old Hollywood, non-fiction and anything Beatles.

 

What book should everybody read at least once?

 

“The Adventures of Charlie Bubbles!” 

 

Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?

 

Technical books. 

What do you hope your obituary will say about you?

 

I don’t know. I’m a work in progress. That’s still being written.

 

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?

 

I grew up in a large loving, creative, emotional family. Many of my early experiences are in Charlie Bubbles books. I grew up in a town just outside the heart of Boston called Somerville. I left there for NYC to pursue my dreams of acting when I was 18. I was lucky and landed a starring role in a 20th Century fox film called, “Headin’ For Broadway” which can been seen on YouTube. I was 20 years old at the time. Then moved to Los Angeles where I still live to this day.

 

How did you develop your writing?

 

As a youth I enjoyed and did rather well in English and creative writing classes. When writing essays I’d become inspired and my imagination would take over. I learned writing is an awarding process. During high school I was in a band and wrote songs which would later evolve into writing theatrical plays and movie scripts.

 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

 

Life experiences. Books, songs, movies, people.

 

What is hardest at getting published, writing or marketing?

 

The experience of being an actor and having gone through the process of auditioning and dealing with all the heartaches and rejection for years weighed heavily on my mind when I was thinking of getting a publisher. So, when I began sending my book to agents and whatnot it quickly became clear to me that I didn’t think I could emotionally deal with that same process. Especially when the first Charlie Bubbles book idea came to me inspired by my son Charlie. This book was to be a gift to him, to let him know how much his dad cared for and loved him with the thought of him passing it along to his kids. This was very personal to me and I didn’t want to be influenced or have to change anything in it to conform to the powers that be. I quickly switched gears and decided to self publish. 

 

What marketing works for you?

 

Well, this is a whole new field of research of which I knew nothing about. We are learning as we go along. Book signings, charity events, donating and visiting children’s hospitals, Twitter, Facebook; these are amazing tools and certainly it’s been a learning curve.

 

 

Do you find it hard to share your work?

 

Artist are sensitive and shy and can mask all of that by trying to be tough or play a character that hides their true self. I mostly just feel the fear and go for it. So I share and let it go. It’s really too late to be somebody else.

 

Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?

 

I am fortunate to have a pretty good support team. They can’t believe that I’ve added children’s books to my resume. They love it. As well, my mom, a very well educated woman, who was a music teacher applauds my efforts.  Charlie and I had just visited her as she isn’t well.  Charlie asked if he could read the new book to his grandma (yia yia, Greek translation).  He read “Charlie Bubbles To Fenway!” to her, which I filmed. Very sweet. I’ll look at that again a little later and I’m sure I will be in tears.

 

Do you plan to publish more books?

 

I didn’t see past the first one and now there are three Charlie Bubbles books. Maybe something international like, Charlie Bubbles over to London.

 

What else do you do to make money, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time.

 

I’ve been a professional actor for 35 years. Numerous movies, television and commercials, etc. Recently finished a movie called, “Days Full of Nights” of which I play a detective named Reno.

 

What other jobs have you had in your life?

 

I was a busboy in NY. I worked for theatre refreshment and ushered broadway shows. I worked at Vendome liquors for one day. I was a bartender for a couple of years, but mostly I’ve made my living as an actor.

 

If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?

 

Music and film.

 

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

 

A Greek island. Mykonos. Feta and olives and beautiful people.

 

Tell us about your family?

 

My grandparents came from Greece around 1918. My parents were both born in my hometown. They eloped. Had six children. 2 boys 4 girls. My father was a bartender, my mom was a housewife until my baby sister was born when she had to resume her career as a music teacher. A fine jazz pianist as well. We were all close in age and pretty much did everything together. It was a good childhood. Lots of food and love and craziness. We traveled every summer to Maine for vacations which we still do. Now, my son gets to have that experience, being the youngest he gets loved up. My dad died in 92. I was lost after that for a long time. Went off the deep end. He was my anchor. My rock. I floundered around for almost ten years. Then I sobered up. I tell my son stories of him all the time and things my dad said to me. It’s part of why I write the books. I tell Charlie stories that happened between my dad and me and some have made their way into the Charlie Bubble stories. So the history is there and the connection to him will always be, and hopefully Charlie will carry them forward.

 

How do you write:  laptop, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?

 

All of it.

 

Where do you get support from? Do you have friends in the industry?

 

I have a small circle of friends that I trust and love and would do anything for and I’m lucky to have the few who have also survived the slings and arrows of life. So we trudge together.

 

How much sleep do you need to be your best?

 

7 hours maybe 7 1/2. 

 

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?

 

I acknowledge, and am grateful to, all parents who are mindful and attentive to their children.  It is parental conscientiousness that will evolve our world into a better place.

 

Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you? 

 

A platinum book. (that’s a joke)

 

It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?

 

We are learning as we go. It’s a challenge no doubt. We are using everything we can. I was doing so much on my own however, I am beginning to get some help so I can concentrate on building our awareness and audience. We have had terrific exposure through my celebrity friends. The late James Gandolfini was a huge fan of the books and we were scheduled to make several hospital visits to read to children. But unfortunately Jim passed. While visiting Los Angeles Children’s Hospital donating books and singing to the kids, CBS “OMG Insider” did a very moving piece on Jim and I. Joe Mantegna is another big fan, as well as, two time Olympian skater Tai Babalonia, which by-the-by is a character in the books. We pay homage to her in “Charlie Bubbles 2 SMARTSVILLE!”, Tai The Butterfly.  One great thing I have is my connection to Hollywood and the friends that I have which is a big help. 

 

Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?

 

“Charlie Bubbles To Fenway!”. This is interesting because I never saw past the first book, at all. The first adventure was inspired by and for my son. The initial success built a certain amount of confidence in me. For the second adventure of Charlie Bubbles, I had this idea that Charlie would play music and music would be the theme. Charlie Bubbles would find himself underground with a colony of ants who are joyless and machine like, looking for their missing key. That started me off on the SMARTSVILLE book. As I was promoting the first book and readying to publish the second book, my son Charlie asked me if there was going to be a third book? I looked at him and said, “Yes, and you’re going to help me write it! “What’s it going to be about?”, I asked. He looked back at me and without batting an eyelash replied, “Charlie Bubbles To Fenway!”. It was perfect because of our love for baseball and the Red Sox. Baseball is a metaphor of life, for fathers and sons and families too. Letting go of your mistakes, errors, strike outs and whatnot; because the next pitch is always coming at you. It is what’s coming at you that is important. Additionally, It gave us a chance to deal with the bullying issue. He had a few incidents at school where it was happening and I thought maybe Charlie Bubbles could help parents in some ways deal with it beginning at an early age. There are teachable moments in life. Now is the time. Starting when kids are young may benefit us all. If children are aware and prepared when these things occur we can help them to help themselves, as well, when they see other kids being bullied. They can help them too. 

 

If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?

 

My dad, Michelangelo, John Lennon, George Harrison, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Gene Krupa (so my dad can talk drums and big band), My sister Margo, Nostradamus, oh- and Jimmy Cagney.

 

When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?

 

Play guitar, sing. Play catch with my son. Mostly hang out with him and laugh.

 

Do you have any tips on how writers can relax?

 

Meditate. 

 

How often do you write? And when do you write?

 

I write something all the time. Not necessarily a book or script or song. But I’m writing this right now. That’s writing.

 

Do you have an organized process or tips for writing well? 

 

I come from an emotional place with my writing. When I am moved by something or someone, or have a deep feeling that I cannot seem to let go, I write about it. I’ve been keeping a journal for most of my adult life. I also write down as many things as I can of things Charlie says to me. There may be a book in that someday.

 

Do you have a writing schedule?

 

Yes, when I’m writing something, that’s my schedule.

 

Sometimes it’s so hard to keep at it – What keeps you going?

 

Insanity.

 

Have you met any people in the industry who have really helped you?     

 

I received the best piece of advice when I wanted to write my first screenplay. While working on the tv show “Knots Landing” I wanted to write about my childhood idol. A Red Sox baseball star, Tony Conigliaro. He was about 18 years old, handsome, dynamic, playing in the major leagues. I wanted to be like him when I was a kid, same as Charlie wants to be like Dustin Pedrioa who currently plays for the Red Sox.  He had passed away much too early and I had a dream about him. In the dream he told me I was going to keep his memory alive. When I awoke, I got up, went into the kitchen, opened the newspaper (remember those) and on the front page of the sports section was a featured article on Tony with the headline, “A Hard Days Night”. Now that was weird. Being a consummate Beatles fan and having just had a dream of Tony, and right in front of me was this article on him. Now, there was too much emotional energy for me not to do anything about it. I immediately called people asking if there were any Tony Conigliaro projects or perhaps a movie in the works. There had to be something, right? The answer was, no. So, I began researching his story but didn’t know how to write it, or even start it. Then one day talking to one of the writers from “Knots Landing” I asked him how to begin writing. He said to me, “sit down, get a piece of paper and write, fade in.” I was off. I wrote it. Not very well but it began this incredible journey.

 

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?

 

I have no idea. I don’t want to be presumptuous maybe that some of my experiences may help or connect them to what is going on in their lives with their children. I don’t know really. What I do know is reading to our children is so visceral. It bonds us forever. This is a good thing.

 

What’s your favorite meal?

 

Greek Salad. And, dark chocolate covered almonds.

 

What color represents your personality the most?

 

Red. 

 

What movie do you love to watch?

 

Now that’s tough because as you know when you have a child you tend to watch what they watch. Fortunately for me there are so many Charlie likes: Willy Wonka (the original), Young Frankenstein, all Beatle movies. I love many old films: Cagney movies, Gable, Chinatown is repeated here as well as Casablanca, Sunset Boulevard to name a few and my son has recently begun watching my first film and tries to emulate my dancing in “Headin’ For Broadway” which is a crack up.

 

How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing?

 

Yes and no. In the beginning it was interesting and fun now it’s become part of our daily existence and is a chore. However, it can be very helpful in building your audience and getting the message out. If used properly, which are the keys to the kingdom, we sometimes fail miserably but we trudge the road.

 

If you could do any job in the world what would you do?

 

I already have the best job the world. I’m Charlie’s dad.

 

What are you most passionate about? What gets you fired up?

 

I’m passionate about my son’s education and getting him to experience as much life as possible. I’m passionate about good writing, music and film. I’m passionate about women and how they do the things they can do. Being a single dad and what I’ve come to learn I’m especially passionate about moms.

 

What makes you angry?

 

Inconsiderates… People who don’t use their indicators. Bullies. War. My ex-wife from time to time…

 

What’s your most embarrassing moment of your life?

 

Wow. There’s been so many. I’m an actor.

 

Are you a city slicker or a country lover?

 

Both, but mostly I love the beach.

 

How do you think people perceive writers?

 

Smart, arrogant, interesting.

 

What’s your next project?

 

At present, I have additional Charlie Bubbles stories in development and continue to translate the series as my budget permits.  We’re thinking about developing a multi-series hard bound special edition and have been pitching a Charlie Bubbles cartoon idea.  As well, I’m anticipating the near release of a movie I’m starring in titled, “Jailbird” by writer/directer Sean Ireland.

 

What would you love to produce in your life?

 

Something that will last forever.

 

What’s the reason for your life? Have you figured out your reason for being here yet?

 

To be of service.

 

How do you feel about self-publishing?

 

I think it’s tremendous. The hardest part is getting the books everywhere which is the function of a publisher. But it’s obviously the new age way. We all have something to say as you can tell from your Facebook friends.

 

Do you know your neighbors?

 

Yes. I know everybody. Which is good and can have it’s drawbacks. There is something to be said for the quiet life. But it takes you a long life to figure that one out.

 

How important are friends in your life?

 

We are a clan society. We need each other. Help each other.  And if it were not for my friends there would not be a Charlie Bubbles storybook series.

 

How many friends does a person need?

 

Only two. You get them to disagree with one another and stand back to watch the fireworks. It’s entertaining.

 

What does love mean to you?

 

Love is the drug that we all have been chasing since we were delivered from the womb. We need it. A child can barely survive without it. I am a hopeless when it comes to love. But my heart is filled with it. I just got to find the right one to let it out.

 

What social issues interest you the most?

 

This is a question I feel could take us into a whole other direction. But I will try to be brief. I don’t like many of the things I see. I don’t like that in this country we have homeless, I guess when the government finds a way to make money from the situation it will end. I don’t like that the schools have to hound the parents constantly for money for pens and glue and paper, or if our children need a

computer or clean water or they have to lock our kids up in the schools to protect them from the crazies on the outside world. Education and the arts should be considered before guns and bombs. What does it say about a society that we now have to spend every single minute with our kids at the park or on our street in front of our own homes. All this fear. When I was a kid my mom fed us in the morning and said goodbye and I don’t want to see you until supper. There are many, many more. I don’t feel it’s appropriate for this children’s book forum. But since you asked me, there’s a few.

 

When you get free time on the internet or you go to the library what do you want to read about?

 

I don’t get much free time anymore. 

 

Do you find the time to read?

 

Not for pleasure so much anymore. I try to read what’s suggested by my friends. And if someone isn’t hounding me to read this or that then I end up rereading some of the classics. But, I do get to read scripts and that’s cool.

 

Last book you purchased? Tell us about it.

 

Aside of all the children books including more Dr. Suess I buy for my son the last book purchases I made were, Charles Dickens collection, Tales of Ordinary Madness, Two Years Before the Mast, which I have Charlie read a page a day, and The Bippolo Seed.. 

 

Who do you admire?

 

I admire my parents for all they did for us. Having immigrant parents themselves and taking care of 6 kids giving us the opportunities for education and loving us and doing the darn best they could have done with what was given to them.

 

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

 

Determination, resilience. I would like to say that I am teachable and can learn from my mistakes. But then again, I’m human.

 

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

 

Too sensitive. Not organized enough. Order trumps all. 

 

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

“Get busy living or get busy dying” from the great screenplay and movie “The Shawshank Redemption”.  And, “Adrian don’t breathe on me” from “A Hard Days Night”.  “When your heart breaks, it cracks open” from “Club Soda”.

 

 

 

 

 

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