Turning Grief Into Prose

Stock trader turned author Paul Sinsar copes with a big loss by writing under the nomme de plume Ajax Minor.

There are many ways grief is experienced, each unique to exact individual suffering it. Some may succumb to depression and isolate themselves from others, while some may find an avenue to channel the sorrow.

The latter is the case with author Paul Sinsar who began writing as Ajax Minor after the passing of his beloved daughter. A stock broker by trade, Sinsar was inspired to take chances with his passion for fiction, a significantly different field, after the tragedy.

The Ur Legend trilogy is a fantasy series dedicated to his daughter, as Sinsar’s way of seeing his daughter live through his words. Here, he speaks to UPPRE about how he decided to do something entirely different from the stock market quite late in life and why writing became the outlet that he needed.

The first book in the Ur Legend trilogy.

First of all let me begin by offering my condolences for your loss. It is well-known that you started writing Ur Legend trilogy after the death of your daughter. However, was the untimely passing of Katherine a calling that made you leave your career as a bond trade behind? Have you always had the passion in writing?

Thanks for your kind words. Actually, I did not quit my day job to write. I am still bond trading. However, I found writing to be a serious avocation. If you are disciplined, there is time to write. Even a few hours a week can produce 1000 words and that adds up to a novel over a two or three year period. I found it was the inspiration of Katie’s death that ignited the passion.

Tell us about the Ur Legend trilogy in your own words. Why did you pick the fantasy genre to relay a narrative that draws from your personal story?

I believe that Fantasy picked me. It’s what flows out of my mind, down through my hand and out of my pen. It’s like asking why I prefer Vanilla to Chocolate malts. However, as I wanted to give my daughter a ‘life’ she never had a chance to live, Fantasy was perfect. As a fantasy writer you are able to make the impossible possible and to cause make-believe to become believable.

In what ways have art and writing helped you work your way through the grief?

Writing allowed me to give my daughter, Katie, a life and a personality that would replace the empty space left by her death. And as with an art form like sculpture, I did not so much fashion her, as free her from a chunk of marble where she already existed. Or in the case of literature, pull her up and out of an inkwell. I really do like how she is turning out as a young lady in Book 2 The Girl from Ipanema. She makes me smile sometimes and that is often the best antidote to grief.

Paul Sinsar and wife, Linda Sinsar.

Do you believe that a person has to experience sufferance or grief before they could express themselves artistically?

No. Not specifically grief.  But to write fiction it’s necessary to be inspired by an emotion.  However, that emotion might be grief, but it also might be anger or joy or helplessness.

Why did you decide to write the trilogy under a pen name? How did that name come about?

As I said, fantasy comes naturally to me. I was first inspired as a kid by Homer’s Iliad. I loved being transported to another time and place. There were two Ajaxes in the Iliad. Major, the greatest Greek warrior next to Achilles and Minor, small but fast! I’m not very fast but I thought taking the name of Ajax the Greater would be a bit presumptuous. Bottom line, I thought it would be just plain fun to use it!

Could you walk us through your writing process and has it changed after your first book was published?

I was always very disciplined about my writing. Usually on the weekends, since I do work, and early in the morning while my wife, Linda, is still asleep. I always know before I sit down where I am starting that day in the storyline and where I am going. But I have no idea how I am going to get from Point A to Point B that day. I just start writing. And I don’t concern myself with style or grammar. That might block the creativity. I leave all of that to editing, which I enjoy as much as writing the first draft. But you have to keep your butt in the chair and do the work. My approach really hasn’t changed much from the beginning, except I don’t indulge as much as I used to in wandering off on tangents that aren’t really central to the story.

On average, how long does it take for you to finish writing a book? And when can we expect the third book in the trilogy?

I’d say the first draft might take three to four years. And the edit might take another couple. When you just free your mind to express itself on paper, even with some discipline, you write many more words than are necessary. Sun Valley Moon Mountains, my first book, started out at 222 thousand words and was published with 99 thousand. As for Book 3, Kutusov’s Dream, the first draft is done and I expect to spend next year editing it. So hopefully it will be released in late 2018 or early 2019.

Last question, what advice would you give to aspiring writers who might be considering doing it fulltime?

As I said above, I didn’t give up my day job. Nor would I advise anyone to do that. Writing is a pretty hard way to earn a living. And as with all art, as with life, there is a lot of luck involved. The important thing is to feel as if you have something important to say. Then just do it. There’s time in a normal schedule. A couple of hours a week can produce a thousand words and a couple of years of that can produce a book. But remember discipline is important. Also, there is a lot of hard work involved learning the craft. Really learning it. And as with all art and all performance, the only opinion that matters when it comes to recognition is the opinion of your audience. Be prepared for criticism, and take it seriously in order to improve your craft. Be prepared for rejection. But keep believing in yourself and, as the Buddha may have said, just enjoy the journey.

The second book in the trilogy.

Log on to https://ajaxminor.com/ for more information on Paul Sinsar and his near-completion Ur Legend trilogy.

Vimal Palasekaran

Vimal Palasekaran

Loud laugher. TV buff. Hispanophone.
Vimal Palasekaran

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