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The Books of Umber:
-Happenstance Found
-Dragon Games

-The End of Time

The Thief and
the Beanstalk

The Brave

The Eye of 
the Warlock

The Mirror's Tale

The Riddle
of the Gnome

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Here are some questions I've been asked. If you have one, I may add it to the list. You can e-mail me at

How long does it take to write a book?
Lately I've produced a manuscript in about 6-7 months. That includes time when I set the book aside for a while so I can look at it with fresh eyes. Then the various stages of editing, where I work with my publisher, take a few more months. Altogether, it's about 10 months from when I start until I'm completely finished. 

What was that noise?
The cat jumped on top of the credenza and knocked over some of the picture frames. It's OK, nothing broke. 

Why do you use P.W. Catanese for your authorís name?
Itís not because using the initials makes me sound like a real author. Simple answer: Thereís another Paul Catanese who writes non-fiction books about 3D design software, and I didnít want to cause confusion.  So I went with my initials. The W is for William, incidentally. 

How did you get the idea for your first book?
When I started writing The Thief and the Beanstalk several years ago, I'd been reading a lot of fairy tales to my kids. I thought about how cool it would be to read a longer, more exciting and descriptive scene of this giant beanstalk erupting from the ground. So, just to entertain myself really, I sat down and wrote it. I threw in this kid and some bad guys, without really knowing who they were or why they were there. And working backwards and forwards from that, I created the whole story around it. So a story emerged along with the beanstalk. At first I thought it might be a short story. But as I kept going, it became obvious that it would become novel-sized, and finishing it would take some time.

How did you get the idea to make a series out of that?
Originally I wanted to propose a trilogy of ĎBeanstalkí books. The Thief and the Beanstalk could actually be the first of three books with those characters. My agent suggested that publishers might be more interested in a series of standalone stories. So I considered other fairy tales and how those stories might be extended. 

Did it hurt when you walked into the glass door?
Yeah, it hurt a lot. I think I almost broke my nose, and one of my teeth was numb for a few weeks.

Where did the idea for The Books of Umber come from?
Sometimes, ideas come from other ideas. When I was writing my second book, The Brave Apprentice, I wrote a scene where a king brings his advisors in to talk about the trolls that are invading the kingdom. One old scholar mentions a historian named Umber who has written about trolls... and I really just pulled that name from nowhere. Umber. But I immediately started thinking about how interesting it would be to have someone who was sort of a paranormal investigator in the fairy tale world. Sort of like the X-Files meets the Brothers Grimm. That was the genesis of The Books of Umber, but of course the story got much more complex than that, especially when the character of Happenstance occurred to me.

What other authors do you admire?
Among authors for young readers, Roald Dahl was the best ever, I think. Louis Sachar's Holes is a great book. Phillip Pullman (His Dark Materials trilogy) is a fantastic writer. J.K. Rowling should be revered for encouraging kids to read. I donít know if my books would have gotten published if it hadnít been for the interest Harry Potter has created. If I ever meet her, Iím going to give her a hug. And then her bodyguards will wrestle me to the ground.

When I was a kid, I read a lot of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Edgar Allen Poe. These days my favorite authors include Patrick O'Brian and Carl Hiassen.