Thursday, December 21, 2023

Interview with Paul Tennant


It Wasn’t Easy, But I Made It: Escaping from an abusive life, by traveling the world to find acceptance, peace and success. Kindle Edition


Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school, etc. Let them get to know the personal you.

I was born and grew up in Nottingham, England, which is about two hours north of London. We lived in government housing in a poor neighborhood. My role models were my mother’s revolving boyfriends, who sometimes lived with us. I fell through the cracks at my local school and learned about life through domestic violence.

My abusive childhood and my violent adolescent years shaped me. I became a nasty product of that environment. As a coping mechanism, at fifteen, I started drinking alcohol, and I hated the angry person I became.

After graduating high school, I wanted no more institutional education. I skipped college, and in a moment of clarity, I hitchhiked across Europe. Everything I owned filled my backpack, and I walked across Europe with little money. I found jobs picking grapes at a chateau in the south of France, worked as a kitchen porter on a luxury yacht, and played music for money in the subways of Paris.

Later, I returned to England, went back to school, and earned my degree in hospitality management. I was fortunate to gain management positions with Best Western hotels, onboard Princess Cruises ships, and travel the world.

I became an avid SCUBA diver and lived on a Caribbean Island, where I met the most wonderful woman who completes me. After thirty years of marriage, we retired and moved to Florida, where I played tennis, line dancing, lawn bowling, and the Ukulele.  

My story proves we don’t have to be a product or victim of our surroundings; we all have the power to change. We need to get out of those surroundings and meet more excellent people.

What inspired you to author this book?

Two books inspired me to write my memoir. I read the memoir titled “Educated.” I related to the young girl who was held back from school so she could work in her father’s scrap yard. She yearned to go to school, but she had to abide by her father’s rule while simultaneously being a victim of abuse from her older brother. I identified with the young girl, struggling in her intermittent classes and being abused.

Immediately after reading Educated, I read the novel, “Where the Crawdads Sing.” I resonated with the young girl who practically raised herself after her drunken father abandoned her.

After reading these two books, I became empowered by those characters who turned their lives around for the better. I empathized with those two young girls and felt inspired to write my story.

Two years later, I published my story titled “It Wasn’t Easy, But I Made It.”


Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?

As a young boy in the 1960s in Nottingham, England, we rented a house with two bedrooms and an outside toilet. It was just one of hundreds of in-row deteriorating public houses. The second-story brick walls swelled, and house bricks fell into the street and shattered on the pavement. The nails that once held the roof slates deteriorated, and the roof slate would slide down into traffic. In the early nineteen seventies, as these uninhabitable homes became vacant, the local government boarded up the ground floor doors and windows with corrugated metal panels. As a young boy, I felt like my life was like those homes, with no maintenance/support and waning. So, I worked with a graphic designer to create a background of a deteriorating brick wall with a silhouette of a downtrodden young boy in front of the wall.   

Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?

My wife, Susan, has significantly influenced me as a writer. Susan is a librarian. She has supported me through my writing endeavors, provided gentle guidance, and suggested direction.


What were the struggles or obstacles you overcame to get this book written?

My biggest struggle in writing my memoir was being honest with myself. I had a lot of guilt, shame, and embarrassment in my life, as I’m sure we all have. Writing one’s memoir is personal. I struggled with telling my readers the truth, how evil my mother was, and how her poor judgment in parenting changed the boy inside me. There were some instances of personal abuse from a trusted youth in the neighborhood. At first, I included his violations but then removed them and later wrote them back. I often told myself, “If I am going to be honest and write my memoir, then I should just be truthful and do it.” I negotiated with myself and said, “If I am still embarrassed when I complete my book, then I will use a pen name as the author.” The thought of using a pen name hid my shame. It helped me to continue writing, and I became more honest and open in my writing. Another struggle I had was what my loving wife said when she read my draft and read about shame. Then I received advice from a fellow writer; she said, “There’s no shame in telling your truth!” I took these words to heart and overcame my obstacles. I included all the remorseful events that changed and formed my life and used my real name as the author.



Tell your readers about your book.

Paul’s mother was full of frustration and hate, constantly telling Paul he wasn’t wanted and reminding him, “You should never have been born!”

Paul watched his mother’s boyfriends come and go. Some stayed for a while and physically taught Paul the harsh lessons of street life. One boyfriend taught Paul how to beat other children with chunks of house bricks, slices of roof slate, and a homemade axe. He learned to accept physical victimhood and abuse as a way of life. His young, undernourished body was weak, but his mind stayed strong.

Physical and mental abuse haunted Paul in his early teenage years. He became introverted and socially awkward, carrying mental baggage that made him feel unwanted and unloved. He protected himself by lashing out at anyone who tried to comfort him.

One day, Paul was allowed to break away from his old life and start a new one. He didn’t know exactly where to go or what to do, but he was sure he had to find the courage to change and break away from the past that defined him. Paul began to find contentment traveling through the countries of Europe, though he was still plagued by nagging demons. He caught himself talking to his internal, tormenting voices, always telling himself, “I’II show them!”  Hating the person he had become, Paul struggled to overcome the burdens of his past.

To his shame, Paul recognized that he emulated the violent actions of his abusers almost to the point of murder. A rude awakening of this violent act changed the young man. He realized that his anger and violence would soon sentence him to a lifetime in prison, regardless of which country he was in, so he committed to turn his life around.

As he worked and traveled throughout Europe, Paul found accommodations with many friendly, open families. He yearned to be a part of a loving family, but he was mentally wary of people. Though he yearned to be loved, he didn’t want to get tied down with relationships, marriage, or children. He decided he could find contentment as a loner. He would live in solitude with his thoughts and somehow shed the past by developing a new code of optimistic principles to live by.

With his new code, Paul returned to school and earned a degree. He had no educational support during middle and high school years and often fell behind in his studies. As a result, he struggled and taught himself how to learn from books and college lectures. He persevered, earned his degree, and, with his new skills, found a job that provided opportunities to travel the world on luxury cruise liners. After a few years circling the globe, he became a SCUBA diving instructor on a Caribbean Island. Always looking for a place to call home, Paul took on the challenge of building a house with his bare hands in that faraway corner of the world. 

Paul explains in detail how he cast away his nagging demons. He read self-help books and became his therapist. Confronting profound diabolical truths, he dismantled the stigmas that plagued him. Paul learned to accept the actual person inside him, a happy young man who was yearning to get out.

Paul’s story has adventure, travel, grit, determination, and success and shows readers that we have the power and authority within us to change our lives.

Paul’s tale would not be complete without his delightful pursuit of love and marriage to a most unlikely soulmate.

It is unimaginable for the average person today to truly comprehend the struggles and hardships the author endured. His life story will move you for sure. It’s gut-wrenching at times. Yet, you will be amazed by the author’s strength, determination, and motivation to improve his life. It’s one of those books you have to read.


Who is your target audience, and why?

My target audience is anyone who may seek a change in their lives. I am not the most intelligent man, but I know we have the power and authority to change. The power to move away from wrong role models, to live in better surroundings with more excellent people, and to have the authority to scribe new principles and disciplines to start our lives over.  

It is a hard step to take, to leave everything behind and walk into the future with nothing except belief in oneself. I made that step and believe I became a better person for it.

What do you consider your most tremendous success in life?

My most tremendous success in life is my soul mate, Susan. Before meeting her, I decided to live in solitude because of my deep mistrust of people. I thought I was content being a loner in life. That was until I met Susan. From the get-go, Susan never wanted anything from me except to love me unconditionally. I couldn’t believe such a wonderful woman loved me like she did. I feel so lucky. Susan completes me as a human being. She is my success!

What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?

I believe I am a part of a distinct group of writers who write about what they know, and they write honestly and truthfully.