This is my interview with Paul Evans, whose memoir, When I Woke Up, I read and reviewed recently. Evans uses the memoir as a kind of guide or manual for anyone feeling a little bit lost, and by telling his story, hopes to guide them in achieving what they desire. What’s really interesting about the story is that it’s all true, and because of this, I wanted to chat to Paul and ask him some questions to really get to the heart of his book.
1. Let’s start off with three facts about you
The ocean is my favourite place to be, there’s nothing better than getting under the waves and swimming with sharks.
I love hard work. I always say it’s supposed to be hard. Hard is what makes it great, if it was easy, everyone would be doing what I do!
Despite appearances, I struggle with self-confidence, I guess that’s what drives me as I’m never fully comfortable with myself
2. What made you want to turn your story into a book?
I wanted to find a purpose to all the pain I caused to the people closest to me and to everything I’ve been through. If there’s a way that I can turn all of that into something positive that might develop into a way of helping others then that gives it all meaning.
3. Why do you think it’s important for people to read When I Woke Up?
I think it’s a book that everyone can relate to. Everyone has struggles and set-backs, I guess I just really took it to the extreme! In When I Woke Up, I document all the highs and lows that I experienced in my life, and only just managed to survive to tell the tale. So, I feel it’s an important read for anyone who’s fortunate enough to be enjoying the high life right now as much as it is to someone who may be plummeting into a downward spiral. There are powerful lessons and reflections throughout the book that will resonate and stay with you at whatever time of life you are at.
4. What were you trying to achieve by turning this into a book?
I see that as a similar question to No2. It’s about helping people. Showing people that you can recover, you can rebuild, you can make it again no matter the obstacle. I always say, if you have air in your lungs, you have the ability to go again. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve been given a second chance at life and have been able to turn my life around – If I can help just one person to do the same, I’ll have achieved what I set out to do.
5. What was the motivation behind calling all the chapters “Wake-up Call”? Do you think this helps the reader understand what you’re trying to achieve?
The thirty-three chapters in the book are bundled into eight “wake up calls”. Each one encapsulates a certain time in my life when I have metaphorically or literally woken up. At the end of each wake-up call series, I summarize with a reflection which gives the reader my thoughts and lessons on that particular time of my life, that I realise now were serving me a purpose – even though I may (or may not) have known it at the time.
I guess we all could benefit from a little perspective and hindsight, so that’s why the wake up calls are there for the reader.
6. Did you or the writer encounter any challenges when creating the book?
Of course! This was a first time project for us both and I’m sure Carolyn could tell you a lot about that challenges that she had in writing the book and telling the actual story. For me, the difficult bit was opening myself up and bearing my soul. Carolyn and I sat for hundreds of hours recording conversations, some of which were so traumatic for us both to put on tape. There are times in my life that conjure up deep and haunting feelings and memories that I have done my best over the years to forget and Carolyn made sure that she pulled all of those back to the surface to make the book really raw and meaningful. That certainly wasn’t a pleasurable experience for either of us, but I couldn’t have shared those thoughts and feelings with anyone else, and I’m glad I did because now I have a new way of dealing with them.
7. What’s your all-time favourite book?
Natural Born Winners by Robin Sieger – anybody can turn themselves into a winner simply by believing that they are one.
8. What are you working on next?
I can’t wait to grow Solutions Leisure and the wonderful team we have into 2020. We have so many opportunities coming our way and I want to really get stuck into that side of the business and continue to grow our brands globally. As for When I Woke Up; focusing on de-stigmatizing men’s mental health is a big subject that I’d like to lend my voice to.
9. In one sentence, tell everyone reading this why they should read When I Woke Up.
I’ll pose it as a question: What aspects of your life would you change if you knew how much time you had left?