My name is Paul Vitols (“vee-tolls”), and I was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1959. I’ve been a writer since age 2, when I scrawled a series of EKG-like pencil traces on the inside cover of my father’s copy of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (sorry Dad).
My first paid piece of writing was published in 1978 when I was 19: a feature on the Canadian Student Film Festival which appeared in Cinema Canada magazine, for which I received about $25. I had turned pro!
I dropped out of university at the end of 1979 in order to pursue a “career” in creative writing—a choice that has well and truly taken me down the road less traveled. While in school I made films; out of school I pursued scriptwriting. This bore fruit in 1988 when, with cowriter Warren Easton, I wrote a half-hour comedy called “What’s Wrong with Neil?” for a CBC television series called Family Pictures. Our episode was selected for competition at the Banff Television Festival in 1989 in the category Best One-off Drama Under 60 Minutes, where we lost out to a one-hour British drama starring Alan Bates and Glenda Jackson.
Warren and I decided we wanted to create a TV series, and we came up with The Odyssey, a half-hour adventure-fantasy about an 11-year-old boy in a coma. This show too was picked up by the CBC and became very successful in Canada, with a peak audience of over 1 million viewers in its first season. (You can watch it on YouTube.) The show ran from 1992 to 1995, was broadcast in more than 50 countries (on the Sci-Fi Channel—now Syfy—in the U.S.), and garnered many awards. I was especially proud of its being named one of the Top 10 TV Dramas worldwide by the Cologne Conference in 1995, alongside shows like NYPD Blue. I myself, along with Warren, was nominated in 1994 for a Gemini Award here in Canada for Best Writing in a Dramatic Series.
But Warren and I were fired from The Odyssey (yes!) after season 1 and I found myself scrambling to find another direction. I took other writing work, such as technical writing and copywriting, to keep myself afloat, but this was still just to keep my creative efforts alive. In the mid 1990s I completed a novel, Truth of the Python, and drafted some short stories.
Behind it all I felt there was something important that I wanted to write about, but it took a long time for it to come into focus. The usual topics and genres didn’t interest me; I sensed that there was something unique inside me that needed to come out. Gradually, the pieces came together and I was able to identify my project: The Age of Pisces, an epic series of alternative-history novels depicting the turbulent events leading up to the birth of Christianity. With a flash of inspiration, I began working on it in 2002 while I was a temporarily ordained Buddhist monk at Gampo Abbey, Nova Scotia.
It’s a vast project and I’m still on it. There have been slowdowns when my confidence has wavered and when I have had to find jobs to keep myself alive—in recent years I’ve been a mailman and a grocery cashier. But my drive to bring The Age of Pisces to fruition has glowed throughout like a nuclear pile within me.
Meanwhile, the e-book revolution exploded on the world, and I decided to bring out my various written works in that format, starting with Truth of the Python in 2011. The list of my current publications is below.
At the same time, I became inspired by the writings of the philosopher Mortimer J. Adler to pursue a liberal education, mainly by way of reading the Great Books of the Western World, published by Encyclopedia Britannica, of which Adler was editor. I got myself a used set of these books on eBay in 2010, and have been making my way through them ever since.
I’m not a “genre” writer; my mind is wayward and far-ranging, and always has been. While my main inspiration is fiction writing, I am also planning to publish memoirs and philosophical works. My aim is simply to express myself, and the e-book revolution is making that possible in a way it would not have been before.
In March 2018 Quora named me a Quora Top Writer for 2018.
I live in North Vancouver with my wife Kim. Come and join me at one or more of the following online hangouts:
I also warmly invite you to join my mailing list.
My Published Works
These are the books I’ve published so far:
Lost Kings (July 2018): a short story in which John Pulkis, last seen in The Thought Dial, is now 20 and traveling Europe, where a shortage of funds plunges him into a spiritual crisis.
The Thought Dial (December 2017): a short story in which a 16-year-old boy, when he loses the concert tickets that were to give him the courage to ask a girl for a date, considers desperate remedies.
A Tourist Visa (April 2017): a short story in which a young Latvian-Canadian, while visiting his long-lost grandfather in Iron Curtain–era Riga, simultaneously encounters both the frustration of Soviet bureaucracy and the possibility of romance.
The Hermit (June 2011): my first serious short story, in which a disaffected university student goes for a walk in Stanley Park and unexpectedly arrives at a crossroads in his life. This one’s free if you join my mailing list.
Truth of the Python (May 2011): a literary thriller in which a Vancouver hypnotherapist and his young client discover they have unfinished business with each other—from 25 centuries ago.
My Mailing List
Join my inner circle. You’ll receive infrequent mailings with updates I don’t post to my blog, along with previews, discounts, and whatever else I can dream up. As a subscriber you’ll get early information and the best deals on my books. Sign up and receive a free copy of my short story The Hermit as your welcome bonus.
My Patreon Page
My inner inner circle consists of my Patreon patrons, generous people who pledge financial support to help me keep writing. You can become one of Paul’s Patreon Saints for as little as US$1 per month, and get access to a menu of attractive rewards like free books, personalised astrological reports, or even the chance to become a character in The Age of Pisces. Watch 2 electrifying minutes of me talking about myself, my work, and why patrons matter so much to me in this short video.