Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Paul Bahou Interview - Sunset Distortion

Photo Content from Paul Bahou

PAUL BAHOU is the author of Sunset Distortion: The Pyramid at the End of the World. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Cal State University Long Beach with a minor in music. He began his career writing grants while playing in his rock band, eventually moving out of music and into the sustainability sector. He lives in Southern California with his wife Melissa, daughter Sophie and son Harrison. He writes fiction, music and the occasional dad joke in his spare time.

Greatest thing you learned at school.
As a writer, it was my 11th grade English teacher telling the class “Show me, don’t tell me!” While we were working on a creative writing assignment. I still remind myself to do that when I write to this day.

Can you tell us when you started SUNSET DISTORTION, how that came about?
Sunset Distortion started as a short story I wrote for a creative writing class during my senior year at Long Beach State. It possessed the broad strokes of the story without the level of character development present in the novel. The action sci-fi adventure was there, but the deeper story of Lazer’s journey of personal growth was not.

A year after graduating my friend Wes and I developed it into a comic. We put most of the first issue together, which was maybe the first half of chapter one and shopped it around. We never finished the first issue as the artist portion of a comic is a bit more time consuming than the story side. As such, it fizzled.

Years later after my band ‘The Infamous They’ broke up (The album is on Spotify if you are into Indie-Prog Rock), I needed a new creative project. I just wasn’t getting any traction on putting a new band together, so I decided to revisit the story and turn it into a novel. I had always enjoyed writing and had already been writing the politics column for smash magazine for years. So, I spent the next five years developing the story into a novel length adventure with more depth and using the time that had passed from my first go round to really give it something to say.

I’m very proud of the final result. From a creative standpoint I don’t feel like I short changed any aspect of the story. It’s the story I wanted to tell in the way I wanted to tell it. I hope you enjoy it if you pick up a copy.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from SUNSET DISTORTION 
There’s a scene about a third to midway through the book where the protagonist Lazer and his traveling companion Streek are going to be eaten by a hulking brute named Gorlak the Magnificently Amazing. Through serendipitous means they avoid being consumed (otherwise it would be a much shorter book!) and must break Streek out of the holding cell. The cell can only be unlocked via thumb print, so Lazer has to saw off this giant thumb, carry it to the cell and activate the lock. He lifts the fire hydrant sized digit over his head and does his best to activate the lock, completely covering himself in blood and gore in the process, but it isn’t working. Once fully drenched, Streek points out that Lazer took the wrong thumb. The book is filled with that type of dark, but still very silly humor.

Meet the Characters
Lazer is the main character. He’s a middle-aged guitar player whose heavy metal cover band killer orca plays at a dive bar called ‘love on the rocks’ on the sunset strip. He’s living the stereotypical rock and roll lifestyle, though it’s more of a rut than an aspiration. He’s in his mid 40s living like he’s in his early 20s and as a result, he’s alone.

Streek is a floating Octopus creature who was the former accountant on the pirate vessel ‘The Jollier Roger.’ He has high anxiety, loves prog rock and speaks with an English accent. He doesn’t have any friends due to his overthinking nature and aversion to talking to people, which makes meeting Lazer the perfect opportunity to grow past these limitations. He becomes something of a side-kick to Lazer, but still maintains his own personal story arc.

Zizi is a cave dwelling gremlin that lives with his tribe in the center of a dead planet. He becomes a scout for Lazer and Streek on the final leg of their journey and is based in large part on my toddler Sophie. While small and possessing limited language skills, he is the bravest and most audacious of the three.

Dex Rothko is the president and CEO of Piratech industries. She is an Olympian, who are a race of taller, stronger, faster and more beautiful meta humans that have colonized a large swath of the galaxy. She is over 5,000 years old and is searching for a Relic called the ‘Aperture Parallax.’ Which grants its possessor ‘infinite life.’

Qiti is the first alien Lazer meets after his abduction. She’s a missionary looking to convert Lazer, though despite her short stature and innocent demeanor, there is more to her than meets the eye.

Writing Behind the Scenes 
One thing that I draw inspiration from is music. Some of the scenes in the novel were fleshed out while listening to a specific song or artist. I even made a playlist of songs that either helped me conceptualize a scene or just fits the mood and tone of the story. This story happens to live in a place where the music of Iron Maiden, Phil Collins and Miley Cyrus converge.

Once I’ve got the broad strokes of how the scene will go, I’ll get onto my computer and put it to page so to speak. The story is steeped in music, be it through references in dialogue to specific plot elements. This aspect of my process kind of adds an extra dimension to it.

What is the first job you have had?
Sorting plastic bottles at my families recycling company. Since that time my brother, father and I have built the business into something much bigger. While I enjoy writing and intend on releasing books and short stories for a long while to come, I get a true sense of satisfaction from my work in recycling and sustainability.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
Easy. Back when my band Inverse was active, we were on tour and were traveling through a mountain pass somewhere between southern Idaho and northern Utah. It was January and around 6 or 7 am. It was sunny but cold and the roads were winding and icy.

My drummer Topher was driving and I was awake but barely in the front seat. Everyone else in the band was sleeping. We had traveled all night in our RV to go from eastern Washington to Ogden Utah. We had a rule that no one was ever up by themselves, so I was shotgun. I’m looking at the scenery when I hear “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.”

I look over to see Topher slamming his breaks but the RV wasn’t stopping. I look forward to see us heading straight toward a cliff, a low guard rail the only obstacle between us and a date with gravity. The road was slick with black ice. We weren’t going to stop. Time slowed. In that moment I had a level of clarity. This was going to be it. All of the close calls in life, making it to that point in my life… it was going to be a cliff that killed me.

We hit the rail at an angle on the front passenger side as we hit a curve in the road. I braced for the worst, but we didn’t pull a Thelma and Louise. No, rather, we bounced like a hockey puck and slid into the snow packed center divider. Everyone was thrown from their bunks. Our keyboardist Mike landed on the floor… and continued sleeping. Some nice cowboy dudes pulled us out of the divider. The damage was minimal. We made it all the way to Ogden and played the show.

What's your most missed memory?
Gigging. I miss playing in a band. song writing and just the overall bonding experience of it all is great, but live shows can be pure magic. I told my wife that once our kids are older, she has to be in another band with me. She signed a marriage contract. I’m sure performing live music with me is somewhere in the fine print.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
There are many, but I would say becoming a parent is a big one. I have two young children, both of whom are absolutely wonderful. There’s the light witch that flips when you have kids. It’s hard to describe, but all of your priorities and aspirations shift in that moment you first lay eyes on your child.

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
Man, I wish my kids were better sleepers.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
I’m either going connecting the dots on how the plot on whatever story I’m currently working on fits or wondering how much sleep I’m going to get before one of the kids wakes up. I’m in the brutal nighttime slog portion of child rearing. Everyone tells me it gets easier. I’m looking forward to it. Also, “We don’t talk about Bruno” from the Disney movie Encanto usually makes an appearance. My daughter is obsessed with that movie. I’ve seen it quite a few times. It’s wormed its way pretty deep into my brain at this point.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I’d go back to 2010, sell my house and put it all in Tesla stock.

First Love?
Without a doubt it’s my wife Melissa. Sure, I have “loved” girlfriends I had before her. We didn’t meet until I was in my mid 20s after all. But now that I’m rounding the bases to 40, I can see just how deep the ocean gets when you truly love somebody. Love isn’t just a chemical reaction you get from a pretty face or butterflies in the stomach; love is a choice. It’s the decision to put someone else before you when making decisions. It’s prioritization. It’s dedication. It’s all these things far beyond making puppy eyes at prom. I feel like we almost need a different word for it. I know she loves me too. She’s sat through every bad sci fi movie on Netflix for me. I picked a good one.

Most horrifying dream you have ever had?
Nothing is more horrifying than the thought of losing your child. It’s not even close. I say this as someone who has beaten stage 4 cancer.

Lazer is an almost made it, middle-aged guitarist who plays in an 80's hard rock cover band at a Sunset Strip dive bar. While not quite a rock star, he plays to a packed house nightly. His blissful inertia is disrupted one night however when he is abducted by aliens and given a strange imprint on his hand: A key which will send him on an intergalactic journey in search of an artifact that gives its possessor "infinite life." With the help of his new friend Streek; A timid floating octopus-creature with an English accent, Lazer will have to survive encounters with monsters, robots, alien pirates, inter-dimensional brain leeches and much more. Will Lazer get back home? What does 'infinite life' actually mean? And why does everybody in space speak English? All answers await at the pyramid at the end of the world.

You can purchase Sunset Distortion at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CREATIVE EDGE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


  1. I would live in the 1950's I love the music and clothing style and cars from the 1950's

  2. I would love to live in England in the 1960s, because the music scene was amazing.

  3. I'd go back to the '60s. Everything seemed so full of hope and possibilities then. I miss those times.

  4. I'd like to go to the 1970s, things really changed

  5. The 1920's Paris - an exciting time.

  6. The 1940's/WWII era because I'm fascinated with it and that's when my parents were young.

  7. I love the 60s as life seemed very carefree.

  8. The 70s, to experience the music.

  9. The 80s, looks like an interesting time.

  10. I would love to travel back to Regency England because I enjoy the culture and customs of that time period.