The same publishing house, Black Rose Writing, publish Tom and me, and both of us write in the same genre, thriller-mystery. We differ in our locations/setting. Mine are actual cities in Wisconsin. I grew up there and lived most of my life there. Tom invented a city in New Jersey, though I’m sure it has similarities to some actual cities. My principal characters are a patchwork group of adopted boys, with some FBI and cops thrown in, whereas Tom’s characters are adult. Both of us are retired, though I do work about 30 hours a week as an online education facilitator at a local high school. Tom is fully retired and writes!
- How did you become an author?
I had the kernel of an idea about a man who takes a life and tries to conceal it. His life unwinds and drags his brother into his secret. I wrote The Long Harbor Testament in 2017 and created the Jersey shore town of Long Harbor as a backdrop. My other novels are set in this south jersey town.
- What genre do you write, and why that particular genre?
Mystery, suspense, thriller. I enjoy placing protagonists in difficult situations and seeing how they react and make moral decisions.
- If you were to name one or two books that you deem unforgettable and that had a major impact on you, what would they be? How did they impact you?
Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky, the works of Graham Greene, and the Tim Dorsey Serge Storms novels. Stories of men traipsing through the moral wasteland, sometimes humorously, sometimes tragically.
- What authors do you read regularly? Why?
Tim Dorsey, Terry Pratchett, Graham Greene, Stephen King. I appreciate the humor, satire, fantasy, and crossroads they navigate.
- What would be a reason you don’t finish reading a book?
If it doesn’t grab me in the first 30-40 pages, I put it aside. Sometimes I get back to it if it has a good reputation. Silas Marner, for example. Tortuous, on the first attempt, appreciated it later.
- What is your writing routine? When you write, are you a planner/outliner or are you a “pantser”?
I’m retired, but I keep a daily routine of writing and improving my craft. I tend to write in the afternoon.
I do iterative outlining. I lay out enough to convince myself that there’s a story there, then proceed. If I get stuck or if the story is drifting in the wrong direction, I revisit the outline and refine the story.
- Is there something you set out to do, but somehow, it didn’t work out for you? (in terms of writing, or something else you felt was important to you at the time)
I sometimes drop a writing idea if it doesn’t have enough depth or reason to continue on. I usually revisit such ideas later to see if I should continue it. I have never deleted any of my writing. I just keep it in an electronic attic in case I want to dust it off later.
- What tips do you give to new or even experienced writers?
Have fun in your writing. Follow your unique ideas. Join writing and critique groups to get needed perspective and fresh input. Don’t dwell on setbacks. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, as they say.
- Is there a type of writing/genre that you find difficult to write? Why?
Futuristic fantasy. Too detached from real life. Having said that, I do like Terry Pratchett mostly for his satire and for what he can tell us about how people act. Even though his Discworld is a fantasy, the characters are mired in life’s joys and problems, and the humor sustains the stories.
- Tell us about your book?
- How did you come up with the concept?
The Ferret is about witness protection, and how we hide ourselves from others. I was impressed by A History of Violence by John Wagner, later a movie with Viggo Mortensen. I needed to give the protagonist a reason to come to the small Jersey town. I landed on witness protection, then thought over where he may have come from. I chose Salt Lake City since I had visited there and was intrigued by the possibilities of having the protagonist choose between strict religious upbringing and doing the right thing.
- How did you come up with the title?
I wanted the main character to have a distinguishable characteristic that would make hiding more difficult. His ferret-like appearance had to change if he was to blend into his new location and not be recognizable from his past.
- From your book, who is your favorite character? Who is your least favorite character? Why?
Favorite: Louie Kimball, who later becomes Hank Malone. A man who tries to make a new life, while hiding from his past.
Least Favorite: Leader Bradshaw. A man in the religious hierarchy who has forsaken his beliefs for the pursuit of riches.
Tom is both an interesting man and an interesting author. I suggest adding one or two of his books to your library, particularly, The Ferret.
Tom’s contact information is as follows: