Tom Winton, author of too many good reads to mention in this sentence, joins me on my blog to talk about himself and his work. I’m happy and honoured he agreed to be interviewed by me.
Welcome Tom and once again thank you for taking the time to hop over to my place. 🙂
Would you like a coffee? Or are you more of a tea man?
Coffee, just cream, would be fine, Lucy.
Here you go, make yourself comfortable and prepare to be questioned. 🙂
I have a few personal questions before we get to the regular interview. I always like to get an idea of the person behind the writer. If that’s okay with you?
Wheeeheee, I’m so happy you don’t mind to be grilled! Great, let’s get this interview up and running then.
You write very compelling and to me it is no wonder your books end up on best-seller lists time and time again. Can you try to explain how you dip your pen into your soul and pour it out on paper like you do? Do you draw from your life, or are you just one of those authors who have ‘it’?
First, Lucy, I want to thank you very much for your kind words.
No thanks at all. I’ve read your work–must admit still have those reviews to write, almost ready for them–and I can honestly tell your future readers that you have ‘it’. but don’t let me interrupt you. Kick me if I do it again. Do go on, please.
Secondly, the way I see it, writers have only three wells to draw ideas from: the experiences they have lived out, things they’ve heard from others, and whatever pertinent imaginings they can cull from all the clutter that’s constantly whirling inside their active minds.
During my lifetime I’ve certainly had my share of experiences–some good, some far from good. But, for better or worse, I’m an emotional person and I truly think that if I do anything right with my writing it’s that I can convey emotions into words. I can’t tell you how many times readers have said that. If you read a few of my Amazon reviews, I think you’ll see what I mean.
I know, there aren’t many people who do not like your work. I’ve pulled up a few to show what we’re on about,
This is a great love story with a really excellent ‘period’ setting. The sixties come whooshing back from the first words, and as you bring in all the little details – Bob Dylan, ‘When you’ve got nuthin’, you’ve got nuthin’ to lose,’ West Side Story, Kools – you bring the time and the place to life straightaway. Dean and Teresa are strong characters, beautifully drawn, and their meeting, and instant love, is compelling. The pitch warns us of tragedy, and already, in Teresa’s reluctance to bring Dean into her house the night they meet, there is a hint of trouble in the air. This is a moving, poignant story of young love, and written with style and polish. You can be witty when you choose – ‘I could read the writing on the wall – when there wasn’t graffiti obscuring it,’ and somehow this adds to the underlying sadness.Then the story moves on, and the book becomes even better. I couldn’t stop reading. A great book.
What has been your path through life before taking up the pen for a living?
Unlike a lot of folks, I’ve done many different things in my lifetime. I hate to say this, but there were very few jobs I can say I truly liked. I’d always felt there was something else “out there” I’d like to do, but I didn’t realize exactly what it was until I was in my late forties. Though little of it comes easy to me, I believe that writing is what I was meant to do.
And you do that very well, so do keep at it, Tom.
I know you currently live in Florida with your wife Blanche–lovely lady–and your dog, but if you were forced to move. Where would you rather be, mountains, or Gulf?
Without question it would be back to rural Maine. We lived near the beginning of the North Woods in Maine from 2004 to 2009, and I so miss it. I loved the beauty of the forest all around our place and living with the critters. We had a few acres up there and were visited by moose, dear, fishers, porcupines and an army of other animals. I loved being in such close touch with nature. To me, a one-on-one encounter with a majestic animal is like a religious experience. Isn’t that odd coming from a man who grew up in New York City and, at the time, relished almost every minute of it?
No, I don’t think that’s odd. I think it’s rather normal 🙂
Okay, that is about as personal as I will get. Unless there are some snippets of your life you want to share with me and the readers? If so this is your chance. 🙂
I’ve experienced everything from uncontrollable ecstasy to deep, deep depression. Life seems to be a never-ending is succession of ups and downs. And if a person has a certain degree of insight they must be strong to truly survive. I grew up with a mentally ill/suicidal mother, in a small, cramped apartment where money was tight. A person has no choice but to be resilient if they are to survive in that kind of an environment. Once I reunited with an uncle I hadn’t seen for many years, and he said to me, “I don’t know how you ever kept your sanity after the upbringing you had.”
I can imagine you want that to stay personal. There is after all still that air of mystique to uphold. 🙂 So, let’s just get on with the interview.
It is personal, Lucy, but I someday may very well write a memoir about those years and the ones that followed. I have some stories that would make the hair on your arms stand up.
That makes me very curious to those years and the memoir. I love stories that make my hair stand up, but I guess we will have to wait for that memoir until you are ready to write those stories down.
Instead can you tell me how you celebrate finally getting that tricky chapter (or para) right?
When I wrote my first novel, Beyond Nostalgia, I did nine drafts. And on the final go ‘round I sometimes would spend one to two hours working on a paragraph I had already been over eight times. I’m a real grinder when it comes to getting the words right. After a bout like that, the only celebrating I really did was to savor the deep feeling of accomplishment I get after I win a long battle with my words. I call that feeling “a writer’s high”. It’s much the same feeling a person gets after an hour of hard, physical exercise.
Okay, sounds like you know how to have a private party. But how do you work around those moments when the muse has gone and done a runner on you?
Those are tough times. There are very few things that frustrate me as much as an AWOL muse. When I go through that I’m a very unhappy camper. You know what they say, “You’re only as good as your last book.” When that muse is gone a writer can sure feel like she or he has lost their touch. When I’m going through that, the thing that snaps me out of my slump best is when I get a truly outstanding review for one of my previous books. Sometimes I’ll look at a few good ones I’d previous gotten and that will do the trick also.
Right, you might just have a winning formula there. Now, let’s first do a few of the yada yada questions before we move on to the fun. And by yada yada I do not mean boring, or in any other way stupid questions, but just the traditional ones. You know? The ones we secretly all want to know the answer to.
First, what is the title of the book you would like to talk about?
Why don’t we talk about The Last American Martyr? It’s the second of four books I’ve had published.
Great choice! I’m about to read that one. Yes, it’s next on the list to read. 🙂 And I love that cover!
Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?
Not really. The very last thing I worry about when writing a novel is what the title is going to be. As we write 50, 60, 80,000 words or more we have plenty of time for our subconscious minds to come up with something. I always come up with a title I like well before I type “The End”.
If you would have to change the genre in order to be able to publish it, what would it be then? i.e. would you conform to the market?
I’m an admitted genre-jumper, and none of my books seem to fit snugly into the confines of any single genre. I’ve had to compromise each time I’ve decided how to “categorize” one of my books. When I was trying to make a decision for The Last American Marty I wished like heck they had one called a Romantic Suspense. I’ve always thought of The Martyr as Suspense sandwiched between two gripping Romances.
Not to get off the subject Luce, but where the heck is the cream for this coffee?
Oops! I’m sorry, but you’re such a compelling guest, once you started talking I completely forgot about our coffee. Let me get you a fresh brew, with cream this time. 🙂
Right with that out of the way and to confuse you we’ll take the alternative route now.
What don’t you like about writing.
I hate the insecurity that goes hand in hand with writing. Every time I finish a book, though I always feel I outdid myself in a few passages, I fear what I’ve done might be garbage. Fortunately for me, reviewers have always quickly eliminated that fear. I have about 350 reviews for my books on Amazon, and two-thirds of them are 5-stars. I can’t tell you how blown away I have been by many of them.
What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?
Although Amazon no longer promotes “true” indie authors like they used to, the free promotions they allow Select members has brought me far more sales than everything else combined.
Tell me, when you’re on a roll, the muse is in the house and happily guiding your pen, what would seriously drive her/him away?
Good reviews pump up my muse like nothing else. When I get them Mister Muse thinks he’s ten feet tall and bulletproof. When I occasionally get a bad one, it can make the muse feel awfully wimpy. There have been times when he’s left me alone at the keyboard and headed for the hills.
What does your muse look like and does he/she ever play tricks on you?
I’ve never seen my muse, but I know he’s one finicky son-of-a-gun. Since I get up early every morning, I like to take short naps after eating lunch. When I lay there, trying to fall asleep with my mind finally off my writing, he sometimes “delivers” to me some really fandamtastic ideas that my conscious mind could never come up with. Needless to say, I ALWAYS have a pen and pad on my nightstand.
You’re right in doing so, because it has given us more than a few good books to read.
Do you ever speak to your characters and do you get along all the time?
No, I never speak to them. I, for the most part, simply put on their shoes and go where they take me.
Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?
I like to have a few cold beers most afternoons, and most of my male MCs don’t mind relaxing with a few from time to time either.
Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!
Credible or not, I’ve been coming up with too many excuses lately. Sometimes it’s because I have to do an interview (chuckle, chuckle). Sometimes I have to go outside to paint the new/old place I’m in; sometimes I have to market for a free promo; sometimes I …. Well…you get my drift, Lucy.
I do all too well Tom, all of us indies suffer from too much to do and not enough hours to do it all. Plus you have a great group of authors collected on Facebook and they want to ‘see’ you from time to time too.
And finally why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?
I’m no kid anymore, but there are still a lot of things I want to do. I’d love to move back to Maine, and I’d kill to spend six months travelling across America in an RV. If I ever hit it really BIG, and sold a ton of books, I would still write a couple of hours most mornings, but that would be it. I’d keep in touch with all my Facebook friends of course. But I would spend far less time in front of this computer.
A great wish, one I hope you will one day live. 🙂
Okay, now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂
Hmmm…let me see here. Okay, when I was younger I was knocked out twice in fights (kinda sucker-punched both times). Other those times, I can honestly say I never really lost one fight while growing up in New York. I’ve been knocked on my behind by lightening; climbed out of a stuck elevator once and jumped on moving trains more than once. I’ve been down to my last dime, made thousands of dollars in one day, quit a zillion jobs—never met a one I liked, and have lived in about ten different states. I held the record for the most sit-ups at my junior high school and once scored fifty points in a basketball game. Whoosh…there’s a lot more but I’m getting exhausted just thinking about all that.
Hahahaha, Tom that is both amazing and … Well, just indeed great story material! I am so glad you could clear your schedule to come and have coffee with me to talk a bit about you and let me showcase your books. I do hope you have enjoyed yourself today and will some day return.
Thanks heaps for having me here today, Lucy!
Let me show the readers a few of your books and where they are available for downloading.
Available at Amazon
Tom’s debut novel, Beyond Nostalgia, has been likened to such classics as Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird. Praised as “A 20th Century Gone with the Wind,” Beyond Nostalgia is a four-time Amazon Bestseller.
His second novel The Last American Martyr has been on six bestseller lists at the same time.
Blurb for The Last American Martyr.
Every now and then one small soul rises from the crowded depths of obscurity and causes the earth to wobble on its axis. This last happened in 2008 when an unemployed doorman stepped onto the worldwide stage in Stockholm and accepted The Nobel Prize for Literature.
In this me-me twenty-first century, Thomas Soles may very well be the last American martyr. This self-described “simple man” writes a book that is so powerful it brings back to life the all-but-dead international labor movement. The response to his thoughts and perceptions are astounding. Around the globe, from pole to pole, America to Zimbabwe, the footsteps of marching workers begin to tremor the earth. But not everyone is pleased.
There’s a tight-knit, elitist clique that is absolutely livid over the thoughts and ideals that fill the pages of Tom’s book. And when he and his wife, Elaina, return home from Sweden, they realize just how dangerous this profit-hungry mob can be.
Mortified by the horrible scene that awaits them inside their apartment, the Soles have no choice but to flee their longtime home. Hoping to find peace and anonymity, they bounce all over America in an RV. But they don’t find what they’re looking for. Instead they become moving targets. And everywhere they go they’re followed by a succession of life-threatening events.
Available at Amazon
His third book, Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost, has been a repeat bestseller as well.
Available at Amazon
Tom’s newest release–a novella entitled Within a Man’s Heart, came out in January 2013.
Available at Amazon
Blurb for Within a Man’s Heart
Four years after burying his young wife, New York sales executive Christian Crews still can’t move forward with his life. Day after day, treasured memories of his beloved Elyse continue to drift through his spirit like an endless procession of mournful ghosts.
Chris wants to leave Manhattan—walk away from his job and the apartment he and Elyse once shared. He dreams of moving to New Hampshire, where he feels he just might have a chance of finding peace. But in his grieving mind, breaking away from those memories would be the same as abandoning Elyse—an unforgivable act of betrayal he could never live with.
Then, on the fourth anniversary of Elyse’s death, Chris makes two shocking discoveries, and a part of him begins to believe that she would want him to go on with his life.
Two weeks later he makes the move to New Hampshire, and minutes after arriving in the small rural village of Mountain Step, he meets a beautiful local woman with mesmerizing gray eyes and a heart as big as the surrounding mountains. Beginning another emotional relationship may be the last thing on Chris’s mind, but he soon finds himself falling for Gina Elkin, every bit as hard as she’s fallen for him.
Could there be a future for them? Will Elyse allow it? After all, she’s still deep within Chris’s heart—a place no one else has ever been.
And that wraps it up. Thanks again, Tom, for coming over and sharing all of this with me and the readers. I am positive this new one will soon reach best-seller status too. If you ever have more news or just need a platform to showcase your books, give me a holler and I will be more than happy to host you again.