THOMAS: Thank you for doing this interview Penelope.
PENNY: My pleasure Tom. And call me Penny please. (smiling) Tom, you are a prolific writer, with over 140 books published. Let’s talk about your latest book. What is the title of your new book?
TOM: It’s called, Emily and David’s Quest. It’s available for preorder now for only $0.99 cents. It’s coming out on Sunday, May 15th.
PENNY: Will the price go up after the book is released?
TOM: Yes. $0.99 cents is a special price for readers who preorder the book early. After it goes on sale, the regular price will be $2.99.
PENNY: Let’s talk about the book. Who is your favorite character and why?
TOM: My favorite character is Emily. This is because she represents a lot of complexity for me as a writer. First, she’s the protagonist, and she’s a strong female character. It is all on her young shoulders. She is the one who must bear the ultimate burden of saving the world.
If she fails, the Prince of Darkness will rule the world. He has his own evil powers. He can fly. He can transform into anything he wants to to deceive people. And he has dragons and demons on his side. On the other hand, all Emily has is her courage, and David’s stories.
PENNY: That sounds like a pretty uneven fight to me.
TOM: Exactly. So, here’s my challenge as a writer. How do I make this situation, and her role, credible? What characteristics does she have that will evoke an emotional response from the reader? So, I needed to write a courageous young woman, brave, smart, determined, but at the same time, retaining her femininity. Not an easy task for any man to pull off.
PENNY: Did this require any research, and if it did, what kind?
TOM: Penny, I really have to answer “Yes” and “No.” This story makes use of a wide variety of genres. Let me name a few: Biblical / Christian fiction, historical fiction, Greek and Roman mythology, mystery, fantasy, legends, folktales, fairytales, science fiction, time travel, paranormal, allegory, sorcery, demons, and dragons.
So, yes, I had to do some background reading, especially on mythology and the biblical fiction parts. I didn’t want to recreate the Bible or the mythology in an alternate reality kind of way.
What I was looking for was a jumping off place, a point of departure. The story needed to take on a life of its own, and I’m happy with the result. That’s my “No” part, there was a story already inside of me, that was now ready to be told, no research needed. Like most writing, it was a recent personal experience that gave me the final “push” to finish writing the story. But as I said, it had been evolving, taking shape, for at least three years now.
PENNY: Tell me more about the story. What can your readers expect?
TOM: It is dialogue driven, fast paced, and unpredictable until the very last sentence of the very last page. I’m convinced the story has closure for the readers.
At the same time, any thoughts of the future will evoke more questions than answers. I don’t think it’s possible to know everything about life. Faith in things unseen is a requirement of the human condition.
And above all, the concept of redemption, a second chance, gets examined closely. What makes humans worthy of redemption, a second chance? The Bible gives sinners a very clear answer to that question.
Love. This book will cause readers to reflect on the power of redemptive love.
What is the kind of love that makes one person wiling to make the ultimate sacrifice?
How do we humans develop love that is capable of embracing another’s faults?
Is this something only God could do, or have we been given a way to do this also?
PENNY: Tom, Sunday is Mother’s Day. What would you say to your mother if she were here today, sitting there, observing you do this interview with me?
TOM: I would say to my mother:
Happy Mother’s Day Mom.
I love you more than words will ever be able to say.
There is no “me” without “you”.
You gave me life in more ways than one.
I know you and Bryan and Emma are all in heaven, looking down on me.
Another Angel, Danita Booth, recently came to heaven to join you.
Enjoy your celebration with singing and dancing with the angels in Heaven.
PENNY: Let’s return to your new book Tom. What would you compare this book to? Let me add that the book cover is amazing. I like the “Mother Earth” concept it communicates so clearly.
TOM: Thank you for the compliment on the cover, Penny. Think of all the stories about the search for the Holy Grail that you have ever heard of. The stories go way back to a Frenchman named Chrètien de Troyes, writing in the 12th century. He wrote about Camelot, King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot. Camelot is a real place in England you know. Anyway, Mr. Troyes also wrote about the Holy Grail, but he never finished it.
A hundred years later, a German, Wolfram von Eschenbach, finished it. He called it “Parsifal”, and Richard von Wagner, the great composer, turned it into an opera in three acts. Since then, there have been books, movies, etc.
But the most amazing thing is this: in Valencia Cathedral, in Valencia, Spain, they have a chalice (a cup) that is supposed to be the actual chalice of the “Holy Grail”. We’re talking about the actual cup that Jesus Christ is supposed to have consecrated his blood in at the Last Supper.
So, in terms of comparison, I’m in extraordinary good company, with artists, writers and musicians. I would say this book is a gateway, an entrance point. If you like clean Christian fiction, no sex, no violence, and full of meaning written between the lines, this is your book. Every time I read it, I discover something new, that even I wasn’t aware of when I wrote it. The writing and the reading are two separate acts, and the result is magical.
PENNY: Is there any content that some readers might find questionable despite the overall “clean” feel of the book?
TOM: To be honest, I have a good friend who is a pastor who is reading an advance copy. So far, there have been no objections to the religious content. So, I’m fairly confident I got the Biblical part right.
My niece, Raven, is 12 years old. She’s reading an advance copy. Her mother, Tonia, already read an advance copy of the story and she didn’t object to anything in the book. So, I am hopeful that it is a story with a strong female character that women and children from 12 to 100 can read and identify with.
Now, there is a little bit of animal violence in the story. There is a mouse that gets eaten by a bird. Hercules gets into a fight with a three-headed dog and a King Cobra.
There are characters with murderous intentions. There are dragons and demons running around. So, technically, this could fit on the book shelf as a horror story.
The Prince of Darkness is running around as a woman who is capable of asexual reproduction (no partner needed to have a child). The Underworld gets called by its Biblical name, Hell, a few times. So, I’m thinking Disneyland is scarier and more violent than this book. (smiling)
PENNY: (smiling) This is clean Christian fiction.
TOM: Yes it is Penny. (smiling)
PENNY: Will there be more after this?
TOM: This book, Emily and David’s Quest, has a sense of closure about it. It’s like a fairy tale in that respect. When you think of stories like “Sleeping Beauty”, “Little Red Riding Hood”, and “Cinderella”, there is closure. “The End” means “The End.” They lived happily ever after. (smiling)
Though I didn’t write the words, “and they lived happily ever after”, it is clear that no more books were meant to follow. Having said that, when you ask yourself the question, “What would the future look like?”, then the need to answer that question could ultimately insist on the further telling of the story. For me, this story ends here.
PENNY: One final question Tom. Is this book a standalone? Can it be read and enjoyed without reading Book 1 and Book 2?
TOM: Yes, it can be read as a standalone and enjoyed for its merit. The problem is when you know somebody, or meet somebody who read Book 1 and Book 2, and you didn’t.
PENNY: They have a deeper, more complete understanding of why things happened the way they did in Book 3. They have the backstory.
TOM: Right Penny. The only way a writer can get around that is to make extensive use of flashback. But if you do too much of that, you end up with an entirely different time setting. Ultimately, the structure of the story is changed.
TOM: Exactly. What I have done is combine Book 1 and Book 2 into one book. The price is only $0.99 cents. So, right now all three books are at a very special price.
PENNY: Tom, what if somebody wanted to read the first two chapters of Book 3? Is that possible?
TOM: Yes, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 can be read FREE on my Slideshare page.
PENNY: Thank you for the interview Tom, and good luck with your books.
TOM: Thank you very much Penny.