Interviewed by Jon Michaelsen
Tom, thank you so much for taking time to answer some questions for members of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction facebook group. Glad to be aboard! Thanks.
Let’s start off with where are you from and live now? I know you live in my city, HOTlanta, but am unsure what area.
I was born and raised here in the big city—in Doraville, then moved to Norcross when I was three. I’ve lived in the area (it’s a suburb north of Atlanta) ever since, except for a six month period I was in San Diego.
As you probably know, writers rarely like to toot their own horns…lol, but what would you say is your greatest accomplishment so far?
Huh. You’re right, I don’t really like to call attention to what I’ve done, but it’s one of those things you have to do to get noticed. LOL. I’d have to say the Pulp Friction series that Laura Harner, Lee Brazil and Havan Fellows and I started last year. We each write a novella every two months, alternating, and bring in each other’s characters. For the finale, we co-wrote a rather explosive story that brought all the loose ends together. It was fun, original and hugely successful.
Without getting too personal, would you share a little about your home life?
Sure. I have a home in Norcross, which I share with my ex-partner. I have a rescue dog, a Boston Terrier-chihuahua mix; I had three others that I raised since they were pups, but lost them all in the past eight months (they were all 13+ years old). Right now, I’m writing full-time, having some health issues that make working full time impossible. I’m single, always looking for someone that can put up with my grouchy self, and love love LOVE reading.
You are relatively new on the writing scene as I understand, but have quickly made your mark. What inspires and challenges you most in your writing?
I think I’m most inspired by the new voices that keep showing up in the genre. So many people pooh-pooh those of us who choose to write gay romance, or gay mystery/action/adventure, but I have been very much impressed by the talent I’ve seen. It pushes me to be better, and to stretch outside the box with my next project.
And I have a small group of really good friends who challenge me every day. Will Parkinson and Laura Harner hunt me down and make sure I’m putting at least a paragraph down on paper. Even on those days I want to just watch Judge Judy, they make me think, and that’s the most important thing for me.
You have released a very thrilling mystery/thriller series set in Atlanta known as the “Knight” series. In the first book, City Knight, ex-cop Marcus, who buried his heart years ago, is working the streets to keep them safe when he meets, Ben, who is also working the streets; selling himself for money. Both men collide very early on in a whirlwind suspenseful thriller that I could not put down. What influenced you to create such damaged characters as Marcus and Ben?
It’ s funny—I had no idea what I was going to do as my part of the Pulp Friction series, and the four of us I talked about above had a conference meeting and hashed out the big picture. The series was to be set in Atlanta, it would feature cops, and they would all know each other. When I sat down to write, Marcus came through loud and clear. Then I started typing and Ben was there. He was young, a smart ass, but hurt so badly he’d shut himself off from love. Then Marcus was there, watching him and something in Ben called out to Marcus. Their backstories were there in the next moment—seriously—and they practically screamed in my head to be put together. I got criticized a little for how quickly they fell in love, but it had to happen that way. They sparked, then they had to get to know each other and the love held them together when their pasts tried to pull them apart.
You have also published the first in a planned series, The Broken Road Café, taking the story out of the big city and to the mountains of Blue Ridge, Georgia. What was your inspiration for such a gorgeous setting?
My parents used to take my little brother and me up to Helen and into the mountains every fall for picnics. Then I started renting cabins in Blue Ridge during the summer, and I just love the area. Laura asked me one day when I was griping about my frustrations with my job—what would you do if there weren’t any barriers? I’ve always wanted to own a restaurant, and wouldn’t it be wonderful to set it in the mountains where the people would have different kinds of mysteries and secrets? I started BRC the next day.
Can you provide readers an update on the next Broken Road Café installation?
Absolutely. I am about half-way through it, and working on it every day. I had surgery on my right hand and couldn’t type, and am healing up nicely and able to get back to work, so I am planning on a May release, June at the latest.
Have had you ever had to deal with homophobia after your gay novels are released, and if so, what form has it taken?
No, I haven’t. I’ve always tried to work with gay-friendly agencies, and the friends I have are very supportive of my writing. My first novel, Second Chances, is semi-autobiographical, and a lot of my family read it. I have seven brothers and sisters, and they sometimes are uncomfortable with my homosexuality, but I’ve learned to deal with it. At my age, and being the next to the youngest of eight, I tell them to fuck off and they do the same when we disagree. Then we hug it out. So it’s all good.
I know which living actor I would chose to portray the hunky protagonist, Marcus, from your Knight series in a movie – who would you pick? What about Ben?
I picture Clive Owen or George Clooney for Marcus. That look is just him. Although I could see Daniel Craig there too. For Ben? Hmm. Ryan Reynolds. Or Chris Evans. *sighs*
Last question; With the Knight series and now The Broken Road Café series, you have chosen to end each novella with a cliffhanger, clearly a successful move for you. Have you had to deal with much backlash? (Such as the time I waited with baited breath for City Knight to release and when the last page was done, fired off an email to you demanding the next installment? J)
Oh yeah. People say they won’t buy the books until the whole series is out. Some of the reviews on Good Reads have been brutal. But for every one of them, there’s another person who says, God I hate you but I love Ben or Marcus or Dan, and I have to know NOW what happens. Broken Road Café actually had a very different ending, but I was threatened with bodily harm if I did what I wanted to do.
But seriously, I try to keep my readers engaged. I leave things open so they can play with my characters in their own minds. Most go Ah when the next installment does come out, and they are happy with what I do.
On behalf of the Facebook Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time today, answering questions fans of the genre want to know.
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