It’s my great pleasure to tell you today we’re joined by author Tom Mach. An accomplished novelist with some incredible credentials, Tom brings us a fascinating guest blog about how his array of life experiences offers fodder for his stories. Here, Tom explains his (very successful, I might add) “bounce” – a look at how his life has affected his writing. In many ways, this is a deeply personal story–one I’m sure you guys will appreciate and enjoy. Stay tuned until the end and you’ll find out about a FANTASTIC $50 giveaway . . . it’s just a comment away! :c) Tom, welcome, and take it away!
HOW DOES ONE BECOME A “BOUNCE AROUND” AUTHOR? | Tom Mach
How can someone show sensitivity and love in the adventures of a lost cat (Homer the Roamer), travel to a space station (Advent) and brutally stab a priest (An Innocent Murdered)? I did—as an author—but I admire those writers who stay with one genre throughout their lives—people like John Grisham who only write about some lawyer involved in a crime or Nora Roberts, who only writes steamy romance novels. I can’t do that because I’m one of those “bounce-around” authors who go from genre to genre—sort of like people who move from being an engineer to being a marketing professional to tutoring kids to being a poet to working as an office receptionist. (Actually, I’ve done all those things and it helped widen my horizon as a writer.)
Each of the books I’ve authored has in some way been a reflection of either my experience or my deepest struggles. I personally don’t believe writers who claim they can simply sit down and write a story out of thin air. In my case, I’ve written a murder mystery (An Innocent Murdered), two historical novels (Sissy! and All Parts Together), a techno-thriller (Advent), a children’s book (Homer the Roamer), and a collection of short stories (Stories to Enjoy). Yet in each case, I took a piece of myself and the puzzle pieces of my experiences, shaped them, changed them, and created a story with believable characters and an intriguing plot.
For instance, when I wrote An Innocent Murdered, a mystery concerning a priest who is murdered because some mistakenly thought he was a pedophile, I was angry. I began my first draft of this novel about 18 years ago when the media was focused on accusations about Catholic priests being child molesters. From the way journalists and columnists wrote their articles about this, it appeared that all priests were guilty of this horrendous crime—even though the vast n majority of priests would never do such a thing. Writing this novel was my way of getting on my soapbox to tell the public how mistaken they were in accusing everyone. I drew upon my knowledge of Catholic priests and nuns, which was easy for me since I was a practicing Catholic myself. But since that novel wasn’t working for me at that, I put it aside and completely rewrote it just about a year ago. I’m glad I did because now An Innocent Murdered is one of my best books.
During this time frame while my mystery novel was on hold, I turned to my first love—history, especially concerning the Civil War era. The result was Sissy! a historical novel about a young lady named Jessica Radford living in 1862 Kansas. But how was I able to make the switch from that contemporary murder mystery I had started earlier to this historical one? The only rationale explanation I can think of is that I’ve compartmentalized my mind into different areas—such as history, astronomy, social justice, children’s stories, and biblical prophecy. I must admit, it was a pleasant break for me to switch from writing a whodunit mystery to writing a historical novel about the Civil War. I created a different sort of tension for myself when I did that—the tension of building up a hatred that resulted in a single murder of a priest to government-sanctioned mass murder in the Civil War.
I could credit my muse for shifting me into different directions. But my muse is not one of the seven sisters of Greek mythology but some sort of spark that changes the ordinary into the extraordinary. An idea might strike me as I’m sipping a latte at Starbucks or lifting weights in a gym and I’ll play with that idea throughout the day. I love to use “what if” scenarios to get my muse thinking in different directions—and I don’t relegate it to a specific genre. For instance, I created a “what if” scenario in a short story I wrote entitled “The Plot to Kill Lincoln Again”, which appeared in Stories to Enjoy. I asked myself what if you could travel back to Ford’s Theatre in April, 1865 with the intent of preventing the Lincoln assassination? Once you open the “what if” door, all sorts of possibilities crash through. An author can also look at a predicable story and make it unpredictable. For example, in Advent, the reader thinks that the world’s problems are solved when a deadly comet misses the earth…but it isn’t because the earth’s second sun is making its rendezvous to our planet—and now you’ve got the reader worried again.
Switching from one type of story to another is not difficult. It’s like turning off the light in one room and turning it on in another. And for me that makes writing fun.
AN INNOCENT MURDERED blurb | Tom Mach
Father O’Fallon has been murdered, and police officer Jacinta Perez is arrested and charged. Detective Matt Gunnison, however, is not convinced and with the help of Susan, an ex-nun, he discovers a fascinating link between the priest’s death and the death of a child 25 years ago. Will Matt be able to solve both murders? See video: http://t.co/H1siZOg
Tom Mach wrote two successful historical novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, both of which have won rave reviews and were listed among the 150 best Kansas books in 2011.Sissy! won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award while All Parts Together was a viable entrant for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Award. He also wrote a collection of short stories entitled Stories To Enjoy which received positive reviews. Tom’s other novels include: An Innocent Murdered, Advent, and Homer the Roamer.
His poetry collection, The Uni Verse, won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. In addition to several awards for his poetry, Writer’s Digest awarded him ninth place in a field of 3,000 entrants. His website is: www.TomMach.com He also has a popular blog for writers of both prose and verse at http://tommach.tumblr.com
AN INNOCENT MURDERED | Excerpt
“No, I understand. Do you think Matt and I can have access to the former rectory? We’d like to look around.”
“Well, I guess not, but why in the world would you want to look around over there?”
Matt showed him his badge. “It’s part of an investigation we’re doing on the murder of that child.”
“By all means, check it out.” He opened a desk drawer and took out a key attached to a plastic tag. “Here, take this.”
Matt pocketed the key and was about to leave when the man stopped him.
“That place is haunted, you know,” the old man said.
Thank you all so much for joining us. The video trailer for AN INNOCENT LOST is below–check it out, then leave your comments to welcome Tom and let him know what you think. Tom, it’s been an honor. Thank you!
Tom will be giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to the best comment during his tour, and your chance to win starts RIGHT HERE. The more you comment on his various tour dates, the better your chance to win! After leaving your comment here today, click here to see other tour dates with more opportunities to enter.