I'd like to introduce a very special friend of mine, Thomas Winship. I met Tom online and he is such a great advocate for Indie Authors, I am proud to be named among his friends. I reviewed his debut novel, Vaempires, a while ago and couldn't wait to interview Tom. You'll see why when you read his answers. He is just a great guy and a talented writer. Welcome to my Book Obsession, Tom.
1. First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a native New Yorker, living a little over an hour north of New York City. I have a BS in Business and an MBA in Management. I recently changed careers; after fifteen years in Corporate America—specializing in organizational development, talent management, and training—I moved into academe, where I now serve as MBA Director for a local college. I also teach courses in English Composition, Communications, and Business. And I write, of course …
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
I have many hobbies: I read, I listen to music (my iTunes library has 150,000 songs), I watch movies, I go to rock concerts, I attend Broadway shows.
3. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
Well, I started writing at a very young age. My memories are quite cloudy, but (apparently) my parents and the public school officials insisted that I learn to write.
The truth is: I’ve always been an avid reader, but I never gave much thought to writing. About a dozen years ago, creative writing courses taken in college started to open my eyes to the possibility… but something always seemed to be in the way.
My wife, Elaine, deserves credit for finally pushing me to follow my dream. In early 2007 she convinced me that it was time to stop wasting time, and I listened. I dusted off a short story from those college days and expanded it into a novel. It was completed during 2008.
4. How did you choose the genre you write in?
I’m pretty sure the genre chose me … nevertheless, I love that my genre has virtually no barriers or boundaries to deal with. I‘m subjected to the limitations of my imagination and talent, instead of genre formulas and expectations.
5. Where do you get your ideas?
I steal them from creative people. Let’s face it—some people are great “idea” people, but when it comes to turning an idea into “reality” … they just don’t have the wherewithal to make it happen.
That’s where I come in. I take those great ideas, tweak a few facts here and there in a half-hearted effort to conceal their origins, whip them into something resembling a finished product, and then present it to the world as my own.
Now, I’m not saying it’ll work for everyone, but I have no complaints.
Haha! I assure you that there isn’t a nugget of truth in that. In fact, the truth is much duller: I have no idea where my ideas come from (I’m just happy they do!).
6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Not yet. Oh, I have days in which finding each word is a struggle, but never a day in which words aren’t there. I’d like to say that I hope I never experience writer’s block, but how else will I ever feel like a “real” author?
7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
Up until now, most of my writing has been ‘just writing.’ I really navigated by feel and flow, letting the story more or less tell itself. Yes, some parts were plotted in broad strokes, and some small pieces were outlined in great detail, but none of it mattered once I started writing.
I am beginning to incorporate more outlining into my upcoming work. The wonderfully talented S.M. Boyce, author of The Grimoire Trilogy, has taken me under her wing and really turned me on (proverbially speaking, of course)—get your minds out of the gutter, you paranormal romance junkies!—to the benefits of outlining.
8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Stephen King influenced me the most. I grew up on his writing. He was also my introduction to horror fiction. I find everything about his writing—his character development, his attention to detail, even the way he foreshadows disaster—appealing and enviable. I realize there are readers who argue that he is too descriptive, but I disagree. In fact, when reading the works of other authors who are less descriptive, I often feel as if I’m reading an outline instead of a finished product.
I’m also influenced by JRR Tolkien’s ability to create a new universe, Jack Ketchum’s fearlessness, R.A. Salvatore’s ability to portray action, Seanan McGuire’s ability to blend drama and humor, and many of the Star Wars authors.
9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Well, my first book is still unpublished. It was a mystery/legal thriller that I entered into contests while shopping it to agents. Although it was a finalist in a nationwide contest, it didn’t win. Similarly, while many agents expressed early interest, it just never gained any real traction.
The big culprit was that the novel didn’t meet the formula for either genre. Faced with choosing between a major rewrite or moving on … I chose to move on.
After some fits and starts, I completed Væmpires: Revolution late last year. During the process, my (former) editor suggested I self-publish. Given my (a) earlier experiences with the traditional route and my (b) relative impatience, I took his advice.
The challenges continue, though (and they are plentiful!): it’s a vampire novel in an ocean of vampire novels; it’s an urban fantasy novel in a sea of paranormal romance novels; it’s more of a NA or adult series than a YA series … etc.
10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I would’ve started making social media connections much earlier. I really didn’t do anything before the book was released and moved slowly post release. I didn’t even start a book tour until the novel had been out for six months—much of which was lost time.
11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I try not to over market—which is pretty easy, since I’m not very good at it, anyway! I have a Facebook fan page, a YouTube channel, a Twitter profile, a Pinterest somethingorother … all of which I try to remain active in/on.
Book tours have worked wonders, in terms of increasing exposure and getting the word out, but the real value has been in the people I’ve connected with. Authors, bloggers, and readers … they really are wonderful people who make the whole endeavor worthwhile.
12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Yeah, I love that mystery/legal thriller and would love to see it become a reality. However, it needs so much work that it will probably never happen.
13. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I’m working on book two of the væmpires series. Væmpires: Revolution ended with a massive, shocking cliffhanger, so fans are growing quite impatient.
Because I’m not a very patient guy myself, I decided to release a novella that picks up right where book one ended. It’s titled Væmpires: Zombie Rising and will be available in October, although a pre-release book tour is set to begin on September 10th.
Here’s a sneak peek—a short snippet (a short, unedited snippet) from Væmpires: Zombie Rising:
Crimson blood spurted as the body and head fell in opposite directions. Hot, væmpire blood that smelled like rancid meat hit the sidewalk in uneven splatters that reminded Linq of a drunken frat boy urinating in a back alley.
Then two things happened at once: he sensed a væmpire—yet another new arrival—closing in, while Ray yelled, “Watch out!”
Before he could react, Linq was grabbed from behind. Strong arms encircled him; hot, sweaty væmpire arms that felt like steel pincers. Linq’s own arms were pinned to his sides as his adversary squeezed him like a vise.
The pressure was tremendous and Linq panicked, throwing his head back in an attempt to crush the væmpire’s nose. He knew it was a mistake as he did it, but his reaction was quicker than his thoughts.
The væmpire dodged the blow, and then did the unthinkable: his head flashed forward and he sunk his fangs into Linq’s exposed neck.
Every cell in Linq’s body erupted in unmitigated pain. Nothing in his education, nothing in his imagination—in his nightmares, perhaps, but not his imagination—nothing in his experience or training had prepared him for such pain.
His eyes rolled back in his head and his jaw snapped shut, his fangs slicing deep into his tongue. He didn’t even notice.
Then the væmpire drank.
14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Everything is pure fiction.
15. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite chapter (also one of the hardest to write) is the book’s final scene.
It was really tough to write because there was a lot riding on it. Yes, there’s always a lot riding on a book’s ending … but this was my book. I’m a firm believer in strong endings—I detest books that deliver the goods all the way through … and then drop the ball at the end, so I needed to please myself as a reader. And I did. It came out better than I dared hope and darned close to what I envisioned.
I’d like to offer a very special “thank you” to Christie for inviting me to her site. I hope everyone enjoys the interview. I’d love to hear what you think of it and/or answer any additional questions you may have. Post comments or questions below and I’ll be sure to respond.
Feel free to stop by my website and reach out. I’d love to hear from you if you check out Vaempires.
About the Author
Thomas Winship was born in Middletown, NY (USA) and still resides in Orange County. He holds an MBA in Management from St. Thomas Aquinas College, where he serves as MBA Director and adjunct professor of courses in English Composition, Communications, and Business. He also spent fifteen years working for a global pharmaceutical company, specializing in organizational development, talent management, and training.
Tom writes in his spare time. His first novel, a mystery/legal thriller entitled Temporary Insanity (a.k.a. Case Closed), was a 2008 finalist in a national contest but failed to garner industry attention. His second novel, Væmpires: Revolution, was published in October and a follow-up novella, Væmpires: White Christmas, was published in December.
He is an avid collector of books, comic books, music, and movies. His interests are diverse: on any given day, Tom is likely to be found watching a horror movie, attending a hard rock concert, or enjoying a Broadway show.
He is currently working on the next installment of the “Væmpires” series, which is scheduled for a 2012 release.
Thanks for being with us today, Tom. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work.