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Tom Winton Interviewed by Alex Martin

Alex Martin – In The Plotting Shed

Author of novels including The Twisted Vine and the Katherine Wheel Trilogy (Daffodils, Peace Lily and Speedwell)

Alex Martin’s books

In The Plotting Shed

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

A warm welcome to Tom Winton in the Plotting Shed

 

Hi Tom, and welcome to the Plotting Shed.  Thanks for coming all the way from Georgia, in America. How do my Welsh hills compare for scenery?

“I live in the mountains so I love your outlook from The Plotting Shed.”

It’s a nice day, fancy a beer on the decking? I hope you are comfortable. Let’s begin.

“I’d love one, thanks.”

 

1.                       Would you say you are a country mouse or a town mouse, Tom?

“I’d tell either one of them to stop mousing around and loading up on cheese. Then I’d tell those “meeces” to read my books.  LOL”
2.                       Haha, nice one. What’s your working routine like for an average writing day. Or do you just write when you can?
“When I’m finished doing what needs to be done around the homestead, and jerking around online with networking and marketing, I usually start tapping keys at about 3 PM. Some authors can write for 14 hours straight, but I’m not one of them. If I get two hours in every day, and 500 to 1,000 words, I’m satisfied with myself. If I miss one day, though, it affects me. I can really come down on myself. ”
3.                      How many books have you written so far, Tom?
“In the past five years I’ve had seven novels published, one collection of short stories, and four individual shorts. I also have all my full-length books out in audio now, and some have been translated in various languages.”
4.                        Wow, good going. Would you describe your genre? I know you write romance, so would you say that was different for a guy?
“Yes, Alex, romance has a way of finding itself into all my books. Is that different than what most guys write? Maybe so, but I think romance is an essential element of the human condition, just like the many lessons the characters in my books learn while trying to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.
As far as my genre is concerned, I’m a self-admitted first-degree “genre jumper and mixer.” Just as readers will find romance in my stories, they’ll also find plenty of suspense and quite often a considerable amount of travel.”
5.                      Have you got your own special writing station at home? What do you consider to be essential equipment?
“For the first time in my life, I now have my own “office” to write in. We moved from Florida to the North Georgia Mountains 18 months ago, and we’ve turned the third bedroom of our new place into my writing station.
As for tools, I still have in a bookcase behind me here the well-worn red dictionary and blue thesaurus I used for years. But I rarely pick them up anymore. Now all I do is click my cursor on a word I want to research and it takes me right to either the dictionary or thesaurus. My other tools are my computer, a used desk, a $5.00 second-hand office chair, a copier, calendar, pens and a pad or two. Those things along with the pen and pad on my nightstand, and a little inspiration, are all I need. When my muse shows up for duty I’m always good to go. ”
6.                      Do you enjoy research?
“I don’t mind a little research here and there, like an occasional Google search. But when more than that is required I absolutely hate it. If I need to break away from my writing for too long, it sometimes screws up my continuity. Let’s face it, when you have to tear yourself away from a single paragraph to look up four different things, it makes it harder to get back into the rhythm of the prose.
But nowadays there is an upside to researching. I’ve got more information available at my fingertips (accessible with my computer) than there is in any library in the entire world. And I can almost always find out what I need to know in just seconds.”
7.                      What keeps you motivated and how long have you been writing?
“What motivates me more than anything else are the fine folks who read my books. I certainly don’t enjoy the fame of a Stephen King or James Patterson, but I do have a following now. And believe me, despite my considerable number of modest writing successes, there have been many times I felt like running a garage sale and selling those writing tools I mentioned earlier. But I haven’t done that yet. And it’s because I know there are loyal readers out there who are waiting for my next book. Then again, my gold-gilded dreams of someday signing with a big publisher have a bit to do with why I keep tapping keys, too.”
8.                      What jobs did you do before you became a writer, or do you still work as well as write?
“I’m, retired now (ha, I put in more hours than I ever did). But during my working years I did everything from driving a taxi cab in some of New York’s most dangerous neighborhoods to driving railroad spikes in the Colorado Rockies. I’ve also dug ditches, been a sales executive in N.Y.C., and done most everything in between. The problem is I’ve always had a short attention span—once I “mastered” something it bored me to tears. I guess I should have realized much earlier in life that I was destined to become an author.”
9.                      What’s your current project (s)?
“Right now I’m putting the finishing touches on a short book about the adventures and misadventures my wife and I have had in the Florida Keys. You see, we’ve been going down there for more than 40 years now. Although I’d been to that magical string of islands once before Blanche ever had, we first went together in 1974. That time we had driven her canary yellow Chevy Vega through New York City in the cold predawn darkness, trying to beat an oncoming blizzard that was bearing down on the Big Apple. We were on our way to Key West to get married down there. Heck, that 1400 mile trip was a story in itself.”
10.       What are the high’s and low’s of a writing life for you?
“Believe it or not, the high point of my writing career ended up being the low point as well. It happened in the summer of 2011, after I had sent out a batch query letters to literary agents for my first novel—Beyond Nostalgia. Within a period of just 30 days, I actually had ten agents ask to see the manuscript. That’s right ten of them! Ask any writer you know and they’ll tell you that’s almost unheard of. At any rate, I struggled to keep myself from getting my hopes too high. And it’s a good thing I did, although the outcome still hurt like hell. Every one of those goofy agents decided not to represent me. Sure, half of them said that the book just wasn’t quite right for them, and that they were “sure” I’d find a willing agent. But in the end there was no cigar.
Nevertheless, a short time later a small publisher offered to publish the book, I signed with them, and Beyond Nostalgia went on to become a bestseller. For about four months Amazon featured the book on their Kindle home page. It sold thousands of copies and it was continually ranked near the very top of the Contemporary Romance category. It also hit the Barnes & Noble “Top 100”. But I’m still not over the disappointment I suffered, because I truly believe that had I lassoed a good agent and bigger publisher Beyond Nostalgia could have been a huge seller. On the bright side, though, I have since self-published six more novels and every one of them has become a bestseller as well.

Alex, I really enjoyed answering the questions and appreciate you asking me to be on your site.”

 

Great talking to you Tom. What an interesting life you’ve lead while you went around the houses before caving into your destiny.

Tom’s brand new book – A New Dawn in Deer Isle. Released just over a month ago, it too has already been an Amazon bestseller and “Hot New Release”.

Here’s the link for  A NEW DAWN IN DEER ISLE  http://amzn.com/B01B8MZMQA

FINAL Deer Isle Cover

 

Tom’s Author page on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Tom-Winton/e/B005H2T7AA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Tom’s Website – http://tomwintonauthor.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Tom-Winton-206609429356346/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/TomWinton

Tom Winton’s Book Links:
A New Dawn in Deer Isle – http://amzn.com/B01B8MZMQA
Forever Three – http://amzn.com/B00S8JKS5M
A Second Chance in Paradise – http://amzn.com/B00GM2IR64
Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost – http://amzn.com/B008FBXENQ
The Last American Martyr – http://amzn.com/B005GFM764
Beyond Nostalgia – http://amzn.com/B00650O686
Within A Man’s Heart – http://amzn.com/B00B29JHR0

Interview on Digital Book Today

Author Interview #156: Beyond Nostalgia by Tom Winton

February 4, 2013

By

Beyond NostalgiaOur interview today is with Tom Winton author of several books including Beyond Nostalgia (4.3 stars, 76 reviews). Before we get to the interview a brief book description: Dean Cassidy looks back on a life filled with hardship and remembers Theresa Wayman, the bright spark that lit up his world when he was eighteen. As an adult, many years later, Cassidy continues his struggle to be successful in life, but can’t move past his betrayal and loss of Theresa. Beyond Nostalgia is a poignant story about growing up, making choices, betrayal, forgiveness and moving on. Cassidy and Theresa find inspiration, joy and acceptance together in their world of dysfunctional families and economic hardships. But one night Cassidy, in a drunken stupor, makes a terrible choice that costs him his relationship with Theresa. Twenty-five years later, with the encouragement of his devoted wife, Cassidy focuses his sadness and angst into writing a book – a book that will eventually lead him to another crossroad in his life and redemption from his suffering.

Interview with Tom Winton

You wrote Beyond Nostalgia with a pen dipped in your soul, Tom. How much of you and who you are is invested in the book?

Although Beyond Nostalgia is a work of fiction, many of Dean’s experiences and beliefs are my own. Some of the scenes are embellished; some are exactly as they happened; a few I plucked from the rampant thoughts and ideas that sometimes whiz in and out of my mind.

How long ago did you write it?

I finished it almost twelve years ago. It took two-and-a-half years to write, and I did nine edits—that’s right—nine edits. But those days are over. Beyond Nostalgia was my debut novel, and being a new writer at the time, I was very uncertain about my work. When I reworked my next two manuscripts, I only did two or three drafts for each one.

Why did you give up on it initially?

I didn’t have a MFA or any literary training. I didn’t even know what a past participle was, but in my gut, I really thought I had something very special. The only other person who read it was my wife, Blanche, and she loved it. But we all know how overly generous our loved ones can be when it comes to critiquing our work. Nevertheless, Beyond Nostalgia did garner the interest of a few agents. Each requested a few chapters, said nice things about them, but ultimately told me to hit the bricks. At that point I figured I was wrong—BN wasn’t as good as I’d thought it was.

What made you haul it back out of the closet?

For the benefit of anybody who hasn’t read about it—when I gave up on BN, I disgustedly threw the manuscript into a closet, and there it stayed for eleven years. Alongside it, on that closet floor, I also left a piece of my soul. I wrote virtually nothing from then on. And I wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around. I sorely missed the elation one feels after a productive writing session—what I call “a writer’s high.”

Anyway, one morning in December of 2009 I was at my local library. I had already chosen the books I wanted to check out but still had some time to kill. I sat down and looked through a copy of Writer’s Digest.  As I leafed through the pages of the magazine, I stumbled across an interesting article about online sites for aspiring writers. Two days later I uploaded my old manuscript onto one of them.

I am also a child of the 60s. The Vietnam conflict . . . the music, the angst and the awakening revolution . . . this is a powerful combination, did you choose the time frame because it fitted your personal comfort/discomfort zone?

The beginning of Beyond Nostalgia takes place in the late 60’s because many of the story’s “unimagined events” took place back then. It was a natural starting point— done deal from the outset. Plus, a certain richness has been added to the story (I hope) by its many references to the styles, mindsets, music, and world-events of those wondrous years.

How much of you is written into Dean?

Quite a bit. After all, most fiction writers ladle their stories from an entire stew of events—happenings they lived, heard about, or conjured up in their minds. What other ingredients do we have to work with? Granted, if one chooses to write sci-fi, they will obviously go heavier on the conjuring ingredient, but they’ll still add dashes of their experiences, thoughts, and stories they’ve heard.

The descriptions of life are so painfully accurate, did you shed tears over this book?

Yes, while writing each draft there were times when a real tear or two splashed on my keyboard. There were also times when I laughed, put on a nostalgic smile, even got turned on a little. One time I actually had a panic attack and had to dash out the front door—I’m still trying to figure out what brought that on.

Theresa is so very real, is she based on an actual person?

Yes and no. Theresa is based on a few young ladies I knew back in the day. A couple of them show up in her character far more often than others.

What happened when you first posted Beyond Nostalgia on Authonomy?

That was when all my dusty hopes came back to life . . . excuse me . . . a surge of emotion just shot through my body like an adrenaline rush as I typed the beginning of this sentence. My eyes watered a little and a rash of goose bumps rose on my arms. Some people look at me and think I can be imposing, but deep inside I’m highly emotional. Maybe that’s why I write.

Anyway, back to your question. I posted Beyond Nostalgia on Authonomy on December 8th of 2009. Actually, my wife did it for me. I was very close to computer illiterate at the time but have gotten considerably better with this contraption.

A day or two after we posted it, I received my first review. I distinctly remember the man saying, ‘This is far better than most of what I’ve read on this site . . . .” Immediately, I checked out his bio-page and found out he’d been active on the site for several years. I couldn’t believe it. The manuscript had lain in that closet for eleven years, and here was a complete stranger reaffirming my lost beliefs. I was euphoric.

In its first full month on Authonomy, BN was rated (in the monthly rankings) third in Romance, 4th in Literary Fiction, and I think 9th overall—out of 6,000 books. You can just imagine how I felt. A short time later I uploaded the opening chapters onto Random House’s YouWriteOn website for writers. Six weeks after that it finished in the top five and was in contention for the site’s “2011 Book of the Year.”

Were you surprised by the reaction?

I had thought that the book was good, despite its grammatical and punctuation errors. But, once again, nobody but my wife had really read it. Yes, I was surprised that it was so well received. The book was reviewed on Authonomy more than four-hundred times, and most of them were very, very encouraging. More than a few reviewers compared my book to those of some very famous authors (living and dead), but I wouldn’t name them here for fear of embarrassing myself.

I’ve read the book. It hits at gut-level . . . no punches pulled in the pain stakes, yet it is tender and at times almost unbearably moving, how did you feel as you wrote it?

Once again, I went through the whole gamut of emotions I mentioned earlier. I hoped the writing would have the same impact on readers as it did on me. I didn’t know if that was possible until some of the ladies told me that I’d made their mascara run, and a few men admitted they had tears in their eyes. What finer compliment could any writer (published or unpublished) ask for?

Did shelving the book all that time affect you and the way you felt about writing?

Definitely—in a very negative way. Like I said, I wasn’t fun to be around. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a total Frankenstein. My biggest issue was living with myself. I’ve always been an extremely merciless self-critic. Around people I was still OK. It was my own mind that suffered the brunt of the unhappiness; my mind and my wife, Blanche. She lived with me day after day—she put up with all my persistent depressed behavior. She and she alone, is who I modeled Dean’s wife, Maddy Frances after in Beyond Nostalgia. She, like Maddy Frances, deserves to be canonized a living saint.

As far as the writing went during those years, it was all but nonexistent. I think I managed three or four short stories. That was it. During all that unproductive time, I deeply missed that wonderful high you get after a good, thousand-word morning.

What now . . . where do you intend taking “Beyond Nostalgia”?

You know, sometimes I think my skin isn’t thick enough for this writing racket. Talk about emotional peaks and valleys, I’ve had them. A few months back, when I was winding down on Authonomy, I fired out a ton of queries. In one month I had ten agents ask to see all or part of BN—FOUR IN ONE DAY! Can you imagine that? My God, I was riding high. That afternoon while sitting out on the porch with Blanche, I picked out an age-enhanced Matt Damon to play the part of Dean in my sure-to-come blockbuster movie. I wanted Scorcese or Stone to be my director and had half the soundtrack figured out. But an hour after dinner the same old doubts started circulating my gray matter, again. Deep inside there, seven agents or no seven agents, I still saw the same half-empty glass. As it turned out, I was correct. None of them took BN. Two did say they were sure I’d find the right agent—“soon,” but that wasn’t good enough. Though I still felt that with just a bit of good editing by an agent or publisher the book could fly, I’d pretty much given up.

Did the positive feedback you received for “Beyond Nostalgia” encourage you to pick up your writers pen and start something new?

Yes, without a doubt. I’ve since written two more novels. Entitled, The Last American Martyr and Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost, they, too, have been multi-category, Amazon Bestsellers—several times each.

What next for Tom Winton?

I’m now finished with the final draft of a new romance novella. The title is Within a Man’s Heart, and I hope to have it “out there” by the time you post this interview.  After that, the plan is to go to work on a family memoir. I’ve got some stories that folks will not believe. All I’ll have to do is get them down just right; then tie them all together.

Thank you very much, Anthony, for interviewing me here on Digital Book Today. I truly appreciate the opportunity to connect with you and your readers.

Social media and buy links:

Connect with Tom Winton: Tom’s WebsiteFacebook / Twitter

Beyond Nostalgia: Amazon /   Amazon UK

The Last American Martyr: Amazon /   Amazon UK

Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost: Amazon /   Amazon UK