*Note* This blog has been updated and corrected, and images added. Thanks for being patient!
Please tell the readers a little about yourself:
I had an interesting combination of jobs in the past, including being a chemical engineer, a market research manager, a university lecturer on ad copywriting, and an editor of two different magazines. Now I’m retired and doing what I want to do—write fiction and poetry. My first novel Sissy! was highly successful, had positive reviews and won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Award. I’ve been considered for the Pulitzer on my second novel, All Parts Together, and won the Nelson Poetry Book Award for my poetry collection, The Uni Verse.
How about your latest release?
My latest release is Stories to Enjoy, a compilation of 16 short stories, some of which have won awards, others that had been previously published, and new ones written exclusively for this book. A successful novelist named Gordon Kessler loved the fact that I gave O. Henry twists that will surprise and entertain readers. These stories cover several genres—suspense, mystery, fantasy, children’s, thriller, and historical. I wanted readers to know I am comfortable in writing entertaining stories that cover a huge spectrum of life situations.
What was your primary inspiration for this book?
Since Stories to Enjoy has 16 different stories in it, I guess you can say I had 16 different inspirations. So I will pick out a couple of stories from this book to answer this question. “Breakfast Over Easy” was inspired by a friend of mine named “Doc” with whom I’d meet at a café for chai tea. Well, Doc died of pancreatic cancer. My story deals with a man who meets regularly with a guy named Larry, but one day he doesn’t show up and Larry’s fiancée’ informs him that Larry is dying from cancer. My other story, “Real Characters” was inspired by a stage play I wrote with the same title.
Do you have any muses?
The only “muse” I have which sometimes helps me drive my story forward is music. I wrote a thriller novel called Advent as I listened to Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.” It put me into a new dimension as I wrote that novel.
Do you control your characters or do they flog you into shape?
I learned early on that I cannot control my characters. When they become real to me they take on a life of their own and I watch them with fascination as they try to go in a new direction. Sometimes I let them so I could see if I agree with where they’re headed, but if they get too far afield I have to coax them to get back into the story.
When you write, is there a special routine you follow?
I wish I could say there was. I tend to write in spurts—unless I get so deeply drawn into my story and my characters that I cannot stop. This is both a good and a bad thing. Good, because I know I’m on to something. Bad, because it stops me from doing other important things, such as taking out the garbage. If you could be one animal, person, or at a place for a day what/who/where would it be? I would like to be John Steinbeck sitting on a pier in Monterey, California watching the tide roll in while trying to come up with a novel that will win me another Pulitzer or Nobel Prize.
Five random facts about you:
1. I love teaching young kids how to write.
2. I have a deep fascination for composers like Beethoven and Mozart.
3. I wish I could go deep sea fishing again (I did it only once and caught a huge salmon.)
4. Even though I have an engineering degree, I still don’t understand computers and electronic gadgets.
5. I really hate hot summers where I have to have the air conditioner on and stay indoors.
Are you working on any new releases later this year?
I have a new novel coming out next spring called Angels at Sunset. If you’re interested in knowing what it’s about please write to me.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I’m mystified by the fact that people still come up to me and say they have a great idea for a book. They either want me to write I for them (not interested in doing that) or they want me to promise I won’t steal their idea (I’ve got plenty of my own story ideas, thank you), or they say they never have time to write (but they don’t want to give up watching TV at night). Lindsay's Scribbling to this one: That is quite interesting. I didn't think people would be so brass. lol
Thanks for the interview, Tom! Here's a excerpt from his novel:
This unique collection of 16 short stories written by prize-winner Tom Mach includes stories such as "Real Characters," which is about a writer who gets his wish--that his characters come alive.... "Breakfast, Over Easy" makes you wonder about loyalty in the face of temptation.... "When Kansas Women Were Not Free" takes you to a time when women were less free than former males slaves.... "Son" make you think differently about compassion. One novelist describes STORIES TO ENJOY as "memorable and intriguing, with O. Henry twists that are sure to surprise and entertain."
She leaned forward and her eyes searched my face. “How about joining me for breakfast?” she asked.
“Okay,” I said quietly. We talked for the next hour. As I told her about my having been a Hollywood writer for five years, with important contacts such as director Ron Howard or actors like Kate Winslet or Bruce Willis, her face brightened. I wanted to learn more about her, but she never gave me the chance.
Before we parted company at the entrance door, she brushed herself against me and widened her smile. “I can make it here every Monday morning from now on if you’d like. It’d be just you and me. What do you say?”
I looked back at the empty table and stared at it for a long while. Then I returned my gaze to her. Damn, she was pretty.
“What do you say?” she asked again, this time with a hint of desperation in her voice.
And last but not least, Tom's bio:
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
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. Kansas