TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Thomas: I don’t really have any ‘quirks’ or routines I go through when I write, although after reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, I’m thinking of how to appease the Muse every day. Maybe offerings of dedication, hard work, focus, and Red Bull would be best. Or chocolate.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Thomas: I have four favorites who have also been the biggest influences on my work. Chronologically, Ian Fleming comes first—I was reading the James Bond novels when I was eight. I loved the action and exotic adventures; as an Army brat, I could relate somewhat to the international scope of the stories. Next is Graham Masterton, an English horror writer for whom Donovan Graham, my hero, is named. He was the first writer I read who combined action/thriller elements with horror, primarily in the Harry Erskine books (The Manitou, etc.). Great fun stuff. These two writers (and others, like Michael Crichton) shaped my sense of action and thriller, but it took Robert B. Parker to really give me a sense of character within the genre. Parker’s Spenser novels (particularly the first dozen) introduced me to action/thriller/noir stories that were more than just gunfights and smart-ass characters. Those exist within the stories, but because of Parker’s skill, they’re just one facet of his emotionally complex characters. Finally, the work of Paolo Coelho has given me insight into myself and a philosophy of the world that informs my work. The Alchemist, Warrior of the Light and The Fifth Mountain in particular among his books have expanded my perspective and enabled me to approach my life and my writing with fresh energy.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Thomas: I think you need some of both to be able to fully express your work. I plot with a pretty good amount of detail because it gives me a sense of direction and of security that I’m not going to go round in circles. As a story unfolds, though, a fair amount of it tends to be rendered useless by events that occur. That’s where pantsing comes into it—you’ve got to be able to write on your feet when that happens, and be able to keep your story in sight as you let your characters come to life.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Thomas: Sitting my ass in the chair and getting down to it. Pressfield refers to it as ‘Resistance’ with a capital ‘R’, and he’s absolutely right. Sometimes I can actually feel a force pushing me away from the computer when I try to sit and work. I have no problem thinking about writing, plotting, concepting, whatever. I get a lot of thinking done in the shower—hot water gets the blood circulating to my brain, I guess. But when it comes down to actually putting words on paper, man it’s tough sometimes. To paraphrase Harlan Ellison, I try to write often enough, so I’ll eventually burn the crap out of my system and write something someone will want to read.
TQ: Describe FAUSTUS RESURRECTUS in 140 characters or less.
Thomas: Donovan Graham learns reality is flexible when he fights a 16th Century sorcerer, the King of Hell and demonically-possessed homeless to save the woman he loves. (136) (Whew!)
TQ: What inspired you to write FAUSTUS RESURRECTUS?
Thomas: It’s the kind of book I’ve always wanted to read but could never find—a lot of action and cool things like monsters, but with characters who are real. What’s been lacking for me in books I see on the market is a real sense of emotional involvement (let’s face it, even Fleming referred to James Bond as ‘a cardboard booby’). I’ve found as I’ve gotten older, that’s what makes a really good novel to me. It annoys me to see a potentially good story with action and all kinds of cool things suck because the author didn’t take a few extra seconds to think his characters’ motivations through. I don’t want to fall into that trap, and so I wrote FAUSTUS RESURRECTUS bearing it in mind.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for FAUSTUS RESURRECTUS?
Thomas: A lot. I like to get everything as exact as possible. One of my concerns is that someone, somewhere, will read something I’ve written and say, “That’s not how it is,” and I’ll lose my credibility with them. Building a trust with the reader is an important thing to me—I want them to know that when they pick up a Donovan Graham novel, it’s going to be a great read, and I’m not going to cheat them. For this book, researching was fairly simple, because it’s set all over the New York City area, where I live. Going to places like the NY Medical Examiner’s morgue, Central Park and the NY Aquarium was convenient. Research like that is one of my favorite things about writing; you meet a ton of cool, helpful people and get a real inside scoop on the way things are. The next book in the series, SIGN OF THE GYPSY QUEEN, involved a little more travel which, although it can be limiting in experiencing what your characters do, is also great. In that situation, you take as many pictures and notes as you can, then rely on the computer and that Interweb thing the kids are all talking about these days.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Thomas: The easiest character to write was probably Father Carroll. Writing him was a way for me to express how I view faith—my experience of reading priest characters in popular fiction always has them as miserable drunks, recovering alcoholics, or people struggling with their religion. Father Carroll is none of those things; I enjoyed putting myself in his place, a place where most of life’s anxieties have been relieved by faith in God. Maybe one day I’ll get there…
Hardest to write was Donovan himself. He’s the main character not just of the book but of the series; I was extremely concerned I that I didn’t screw him up. He’s like my kid—I wanted the best for him, but not at the expense of story. ‘Mary Sue’ inclinations aside, he has to be real, and that means he has to fail and not know things and make mistakes. That’s tough to see, let alone cause.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what are your favorite scenes in FAUSTUS RESURRECTUS?
Thomas: The scene at the NY Aquarium was fun; a lot of good action there, and I had to go to the aquarium a few times to make sure I got details right. I also like whenever we see Donovan in his restaurant element; years of tending bar finally pays off in writing verisimilitude! The Donovan/Joann scenes (one in particular, about which I won’t go into detail—you’ll know it when you read it) are all good, and of course, everything in Central Park.
TQ: What’s next?
Thomas: Well, as I mentioned above, the second book in the series, SIGN OF THE GYPSY QUEEN, is already well underway. It picks up a few months after the end of FAUSTUS RESURRECTUS. I’ve also got some other projects I’d like to do if I can finally escape the grind of bartending full-time. Oh, and I’m two semesters into my MFA in Creative Writing, Pop Fiction, from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program. If all goes well, I’ll graduate in July 2013. If not, I may be trapped in Hell until Donovan gives me a hand.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Thomas: Thanks for having me. I appreciate the opportunity.
About Faustus Resurrectus
Faustus ResurrectusDonovan Graham 1
Night Shade Books, April 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 300 pages
Unholy murder is just the beginning of the ritual...
When Donovan Graham, newly-graduated occult scholar, helps the NYPD investigate a man killed by scorpions in a midtown hotel, he learns the world is far stranger and deadlier than his studies ever suggested. Evidence forces his academic skepticism to give way to astonished belief that ancient evil exists, and the more he investigates, the higher it rises to overshadow the normality of his life. Can he save those he loves from its power?
In a Central Park overrun with madness, a suave sociopath seeks to achieve his darkest desires by tearing apart the world. Battling him through death and beyond, Donovan risks his soul to learn reality is flexible, and even the impossible can be had if a high enough price is paid...
Read Thomas' 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blog - WHY? - here.
About Thomas Morrissey