Name: Thomas Pluck
Where are you from?
Nutley, New Jersey, USA
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
Tom: I studied at Rutgers University in English Literature, because I love to read. I always thought I’d be a writer or a professor; the former I followed through with. I’ve written stories and humor since I was very young, the earliest I can remember being second grade. Before then I simply daydreamed, and I still do. I’m happily married, three years now, and we have two cats, who are at least as troublesome as children if not more so.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Tom: I am the new host of Noir at the Bar in Manhattan, after Todd Robinson took a rest to complete his new novel. I’m sure Todd will be back, it’s his baby, but with ThugLit going full bore he handed the reins to me for now. And my latest published story is “Firecracker” in the final issue of Hardboiled Magazine. Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ve suggested to Gary Lovisi that we move the magazine online. He needs some time off as well, but I’m hoping to help bring that to fruition someday.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Tom: I’ve always been a daydreamer, and a voracious reader, and at some point I began writing them down. My grandmother had an old manual typewriter in the basement, and the first thing I remember writing on it was a lurid magazine I called ‘R’ after the film rating for 18 and above in the US. It was no masterpiece, but my older cousin Lou, who I idolized, thought it was hilarious, and that encouraged me further. The next thing I wrote was a stage play for a James Bond-like adventure called “In Search of the Black Diamond,” to be performed by my friends. I finished it, but couldn’t coerce enough of them to play the parts.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Tom: In middle school I wrote “journals,” which included short funny stories and parodies involving my schoolteachers. Like Ingianni Jones, starring Ms. Ingianni, a substitute teacher I had a crush on. I made her quite the adventuring archaeologist. My fellow students loved reading them. I also wrote video game reviews for a local Atari computer user’s group newsletter, so seeing my name in print came early, and was addictive.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Tom: The first novel I finished is called Bury the Hatchet, and I’m currently querying agents with it. I was inspired by real-life events, involving a young boy I knew who was raised by his aunt and uncle, then stolen away by other members of the family. It affected me, and the story flowed from there. Blade of Dishonor was written second, but made it into print first.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Tom: I call it “unflinching fiction with heart,” because I lean toward brutally honest or brutally funny. My humorous stories tend to rush along with flowing sentences, and the darker fiction has a bit of a staccato rhythm and boils at more of a simmer.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Tom: Bury the Hatchet is about revenge and forgiveness, so it came naturally. Blade of Dishonor is just a flashy pulp title that suits the story, as the sword is forged to redeem a treacherous act, but keeps falling into the hands of dishonorable people who want its legend to wash them clean of their sins.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Tom: In Blade of Dishonor? That everyone thinks they’re a hero, even the monsters.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Tom: Well, Blade of Dishonor is about a centuries-old ninja clan trying to start World War III, but the fights were choreographed in a dojo, so there’s that. These aren’t the ninjas with superpowers, they’re just well-trained soldiers in black who use fear and shadows. The WWII exploits of the Devil’s Brigade are based on real battles. They also used fear and shadows to fight the Waffen SS, who were terrified of them. It’s as realistic as any action film can be. No one gets shot in the leg then runs a marathon. That stuff annoys the hell out of me.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Tom: The World War II sections are based on some of the stories of my great-uncles, and I trained briefly in Shooto in Tokyo, so the fight clubs are based on fighters I knew there.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Tom: Grendel, by John Gardner was the first book I can remember where it was written from the perspective of the villain, and I’ve put myself in their shoes ever since.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Tom: Andrew Vachss.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Tom: What Came Before, by Gay Degani.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Tom: There’s plenty of fresh blood in the crime genre and everywhere. I loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Roxane Gay writes with incredible insight and power, she’s definitely going to be a major voice of my generation, especially for women. Josh Stallings is one of the best new novelists out there, as well. He writes noir that will make your heart burst.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Tom: I’m currently writing a mystery-comedy about a lazy, nerdy Marine and a foul-mouthed, disgraced English teacher who inherit a bar that becomes infested with hipsters.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Tom: My fellow writers. I’d never have written a crime story if Fiona “McDroll” Johnson didn’t kick me in the pants. I had the honor of meeting her last year, in Scotland. I want to move there. In Scotland and Ireland they treat writers with respect and they love crime fiction.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Tom: Sure, readers willing.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Tom: No, George Lucas showed me the error in that.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Tom: From my love of reading
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Tom: I’m not alone, and knowing that helps, but keeping the confidence up when I’m wading through the middle of the story can be daunting. But then I hear writers with a dozen popular novels say the same thing, and I know it’s just part of the game.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Tom: I could never choose just one. I really enjoy James Lee Burke, his voice and subjects always draw me in. His unwavering romanticism and the simple beauty of his prose are unmatched.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Tom: No, but I always come back with a story or two when I do travel. There’s something about being in motion that shakes stories loose in my brain, whether I’m going for a walk, hiking the hills, cruising the highways, or exploring a new city or country.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Tom: Blade of Dishonor’s cover was designed by Suzanne Dell’Orto and the art was painted by Roxane Patruznick.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Tom: In Blade of Dishonor, it was researching the battles. Even the suicide mission to Tokyo *could* have happened. But mostly I have structure troubles, no matter how much I outline or don’t outline, I need to reorder scenes. Thank goodness for Scrivener.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Tom: I learned a lot about the Devil’s Brigade, like how they scaled a sheer cliff face in a thunderstorm to take out German chemical cannons in the Italian Alps. How Japanese war criminals skated justice, in the name of peace. And the atrocities all sides commit in war.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Tom: Write the book you want to read. You’re a reader. If you’re not, you have no business writing.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Tom: RHINO POOP! Also, I am a very mature individual, and thank you with all my heart for reading my books.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Tom: Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, by Richard Scarry. I re-read it the other day, and found all the little hidden Gold Bugs.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Tom: Mixed martial arts and grappling, hiking, weightlifting, reading of course, archery, cooking, traveling.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Tom: I’m not much of a TV viewer, but I loved Top of the Lake, Breaking Bad, and Portlandia. I’m watching Mad Men to the end. Movies, I’m all over. Obscure cult films like The Dark Backward, surreal cinema, gritty crime, insane comedies, animation. I liked the new Captain America: The Winter Soldier a lot, and Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Guard with Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. Loved Spring Breakers, too.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Tom: The cheeseburger is the perfect food, served with fries/chips and a milkshake/ blue/ Warren Zevon, AC/DC, The Black Keys, Joan Jett.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Tom: own a bookstore, or work in a library, or be a garbage man. I like watching them crush up the trash. I aspire to great things.