Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Nice to meet you. I’ll pour us both one and we can get started.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Tom Pitts. I’m fifty! Man, it shocks me just to say that out loud.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m originally from Canada, but I’ve lived in San Francisco since 1984.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
In my bio it says I received my education on the streets of San Francisco. And that’s true. I have no MFA, or BFA, all my knowledge of the down and dirty came from being there, mixing it up with the dregs of society on the bottom rung of life’s ladder.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
What am I out here flogging? My newest release, American Static. It’s available June 26th from the fabulous Down &Out Books.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Christ, you may have to ask Joe Clifford this one.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Hard to say, but if I have to put a pin in that map somewhere, I’d say it was when my first novella, Piggyback, was published. My mother was gravely ill and before she passed my brother showed her a copy of my book. She was greatly pleased. You have to understand, after years out there as a heroin addict, the prospects from me doing anything other than perishing were not good. So having her approval meant a lot to me. I felt like I’d accomplished something.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The first book I wrote was not the first published. The first book I wrote was what would eventually become the novella Knuckleball. I was inspired by the tragedy of Brian Stow.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
For Knuckleball? Not an interesting story. The book has a baseball backdrop and the working title wasn’t … working. Joe Clifford and I were walking to the Anthony Awards in Long Beach and we were spitballin’ titles and it seemed to fit. Not an interesting story, but I’m contractually obligated to mention Joe in every interview, so at least I won’t be fined for this one.
American Static, on the other hand, is a title I borrowed from a song by Micah Schnabel. For me, it refers to the violent undercurrent that seems to buzz through American culture.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’m coining a term: omniperson. I write in third person, but I like to shift PoVs at will. For a story to have a cinematic pacing, I think it’s best to shift from character to character, just like a movie would.
Fiona: How much of the book is realisticand are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I think with all fiction, you have to blend a portion of your life into the narrative. Whether we admit it or not, there’s a little piece of us in each character we write.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
All my books have been based in and around the Bay Area in Northern California. I’ve been here for 33 years, but I’m not afraid to google map a spot to remind me of the terrain.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Eric Beetner has either completely designed or had a hand in all of my covers save Knuckleball. I’m pretty sure I drove him nuts going back and forth about details that ultimately are never used. I’d hate to be a fly on the wall when Eric is asked about designing covers for me.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
As an editor at Out of the Gutter, I came across plenty of raw talent. There’s a new wave of noir out there that’s getting better every day. My favorite? Denis Johnson is great, each book he wrote feels like it came from a different writer. Cormac, of course. I love Benjamin Whitmer. I can’t wait till his next one comes out. Richard Price is definitely working his way up the list. He captures voices like no one else.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My agent, Amy Moore-Benson at Meridian Artists. And she damn well better, she’s got a vested interest.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yeah, I suppose I do. However, let’s not confuse a writing career with making a living.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
That’s tricky. I think as writers we strive to be better at what we do with each outing. You can always look back and cringe at phrases or edits you wish had gone the other way. I think it’s best to take those lessons with you for the next project instead of bemoaning the past.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
My most recent book, my work-in-progress, is a novel about the marijuana industry in Northern California. And, yes, I did some research and learn a thing or two about one of the biggest businesses in California.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
This is an easy one because it’s actually been tossed around. Frank Grillo. In my mind he’s perfect. The main character is a sociopath with movie star good looks. Frank has a charm about him, but there’s something under the surface that makes you keep your guard up. He’d be perfect.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Clarity. It’s the most important part of writing. You’re trying to share what’s in your head, and the only way to do that is to communicate to the reader exactly what you see.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
If you liked the ride, tell a friend, leave a review, buy another book.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Clockers, by Richard Price.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Aside from the grade school readers, the first one was Walking Tall, a novelization of the movie. I read it under the covers with a flashlight in the 4th grade.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Ha! Just about anything. You can check back during the last five minutes of any Modern Family episode and watch me do both at the same time.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
You know, I always hear this question get asked of others, but never to me. I’d have to say Charles Bukowski. A sunny afternoon in San Pedro and a case of wine sounds about right.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I still deal drugs to help pay the rent. Does that count?
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Probably drink more than I already do.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
No headstone for me thanks. I’ll take cremation. To quote that ol’ song, “Please don’t bury me in the cold, cold ground.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Oh yeah … http://www.tompittsauthor.com/ But you can always find me on Facebook and Twitter too.
Thank you, Fiona, for having me. It’s been a blast.