Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Tom Walsh. I’m in my 50s.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I grew up in San Francisco. In my senior year of high school my family moved to Marin County. I’ve lived in the Bay Area my whole life, mostly in Marin and now Sonoma County.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I went to Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco, and just before my senior year my family moved, so I graduated from Terra Linda High in San Rafael. It was quite the transition going from an all-boys school to co-ed public school. Some aspects of that change were great, but others, not so. I was raised in a very Irish Catholic family. A very tight knit and fun loving family. I went to junior college in Marin and then took a job at a public utility continuing my education at night. I struggled with that for a while but when I started to get promoted into management I saw that the college degree would help my career. Prior to that I didn’t have much of a focus, other than having fun. The company paid for my degree in business management which I earned at St. Mary’s College of California.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My first novel, “Bless Me Father” is being released on June 20th.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve written as long as I can remember. Mostly poetry early on. I enjoyed our English assignments in grammar school and sometimes took them further than was required. Often I just wrote on my own for my own satisfaction.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think it was about 6th grade when our English teacher told me I had a talent. It was a compliment that always stuck with me.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve always had the desire to do it, I just needed to find the right combination of ideas, and of course I had to make the time for it. The inspiration for this first novel came from news stories about the inner turmoil within the Catholic Church. Of course, it was something familiar to me as I grew up in it, but I was curious how such a large institution became corruptible, especially one that you would normally think would have a natural resistance to subversion. So, I came up with Fr. Damien Dolan, the main character in the novel. He himself is imperfect and conflicted, but he is at his core a good man just trying to find his way.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Well, the next line after ‘bless me father’ is “for I have sinned.” I thought that implication was attractive.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I like dialogue, and that can be difficult unless you really know your characters. So typically, I’m doing a mashup in my head about who these people are and/or who they are composed of. That can be difficult unless the characters are already complete in your mind.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I always get that question, and it’s always a tough one to answer. Sometimes I think the story line can be totally alien to your experiences but the characters are based on people you really know well. Other times, you find you might be writing about your own experiences but the people or circumstances are reconstructed. This novel is mostly the former.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I think travel definitely helps with the creative process.Seeing new places always stimulates ideas. This novel takes place in an unnamed town. In fact, the only places in the book that have names are the parishes, churches and schools. If you know your patron saints, there are clues to be found there. However, I most definitely have particular locales in mind when I wrote the scenes. Where they are exactly is just not really relevant to the story line.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Nancy Scumacher at Melange Books has a great team there that helped with this. Caroline Andrus heads up the team andAshley Byland at Redbird Designs created the cover.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think there are multiple messages. One is that we are all prone to human failure and that redemption is always available, at some level. Another is that, we are allowed to question and think beyond the confines of what we are taught. I think that is only human nature. It’s just that sometimes institutions want you to think and act in certain ways and that is the rub.
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?
I don’t have a particular favorite, I have many. I think John Irving has a refreshing way of telling a story. An author new to my reading list is Hugh Howey, I’m amazed at his creativity.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
That would have to be Melange Books. Their willingness to take on “Bless Me Father” was the litmus test for me. It really became a proof of concept. Now I feel like the gloves are off and I can really dig into this. I’m already putting the finishing touches on my second novel and I’m simultaneously working on a screenplay with an award winning screen writer.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Most definitely. I wish I got here sooner, but then I may not have been ready having the life experiences that I have now.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I don’t think so. I could have made it longer I suppose but I’ve read that first timers should try to keep their first outing on the shorter side so I did. I think there’s allot of story in those two hundred pages and I’m proud of it.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Trust your instincts.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I think Chris Pine would be an ideal Damien Dolan. I think Emma Stone would be a great co-lead as Molly Patterson.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Keep writing, and trust your instincts. There’s no substitute for practice and trust the story within you.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thanks for your support, and please put up a review if you like it. Email me directly if you don’t. :-D.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
“One Second After” by William Forstchen. It was recommended by a friend after I told him about my second book on the way.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, not really, but I know Jonathan Livingston Seagull had do be in there somewhere among the early reads.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Human heroism. How ordinary people are capable of extraordinary deeds.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Jack London. His home is now a state park just over Sonoma Mountain from where we live. I’ve hiked the property many times. Every time I go I learn more about the man that live and wrote there. He was really ahead of his time, truly a pioneer in sustainability.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I’m occasionally an avid cyclist. I do Levi’s Gran Fondo in Santa Rosa and the Tour de Fuzz every year. I wish I could ride every day but my schedule makes it difficult.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
House of Cards and Bloodline. I can’t wait for the next season of Taboo. I’ve been imitating Tom Hardy around the house. “I’ve got a use for you,” has become a favorite line.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Led Zeppelin is an old favorite, and the Lumineers are a new one. Saw them at the Berkeley Greek Theater recently, awesome.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
There is no future where I no longer write, I guess I’d be pushing up daisies though I’d rather my ashes be scattered to the wind.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
The last question took care of that one. “He doesn’t lie here.” Maybe there’s a bit of me in the fertilizer for that tree over there.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?