Hello Tom, your new book ‘Wilderness of Sinners’ focuses on your time with Vision Quest. Why did you decide to write about this?
I had always planned to write about my time at Vision Quest, the bizzarreness and unreality of the place and its people always had the makings of a story but actually finding the time and the self discipline to sit down and write it was another matter! On reflection, I’m glad I waited as long as I did because it enabled me to be a lot more honest about what happened there.
Also, I am a big subscriber to the idea that everyone has one book in them, what makes this idea more interesting is that nowadays they can publish it too.
The book discusses some personal and difficult times, as well as times when you discover your inner strength and triumph over adversity. Did you find this hard to write about?
Yes it was, but writing a book can seem like a very isolated process at times and I’ve learned that tapping away at a keyboard in the small hours of the morning can enable the sort of honesty that I would find impossible in a face to face setting. For this reason there are lots of events in the story which I have never discussed with another living soul, many of them things I’m not at all proud of.
I don’t believe that you should write any personal account in order to be loved or admired, or to have your thoughts and actions validated in any way, although I have read many books by people who were looking for these very things. Wilderness of Sinners may not be to everyone’s liking but it is at least honest.
Have you always wanted to write?
No, sitting down to write this book was the first time since college that I have written anything longer than a page. I had visions of my words fizzing off the keyboard just like in that wonderful scene from the movie ‘Limitless’ but the reality is that there are barely three consecutive words that are still in their original place.
Can you describe your writing day?
Wilderness of Sinners was written over a three year period. Writing time has to fit around work and my family committments making a typical day hard to describe. I have found my most productive times were always in the early mornings or very late at night. Maybe one day I will have a creaky wee cabin overloooking the Loch complete with a wood burning stove, rocking chair and a clattery old typewriter (for display purposes only!)
Do you have any favourite writers or favourite books?
One of my all time favourites is The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby. Its the story of how an ordinary and unexceptional young man left a steady job and steady life to sail to Australia and back on one of the last four masted sailing ships. As a novice sailor he endured much hardship but returned as a very different man. Newby is very honest about his feelings which make his triumphs all the more greater. A ripping yarn from a bygone age!
At the moment I’m reading Breaking into the Backcountry by Steve Edwards. It’s about the seven months he spent living alone at a remote steading in South Eastern Oregon. By his own admission he was not a grizzled woodsman, adept at wilderness survival. It’s very good.
Do you have any tips for new writers?
There is so much advice for new writers out there that it’s unlikely I will be able to add anything, besides I’m very much a new writer myself! Of the advice I’ve had, I’ve found the most useful is to simply keep going and not give up. Secondly, do not become a stranger to people who matter most in your life because there are also a lot of successful writers who arer divorced and lonely.
What are your plans for the book?
The book is self published on Kindle:
will also be making it available via Smashwords. The list of publishers and agents who turned it down is both long and distinguished and on reflection I wasted a lot of time pursuing a book deal when I should have been writing a book.
Do you use social media to promote your book?
Yes, I’m a fairly new convert to Twitter and I use it to follow people who are well connected in the industry and also other writers, who would like too be. I also have two blogs on which I regularly post reviews and articles.
Have you any plans for further books, or projects?
Yes. My favourite stories whether fictional or true, almost always feature ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and I have a few ideas bouncing around in my head.
Where will people be able to find and buy your book?
Thank you for asking, Ruth! Wilderness of Sinners is currently available to download (see link above) I had hoped to introduce it for free for a few weeks but this isn’t possible for indie authors so instead its available at 99c or 75p.