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Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Tour - An Innocent Murdered

Where do you hail from and what do you love most about your hometown?

I was born and raised in Chicago, but my current hometown is Lawrence, Kansas. Actually, I love both locations and I think I’ve drawn different perspectives from each which were helpful in my writing. I used both Chicago and a fictions Kansas town named Rock Meadow, Kansas, as the settings for my novel, An Innocent Murdered. There’s obviously a brisker pace in a big city like Chicago compared to a smaller, somewhat laid- back Kansas town.  I supposed if there were one thing I liked the best about Lawrence it would be the town’s preservation of the historical feel for the town, which was decimated by a raid in 1863 that killed 200 of its citizens.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your career?

I was always fascinated by print, whether it be newspaper, magazine, or book. When I was a child, my parents gave me a toy printing press. It was rotary device where I had to set into place a rubber cut of each letter into a metal slot and these slots would then be inserted into the press drum. I tried to start my own neighborhood newspaper with it, and later when I was a teenager, I wrote a complete novel (which really wasn’t that great, but at least I finished it)—on a portable typewriter, with carbon paper in-between each page!!

Tell us about your latest book. Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?

An Innocent Murdered involves a priest murdered in the rectory and it appears to be an open-and-shut case against the prime suspect because of DNA evidence, blood evidence, a witness, a threatening phone call before the murder, and her fingerprints on a photo on the priest’s dead body. But the detective finds clues that suggest she didn’t do it and discovers a shocking surprise as to who the real murderer is.  This novel is character-driven rather than plot driven, and it even gets the reader involved in the priest’s persona before his murder so that the reader feels distress over his murder because he is truly innocent of any wrongdoing.  As far as new books in the works, I will just say this—one is a historical novel dealing with the 1865-1920 period in American culture and the other is a religious suspense novel that involves three desperate people in search of the greatest find in the history of Christianity.  

Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “zipped from the headlines” in your work?
What I do is look at contemporary events and put a “twist” around them to make them more exciting. In today’s troubled world, Iran is becoming a threat to the world with its potential in developing nuclear missiles.  In my short story “Frozen History” (which appears in my short story collection Stories To Enjoy) Iran is sending missiles to the U.S. but a twist in my story shows how they never strike our country.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

One of my major challenges is to be sure I have accuracy in any facts I add to the book. This is especially challenging when I write historical fiction because one slip up in historical accuracy can destroy the book. It’s also important in contemporary fiction as well. When I wrote An Innocent Murdered, I listened to the advice of a real detective so that my scenes, characters, and dialogue would be realistic.  A number of non-writers feel that the challenge is in obtaining new ideas. Not so with me. I have more ideas for books  than I can wrap my writing arms around.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

I would say three things. One, read the kind of books you think you’d like to write. Too often, writers feel they have to write a book in a genre that is doing well. Big mistake. I would love to write a romance novel, but I tried reading a Harlequin once and couldn’t get past the first chapter. Two, study about the craft of writing. Subscribe to writer magazines, read books on writing, attend a seminar or two.  Third (and most important), sit down and WRITE. I am tired of hearing people tell me they would love to write but never have time to write. Well, if that’s the case, take some things out of your schedule (like watching TV) and use it instead to write.  There are a lot of could-of, should-of writers out there who lack the courage to sit down and spill out their thoughts on paper.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?  If so, what do you do about it?

I love this question.  A number of years ago I actually wrote an article on writer’s block that made the front cover of Writer’s Digest. But I personally find that the only time I have writer’s block is when I haven’t thought my story through or that I’m writing a story that really doesn’t interest me.  My problem is that once I start writing on something that grabs me, I find it hard to stop.

Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?

I have a range of authors, so it’s difficult to say which one is my favorite. I do enjoy the classics, like novels by Hemmingway or Dostoevsky or Melville. I like the pacing of John Grisham and the literary ideas of John Updike.  However, I would say Dostoevsky’s portrayal of his characters influenced me in getting into the hearts and minds of my own characters so that the reader either hates them with a passion or loves them with a passion.

How do you deal with rejection letters?
I don’t mind rejection letters if they offer me advice on how I can improve my writing. What upsets me are form rejection letters, sometime badly photocopied, that tell me nothing and make me wonder why they’re even sent out in the first place.  To me, the letters or emails I receive from readers of my books give me the most satisfaction because they have taken the time to form their opinions—not because they had to (like professional reviewers)—but because they want to, and I love them.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

For me, the computer is indispensable. I find it very difficult to write with pen and paper and I admire those writers who do. Other essentials are a good thesaurus, dictionary, writers magazines, and books on drawing realistic characters.

Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?

It’s interesting you should ask that. I’ve had to restrain myself from getting too detailed in writing passionate love-making, and I find myself having to rewrite those scenes over and over. I refuse to write erotica but I do want to write passionate scenes without going over the edge.  For example, I struggled a bit in An Innocent Murdered where a former nun asks Matt for his help in getting her first sexual experience.  I wrote that scene over about ten times because I wanted to get just descriptive enough to convey the scene without slipping into the erotica category.  Hopefully, some reader will get back to me to let me know if I’ve done that successfully.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

I wouldn’t call it “weird,” but when I wrote two Civil War era novels (Sissy! and All Parts Together) I personally visited each Civil War battleground to see for myself what the area looked like. Maybe the other weird thing I did was to ask women if my scene of two women peeing in the woods while they were having a conversation was over the top.  They all agreed that they weren’t offended by that scene.


Bio:
Tom Mach wrote two successful historical novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, both of which have won rave reviews and were listed among the 150 best Kansas books in 2011.Sissy! won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award while All Parts Together was a viable entrant for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Award. He also wrote a collection of short stories entitled Stories To Enjoy which received positive reviews. Tom’s other novels include: An Innocent Murdered, Advent, and Homer the Roamer.

His poetry collection, The Uni Verse, won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. In addition to several awards for his poetry, Writer’s Digest awarded him ninth place in a field of 3,000 entrants. His website is: www.TomMach.com He also has a popular blog for writers of both prose and verse at http://tommach.tumblr.com

Book Blurb:
Father O'Fallon has been murdered, and police officer Jacinta Perez is arrested and charged. Detective Matt Gunnison, however, is not convinced and with the help of Susan, an ex-nun, he discovers a fascinating link between the priest's death and the death of a child 25 years ago. Will Matt be able to solve both murders? See video: http://t.co/H1siZOg

Excerpt: Still facing the wall, the priest began to sob. “Can’t we talk about this?”
She slipped the Smith & Wesson into her pocket and removed a knife from her bag. “There’s nothing to talk about, you son of a bitch.”
He dropped his hands for a moment. “Please let me at least say a prayer.”
“Go ahead and beg for God’s mercy, you pervert!”
He made the sign of the cross with his crucifix. “Oh my God,” he muttered, “I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee.”
As she slashed his throat he made a high-pitched squeal. His body slumped to the floor. She plunged the knife into his abdomen. He made a gagging sound from his throat as if he were drowning in his own blood. She plunged the knife into him again. And again. And again.

LINKS FOR VBT: AN INNOCENT MURDERED
http://www.tommach.com/
http://twitter.com/kansasauthor
http://www.facebook.com/kansasauthor
http://www.amazon.com/An-Innocent-Murdered
http://youtu.be/ndsPTht08EA
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/74459

9 comments:

marybelle said...

That was indeed a weird thing to have to research - if women would have a conversation when nature is calling.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Tom today.

Debra Ann Elliott said...

Great blog tour. Can't wait to read the book!

MomJane said...

I like what you said about romance without erotica. I prefer stories that way. Your story sounds really great. I admire your attention to detail.

award-winning writer said...

marybelle--

I know it might sound weird to you about having to ask women if it would be realistic to describe two ladies peeing as they had a conversation. But this was a scene I had to have in my newest novel, Angels at Sunset, because the two are a 78-woman and her 60-year-old daughter. The conversation they had while following nature's call caused the mother to remember a day some 57 years ago when her daughter was three. The little girl thought it was fun to "water" the flowers...and the mother's memory of that day and other days that brought them laughter now brings tears to the mother's eyes. You will have to read the book to get this in the right context.

award-winning writer said...

debra--

Thanks for commenting. I do hope you read AN INNOCENT MURDERED. The "innocent" in the title refers to an innocent priest murdered for a crime he never committed. I hope you visit my website (www[dot]TomMach[dot]com) to read about it as it is a novel you won't be able to put down. I keep the reader guessing who the real murderer is.

award-winning writer said...

MomJane--

I may be wrong but I suspect most women don't want erotica mixed in with a romance story. A writer once said that it's more exciting not to say anything after a romantic couple closes the bedroom door. At that point, the reader uses her own imagination. I think that's the way it should be.

Karen H in NC said...

The point of romance in a book without getting into too much detail was under discussion at another blog recently. Think back on films from years past. Whenever the couple were about to embark on a romantic interlude, it was fade to black and let your imagination do the rest! I think most of us are too jaded today for too much of that but it is a refreshing way to handle a love scene and too bad there aren't more books written that way.

award-winning writer said...

Karen H

You're absolutely right. As a society we've become lazy and don't want to use our imagination...we'd rather have someone spell out all the details for us. Thanks for your comment