Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Same Six Questions - J.R. Tomlin

Welcome back to another edition of The Same Six Questions! Today, we have author J.R. Tomlin. Take it away J.R.!

Thank you, Andy! Born in the US, in Texas to be specific, to a Scottish father and very native-Texan mother, I grew up both in South Texas and in Edinburgh, Scotland. I attended university at the University of Texas at Austin and now live in Oregon where I enjoy hiking on the rare occasion it isn't raining. I write historical fiction set in the Scottish War of Independence and co-author fantasy novels with C.R. Daems.

Now, for those Same Six Questions

1. Have you published a book yet?

Yes, several. I think the best introduction to my writing is my historical novel, Freedom's Sword, which is set at the end of the 13th century in Scotland. You see, before William Wallace... before Robert the Bruce... there was another Scottish hero. In 1296, newly knighted by the King of the Scots, Andrew de Moray fought to defend his country against the forces of the ruthless invader, King Edward Longshanks of England. After a bloody defeat in battle, he was dragged in chains to an English dungeon. Soon, the young knight escaped. He returned to find Scotland under the heel of a conqueror and his betrothed sheltering in the hills of the Black Isle. Seizing his own castle, he raised the banner of Scottish freedom to lead the north of Scotland to rebellion in hope of defeating the English army sent to crush them.

2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I started writing poetry when I was about eight. I gave that up when I realized I would never be a W.H. Auden. However, I always knew I would be a writer, if not a poet. I hardly remember a time when I didn't write. I worked for various publications writing non-fiction and as a journalist and also in advertising, but my love and goal was always writing fiction. About five years ago, I decided that I would work to achieve that goal even though it meant financial sacrifices. Starting as a fiction author in today's market is not easy. Worthwhile, but not easy.

3. What was your first lengthy piece of fiction (say, >1000 words)? What was it about? When did you write it? Do you still have it?

I wrote my first fiction, it was about Scotland and Robert the Bruce the day he killed the Red Comyn, when I was fifteen. I no longer have any of my early writings. I destroyed them because I wasn't happy with them. I was right that they were not publication worthy, but sentimentally, I wish I had kept them anyway.

4. When was your first indication, "I can do this (write)"?

This will sound terrible, but I always knew I could do it—as long as “it” isn't poetry. I still rather mourn that I can't write poetry. I won awards for my writing all through school and non-fiction comes very easily to me. Fiction? That's harder, but I think an author has to have a pretty sturdy ego about their writing. If you believe people who say you can't, you won't, because, believe me, there are plenty of people out there who will tell you that you can't write. I will never forget the editor who responded to one of my early fiction pieces by telling me, “Stories like this are why I stopped reading fantasy.” Well, he was right that it didn't deserve publication, but if I hadn't known I could do it, I would have stopped writing that day. Or any number of days since either when I hate something I've written or when someone else tells me they did in less than kind terms.

5. If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which would it be?

I'm not sure he is “mine” since he is a real historical person, but the great fighter, Sir Andrew de Moray, would be welcome to show up at my door any day. I'd love to ask him how he managed the courage to fight against such overwhelming odds and about the other great heroes who fought beside him. Fictional characters? I am very fond of Tamra, the heroine in my coauthored Blood Duty, which will be out at the end of July.

6. It's a dark and stormy night...you're alone in the house...there's a knock at the door...you open it, look out, and proceed to scream like a little girl. What's on the doorstep?

Oh, the monster from Blood Duty called an Ixich: “Between the ranked masses of the soldiers stalked the mammoth Ixich. Its scaled black body towered three times the height of any man. As it walked, its two heads glared ahead, teeth snapping and dripping venom. Each of its four arms ended in a fist empty of weapons except for its sword-like talons.” It's a nasty, nasty thing to meet on the doorstep.

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Thanks so much for stopping by, J.R.!
Be sure to check out J.R.'s blog for more information.

Stop back on Monday and visit with author Jason Kristopher! See you then!