We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction?
My background is all in the theatre. I have been a theatrical director for many years. Telling stories is really the crux of directing and the transition to telling stories on paper seemed rather natural. The techniques are drastically different but the end result is the same. Your job is to emotionally stimulate and enthrall an audience member or a reader. Keeping their attention and creating an intriguing story is the true challenge for both.
Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?
Being aware of the world around you is the most important element of storytelling. People read and enjoy what they can relate to. My process seems to start with a visual image or stimulation. My first novel, Justice Rules, came from the image of a father at a podium addressing the fact that the man who killed his son was just acquitted. The pain on his face hit a nerve and I began to wonder how he could possibly reconcile his grief and still believe in justice. From there, it's the seat of my pants, one action leads to a reaction that leads to a result. I had the beginning of the story in my head from the start and I knew, I thought, where I wanted to take it but events transpired during the process that took the book in a totally different direction. There is an element of improv when I write and just because the story doesn't go the direction I thought it would doesn't mean it's wrong. Being able to accept changes and exploit the most interesting elements of that change is what I find most exciting about writing.
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
My new novel is called 'The Siren's Scream'. It is set in a mansion on a cliff overlooking the town of Santa Cruz, CA. In local lore, the mansion has been responsible for many deaths over the course of the last 120 years and is considered haunted. In the backyard there is a giant tidepool, a man-made tide pool that holds some very strange inhabitants.
How did you get the idea for the book?
This story came from the simplest of images. I was sitting on a dock and there was a school of fish swimming below. A slight altercation caused one of them to turn over and scoot away. As the fish rolled, the shimmering belly caught the sun and the colors reflected through the water. It was a beautiful sight that I am sure everyone has seen. The flash of color took me down the path of the mermaid and siren but I was resistant to the idea because it has been so exploited over the centuries. I attempted to write the book several times with no success. I didn't want the 'Siren sings a sailor to his death' story', I wanted a different take. One day, at a family dinner, we were having trouble with a particularly difficult sister, and I wondered about the origins of the mermaid. Do they have a past, family, heritage? This sparked my imagination and in my next attempt to write the story it began to take shape.
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
I have a soft spot for the lead character, Darcy Wainwright. I really like the way she develops as the story moves along and how she grows from her experiences. She is the unwitting target of the rage of this vixen and responds in a brave and courageous manner.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
Lol! The answer is simple, writing it! Writing a novel is the most challenging thing I have ever done and the fact I have now done it twice astonishes me. The mechanics of writing is something that can be learned and thanks to Jessica Barksdale Inclan at UCLA, I learned those skills. However, writing is not just a skill. I learned how to write but knowing the techniques of writing doesn't give you the ability to describe the sunset. Stephan King says in his nonfiction book, "On Writing" "If you ever see a sentence such as, 'The sunset was indescribable.' fire that writer because his job is to describe the sunset." Other than the writer's cardinal rule, 'Show, don't tell.' I revert to that quote time and time again. I try to draw a picture in the reader's mind so that they can see, feel and hear the same things that the characters are experiencing. At the end of the day however, it's all about story and creating and moving the story forward. In my genre whenever I am stuck storywise the answer is simple, someone has to die.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?
Keep writing. Write everyday. Doesn't matter if it's good or bad. Doesn't matter if it's 100 words or 1,000, keep writing. The Siren's Song was actually my first novel. I called it my practice novel and it was really bad. It sat in my file folder for years. When I eventually pulled it out again I realized that the story held together but it was just written so poorly. I took another swing at it, pretty much from scratch and before I knew it I had something of value. Had I just stopped all those years ago, I would have never completed it. I always tell people who wish to write, "Write! You can change something, you can't change nothing." I'm not a great writer but I feel that I am a terrific re-writer. You don't have to show your work to anyone until you feel ready to do so, consequently, you have nothing to lose by being bad. In the previous question I used the phrase, 'Show, don't tell.' Here is a simple example of how that works.
"Linda leaned against the side of the pool with a pink drink in her hand. Her husband, Paul, was across the pool flirting with a pretty blonde in a skimpy suit. Her blood boiled as she watched this woman touch his shoulder and she wanted to scream."
That is telling. I am telling you how she feels. This is showing:
"Linda saw the perky blonde in the skimpy suit rub her husband's shoulder. Tossing her drink on the bar, she waded over, pushed Paul out of the way, and grabbed the woman by her perfect hair. In one strong motion she dunked her under the water. Pulling her up she said, "Stay away from my husband."
Hopefully you can see the difference in how it reads. Always show us how your character feels, never tell us. It is significantly more effective.
Title: The Siren’s Scream
Author: Thomas White
Publisher: Savvy Books
An old mansion sits atop of a cliff, overlooking the ocean, in Santa Cruz, CA. A young realtor, Darcy Wainwright, manages to sell the dilapidated old house to Henry Childs, an obese nebbish who is obsessed with the property. In the backyard is a pool. Not an ordinary pool but a giant tide pool. In the tide pool is a siren with an evil agenda for revenge.
The Thornton Mansion was a talisman for the death and mystery that surrounded it. Unoccupied for years until Henry Childs was summoned by the house. As directed, he reached out to unsuspecting, novice realtor Darcy Wainwright. Darcy finds herself intricately involved with the house, its history and the haunting tide pool that filled the backyard. It was the pool that beckoned her, and it was the pool that would decide if she lives or dies. The Siren’s Scream. Available on Amazon.
Release Date: October 5, 2022
Publisher: Savvy Books
Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1088067819; 480 pages; $21.14
Purchase your copy at the author’s website: https://thomas-white-author.com/