Thomas J. Thorson

Thomas J. ThorsonFrom time to time, I will post interviews with authors whose books I’ve reviewed on this blog. So, first up is Thomas J. Thorson, author of the Malcom Winters mystery series.

I never reviewed Thomas J. Thorson’s first book, Serendipity. But thus far, I’ve reviewed the books in Thorson’s Malcom Winters mystery series: Heirs Apparent, The Connubial Corpse, The Cosmic Killings, and Bad Fortune. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting a review of his newest addition to this series, Two Lists.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I’ve always been an avid reader even as a young child. I remember trying to write a war novel when I was in junior high–I got about half a page done, it was terrible, and I gave up. My true desire developed when I was an English major in college and spent a lot of time reading great and not-so-great books.

What got you interested in the main subject of your books?
My mom turned me on to Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe when I was young, and I’d read those stories in the dark with a book light when I should have been sleeping. Since then, I’ve always loved mysteries, so it was my go-to choice when I started to write.

Do you have any manuscripts written prior to your first published book that you feel will never be published?
Full manuscripts, no. But I was never without a notebook and pen nearby and would jot down plot ideas or snippets of a scene or character I thought would be fun. Some of them are really good ideas but they never fit into any of my novels, so they’ll probably languish unwritten.

Have you done any writing other than fiction?
I set out to write a mystery but a conversation with my daughter got me distracted and heading down a different path, so my first book called “Serendipity” is non-fiction and focuses on accidental discoveries and chance events that changed the course of history.

How do you handle publishing your books? And what about marketing?
My first novel was put out through a vanity publisher. I was naïve and thought they’d market my book. After that, I’ve self-published and love the total control over the content. I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with a wonderful editor and a talented and knowledgeable friend who does my design and all of the technical stuff required to get the novels printed. I market mostly through social media but frankly am terrible at it.

Do you like the direction in which your writing career is headed? Why or why not?
I’ve never relied on my books as my primary source of income which has allowed me to proceed at my own pace and under my own terms. I set out to write one book but now have my sixth one due out this month, so I’m happy with that. My fifth novel is the last in a series, so I may jump to a different genre just for the challenge. If I never publish again, I’ll be satisfied with and proud of what I’ve done.

Is there any area in which you feel you need help to succeed?
Marketing, no doubt. People who read my books really like them and I get great reviews, but I need to reach a larger audience.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
I’ve come to love my characters and the universe I created for them, so wrapping it all up had some pretty significant emotional moments.

If you write a series, have the characters in your series become easier to write about?
This sounds pretentious, but my characters early on took on a life of their own and I would hear their voices telling me what to say and what behavior they would manifest in a particular situation. But yes, it became easier as their personalities and character traits became more established. They could still surprise me though.

What previous jobs have you had? Do you still work at something other than writing?
I’m a real estate attorney working full-time. Writing has always been more of a hobby than a career, although one that takes up most of my time away from work.

To purchase any of the books in the Malcom Winters series:
Heirs Apparent
The Connubial Corpse
The Cosmic Killings
Bad Fortune

I will receive a small commission if a purchase is made through these links.

The Way Out – Interview

The Way OutEarlier this evening I posted a review about The Way Out by Gordon Jensen with Cara Highsmith and Gordon Thomas.

Following is an interview with the authors conducted by Lauren Carr, Senior Virtual Book Tour Coordinator and owner of iRead Book Tours.

How did you do research for your book?

Cara: With each book I began with an outline of the chapters so I had a sense of what I wanted to cover, and then I made a list of the possible subjects that would require research and worked my way through them using the internet to access websites created by scientific organizations, military, government, history, etc. On some topics, I consulted individuals I knew or had access to and asked them questions or gave them segments to review to offer critiques of how information was incorporated. For the pieces that were entirely speculative—where something doesn’t exist yet—I gathered as much existing information as possible and projected where it could lead, and then looked for research that suggests the projections are plausible.

Which was the hardest character to write?

Cara: In the case of The Way Out, the narrative voice was the hardest to decide. At the time of writing, we didn’t know whether Hunter would emerge as the hero of the series because there was such a full cast, so I didn’t want to use his voice for the narration. However, I also didn’t want to use an omniscient observer narrative approach because there were so many surprises and plot twists that I didn’t want a narrator who knew what was coming. It was important for the narrator to be learning about all of this right along with the reader as it unfolded. That is how we ended up with the interview style for that book.

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

Pursue a life in creative arts. There are no guarantees, except that you will be criticized. But, if you are willing to lean into it and take the risk anyway, the reward is an incredible feeling of fulfillment.

Do you have another profession besides writing?

Gordy: I’m retired, so now I have the time to write.

How long have you been writing?

Gordy: Only a few years. The Way Out was my first book, but I have thought about the story for years.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

Gordy: This is a fun question for me to answer as I am a history buff. I rarely read novels. I mostly read history books. My top 12 events in world history that I would like to experience/participate in and/or live through are (not in any particular order): events leading up to and after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea’s journey across the US and back; the Titanic voyage; Alexander the Great’s campaign; Columbus’s trip to the New World; Genghis Kahn Conquests; Marco Polo’s trip; Ibn Battatah’s trip; Magellan’s trip around the world; Moses’ leading the Jews out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land; Napoleon’s expedition from France to Moscow and back; To be in the thick of the group of the Founding Fathers of the US during the writing of America’s Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights.

Q and A with A. A. Abbott

Lies at Her Door by A. A. AbbottEarlier today I reviewed Lies at Her Door by A. A. Abbott.

The following is a Q&A with the author conducted by Lauren Carr, Senior Virtual Book Tour Coordinator and owner of iread Book Tours.

Why the pen name “AA Abbott”?
It was a shameless attempt to place my books right at the front of your bookshelves! I’ve seen from surveys that roughly half of readers file their books alphabetically. Others might arrange them by size or color. My system is more basic: I confess that my house overflows with books, and they’re shoehorned into crannies everywhere.

Do you write about what you know?
I was certainly inspired by real life, especially when a sinkhole appeared in a nearby garden. Like Lucy Freeman in “Lies at Her Door”, I live in a tall, thin house in the English city of Bristol. My home is part of a gracious old terrace painted white. I think of it as resembling a wedding cake. However, although I draw on my own life for inspiration, Lucy is nothing like me. She is much younger, for a start! I can assure you, too, that “my” sinkhole was devoid of skeletons. Lucy, her neighbors and the crescent where they live are very much fictional.

How do you research your books?
For Lies at Her Door, I read manuals on British police procedure and sent copious questions to retired police detectives, forensic specialists and a fellow writer who lives in France. (At one point in the book, the British cops have to get information from their counterparts in France.) A former detective also read my first draft and pointed out my mistakes. I am hugely grateful to all my helpers for giving their time so generously.

What’s the best advice you had from your editor on Lies at Her Door?
My editor, Katharine D’Souza, is also a writer. I’d recommend her book, “Park Life”, to all women over the age of forty. She is incredibly good at describing her characters’ emotions and she urged me to focus on Lucy’s feelings in particular. Thanks to her, we can taste Lucy’s chocolate, feel her sugar rush and sympathize with her guilt.

You publish a dyslexia-friendly edition of all your books. Why?
All my books are published in ebook and conventional paperback formats. Although I’m not dyslexic, some of my relatives are, and accessibility is important to me. As an indie author, I can publish different editions easily, so I chose to have dyslexia-friendly versions printed. They use a large sans serif font and are super-easy to read. One of my books (“Bright Lies”) is also available as an audiobook.

Where to Find Lies at Her Door and other books by A. A. Abbott

Read Lies at Her Door free with Kindle Unlimited, or buy it in ebook, paperback, hardback, large print or dyslexia-friendly print. Follow author AA Abbott on Twitter and Facebook, and find out more about her at


Anne Beall Interview

Cinderella Didn't Live Happily Ever AfterGuest Interview: Anne Beall, author of Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After

Why did you write a book about fairy tales?
I’ve always loved fairy tales and after a particularly bad day, I turned to them for comfort. As I read, I noticed some patterns, so I decided to analyze them systematically. I conducted statistical analyses and found that female characters were often weak, passive and terribly victimized, whereas males were brave, intelligent, and powerful. And powerful men were mostly good, whereas powerful women were often evil. Females married royalty largely because of their appearance whereas males married royalty when they showed tremendous feats of bravery or intelligence. I was surprised how many hidden messages about gender, power, agency and good versus evil.

Are you suggesting that children shouldn’t like Cinderella or other popular fairy tales?
No, not at all. These are good stories. I just caution people to think about what else they may communicate besides the basic plot. I don’t think we want to suggest to little girls that they should just wait for Prince Charming to save them from a difficult situation. That seems like a big message to give that could lead to a lot of disappointment.
I am definitely not against children reading fairy tales. In fact, I encourage people of all ages to read fairy tales because there are so many great ones. In some of them, the female character goes to battle, saves her handsome prince, and rescues family members. There are quite a few fabulous female heroines who are strong and inspirational.

Do you have another profession besides writing?
Yes! I’m a researcher and I own a research company that does market research for Fortune 500 companies. We do everything from surveys and focus-groups to complex statistical modeling. We do studies to help companies understand their customers better and to provide better products and services to them. It’s a wonderful profession and I work with very smart people.

Do you write anything other than non-fiction?
I’m writing a middle-grade fairy tale about a heroine who ends up battling an evil wizard. She is a lowly servant in a castle and believes she’s an orphan. A fairy comes to her and tells her she has a family, but they’ve been cursed. She must solve riddles and find enchanted items to lift this curse and be reunited with her family. Although she has some special gifts, she lacks confidence in her abilities and doesn’t think she can do it. And she only has 15 days, or the curse will be permanent!

What is your advice to anyone who thinks they have a book within them?

I believe everyone has an important story to tell. My best advice is to sit down and write it. You can get help in editing and crafting your story once you’ve written it. But for now, just sit down and get it out. I believe that there is a reason you want to write it and the world needs to read it. Don’t let a lack of confidence get in your way. Just write! That’s the best advice I have. If there is something that’s nagging at you, there is probably a reason.

Thank you so much.
-Anne Beall