Interview with self-published author Tom Winton
Tom Winton is an American writer, there is no doubt about it! He’s schooled in that good New World tradition of tough-maleness with a sensitive golden ring around it. We don’t have the exact likes of them this side of the great pond so as a European it is wonderful to be able to immerse yourself in Tom’s type of storytelling. You live New York through his eyes and in his veins in Beyond Nostalgia and it invariably conjures cinematographic images, where you imagine yourself in the world of Paul Newman or Marlon Brando. I must say I keep thinking of Paul Newman when I see Tom’s picture. Don’t you think there is a similarity?
Tom is a true craftsman and it is instantly clear that he puts a lot of devotion and ‘soul’ in his stories. As our mutual friend Suzannah Burke remarked: ’Tom Winton writes with a pen dipped in his soul’. Very beautifully and truthfully said. Part of Tom’s work is literary romance – he also writers thrillers- but writing romance from a male perspective is a challenge he easily meets. It provides female readers with an excellent insight in the male perspective where relationships are concerned and in this respect Tom Winton’s literary romances are a ‘must read’ for all female romantic writers.
Tom hopes to be recognised for his writing talent soon and I hope for him that that recognition is indeed on his doorstep. Keep an eye on his new books and see his star rise.
Where do you live (town, country)? Were you born and bred there?
I live in Hobe Sound, Florida, but I was born in New York City and grew up there.
What kind of food do you like? Are you a good cook? How important is food to you?
I’m a part-time vegetarian. I eat fish often and occasionally chicken but haven’t had
red meat three times in the past twenty-five years. Am I a good cook? Heck no! I hate cooking and am terrible at it—which works out very well. It keeps me out of the kitchen.
Do you do any sports? How often? What does exercise mean to you? Any other hobbies?
All the while I was growing up I was very active in sports. From Little League baseball
to Varsity basketball in high school, I did it all. I don’t watch professional sports anymore–not since the US baseball strike on 1997. I know it sounds cynical, but I tired of watching a bunch of twenty-two year old millionaires–playing for billionaire team owners– when so many hard working folks are struggling. I’ve been working out with weights for twenty-five years and stay in good shape for the shape I’m in—heh, heh, heh!
Do you have kids/grandkids? If so, please tell us a little about them?
I have two grandkids. One is two years old and lives near me in Florida. The other is four and lives up in Portland, Maine. Love ‘em to pieces, of course.
Do you like travelling? Where do you go then?
I love driving around the country. I’d rather do that than eat. If my books ever make it big, I’ll buy a little, used motor home and get lost with my wife for about a year.
Do you have another job apart from writing?
No, Hannah, I no longer work at a job. My wife is a bit younger than I, and she still
works. We live very modestly and manage to get by. Hopefully in just a few more
years Momma won’t have to work anymore, and we can do the travelling thing I
How do your family/friends react to you being a writer? Have their opinions changed since you became a published author? Which remark from your surroundings has stuck most with you?
My family is tickled that I am a writer with published books. They’d be a lot more
tickled if the money came pouring in. If it ever did, I’d still live a minimalist life. As far as remarks sticking with me, I love it when the head librarian introduces me to folks and says, “This is Tom Winton…our local author.”
Would you call yourself a social human being? Do you have time for going out and spending time away from the writing desk?
It’s funny, while growing up I had a gazillion friends. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve
become very, very selective. It’s not that I think I’m somebody special, because I certainly don’t. It’s just that I seem to be tuned into a different channel than most folks I meet. To a lot of people I talk to, the most important thing on the planet is whether or not the home team won their game the past weekend. I can think of a lot more things we should be paying attention to. The folks I connect best with are my writer e-friends. Glad I have all you girls and guys.
Which character trait do you like best about yourself and why? Which trait would you rather do without?
Hmmm…now that’s a tough one. All I can say is that I’m very hard on myself, and living within my skin and mind is not always easy—particularly when I’m trying to
string words together for a novel.
Can you describe the place where you write + the view?
I write at a small desk with a second hand, rebuilt computer. I’m sitting, right now, on a new/used computer that unlike the last one, has arms. Lovin’t it. Got it this
past weekend at a garage sale for two bucks. There’s a two drawer file cabinet
alongside and a printer sits on it. There’s a wood-panelled wall right in front of me, behind the computer. On the wall right next to me are book reviews I’ve had from local newspapers, pictures of my book covers. Along with them, and far more important, are kind, encouraging words taped to the wall. When I lose all faith that my writing will ever be picked up by a big publisher, I read those words of praise from friends. When I do I say, “C’mon knucklehead…you can do this thing, and you damn well better do it right.”
Is there something you always need to have near you when you work (beverage, cigarette, mascot, music, quote, etc)?
Morning sessions it’s coffee and a few cigarettes—I manage to keep the latter down to about ten a day. In the afternoon, I’ll pop open a couple of beers and sometimes write till the missus comes home.
What genre(s) do you write in? How did that develop?
Hannah, I try to write whatever I think has a chance of turning out worthwhile. My first novel, Beyond Nostalgia, is a romance, but it is also far more than that. I
often think of it as a gritty Prince of Tides. My second book, The Last American
Martyr, is suspenseful in many places, and it’s sandwiched between two heartfelt romances. The one I’m writing now is a genre stew, pretty much like the others are. I can’t talk it out because, somehow, I lose interest in a work when I do. But it’s something I never dreamed I’d write about. One of the MC’s is a famous man we all know of, who’s been dead for quite some time now. I’m also co-authoring a second novel, with someone who most of your readers well know. But I ain’t tellin’ till we’re finished with it!
At some point you decided to self-publish. Can you tell us how that process developed?
When I parted ways with my publisher, I decided to go out on my own. I don’t have much hope for hooking an agent. A year ago last July, I received ten—yes ten—responses from agents who wanted to see all or part of my Beyond Nostalgia. Four asked to see it in a single day. I didn’t get a one taker. Several told me they were
sure I’d find the right agent “soon”, but that didn’t happen. Someday they just might kick themselves—though I know the odds are against it.
How do you feel about self-publishing now? What are the advantages, disadvantages, pitfalls?
The biggest advantage is that you don’t have to have a big 6 publisher to get your work “out there.” The biggest pitfall is that the odds against you are of Goliath
proportions. But…Amazon is now at our disposal. That makes our long shot hopes a possible dream. There was a time when I, like many others, dismissed self-pubbing as a vanity thing. No more.
Are you in a network of Indie authors? How do you market your own book?
Sure, I’ve made hundreds of writer friends/connections in the two plus years I’ve been trying to get my work noticed. Like I eluded to earlier, they are special people, creative people, and that’s why I hit it off with them better than most other folks. As far as marketing my stuff goes, I know of two or possibly three website that can really propel a book up the charts. Problem is, once the promotion ends, it’s very, very difficult to stay up there. And you need to be up there in order to get enough eyes on your book. Difficult, difficult, difficult! That’s why I still hope for that big publisher to come along.
When was your first book released and how did that make you feel?
Shortly after all those agents rejected Beyond Nostalgia, Tim Roux of Night Publishing offered to pick it up. Though I was heartbroken about all those agents disinterest, I was very happy that Tim made the offer. When BN was released, in February of last year, I was tickled pink.
Can you tell us some background information on the book? (How did you get the idea, how long did it take you to write and edit it, is it part of a sequel, how does the published book make you feel now?)
Parts of Beyond Nostalgia were based on some of my life experiences, all the rest I
conjured from the fleeting ideas that whiz in and out of my head.
What are your writing habits? (every day, number of words, etc.?)
I try to write something most every morning. Sometimes I come up with a hundred words, on a great day I might do a thousand. I also might sit here working on a single paragraph I wrote the day before. I’m what I call a grinder. I can’t just type
a bunch of words that sound OK. They have to be full of emotion and say something meaningful. I try to write so my readers connect with me as they go along. I want them to think to themselves from time to time, Wow, what a way to say what he just did. This guy can write.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration and why? Since when?
Some of my writer friends, for sure. If you read the first three or four of Beyond Nostalgia’s 36 5-star reviews on Amazon, you’ll understand why I subject myself
to something that is very often gruelling work. There are people out there that think my books are going to be very BIG someday. They are a lot surer than I am and so is my wife, Blanche. She’s my number one supporter—in more ways than one.
Where do you see yourself in 5-years’ time?
If I can get noticed, and my books get the attention I truly believe they deserve, I
will only be in Florida for a few months a year. I want to be back in Maine (where I recently spent five years in the North Woods), sitting in a small log home, writing, watching the seasons change, and keeping an eye out the window for the wild animals that I love.
Beyond Nostalgia and The Last American Martyr have both been on multiple Amazon Bestseller lists. Both books became “Bestsellers” on Random house’s YouWriteOn website, where BN was in contention for their “2011 Boo of the Year.” TLAM is now up for the 2012 award. Here are the links to them and my book of short stories, The Voice of Willie Morgan. Check out Beyond Nostalgia’s 36 5-star reviews on Amazon.
The Voice of Willie Morgan and Two Other Short Stories http://www.amazon.com/Voice-Willie-Morgan-Stories-ebook/dp/B006777HWO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1321264433&sr=1-1
Tom’s Website http://tomwintonauthor.com/
THANK YOU SO MUCH Tom for this interview!!