I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again: thank you. The Indie Interview series was started on a whim, and here we are 13 interviews later, and still going strong. Each Sunday, you read about a different author’s experiences and lessons learned, and you connect with them or empathise. And that’s exactly what I’d hoped would happen when I posted the plea for more writers back in January.
If you enjoy reading the interviews and want to take part, get in touch via the contact form. You don’t need to be an Indie author to get involved. This is for everyone, and everyone is welcome here.
This week’s interview is with Tom Minder, the author of The Long Harbour Testament, a book which sees a a gambling priest’s brother killed by a bookie and a detective getting involved with a mob boss to solve a murder.
I don’t know about you but that definitely sounds like a whirlwind.
Q: Had you always planned on becoming a published author?
A: I dreamed of it growing up, as do many people. I got serious about my novel about five years ago when I realized that I had enough to flesh it into an outline.
Q: What inspired you to write The Long Harbour Testament?
A: The works of Dostoyevsky and Graham Green. The idea of troubled characters facing moral crises, and experiencing the consequences, intrigued me. Aren’t we all just a bad decision away from trouble?
Q: What made you choose this genre?
A: Mystery, unsettled lives, good versus evil (and how these are hard to tell apart) allow the writer and reader to escape everyday worries and see how their heroes or anti-heroes cope with life’s difficulties.
Q: What is the book about?
A: A parish priest and his brother become involved in the death of a local bookie. The town debates if the killing is a crime or a benefit to the community while a mobster and police detective form an unholy alliance searching for answers. Religion, gambling, drinking, Girl Scout cookies, and a wedding with a miracle complicate the investigation.
Q: Did you find it easiest to write with a schedule or with no time restrictions?
A: I wrote on a strict schedule and mostly on the weekends due to job responsibilities. The experience was enjoyable and an escape from the everyday grind.
Q: Can you choose a favourite character?
A: Detective Porfino. A man thrust into the investigation of the death of a feared, and mostly unmissed character. His low-key handling of the persons of interest add humor to the story while assuring the reader that he’ll get to the bottom of things, wherever they lead. I modelled him after Porfiry in Crime and Punishment.
Q: Was there ever a point while you were writing your book when you wanted to give up?
A: No, actually. It was exciting and satisfying to write each section and see it through to the end. I did reach a point where my projected 250-page novel looked like it would end abruptly at about 125 pages. That’s where having a developed outline helped me to get back on track, see where the story needed to go, and complete the story.
Q: What is the worst part of the writing process for you?
A: I have to admit that the long process of querying agents and small presses became the toughest part of the journey. It’s easy to think “nobody loves me” when the rejections occur, or worse, there’s no response at all
Q: How much of your stories do you plan, or do you find it easier to make them up as you go along?
A: I outline everything, even short stories regardless of the length. Outlining is a chance to think the story completely through and decide if it’s worth writing. It also help as a reference guide when the plot starts to veer off.
Q: Do you have a favourite piece of writing advice?
A: Write the first draft of your work, beginning to end, without any major revision or rework. Then, give yourself some time to cool off before you boil it down to a second draft. Seek as much feedback as you can from editors, beta readers, critique members, and fellow writers. Expect the second draft to be smaller than the first as you throw unneeded exposition and plot items overboard. Stephen King’s formula is second draft = first draft minus ten percent. That’s pretty accurate.
Q: Where can people learn more about your books?
A: I have a web site, http://tomminder.weebly.com/ . The Long Harbor Testament is my only completed novel at this point. I am also developing an anthology of short fiction which may be brought out later this year.
Q: What have you learned since you started writing?
A: That writing is a business. Even if you’d be happy just seeing your work in print, you need to approach the whole process as a business project to be consumed by agents, publishers, and readers. Leave one of these out and you’ll have an incomplete, unsatisfying product.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: An anthology of short stories centered on a married couple and their experiences coping with wildlife, criminals, Wawas, casinos, and other mainstays of South Jersey life. The couple is a composite of myself and Paula, Dagwood and Blondie, and Nick and Nora Charles (from The Thin Man series)
Father Jim has a gambling problem, a girlfriend, and his brother Gabe just killed his bookie. Detective Mark Porfino investigates while mob boss Mario Gallante arrives to figure out why his protégé was found floating in the harbor.
Mark and Mario form an unholy alliance, with fast food, drinking, Girl Scout cookies, a dead man with a morbid sense of humor, and a wedding with a miracle, contributing to the search for the killer.
Jim must weigh family loyalty and protection of his lover against the vows he’s made to himself and his church. Will Gabe confess and relieve Jim of his burden? Or will they both be dragged further into the abyss until their secret is revealed?