Saturday

Kindle Author Interview: Tom Andry

Tom Andry, author of Bob Moore: No Hero, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Bob Moore: No Hero?

TOM ANDRY: Bob is a non-powered private detective in a world of superheroes. He specializes in investigating supers even though he has no powers and absolutely no offensive weapons other than his intellect. In this particular novella, he is dealing with some issues from his past. Basically, the man that he blames for breaking up his marriage wants Bob to help him prove that there has been a crime.

The setting is what is really interesting about the novella. What would the world be like if superheroes started showing up around 30 years ago? Would we have computers? Cell phones? How would it have changed our world? When you read No Hero you'll recognize some things as very antiquated, others as near science fiction.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

TOM ANDRY: My wife and I talk about how I write "organically." This means that I create a character in my head, often with little more than a hairstyle, and start writing. From there, the characters take on a life of their own. I'd love to say that I plan everything they say and do out but I don't. I just sort of start writing and see where it goes.

I tend not to have many throwaway characters in my stories. Sure, there are some but I really like giving each of them a backstory and personality even if it doesn't make it to the paper. I think this makes it more real for the reader as well as more interesting for me to write. Back in my flash fiction days, most of my characters ended up dead by the end of the story so now I don't get emotionally attached to my characters. I like them, sometimes love them, but if they have to die, that's the way it is.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

TOM ANDRY: Like most authors, I write what I like to read. I'm 39, an ex-comic book collector, and I don't think that falling in love with a vampire would be the coolest thing ever. Honestly, I've had people of both genders and of ages ranging from very young (16) all the way up to 60+ read and enjoy the novel. The most common response I get to my novel is, "I don't usually read books like this but..." It's not so comic book that you have know the history of Marvel or DC to understand it but it has enough there to make the comic book fans smile knowingly.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

TOM ANDRY: I actually wrote a fairly long blog post on this a while back. Basically, I started in high school with poetry, moved on to flash fiction in college, and then started working for Audioholics.com—a home theater equipment review website a number of years later. Combine that with a very verbose Play by E-Mail role playing game I spent over a year playing from which I gained the necessary skills and confidence. While I did study creative writing a bit in college, for most, I believe, it is more a function of practice and confidence. And the only way you can get those is by writing. Fortunately they come packaged together.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

TOM ANDRY: As I mentioned, I write organically but I've found that if I don't have a plan, I can easily get lost. So, for example, with No Hero and the sequel that is currently in the works, I plan the story out as a series of plot points. This gives me a roadmap on the plot of the story so I don't get off track. It might look something like this:
  • Bob wakes up to alarm - there's a fire outside
  • Talks to Fireman - finds out there is a couple of supers inside (Flamer, Cindar fighting XX)
  • XX gets away. Bob knows him/her
So, there are specific things that have to happen but the details are woefully missing. Even complete characters (fireman, XX) will lack gender or personalities. When I get to the point that the character comes into the story, I often have to take a break for a few minutes/hours/days to figure them out.

You'd be surprised how often I look at my notes and notice that the character I've just written refused to hit the plot point I had planned. I then have to go back and try to figure out a way to hit that plot point. I've found that I can sometimes hit a couple of plot points in a single chapter or it might take multiple chapters to flesh out a single one. So, with the above example, the waking up and talking to the fireman might be a single chapter while the XX gets away might take two or more.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

TOM ANDRY: All of them honestly. Anyone that has the stones to put their thoughts down on paper and then show it to another. They risk a lot of themselves when they do that. What finally got me writing, though, were indie writers that were self-publishing on Kindle and other locations. I saw how they had sidestepped the gatekeepers, one of the main reasons I could never bring myself to finish a novel, and thought, "Now, that's the way to go." I don't mind people not liking my work, but to have one person between you and giving your work a chance to find an audience doesn't seem fair. Plus, I have no patience for the submission process. Call it a character flaw.

As an aside, I will say that Steven King's On Writing was an incredibly inspiring read. Any author, aspiring or already published, should read it.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

TOM ANDRY: I couldn't say. I'd like to be as aped as Lovecraft, as prolific as King, as crazily weird as Joyce, as funny as Adams, as immortal as Shakespeare. But I'll settle for just making a someone I don't know happy they bought my book. Hopefully a lot of someones.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

TOM ANDRY: Google is my friend. I've searched for book review sites and submitted No Hero to as many as I can. From there, I've looked at their internal links (which is how I found you) to make my search easier. I've tried to do a little posting over in the Kindle and other forums but I sort of hate self promotion. I don't mind putting my work out for others to read and criticize, but I'm a bit too self conscious to "talk myself up."

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

TOM ANDRY: It's the largest ebook resource on the web. You have to go to Amazon if you want to give your work the best chance of finding an audience.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

TOM ANDRY: Edit. Edit, edit, and then edit again. I'm a terrible editor of my own work. I've known that for years. I read what I meant to write, not what's on the page. You've got people around you, friends, family, that can edit. It isn't like they have a "grammar police" badge but they are out there. Plus there are tons of forums full of people that love to do just that. Edit, have someone else edit, and edit again. Nothing will turn a reader off faster than spelling/punctuation/grammar mistakes. Make them evaluate your work based on the story, plot, characters, and creativity, not on the technical mistakes.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Andry is the Associate Editor of Audioholics.com and host of the AV Rant podcast. He's been writing mostly reviews but has lately returned to his prose roots. He has written many unpublished short stories, poems, and a few screenplays that may still be produced. He's the father of three boys affectionately nicknamed Punkalicious, Captain Evil, and Neo. He's happily married and currently resides in Perth, Australia. His background is in drama, creative writing, and research psychology which basically means his kids are in for a pretty rough time. His wife, Tanel, doesn't have it so easy either.

Visit his website.

His book is available as an ebook and in paperback from Amazon US and from Amazon UK.

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