Tom Greenwood – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

I have only completed one book. It is called ‘The light that never went out’, it is a sci-fi novel over 100,000 words. Though it may start out reading like a fantasy, it is sci-fi. I’ve not tried to break the laws of physics and the setting is in our universe. The novel takes place on a Dyson Sphere, nothing to do with vacuum cleaners, though I do get that joke in. Look it up on wikipedia if you want more information. Although sci-fi, the book deals with other things such as abuse of power, racism (one of the characters is black in a mostly white world – but that’s not the problem), why she is black and everyone else is white is explained and it is down to low levels of UV radiation. The novel also deals the misuse of religions so that people can further their own ambitions. It may appear anti-religion at first but it is about the abuse of religious belief rather than religious belief itself. When reading the book, hopefully the reader will think, what is this all about? How does that work? And what’s going on here? and then as the book continues, all (or most of) their questions are answered as that’s the sort of book I enjoy.

Tell us something about yourself.

This is a tricky one as there’s not much all that interesting about me. Married, live in Scotland, two daughters, pet rabbit. I’ve got a Zoology degree, I’ve got a normal job (maintaining computer systems for a financial company), so I have to do all of this in my spare time.

What inspired you to write this book?

Cliche time – I had a dream, I knew the start, where Janol finds Onnil, and the end, though originally it was one major battle rather than the series of skirmishes that it finally turned out to be. I thought about it for a while and filled in some of the details, like the naming of the continents (I thought it was funny). Then put keyboard to screen. Initially I had no idea of what the middle of the book was going to be however, I wanted the characters to cross two dangerous lands, and what can be more dangerous than dinosaurs and people. With the dinosaurs, I wanted the reader to think, this is going to be Jurassic Park and then surprise them by doing something else entirely.

How did you publish this book?

It’s an e-book. Available on Smashwords or Ma2books (a small Glasgow outfit). If you want to buy it, can you get it from Ma2Books (Support Gurmeet)

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

It was always something I’d quite fancied, but I needed to wait until I had an idea that could be turned into a novel.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

First catching all the typos! Second and more serious answer, sometimes you have an idea or scene in your head and you can’t think of the correct words, trying to get it into the correct words can be difficult.

How do you do research for your books?

To be honest I didn’t need a lot of research for that one. The second project I started (see later question), I use wikipedia a lot, though you have to take everything with a pinch of salt. It once told me that a top Italian general was Gina Lollobrigida.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

How difficult it is. You can have all the scenes in your head but getting them down onto the VDU in front of you can be incredibly difficult (I think I’ve already said that). Then there was all the things about POV changes, overuse of adverbs, show and tell. These are mistakes that are easy to make, but if you follow the advice then your book will be better. Though I quite like the word ‘that’ which is a big no-no. I also don’t agree with the cut things out philosophy, to make everything short and sharp. A book should be savoured.

What are you reading now?

I’m going to take some books to read on holiday and then get shouted at for not being sociable.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’ve got two sequels to the ‘Light that never went out’, all the loose ends are wrapped up in the final book. I’m not going to publish them until there have been some sales of my first book. I also have an alternate history. Set in a 2005 where the Americans lost the war of Independence. This was sort of inspired by a TV program I saw, which said that the British had two opportunities to stop the war and didn’t. First one, they let the Americans escape (they were being too nice), second one someone didn’t read a letter. I used the second one as the point of departure. The story tells of two agents (one working for the United Provinces of America – think of an uber-Canada and one working for the Republic of Texas, who keep meeting and fancy the pants of each other).

Writing this is great because you start off with a blank map of the world and start drawing in countries. I thought having Australia as all British was boring, so I left its name as New Holland and had it split between Britain, France, Netherlands and Portugal. And Punjab, what an enlightened country that was until Britain took over, I wanted that to remain independent. You can read the first part of it on Authonomy. However it is a draft version. I’ve also written a lot of background material which I intend to put out as a companion e-book and give away for free.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Ideas. If you have a great idea you’ll have a great book.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

I’m new to this promotion thing, so I’m not really sure what to do nor am I a particularly pushy person. Hopefully this will help. I would plug it on twitter but my brother-in-law follows me, apparently I’m quite funny!

Which character did you like writing for the best?

Onnil, the main female character, she can be so sarcastic, especially as she knows most of the things that are happening and only lets Janol (the main male character) know things on a need to know basis, that is until he tells her that he loves her. Then she feels she has to tell him everything.