Ex-military, former teacher and non-fiction writer, Thomas Rowe Drinkard, joins us to discuss his current career as a Thriller/Mystery writer.
TB: Tom, welcome to the “Author’s Dialogue” series. I am so excited to offer our readers an audio clip of your work! But before we get to that, could you please start by giving us a bit of background to your writing career? Such as, when and why did you decided to start writing?
TD: Can’t pin that down. I wrote stories and poems in the sixth grade, for sure.
TB: What have been your best and worst experiences as a writer?
TD: Best is easy: receiving messages from people who couldn’t find a “stopping place” in my novel and read until 3 a.m.
Worst: having agents lie to me about their intentions. Phony “love” at a writers’ conference should banish the offenders to a special level of purgatory, at least.
TB: How have those experiences prepared you for being an author?
TD: Ah, the agony and ecstasy. The good is so gratifying and the bad simply allows one to develop mental and emotional calluses.
TB: Please tell us about your latest work.
TD: My debut novel, Piety and Murder is available in digital form on a number of sites. Amazon and B&N are two. It is a book about a man who, while trying to protect his family from the depredations of a phony faith healer, falls afoul of violent criminals who use the televangelist as cover. It is a thriller, complete with running gunfights and hostage rescue.
TB: Piety and Murder has won rave reviews on Amazon; and for the benefit of our readers, I’d like to quote one of your reviewers:
“In college, Thomas Rowe Drinkard enjoyed amateur theatrics, playing the lead in several campus productions. After graduating during the Vietnam era, he plied the craft of unconventional war and profession of soldiering as a U.S. Army Special Forces officer. During those years he wrote contemplative, insightful short stories and poems often published in periodicals and anthologies. Now, his gifts as wordsmith, his sense of drama and his skills in deadly confrontation yield a cheek-clenching novel of prostituted evangelical fervor masking murderous greed, where no tenet – and no soul – is worth more than its cash value. “Piety and Murder”, a tale of connivance, cruelty and corruption, is a thoughtful and solid read.” (Russell Tate)
What a dynamic and complimentary overview of both you and your book! Now, for the benefit of our readers, here’s an audio clip by you and your wife, Marjorie Hatfield Drinkard, on Piety and Murder.
Have you written a prequel or sequel to appease your readers?
TD: The prequel, Where There Were No Innocents is in final editing and will be published soon.
TB: What were your inspirations for writing it?
TD: For years I spent five to eight days in a suburb of New Orleans, Metairie. It was virtually impossible to turn on the TV in my hotel room without getting faith healers and televangelists’ programs. I began to guess that those organizations would make great cover for all sorts of nefarious activities. They probably don’t come under much official scrutiny.
TB: Are you a “blank-pager,” or do you use outlines?
TD: I work from a blank page-on the word processor. The scenes are constructed in my mind. I “see” them before writing. For me, outlining destroys the immediacy of writing. When I’ve tried to write from an outline, I felt as if I was doing one of the old paint-by-numbers oils.
TB: To what degree are your fictional characters based in reality?
TD: The disclaimer will always say that the characters are products of my imagination. Some are just that. Others have recognized themselves, and there are composites.
TB: Briefly share your thoughts on traditional publishing vs. indie.
TD: The publishing world has changed and is changing. The artist, the author, now has much more control and is able to keep more of the profits for his or her work. To me, this is as it should be.
TB: Is there a different genre you would like to try writing?
TD: Yes, I actually have a science fiction novel and a paranormal novel as works-in-progress. Two completed, but unpublished books are my more familiar thriller/mystery books.
TB: Can you tell us a bit about your next project?
TD: My next project is to complete a book that can be mentioned as, “torn from today’s headlines.” It involves a new protagonist and several cold terrorists. I’m approaching the final showdown. Maybe another 40-50 pages.
TB: Describe your ideal surroundings/conditions for writing.
TD: My home, my office and silence or quiet music, often classical.
TB: Have you ever co-authored a piece?
TD: Not yet, although my wife is my first editor. She often makes good suggestions for changes.
TB: What advice can you share with writers who are just starting out?
TD: Tell the story, as you’d want to hear it. Don’t take too many side-trips. If a passage doesn’t contribute to moving the narrative forward, delete it. Read works of good writers in your genre. Learn how they handle narrative, dialogue and story structure.
TB: What are your quirks and do they influence your writing?
TD: I have a tiny streak of perfectionism. I tend to edit too much while writing. I have to care about my characters, or they won’t come to life. I can become involved in their fictional lives.
TB: Please share with us, a little-known fact about you which others might find interesting or entertaining.
TD: My wife, Marge, and I bred and exhibited Bull Terriers for more than twenty years. We managed to produce homebred champions and traveled as far as Calgary, Canada for special shows. Our kennel name was Merlyn. We loved the dogs but eventually tired of the politics in the ring and clubs.
TB: Tom, thanks so much for your lively responses! I wish you all the best with your future works.
TD: Thank you.
About the author, Thomas Rowe Drinkard
Thomas Rowe Drinkard, born and reared in the Deep South—Alabama—graduated from the University of North Alabama with a degree in English. Following commencement, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army, and was then accepted into the Special Forces (Green Berets).
After the Army, he found his way into teaching and writing in the securities licensing preparation business. His textbooks, articles and CE courses are in use today.
Tom is now a full-time writer/part-time freelance editor and author of Piety and Murder.