About Thomas Whaley:
Thomas Whaley was born in 1972 and has lived on Long Island his entire life. Since early childhood, he always enjoyed writing as a pastime, whether it be poems, short stories or funny scripts for his friends to act out. Most importantly, Thomas loved to entertain those around him, especially children. This eventually led him to change his career path from working in The Big Apple to becoming an elementary school teacher at the age of 27. Since becoming a teacher in 1999, Thomas has taken his childhood pastime to the next level, authoring several children’s books and sharing them with his students and his own children.
Thomas has always enjoyed reading books, but particularly those that make him casually self-reflect or hysterically laugh at the idiosyncrasies of daily life. This is what inspired him to finally sit down and write Leaving Montana. Thomas currently lives in Shoreham, New York with his husband Carl, their two sons Andrew and Luke, and their loyal dogs Sam and Jake.
What inspires you to write?
The students that I teach inspire me when writing my children’s books, but when it comes to novels, JUST ABOUT ANYTHING! Leaving Montana, my debut novel, was life-inspired; my life parallels the main character, Ben Quinn.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am a total “seat of the pants” writer. Being an elementary school teacher requires so much pre-planning, outlining and re-planning – I leave that work-style where it needs to be – at work. When I am writing, I let my creativity just flow. There is always time to go back and look things over, but sometimes planning things out, takes away from the natural flow.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
When I am writing children’s books, I try to image myself being the character (s). This comes easy to me, especially since I am surrounded by 6-7 year old children all day at work and then at home with my two sons. It really helps keep the words in the book comprehensible and enjoyable. It also helps the book keep it’s simplicity.
As for my novel Leaving Montana, or the new psychological thriller I am working on, I try to disconnect. This was difficult with Leaving Montana – because I am Ben Quinn. I had to relive many parts of my past in order for the book to flow. With the new novel, I am trying to let the identities and personalities of the characters remain unaffected by my opinion of them. If I communicate or connect with them, they may not be as authentic as I would like them to be.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write what you know! Write what you feel! Do not be afraid to offend, shock or possibly even scare away some people. There are books for everyone, no matter the writing style or genre. Also – do not be afraid to abandon something. If it is not working…and the story just isn’t coming along smoothly – it is time to move on. So many people TRY to make something work. Sometimes it is not meant to be.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to go with a small indie publishing company for my first novel. After checking out many different places, I felt comfortable with the intimacy of it. Publishing can be a scary process and I needed to feel a part of every step so that I could learn about the entire process. I am open to all avenues of publishing – so when my next novel is ready, or I decide to begin looking for representation for my children’s books, I may take another path if I see fit.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It is most definitely changing! I think author’s are being given the ability to be involved in the process more, however, they are also expected to be involved in their own exposure as well. This is something that agents and publishers used to do FOR YOU. This can be scary – so making sure that you have investigated and established avenues of self-promotion is very important – especially with the divide of expectations between publishers and authors.
What do you use?: Professional Editor
What genres do you write?: Literary Fiction, Fiction, Thriller/Suspense and Children’s
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print