Lisa: We’re so pleased to welcome author Tom Early to TNA today. He’s joining us on the promotional tour for his newest release, The Doorway God, Book Two in the Seasons Rising series from Harmony Ink Press. Welcome, Tom! Why don’t we start by having you tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
Tom: I often go through phases of enjoying very odd and entertaining creative activities. My two favorites thus far are the period of years where there was nothing I enjoyed so much as sewing my own stuffed animals (all of which ended up looking quite weird, as enjoyment did not so much translate to talent), and the time I wanted a crockpot so I could more efficiently make candles. Given the… interesting results of both those hobbies, it’s probably for the best that I settled on writing.
Lisa: If you could spend some real-life time with one of the characters in the book, who would you choose and why?
Tom: Ooh. Probably Nick or Lailah. I’m sure Nick and I would have a grand old time play-flirting with each other and tease-advising our friends, because we have a very similar sense of humor and outlook on life. On the other hand, Lailah would be someone I’d love to spend a rainy day drinking coffee or tea with and just reading in companionable silence together and occasionally talking about our favorite books.
Lisa: On the flipside, which character would you probably least get along with? Why?
Tom: Sam. Before a lot of my readers get out their torches and pitchforks in defense of their favorite characters, it’s not her. It’s me. Sam is very high energy. I am not. Sam has a flash pan temper and is quick to react to any slight, imagined or otherwise. I avoid conflict whenever possible. I suspect the first twenty minutes spent with Sam would give me a headache for the ages. That said, I think we would get along very well in larger groups, or if both of us let down our defenses long enough to actually connect.
Lisa: Let’s take off your author cap and put on your reader cap for a moment: what do you look for in a book, what sort of protagonists do you love, do you have a favorite genre?
Tom: Stories need to draw me in. This is a pretty obvious demand, but a lot of books out there these days don’t have enough of a hook for me. It can be topic, character, something else – just catch my attention on the first page and keep it. I love protagonists that are thoughtful and wary, because they’re easy to identify with. Not everyone makes friends easily, or trusts new people right off the bat. Give me someone who takes a little while to open up to people, but once they’ve bonded, would do anything for them. As far as genre goes, fantasy captured my heart when I was seven, and hasn’t let me go since.
Lisa: What books and authors would you say influenced you to become a writer yourself?
Tom: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. That one is definitely up there, because that story made me fall in love with the first-person narrative, which is my favorite style to write in. Before I read that book, I thought you couldn’t make beautiful, complex prose with the first-person perspective. After, I realized how wrong I was, and decided to see if I could write like that too. Other influences include Simon R. Green, Kevin Hearne, and GRRM.
Lisa: What are your least and most favorite things about being an author?
Tom: Mmmm… Writing, and writing. It’s a love-hate relationship that I know isn’t exclusive to me. On good days, the feeling of writing is enough to keep me happy for the entire week. Creating is something I feel like I was meant to do. On bad days, more often when I can’t write than when what I write doesn’t feel good, it’s more like all my inadequacies as an author have come parading in front of me as a painful reminder. Imposter Syndrome is fun and real.
Lisa: What’s the best piece of writing/author advice you’ve ever received that you’d pass on to someone just getting started in the business?
Tom: It’s more important to finish and persevere than it is to get every word perfect. Talent is refined, not given, but the ability to finish what you’ve started will carry you farther than talent alone ever could. Keep writing.
Lisa: Let’s talk tropes: do you have a few favorites that you enjoy both writing and reading? If so, what are they and what makes them your faves?
Tom: Oh maaaaaan. I’ll be real: I love tropes. I devour them and relish them and see absolutely nothing wrong with stories following established tropes. A lot of this has to do with how much time I spend in the fantasy genre, where nothing is original except the spin you put on eternal concepts. I have too many to list, but here are some of my favorites: anything involving mutual pining, magical schools (thanks, Rowling), snarky rivals, and role reversals. I don’t care if they’re predictable; if I’m grinning at the page in front of me, that trope is doing what it’s supposed to.
Lisa: If I were to interview Fay, Sam and Tyler, what would they say about you?
Fay: He seems a lot like me, but also like he knows more than he should and doesn’t mind hinting at that. I’m kind of worried that if I asked for help, he’d laugh for a while before he actually did anything about it. But then, I guess I’m kinda used to that from Sam.
Sam: I kinda wanna just… whack him on the head, just to see what he’d do. I mean c’mon, he’s so obsessed with being composed and calm, right? I just wanna see the real him when he’s off-balance.
Tom: Thanks, Sam.
Lisa: Let’s pretend you’re taking a road trip, and you can choose any three of your characters to go with you. First, who would you want on the ride-along, and why them?
Tom: Oh, this is a fun one. I would take Aiden because he’s loaded enough to let us travel in style and stay only at the nicest places, and because he can handle any asshole we might encounter on the way with a smirk and a cutting remark. Nick, because his music choices are on point and he can make everyone laugh whenever, and then maybe Tyler, because Tyler gets along with everybody and would be happy to drive extra-long when everyone else is ready to drop, and do it all with a smile.
Lisa: Second, who would be most likely to:
Tom: *Have to hit every rest stop bathroom
Tyler “I was a squirrel in a previous life” Andrews.
*Whine about how long it’s taking to get where you’re going
Aiden. At least the whining would be condensed and efficient, not constant. I’d probably join him.
*Break wind with the windows rolled up
Nick, then delightedly tell everyone exactly what he did before laughing and rolling down the windows.
*Flip incessantly through songs on their music app
Nick, but he’d make it work. I think his phone is enchanted for extra space for songs.
Lisa: If you had to choose between becoming a superhero or supervillain, which would you choose and why?
Tom: Superhero, but only because my conscience has a very active guilt center. I still wouldn’t do much rescuing, but I don’t think I could handle actually hurting people like a supervillain would.
Lisa: What would your superpower be?
Tom: Messing with probabilities, but only with little nudges. Maybe that getaway car’s wheel goes flat because it’s under a lot of stress, you know? Maybe that thug with a gun hasn’t properly used it before, and it jams when he tries to? Little things that add up.
Lisa: If you could be any animal in the world, what would you choose? Why?
Tom: Dog. I’m so tempted to say something with wings, but I love dogs and what dogs do too much for that. Let me have a small lifetime of napping in sunbeams and getting petted, please.
Lisa: If you could be any fictional character in the history of literature, who would you like to be and why?
Tom: Ironically, I don’t know this character’s name, but in The Name of the Wind there is a character who works as… a traveling librarian, of sorts? He goes out hunting for rare books, travels to exotic places, carries a sword, and probably leaves everyone he sees just a little bit fascinated. I would love to be him, and also to exist in that world because I would flirt with so many of the other characters there. So many.
Lisa: It’s the zombie apocalypse. It’s up to you and 5 other uninfected humans to save what’s left of humanity. Which fictional characters would you want on your team, and why?
Tom: Aragorn, because Ranger is accomplished at low-tech survivalism and also has enough charisma to act as an effective leader in any situation. Also, he’s gorgeous.
Mola from The Name of the Wind, because she is an expert medic and a no-nonsense person who would absolutely keep a cool head in a crisis. She would save everyone’s life a thousand times over and make you feel more than a little disappointed in yourself in the process.
Ronan from The Raven Cycle, because he’s the sort of asshole who can and will break the tension, because he can almost certainly drive any car and hotwire all the ones we find, because he can dream things into reality, and because he is a very pretty and sullen gay farmer who I would absolutely like to spend the apocalypse with. Aragorn and Mola can repopulate the world or something, I’m sure it’ll be fine.
Atticus from The Iron Druid Chronicles, because an immortal druid with knowledge of so many different things would definitely help keep us alive, and because his survival instincts and sense of humor would make the apocalypse that much better.
Pike from Critical Role, because she is a tiny sweetheart who can heal and bring back people from the dead, burn zombies to ash from time to time, and can otherwise wreck your shit while restoring your faith in humanity at the same time.
I think we’d stand a pretty good chance. I would, of course, be in charge of nighttime storytelling to keep morale up, and also maybe brush up on my cooking a bit.
Lisa: Thanks so much for being here with us today, Tom. It’s been fun chatting with you!
About The Doorway God
The Seasons are coming to Janus University, and Fay’s and Sam’s lives will never be the same.
Through last year’s deadly Trials, Fay and Sam gained admittance to the magical university, and the coming of autumn signals the start of the school year. But both of them have goals beyond their studies. For Fay, it’s finding a way to contain the ancient and evil spirit of Winter, which has no regard for human life. Fay has vowed to never let Winter kill again—but working with the school’s headmaster, Didas, is a risk. Didas cannot see past the potential power he can draw from Fay, and since Fay’s boyfriend and familiar, Tyler, is away at Tufts University, Fay might have to face his possession—and his dreams of four mysterious figures—on his own terms.
While trying to help Fay, Sam seeks information about her mother’s past in the magical world of Gaia, but will she like what she uncovers? To survive, Fay and Sam must make alliances, but it’s harder than ever to tell friend from enemy.
Tom Early is currently a student at Tufts University who probably spends more time than is wise reading and writing instead of studying. More often than not, he can be found wrapped in a blanket on the couch forgetting most of the things he was supposed to do that day.
When not writing, Tom can be found either reading, gaming, drawing, scratching his dog, or bothering his friends. He also frequently forgets that it’s healthy to get more than six hours of sleep a night, and firmly believes that treating coffee as the most important food group makes up for this. If you show him a picture of your dog, he will probably make embarrassingly happy noises and then brag about his own dog. He’s always happy to talk about any of his previous or current writing projects, because people asking him about them reminds him that he should really be writing right now.