Friday, July 19, 2013

Author Interview – Thomas Thorpe

How did you make the Transition from writing science papers to writing prose? Historical mystery thrillers require a combination of styles. A big question for me was was how to transition from writing objective science papers to writing prose in the genre of literature, how to build suspense, make characters come alive and develop a story. Developing suitable writing styles requires considerable reading, advice in novel writing and practice, practice, practice. In my case, this included fan-fiction writing on the internet. Early papers can still be found in the archives of the Republic of Pemberly homepage.

Why this time period? The era was both fascinating and turbulent. Nations struggled with self-government, having emerged from colonialism or repressive monarchies. Word of the French and American revolutions had spread worldwide. Tensions flared between traditional royalists and young radicals who promoted new ideas of democracy to free themselves from repressive social classes. The idea of personal freedom threatened the economic engine of most countries: slavery. Already condemned by the church, the practice became the target of rebellion among slaves, sepoys, serfs and Quebecois. As a result, conspiracies abounded and murders were common.

Into the mix, are thrust the Darmons, who solve mysteries occurring worldwide between 1820-1845. William and Elizabeth, her sister Emily and brother-in-law Charles and youngest sister, Victoria. They’re world traveling aristocrats whose money provides access, but encounters with other cultures make them truly “fish out of water.” The six novels are set in  England, America, Egypt, Canada, Brazil, Russia and India.

How did you find your publisher? Creating manuscripts is only the beginning for a new author. Finding a publisher for a select audience may take as much time as writing the novel. Research is the key to publishing any historical book and today’s Internet provides a wealth of sources. Publication of my first book came from shopping it around along with the ten thousand other writers seeking publication in this country every day. The now defunct PortTown Publishing Company originally published the first four novels of the Darmon series. However, they went out of business in 2006.

When I found a new publisher, Black Rose Writing, the editor requested I submit the most current, unpublished manuscript. Hence, Book 6 of the series, Without Redemption was released in 2009 set in India began and the new series began in reverse order.  Fortunately, each book is standalone, with the same main characters in different countries rather than obvious sequels or prequels.  Book 5: Desperate Crossing (2010) is set in Russia of the 1840’s. Book 4: Fair Wind to Bahia is set in Brazil and Book 3: Patriote Peril (2011) is set in Quebec, Canada. Book 2: The Forth Conspiracy has (2013) is set in Egypt and Greece. Hopefully, Message of the Pendant is set in America, and the island of Saint Helena will come out next year. All are available on Amazon, Nook , Kindle as well as traditional paperback in Barnes & Noble bookstores.

How do you market your books? Prior to a book’s release, advance work includes setting up reviews, writing press releases, scheduling book signings, and seeking ways to create publicity. Agents and publicists can help, but chances are one has to work their way up the sales ladder to get noticed by major catalogs. Once a paperback is published, an author should be prepared to meet and greet at bookstores over the following year. This can be fun, as said on the TV show, Pawn Stars: “You never know what is going to come thru that door.” Recently, a father and two teenaged sons passed by my table. I asked, “How about a mystery?” to which he responded: “No thanks, I’m here for a specific book, something like How to Coach Soccer for Dummies”. One of his sons, looking perplexed, burst out: “So you think we’re dummies?” Another question I often get is: My son reads everything, is this book appropriate for an 8 year old?”

What would you like to say to your readers? Historical events are often ignored when presented in textbooks. People sometimes think our ancestors were primitive and uneducated because they lacked today’s technology. Unless one experiences the reality of past circumstances thru historical novels, their true relevance may be missed. I hope the Darmon series enlightens readers to challenges of the time and gives a better appreciation of the choices made by our forebears during their lives.

William Darmon and his wife Elizabeth, owners of Mayfair Hall, fall victim to rival Forth family who introduce a bill into Parliament called the Writ of Confiscation. It will repossess the Darmon’s ancestral home unless they can find their missing deed. A late family friend hid the document on a trip to Egypt decades earlier, leaving a clue to its location only visible in the night sky of 1825.

As the Darmons begin to unravel the mystery, a Forth body turns up on their doorstep. William and brother-in-law, Charles set off for the Mediterranean only to be waylaid by Greek independence fighters on the eve of a massive Egyptian invasion. William’s escape finds him stranded in the Sahara far behind Forth members attempting to destroy his property title. Historically accurate events provide non-stop suspense.

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Genre – Historical / Mystery / Thriller

Rating – PG

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