Thomas will also be our guest this Wednesday, on Blog Talk Radio, so don't forget to check out the show at 3:30pm PST. Now, for the interview...
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What inspired the storyline for An Apple for Zoe?
In the early 1990’s I worked for the Coroner’s Office. I worked a case that we were not allowed to discuss for two years. At first we thought we might we were very concerned, because this particular homicide had all the elements of a serial murder. I won’t go into great detail, but I remember we found the victim under a railroad bridge in a dry creek bed. When I arrived at the scene it looked like a movie set. It was just dusk and there were lights scattered around so we could see, it was a real lonely desolate place. It was while I there, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the scene for lack of a better term felt evil. That is where the first beginnings of An Apple For Zoe began.
Can you tell us a little about the paranormal elements of your book?
Well first off there are no vampires, werewolves or zombies, I’m happy to say. But the elements I wanted to deal in were the ones that go bump in the night. When you experience things that make you question your own sanity. Did I just really see that? Am I the only one hearing this? That sort of thing, then I wanted to deal in mental telepathy, possession. Not just ghosts but demons and witchcraft.
What makes Inspector Thomas James tick?Thomas James has a past that haunts him. When he was a teen in the late sixties he runs into The Zodiac Killer after the Paul Stein Killing and Zodiac lets him go. This fear has followed him his whole life. He joined the San Francisco PD just to try to feel safe. His career has been a typical one, until he’s called to a crime scene at the beginning of the book. From there the story moves into a very fast pace and he’s put into situations that cause him to question everything he’s ever learned or known.
It’s important to note, he’s agnostic about God. Not religion but God. Thomas James doesn’t believe in the supernatural, angels, and demons. But when everything he experiences on this case forces him to accept that things really are not all the random, he’s forced to confront some things police don’t like to discuss or even consider.
When it comes to writing your characters, do you plan them out, or do they come to life in your mind?
Some I do plan out. Some take me totally by surprise. One character in this book I had planned to be a simple transitional character, maybe for one or two scenes and that’s it. But as I began to write her, she came to life in a way I never expected. So I get the best of both worlds that way I suppose.
Did you find any challenges in writing a paranormal thriller?
You know, yeah I do. Here’s the thing I think that may cause you to laugh, but it’s important to me that even though it’s fiction and although no one can absolutely prove 100% on the paranormal, I want what I’m writing to ring true. I wring my hands sometimes thinking…no one will swallow this! But then I have to remind myself, there were no such things as, “Muggles, or Quiddich” before J. K. Rowling imagined them into being. So even though I’m trying to make it sound real, I am letting my imagination go wild.
What puts you in the mood to write a dark, mysterious novel?I’ve always wanted to write a really cool horror novel. One that would get mentioned whenever you said, “The Exorcist, Salem’s Lot, Psycho.” Dark, stormy days or nights help me find my mood, along with maybe seeing a really well done scary movie. In fact whenever I watch horror films I like there to always be lots of thunder and lightening.
Is there any certain music that would be a good fit for An Apple for Zoe?
Music is such a huge motivator with me when it comes to writing anything. But it has to be film scores. Rarely do I listen to music with lyrics when it comes to writing novels. Unless I’m trying to make a point. In the beginning of AAFZ, I reference the lesser-known song by The Left Banke, called, “Pretty Ballerina.” Everyone knows “Walk Away Renee.” In a way sometimes I like to think I’m doing the same thing for someone else that was done for me with a song like that. I originally heard the song in the film, “Off Limits” with Willem Defoe and I looked it up and found out who sang it and was surprised it was by “The Left Banke” because like everyone else I knew “Walk Away Renee.”
Sorry I got off track there a moment. But I love film scores always have. They have been my muse most of my writing life. Composers like, Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, John Williams. I listened to a lot of David Shire’s Zodiac score while writing An Apple For Zoe.
Did you put in a lot of research for this book?
I did. In fact I would go to the net to look something up and spend the next three hours going from link to link learning more about the subject than I expected. I even did a road trip to do two things. 1. Was fulfilling a long time dream of mine. 2. Was putting myself at an actual location that’s mentioned in the book. That was a trip to The Hollywood Forever Cemetery in well, Hollywood. I wanted to see the grave of silent film actress, Virginia Rappe, and Silent film director, William Desmond Taylor. It was so worth the trip. Standing there knowing they are right there with you. There’s a great story that happened to my wife and I while at the Cemetery. Remind me and I will share it with you.
It’s been a good experience. I self published back in 2000 my novel, “Silence.” With iUniverse and found that to be as best as it could be for that time. Self-publishing this time has been for more rewarding. I did a photo shoot for my own cover, hired an exceptional artist from Australia who has now done another author friend’s cover. This time, it’s been awesome because there is so much support out there, thanks to; Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, YouTube and Blogger. And now writers have the tools we didn’t have before. For the first time really, writers don’t need agents or traditional publishing houses to get their work out there. I hear that many think this terrible because so many bad books will inundate the market, but those books will speak for themselves, if the author is too lazy to get an editor, or does a slap-dash cover, they most likely won’t go far. Readers have so many more choices now and hey, who can complain? Come on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, gives you a preview of the book. I think what I dislike is the elitist attitude that only the traditional publishers should decide what gets into print and what doesn’t. Everyone deserves a chance at this dream. You should feel beaten down and punished for trying. I’m very satisfied; I’d be quite content to go sans agent and trad publisher if I can sell well enough on my own.
What has the road to self-publishing been like for you?
Will An Apple for Zoe be a stand-alone or part of a series?
It is book one of three. Book II is “An Apple For Zoe ~ The Wicked”
And Book III is “An Apple For Zoe ~ The Damned”
Are you working on any new projects?
Currently I’m writing “The Wicked” plus a screenplay for a production company that liked a film idea I pitched to them.
Any advice for new writers?
Go for it! I’ve been watching some first timers turn out some amazing books and actually sell pretty seriously. A thousand books in a month is nothing to sneeze at. Also, treat your writing as a real job. Even if you’re family and friends don’t support you, keep at it. Write everyday! Even if it’s just a paragraph. Read as often as possible. Also KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! Don’t submit adult horror to YA’s or Romance readers.
Where can readers purchase your book?
It’s available on The Kindle and Nook in digital format and even though I have it on Amazon in paperback via CreateSpace, I’m pulling that in favor of a paperback version via Lulu, the price is the same. The quality of the product with Lulu is much better.
Where can readers connect with you online?
I’m on Twitter: @authorthomasamo
I have an official FB page, Thomas Amo:
There is also an official FB for AAFZ:
Blogger under Author Thomas Amo http://authorthomasamo.blogspot.com/
And of course on GoodReads.
Would you be willing to share an excerpt from your book?
She looked perfect now. Her hair was combed just right. Lipstick applied with the expertise of a Hollywood make-up artist. Her hands neatly placed one on top of the other to show off her manicured nails. The fresh scent of perfume emanated from her blouse filling the room with a sweet euphoria. Her portrait loomed by her side; it showed her innocent smile that was underlined by a hint of sultriness that reflected in her eyes. Eyes that could catch the attention of any man she desired.
Flashbulbs popped and lit the room with the brief, yet intense, glow of a lightning storm. Finally her audience had arrived. She was at long last the center of attention. Everyone wanted to see her. Several policemen stood keeping reporters and spectators at a respectable distance. The media sat waiting, eager to learn every detail about what Amanda would have to say.
Thomas James observed Amanda, noticing just how perfect she truly was. She was indeed the sort of woman that all men desire. He wondered how many men had she rejected? Denied the pleasure of her company or affections. This time someone did get Amanda's attention and he had made her perfect in every detail. Her screams were now silent, all the blood gone, and Inspector Thomas James puzzled over the most bizarre crime scene of his career. His bespectacled hazel eyes looked down at Amanda Carlyle, who was bathed in a pink glow of dimmed lights and lit candles. The coffin lid open, exposing her only from the waist up. A Catholic set up was in place for potential mourners to come kneel and pray the rosary. She was completely prepared for her funeral, the problem was, Amanda Carlyle was alive just six hours earlier.
James examined the note that had been carefully placed in her hands. To his astonishment the note was handwritten and not typed. In a world of word processors and text messaging, it was amazing that someone would actually leave behind a handwritten clue. He parted the folds of the note, his hands sweating inside the latex evidence gloves that were a size too small; James once again read the words written in the scrawl of a child.
“Amanda you are the prettiest girl i have ever seen. i hope you do not have a boyfriend because i like you, i would be the best boyfriend in the world to you. You and me could be together and we would be so happy. So tell me if you like me too? Mark yes or no. hopefully your new boyfriend, Edmund Frayker.”
A cold shiver ran down Inspector James’ neck as he looked at the bottom of the note with two box shapes under the words yes and no. It reminded him of his grammar school days, when boys and girls would attempt to ask the all-important question of “I like you, do you like me?” The “no” box in the note was clearly marked with an “X” in the same childlike scribble. Even more confounding was the fact the suspect left a name. Was this a trick? Or was he dealing with a monster that possessed the mind of a child?
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A special thank you to Thomas for stopping by to chat with us about his book. Like the excerpt? Intirgued by the interview? Leave a comment with your email address in the format mentioned above, and you could win a copy of this paranormal thriller. Your comment doesn't have to be long, though we do enjoy feedback. Good luck to all those who enter. We will announce the winner on Sunday, July 17th. Be sure to check back then and see if you are one of the lucky two. Thanks everyone!