Author Interview: Thomas Wolfenden
Thomas Wolfenden is the author of ‘One Man’s Island’.
He was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is an honorably discharged veteran of the US Army. He’s worked in several different jobs throughout his life, spending fifteen years in law enforcement and the private security field. He’s worked as an automotive detailer, ambulance driver, a nuclear medicine delivery courier, a dairy barn cleaner, and most recently has worked as a ballast regulator operator, a switchman, conductor and a locomotive engineer on the railroad. He’s traveled extensively, through the United States and abroad, Europe, Central America, Australia and the South Pacific, and lived in several States, Pennsylvania, Arizona, West Virginia, Kentucky, Idaho and Florida being a few places. He’s written several OP-ED pieces for various local newspapers, and had up until recently, kept a political humor blog. He’s a Life/Endowment member of the National Rifle Association, Libertarian, American Patriot and a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. He now spend his time between the United States and Australia, with his life partner, Catherine.
Horror Tree (HT): For those unfamiliar with your novel ‘One Man’s Island’ if you could share a little about it?
Thomas Wolfenden (TW): One Man’s Island is a little different that most Post-Apocalyptic stories. There’s no deadly plague, World War, or Hoards of infected scrambling about. A star, several thousand light years away for earth, goes supernova, sending a deadly Gamma Ray burst and Electromagnetic Pulse towards earth. Taking several thousand years to get to the earth, no one knows it’s coming. When it hits, it kills 99.9% of the human population, leaving only scattered humans to pick up the pieces of a shattered world. The protagonist, Sergeant Major Tim Flannery, thinks he’s the only one left, for a while. He meets several people over a journey across the continent, and then an ocean, only to find that not all of the survivors have good intentions, or goodwill, in order to rebuild civilization. Tim is faced with the hardest decision in his life, to stop the last evil in the world, in hopes to give humanity one last chance to survive.
HT: Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?
TW: I think what’s so special about him, is he’s not special at all. I made him very human. He’s a long time US Army veteran, and big city police officer, but he’s just as flawed and secretly insecure as the rest of us. He’s no Rambo, but he doesn’t take any shit, either. He finds an orphan 13 year-old girl along his travels, and he’s clueless on how to take care of her, or how to raise her. All in all, he just wants to do the right thing, and more often than not, we are listening to his inner demons, the ghosts from his past, the bad decisions he made, and the moral obligations he now faces.
HT: What research did you have to do while writing the novel?
TW: Oh, I did a lot of research. Gamma Ray bursts, EMP, or Electromagnetic Pulse, Intercontinental Ballistic missiles. A lot of US Navy stuff I had to really research in-depth, especially Aegis Class destroyers. I was doing so many web searches, I was (and still am) certain I’m on a few government watch lists. To someone who doesn’t know I’m a writer, and looking at my web search history, would become slightly unnerved.
HT: What real life experiences did you lean upon while putting it together?
TW: I delved deep into my life experiences. I spent several years in law enforcement, as well as a combat decorated US Army veteran, so I pulled most of my protagonist, Tim Flannery’s, personal traits from my own personal experiences. I also put myself in his shoes, asking myself time and time again, ‘what would I do in this situation?’ I also grew up hunting, fishing and camping, so being an out-of-doors kind of person, I used my life experiences from that side also.
HT: How did working with Permuted Press help shape your novel?
TW: When I first self published almost two years ago, I knew I had a pretty good book, but I didn’t have the skills to really hone and shape it into the fantastic story it is now. I was approached by Permuted shortly after I self-published, and offered a contract. They paired me up with a rock-star editor, Felicia Sullivan, who took my manuscript, and with fine tuning, turned it into the fantastic novel it is today. I’m forever in her dept for making a mediocre story into a really great novel. Permuted also assigned a fantastic artist to redo my cover art, and when I saw the first artwork, I was blown away. So with my story, and Permuted Press’ fantastic team, I think we all put together a real winner! I really couldn’t have done it without them!
HT: What drew you to a post-apocalyptic setting?
TW: I really couldn’t put a finger on one specific thing. I think growing up at the height of the Cold War was the main factor. Movies like A Boy and his Dog, The Day After, The Omega Man, Planet of the Apes, Sci-Fi movies like The Quiet Earth, all of those were a huge influence. I read voraciously from an early age, so books like Swan’s Song, The Road, The Stand, On the Beach, Earth Abides, were also huge influences. I think at the end of the day, the whole concept, that is not so much as the end of the world, it’s more or less the end of humanity; and that being said, putting myself (or that of the reader) into the world where society is no longer there, no comforts, no support, a babe in the woods so to speak, and reducing the survivors to the base level, a level where we aren’t at the top of the food-chain anymore. Robinson Crusoe, writ large.
HT: What is your ideal writing environment?
TW: Absolute quiet. No TV, radio, music. Do phone calls, or other distractions. One little distraction will destroy my train of though and it might not come back for a several hours.
HT: What was your inspiration for writing?
TW: Like I said, I’ve read voraciously from a very early age. I loved the written tale, and the ability of them to take me to places I’ve never been. That being said, I loved ghost and monster stories, so much so, that when I was 9 or 10, my friends in my Boy Scout troop would rather have me tell the campfire ghost stories, than my Scoutmaster. Even at that early age, I could spin a yarn quite well, and the other kids in my troop loved it. Adulthood and the real world took over for some time, and even though I wanted to someday write a novel, it wasn’t until my divorce in 2004 when I finally had the epiphany. I was either going to finally write the novel or not, but if I didn’t do it, I’d better just do it, or stop telling myself ‘one day I’m going to write a novel.’
HT: Have your friends and family been supportive of your writing career? If so how?
TW: My friends and family have been hugely supportive, none more so than my beautiful partner, Catherine. She’s been my rock, my best and worst critic. I really couldn’t have done it without her, and I will forever be in her debt for the support.
HT: What are your thoughts on self-publishing?
TW: I’m all for it. If I hadn’t first self published, I really don’t think my novel would have gotten past the final draft. It got me the exposure, and got me noticed, even though my first attempt was quite amateurish. A few people saw, what I was later told, ‘a diamond in the rough’ and spread the word that I had a pretty good thing going, and I’m still really blown away by the good reviews and the great vibes One Man’s Island is getting, and getting not Permuted Press’ Bestsellers list so fast.
HT: What are your ambitions for your writing career? What do you have planned for the future?
TW: I’d love to be able to write full time. But until then, I’ll continue to work on the railroad as an engineer. There is a sequel to One Man’s Island, One Man’s War, slated for a January 2015 release, and I’m now working on a black/dark humor police story for Permuted Press’ sister publishing house, Post Hill Press, and shortly I’ll be working on another novel for Permuted, a Military Action-Adventure that takes place of a fictitious South Pacific island Republic. I also have a beginning outline for another humor novel, a sort of reverse “Crocodile Dundee” but that’s on a back burner now until I finish the other projects I’m working on now.
HT: For those who love your book what novels would you suggest for them to check out?
TW: Besides Swan’s Song, The Road, The Stand, On the Beach, Earth Abides, I’d highly recommend several other Permuted authors, Objects of Wrath by Sean T. Smith, Sleeper series by Jacqueline Druga, Tank Bread by Paul Mannering, Brew by Bill Braddock, Roads Less Travelled series by C Dulaney. I’d also like to recommend The McClane Apocalypse by Kate Morris, not on the Permuted Press list, but well worth the read.
HT: Finally do you have anything that you would like to share with our readers?
TW: I’m not done yet! One Man’s War is on the way, and possibly a third in the series, and for all of my fans, thank you so much for your support!
You can also find more about Thomas over at his personal blog One Man’s Island.