Today I would like to share an interview with Phillip Tomasso, he was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk with me here at The Scary Reviews on the heels of his latest release Wizard’s Rise. Phillip Tomasso is the award-winning author of over 17 novels. He began his career writing mystery and suspense novels in 2000. Since, he has gone on to publish books in a wide variety of genres, including Horror, Young Adult, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. His first short story was published in 1995, and he was paid a penny a word. It was an 8,000-word western. Thank you for joining me today Phillip, let’s get right to the Q&A.
The Scary Reviews: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from?
Phillip Tomasso: I was born and raised in Rochester, NY. It is a small city that is sandwiched between Buffalo and Syracuse. I spent 19 years working for the Eastman Kodak Company, the last ten of my career in the legal department as an employment law paralegal. Like most Rochester employees, I was downsized as they went from 64K to just over 2K employees. Luckily, and for the last six and a half years, I have been employed by the city as a Fire / EMS Dispatcher at a 911 center. Divorced after 15 years of marriage, and have 3 adult, and amazing kids. Phew! How’s that for an intro?
TSR: What inspires you to write? Music? Other books?Real life events? Just an incredible imagination?
PT: Thing with me is, I grew up with a reading disorder. Did everything I could not to read. Eventually, I received the help at school I needed. Hated reading even more, though. Everything changed in 7th grade. We had to read four books that year. They were all written by the same author. The first book we read—the first book I ever read cover-to-cover—was S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS. That changed me. I became an avid reader, devouring books left and right. And, I was always something of a story teller. So, I figured, if Hinton can make a reluctant reader like myself want to read, then I wanted to write books and inspire people, too. I was fourteen at the time. Haven’t stopped writing since.
Where the actual ideas for my books and short stories come from . . . I couldn’t say. The ideas just hit me. I kind of get a rough outline in my head all at once. A beginning. A middle. An end. Then I flesh it out. I wish there were a clearer process I could explain. There isn’t. The ideas just come to me.
TSR: What writers are your inspirations?
PT: S.E. Hinton will always be my main inspiration. From there, I crossed into horror. I read everything by Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz, John Saul, and Robin Cook. I also read books by F. Paul Wilson, Brian Lumley, Dan Simmons, Peter Straub, and Clive Barker. I branched out to authors like James Patterson, Robert Crais, Robert Parker, Walter Mosely, Michael Crichton, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Goodkind, George R.R. Martin, and Terry Brooks . . . I guess, in short, I am inspired by most anything and everything I read.
TSR: What do you love about writing?
PT: The thing I love most about writing, is writing. Creating my characters, and researching facts. I love dialogue. I wrote a book called BLOOD RIVER. It took place in Papua New Guinea. It involved native tribes, and rivers, and facts. Of course, I twisted them to work for my story (which some reviewers could understand), but I had my information down cold. In a way, I am creating, and living in this world that is mine. Even when I am not writing, the characters are in my head. Talking to me about scenes already written, or about scenes I’ve yet to write. It’s a bit crazy, no doubt. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
TSR: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
PT: Editing. Re-writing. They are the worst. I am no good at it. If I re-read something I’ve written, it sounds correct, if only because I see what should be there, the way it should be. It is difficult to find errors when I self-edit. Very trying. I admit it. I am not good at this part of the job. Thankfully, my publishers have editors who help me grow.
TSR: How important do believe the cover of a book is and are you involved with designing your own?
PT: I am a shallow person. I won’t even check out a book if the cover is blah. That is not fair to the author, I suppose. I don’t mean anything against them. But if the cover doesn’t at least grab me . . .
I have been fortunate that my input has been at least considered with most of the small press companies I work with. There have been a few times when we’ve discussed cover ideas, and the final cover did not include my input. However, I have never been disappointed with a book cover.
TSR: What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
PT: There was a local writer (T. Lucien Wright –many of you may recall his twin brother, T.M. Wright recently passed), and I was talking to him at one of his book signings at a Waldenbooks. (Remember that chain of stores?) And he told me that the best way to become a professional writer was two-fold. One: You have to write. Two: You have to submit what you write. He explained that receiving rejections was part of the gig, as was developing a thick skin for critiques. I took those words to heart.
In the last 31 years, I have sold over 200 short stories and articles, 19 novels, and three novellas. I would say his advice was solid.
TSR: For struggling or upcoming writers. What obstacles can they expect and how did you overcome them?
PT: My advice is to write because you love to write. Not because you think doing so will make you rich. If you sell what you wrote—that is icing on the cake.
The writing/publishing world has changed dramatically since I started. Even more in just the last five to six years. A new writer’s biggest obstacle will be him/herself. Writing needs a routine. Like brushing your teeth after every meal, or going to the gym every other day. Pick a set time to write, and write. Set a goal, whether it is one page, one chapter, whatever … set it, and stick to it. And when you are writing, limit distractions (Facebook, Twitter, TV, etc). Distractions can be deadly J
TSR: What do you do for leisure when you aren’t writing?
PT: I spend more time than I would like at my fulltime job. I actually love dispatching. At the end of the day, I do feel like I’ve accomplished something, like I may have made a difference in someone’s life at a time when they feel they are at their worst. Additionally, I have three kids. My two youngest are away at college. The oldest works full time (here in Rochester). So when I can, I prefer spending lots of time with the three of them. When that is not possible, I have a secret love affair going with Netflix (and, shhh … Hulu). I play guitar, and sing horribly. Oh – and I read. A lot.
TSR: What’s next on your agenda?
PT: My latest novel was just released from Mirror Matter Press (MMP). It is called, WIZARD’S RISE, and is the first in a four-book series of Severed Empire stories. This is my first real go at writing epic fantasy. Let me just say this, I am loving the experience. It is so new for me. MMP has been amazing to work with, and I am thankful to have found such an accepting home for my series.
I am also contracted to write a sci-fi horror novel for Severed Press (due out later in 2016).
Thank you for the interview. The questions were thoughtful and appreciated! Have a wonderful day!
WIZARD’S RISE: http://mybook.to/wr
Amazon Author Page: http://author.to/PhillipTomasso
Giveway: Special giveaway at www.SF Signal.com from February 23 to March 1, 2016. Print and e-book copies are up for grabs. Head over to their site to enter to win!
Wizard’s Rise, Synopsis
- Print Length: 390 pages
- Publisher: Mirror Matter Press
- Release Date: Feb. 11, 2016
A war is coming. There is no way to prevent it. The only thing for certain is that there will be one loser. . .and one winner. WIZARD’S RISE (A Severed Empire Novel)
For over two hundred years the Rye Empire enforced drastic measures outlawing the use of magic. To avoid capture a handful of remaining Wizards escaped royal persecution and made it into hiding. Shortly after the decree the empire crumbled, but the laws remained in place. . .
The Mountain King’s ambitions of becoming the next Emperor will be realized. With forced help from an enslaved sorceress, he will stop at nothing until he achieves his dreams. The easiest path to victory can be obtained by retrieving buried talismans. With those enchanted items in his possession he can summon the Wizards, steal, and harness their power.
In an effort to save the Old Empire from a growing, sinister magic, seventeen-year-old farmboy Mykal and five friends begin a desperate journey. They must collect the talismans before the Mountain King. Their trek will force Mykal to face fears, and accept truths he’d never known existed. There isn’t much time. A war is coming.
Their chances of winning will depend on whether they succeed or not. If they fail, a terrible darkness will steal the light from the Grey Ashland Realm. . .forever.
Biography of Phillip Tomasso
Phillip Tomasso is the award-winning author of over 17 novels. He began his career writing mystery and suspense novels in 2000. Since, he has gone on to publish books in a wide variety of genres, including Horror, Young Adult, Science Fiction, and Fantasy.
His first short story was published in 1995, and he was paid a penny a word. It was an 8,000-word western.
However, it being a Canadian publication—and at a time, when the U.S. dollar was worth more—his check was for just under $40. It was a great starting point, and has been selling regularly since then.
Although not a full-time writer, Tomasso works a full-time job as well. After 19 years at Kodak as an employment law paralegal, he’s spent the last six plus years a Fire/EMS Dispatcher for 9-1-1. He works the midnight shift, First Platoon, and has found the hours conducive to his creativity.
Tomasso prefers to both read books in the same genres he writes. He has been inspired by the likes of Walter Mosley, the entire Easy Rawlins series. Anything by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robin Cook, John Saul, Warren Hammond, Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt novels, and Jim Butcher’s Dresden series. Just to name a few!
Tomasso lives in Rochester, NY with his 3 kids—who are not little any longer. Aside from reading and writing, Tomasso plays guitar, and is an self-admitted horrible singer. He is always at work on a next novel.
For more information, visit Tomasso’s website.
Praise for Phillip Tomasso
“This is different … confident, addictive storytelling, great characters, and an intriguing plot. You’ll read it fast but remember it for a long time. ” —Lee Child, best-selling author of One Shot and the Jack Reacher series
“(Tomasso) takes the standard fare of the private investigator genre and adds twists and turns to make it anything but standard. Tomasso’s writing is crisp and clear … thoroughly enjoyable.” —Joseph Nassise, author of Internal Games and King of the Dead
“Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island is one of my all time favorite adventure yarns . . . Tomasso has managed to preserve Stevenson’s characters and pacing as the story enters this terrifying new adventure into the land of the living dead. I hadn’t counted on loving this story as much as I did, but it surprised me and delighted me and terrified me every time I turned the page. Great adventure, great thrills, and a terrifying glimpse into the jaws of death. Highly recommended!” –Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Dog Days and Plague of the Undead
“Blood River is a thrilling blast of cryptozoological fun, a wild ride down tropical rivers in pursuit of a terrifying legend. It will leave you hungry for the next catch!” –David Sakmyster, author of The Pharaohs Objective and Jurassic Dead
To find out more information about Mirror Matter Press, visit their website.