The 5 Questions of Writing by guest author Tom Halford
I am happy to welcome my friend and fellow author, Tom Halford, to my blog today. Tom’s debut novel was published by Crooked Cat Books in 2018 and he is now writing his second novel which will be published in 2019.
Thanks for having me on this blog, Val. I really appreciate it.
When I write?
I’m going to answer this question as, “When did I start writing?” For as long as I can remember, I liked to write stories. My parents encouraged it, and my oldest brother Pete wrote stories, too. It seemed cool, and so I followed his lead.
As I got older, writing and making movies was something that friends and I did. A close friend and I would write these comedic, ultra-violent short-stories. We actually got in trouble at school over one of them. Later, in High School, a group of us would write skits and film-scripts, too, and we’d record them together. That was probably one of the best memories of my teenage years.
Writing for me has been a way to be creative and to have fun with other people. It was never an overly serious experience until I started to study English at University. I’m not knocking literary studies. I’m just talking about myself as a creative writer. I also work on academic essays that focus on more serious topics, such as surveillance. However, now in my creative writing, I’m trying to go back to the fun and the entertaining side of reading and writing.
How I write?
I write on an old laptop. Little known fact about my laptop is that my wife actually ran over it with our car. This was when we were still living in the USA. I had placed my briefcase next to the back tire while I was strapping our daughter into her seat. Then I forgot about the briefcase, got in the passenger side of the car, and my wife turned the wheels as she backed out. We felt a bump and looked at each other. I saw my briefcase in the parking lot and immediately thought that the laptop had been crushed. Somehow, it survived. Thank you Apple.
As I write now, my laptop is currently resting on unsold copies of Deli Meat. It’s motivational.
Why I write?
Sometimes I wish I could stop writing. Don’t get me wrong. I love it. I think it makes me more awake to my own life. I just struggle to find time to actually write.
I think about quitting often, but there always seems to be an idea that gets me excited. With Deli Meat, I had this weird image of pickled beets in my mind that I needed to explore. I don’t know how to fully explain it, but writing Deli Meat was kind of like dreaming. I was awake for the editing process, but for the actual writing I was somewhere else. And maybe I’m just addicted to this dream-like state.
Where I write?
I write wherever I can and whenever I can. Usually, I write in my basement on an old card table that I found in our first apartment in America. It was tucked behind a door that led down to a musty cellar. For my first few weeks in the US, all I had was that card table and an air mattress. My family was arriving later, and our possessions were all in transit. It’s a special table for me. It reminds me that I don’t need much to write. I just need something flat and a means to forming letters.
What I write?
In terms of genre, I write comedic crime fiction, and I always try to keep things as strange as possible. For a long time, I had tried to write literary fiction, but I lost interest in it after I finished my PhD. I still read as much literary fiction as possible, but I don’t try to write it anymore. I’m not that serious of a person, and it feels like I’m trying too hard when I write more literary stuff.
Please don’t confuse what I’m saying here. Crime fiction is still literary. I guess I’m talking about the kind of fiction that authors like Alice Munro write. I’ll never be that good, and I don’t have the kind of gravitas that she possesses. Trying to write that kind of fiction will always be a losing battle for me. However, I think I can write a story that keeps people entertained.
I like books that make me laugh. I like books that make me feel surprised. I like books with outrageous characters and weird twists. I was honoured when a reviewer compared Deli Meat to Twin Peaks. I hadn’t realized it until I read that review, but that’s exactly the experience that I’m trying to create for readers through my fiction.
Currently, I’m working on a new book that I hope is even stranger than Deli Meat. So far, I’m succeeding.
Tom Halford is a writer, a teacher, a dad, and a husband. One of Tom’s favourite things in the world is a delicious sandwich. This might sound crazy, but the inspiration behind Deli Meat is Tom’s love of the sub, the hero, the hoagie, the grinder, the classic lunch time meal, the sandwich.