Thanet Writers Question Thomas R. Gaskin
Hi, I’m Tom and I am a writer from Kent and have just moved to Thanet. Focusing in the fantasy genre, I currently have two self-published books—Search of the Lost and Dawn of Darkness—as well as being part of an anthology alongside 40 other fantasy writers. I am very much into high fiction worlds with adventure being my favourite type of story. Outside of writing I am also very much into rugby and ice hockey. I have three beautiful children, one of which has had a poem published in a school book.
I hadn’t really started until I was 21 years old. But I had spent the previous 9 years creating a bunch of ideas for a film. One day I decided to turn this into a novel and set about writing.
I have always been into fantasy, with the Lord of the Rings trilogy being the biggest influence for me. But also being dyslexic has also given me a very creative imagination. To put this to work, I wrote.
I would say the drive to escape this world is my motivation. But I often find that when driving around or working, I always get ideas and I need to write these down to empty my head. So much goes on up there on a day-to-day basis. When others are thinking of paying the bills or what to have for dinner, my mind is on a character walking into a tavern or that gremlin sitting in the room that no one else can see, except the one man looking at it, for he is cursed. I can’t really describe where it comes from; it’s powerful and vivid as if I am there. But by writing it, I find that I explore that scenario and uncover so much more of that world. Like an explorer, I just want to see more and sometimes I don’t see it as me creating a world, but more discovering it.
I would say I am quite unorthodox compared to other writers I have spoken to. I can touch-type very fast (over one-hundred words a minute), I like to just get everything down whilst it’s in my head. I ignore punctuation and errors and just focus on the story. I then go back and edit it once finished.
I also have many notes on my phone, all chronologically organised for different ideas of books which are filled with names, scenes or even words and sentences, as well as several notepads. I drive a lot as well so I have also dictated several chapters onto my phone which I listen back and write later. I actually spent a year doing this for the writing challenge NaNoWriMo. When it came to writing the story I was so well prepared that I wrote it with ease and had much fun doing so.
Seeing readers enjoy my work. When people tell me what particular bit(s) they enjoy or who their favourite characters are, it really gets me smiling. I like to know if what I have written works or not and when my readers say that that particular bit did, I feel over the moon. When you spend so much time plotting, writing, thinking, re-writing, re-thinking, deleting, writing, etc., and then someone turns around and says that was their favourite bit, it makes it all worth it. But I also love the fact that I have had such a diverse group of people read my work. Although the fantasy genre stereotypically attracts young men, I have had adults of all genders contact me to say they were impressed with my story, as well as teenagers and younger readers. I really have had people from all age groups read and enjoy my work and that’s just so wonderful to hear.
Life, I’d say. My job keeps me very busy and I often sit there at work thinking I need to tidy up that chapter, I need to write that next scene. But when I get home I am usually so tired I just can’t focus in the same way. I have had writer’s block and personal circumstances have got in the way, too. For me, to write requires time and focus to concentrate and I find that writing at night is the best way as there are far fewer distractions.
I did have difficulty with plotting my second book, whereas the first was written as I created each chapter, but for the second I leapt back and forth from beginning, middle to end and it became very confusing. To get around this me and my good friend and top beta reader—he hates it if I mention his name (Paul Healey)—bought a whiteboard and drew a long line across it. Sprouting from this line was the sequence of events for the story. Once this was done I just had to write and it all became so much easier.
More recently, I wrote a short story that I didn’t personally feel as confident in as my novels, but it achieved a very high score from a top fantasy reviewing site after being published in an anthology, Art of War, alongside very prominent authors such as Mark Lawrence and Stan Nicolls. That was a great feeling—to be recognised as a writer against already very successful authors.
I have also had two book signings at Waterstones, with my books being the most that branch had ever sold in a day by an author.
But the biggest achievement is seeing the reviews go up or receiving emails and messages from readers to say that I am now their favourite writer. Honestly, I cannot describe it but it is a great feeling.
Just read and write. Forget about any rules you’ve heard. Just let it flow. I found it easier to read in my chosen genre when I was writing to keep myself in tune with fantasy worlds. And the more I read the more I was spurred on to write. And it doesn’t matter if what you write isn’t very good—when I first wrote it didn’t make any sense—but I grew as I wrote and grew as I read.
I’m currently working on a mixture of things. I am trying to complete the last book in my trilogy, which is my priority with a lot of eager readers patiently waiting. But I have been working on short stories as well, just to give myself a break.
I have so many stories I want to write. Mostly in the fantasy world, but some sci-fi and also a thriller. I would also like to go on to make big gains in helping children with learning difficulties to write and focus their minds like I have.
But my idea I wrote for NaNoWriMo I think will go somewhere. Its original, funny, action-packed, has a little romance, and I feel that with everything I have learnt and seen in the fantasy community that this will go on to do well. But, my trilogy comes first.
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© 2018 Thomas R. Gaskin
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Tom is a fantasy writer with many tales to tell. Although he is dyslexic he has two published novels with many more on the way.