Friday, 22 March 2013

Author Interview – Thomas Sullivan

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? I’ve been married for thirteen years. It requires you to become a flexible and evolving person, and an understanding one. You never want to appear on the Huffington Post for some gnarly romantic crime. So far so good.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing? My father was a lawyer who loved to tell stories about strange things that happened in his profession. He had one about a guy who represented himself in court. At one point the guy called himself to the witness stand, looked down from the witness box at no one, and said “Could you repeat the question please?” I really picked up a love of humor and storytelling from hearing my dad tell stories like that.

When and why did you begin writing? I started writing when I was teaching driver education. I worked for a cut-rate company that was totally disorganized, so I had a lot of time between lessons. I started jotting down funny stories about what happened out on the road with the kids. Later I turned that into a book called Life In The Slow Lane.

When did you first know you could be a writer? I started sending short excerpts from what would become my driver ed book out to literary journals. I got some very nice acceptances (amidst a pile of rejections, par for the course, the best was a three-word reply: “This is ridiculous”). At that point I said “I could do this.”

What inspires you to write and why? Real world stories about things that go awry drive my writing. It’s funny when things don’t work as planned. But more importantly, they give us a chance to practice acceptance. To Zen out, if you will. Seeing the humor in these situations allows us to bypass the frustration and anger. So I get inspired by trying to find humor in things.

What inspired you to write your first book? My first book just came to me. I was a Behind-The-Wheel instructor for a driving school, and the things that happened were just too funny not to write about. My employer was the head of what I called a “disorganized crime family”, but the kids were always gracious and patient whenever the cars broke down or the lesson scheduling went awry. So it was a strange and funny story that I thought needed to be told.

What do you consider the most challenging thing about writing a novel, or about writing in general? At the start, it’s believing that people will want to read what you write. There’s that little voice in your head saying “no one wants to read about strange things that happen at fast-food restaurants.” The challenge is to ignore that voice and just push on. Because things catch on that the literary luminaries never see coming, like the Fifty Shades books. I love seeing that happen.

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Genre – Humourous Essays

Rating – PG

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