Interview conducted by TBBManiac Robs
Tony’s Bio from his website
I got my first taste of publication in first grade, when my essay on Airplane II: The Sequel appeared of my elementary school’s Creative Courier.
Questionable parental movie supervision notwithstanding, seeing something I had written in print was invigorating. So after spending my formative years running around a small town in rural Iowa, I enrolled in the University of Iowa and eventually picked up degrees in Journalism and Communication Studies. During that time I also spent three years writing for the Daily Iowan.
After graduation crossed over to the media relations world in the University of Iowa Sports Information Department, where I spent nine years on the road, running stats and frantically writing postgame stories before the team bus left.
I only got left behind once.
Marriage and a baby made road trips an impossibility, so I thought the life of a stay-at-home dad would be the perfect way to finally write that novel that had been bouncing around my head for years.
How cute is that?
Needless to say, caring for a 6-month-old leaves precious little time to breathe, let alone write. I was barely able to keep up with the fake blog I decided to make for her at 3 a.m. the day she was born.
But despite being parented by me, the kid got older and my novel idea poked its head out from under an avalanche of dirty diapers. I was ready to start writing.
Just in time to find out we were having another kid.
This time I knew what I was getting into, however, and I hustled to get whatever I could down before the next avalanche arrived. It was about 14,000 words, and it wasn’t good, but it was the seed from which A Necessary Act grew.
That was six years, six drafts and a move to Minnesota ago. There were plenty of detours along the way, including a stint writing opinion pieces as a member of the Rochester Post-Bulletin’s Editorial Advisory Board, but I finally got the book done.
I can’t say if it’s good or not—that’s your job—but it’s full of the things I like. Creepy bad guys, twists and bad decisions made for good reasons.
Hope you like it—
I read A Necessary Act and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a really intense book which I managed to finish off in less than 4 hours which I felt introduced a number of exceptionally important topics while still remaining gripping and entertaining to read.
Thank you for providing The Blithering Bibliomaniacs with the opportunity to ask a few questions, I am sure that fans and followers of MTW2017 are going to enjoy getting to know the brains behind the book.
If you could have been the original author for any book, which would it have been, and why?
You by Caroline Kepnes. Wow I loved that book. Joe Goldberg is quite possibly the greatest character of all time. It was so good I almost wanted to quit writing my own book, because there was no way I’d ever make a character that perfectly creepy.
As I understand from your Goodreads bio, you’ve always been involved with writing in some or other form was there a particular turning point where you realized that you could, and now would, write a book?
It was something I always wanted to do. There wasn’t anything specifically that made me think I could do it, I just realized if it was ever going to happen I had to just jump right in with two feet
Who is your favourite author and what is it about their work that you particularly enjoy?
Stephen King will always be my favorite author. Misery was the first ‘adult’ book I ever read and it totally changed my life. I had no idea you could make books like that – scary and unapologetic.
Are you working on or planning to start work on any other books?
I have two little girls who love to read, and they were both disappointed they couldn’t read my book A Necessary Act (which is definitely not a kids book). So this summer I took a little side track and wrote a story for them. I liked how it turned out so I expanded and illustrated and edited and now I have a chapter book that should come out this spring. It’s the story of a housecat who gets lost and the adventures she has getting home.
A Necessary Act focuses on the idea of catching a killer before he can even start, I’d love to know; where does the inspiration or idea to write such a book come from?
Ever since I saw Silence of the Lambs, I’ve been a little fascinated with the psychology of serial killers, specifically the profiling aspect. If all these monsters share and display certain traits, is there a way to stop them before they start? And even if it is possible, is it something we should do? That’s the question I wrote my book around.
Did you conduct any research before writing this book –was there a specific process that you followed, or area within a field that you focused on?
I did a lot of internet research, mostly to make sure the things I was writing about were possible and believable. I share a computer with my wife, so every now and then I had to warn her I had been doing some book research so she didn’t freak out when she saw the search history.
After reading A Necessary Act I couldn’t help but think of the nature vs nurture debate; is a person born that way with it in their DNA, or does their environment and life experience make them that way?
Do you feel that this is a valid way of categorizing the criminal element in man? Would you say Scott’s character was intended to question this theory?
I’ve always been intrigued by the Nature vs. Nurture argument, and it is definitely something that influences my story. I read a lot bout the various arguments while writing, and I think my book presents both sides a bit. Personally, I believe there is a little from each side that makes us what we are, and I think Scott kind of shows that.
I only watched the trailer for A Necessary Act after I’d read the book, and I have to say I got chills seeing how accurately the wood scene reflected how I imagined it to be, and I felt it really provided a fantastic, attention grabbing snippet of what to expect from the book. Can you tell me a bit more about the process of creating a trailer and whether you feel this is a strategy more authors should look into utilizing?
The trailer was actually a last minute throw together. I had the idea right before launch, so I grabbed my iPhone and ran out into the woods behind my house, filming various things and running around like a crazy person (those are my feet you see). It wasn’t until I was almost done that I realized what I must look like and hoped my neighbors didn’t see me and call the police!
Is there a particular writing structure you use when writing? For example; did you work to an outline or plot or did you have a basic idea and then let it play itself out?
I don’t use a formal outline. I did have the ending in my mind from the beginning, but had no idea how to get there. I just put the characters in a situation and let them work their way out. In later drafts, once I had the bones of the story, I did write down the structure of the book just so I could see the narrative arc better and make sure the scenes were all in the best spot.
It is only since I started getting more actively involved in the ‘bookish’ community that I realised just how much work is put into not only writing, but also publishing and marketing a book. Knowing what you do now, what advice would you give your younger self who’d yet to put pen to paper, or for that matter other aspiring-authors?
Writing the book is only the beginning. There are a million other things involved in publishing a book, and you have to either do them yourself or pay somebody else to do it. Some things, like formatting, you can teach yourself to do. Others, like cover design, are best left to the experts. The best advice I got was that there are two things to never go cheap on – editing and cover design. Those are the most important things if you want an successful book.
Did publishing your first book change your process of writing? If so, how?
I would hope my next book should be a much smoother process, having learned a lot of lessons the first time around. But even with this little chapter book I’m doing, all kinds of things are popping up that I never faced with my first book, so you never can tell how it is going to go. But the more experience you have, the easier it should go.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, in closing, is there anything you’d like to say to your readers?
When I published my book, I had no idea how it would be received, but the response has been overwhelming. I’ve gotten emails from around the globe telling me how much they enjoyed my book. I’ve pulled in great reviews and been nominated for awards. At the beginning, I just hoped my friends would buy a copy and tell me it didn’t suck.
Be sure to visit Tony’s website where you can follow Tony’s blog and keep an eye out for his childrens book