Author Spotlight – Thomas Webb
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is Thomas Webb!
Thomas Webb’s debut, Stalemate: a Clockwerk Thriller released May 8th, 2018. The book is part of a planned steampunk, alternative history trilogy set in the American Civil War. Airships, spies, beautiful assassins, sword fights, and gun battles, this book has everything an action-lover needs. Precipice: Clockwerk Thriller Book Two is out now!
Thanks for joining us, Thomas. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
I’ll do you one better… I’ll tell you about two!
The first one is Vengeance, by my good author-buddy Mark David Abbott. It’s a thriller, but an unconventional one in that the main character is an ‘Average Joe’ type-no military training, no law enforcement experience, nothing. And it takes place in India. I read it over the course of a single weekend.
The second one is Act of War by Brad Thor. Also a thriller, but definitely a conventional one. It’s about a former Navy SEAL who takes on a shadowy organization bent on overthrowing the government. So yeah-definitely conventional!
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Oh-like that cool 80’s Saturday morning cartoon, right? Nice!
I’d be a Fighter, for sure. But only because I like weapons too much to be a Monk, and I’m not pure enough to be a Paladin lol! My weapon of choice would be the sword, without a doubt.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
I have to go with type. I like the idea of hand writing. . .sitting by a crackling fire, sleeping hound at your feet, and you crafting masterful prose in your beautiful, flowing longhand script. . .but for me? It’s just not practical. I need those modern-day editing tools that writing software affords me. Plus my handwriting is total garbage!
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
Hmmmm. Well, that depends. If I’m doing a first draft (where I’m basically just vomiting semi-coherent words onto the page), or refining a second draft, then music is a must. But if I’m at the ‘red-pen’ stage, where I’ve printed my manuscript out and am reading it aloud to myself, then I need silence. Otherwise the characters might say something to me and I’ll miss it.
But I’ve gotta say, those shrimps do sound tempting. I love em’. Preferably on a delicious Po boy from Parkway Bakery & Tavern in New Orleans. Mmmm. . .
Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!
Architect/plotter. For real. No question. I’m talking spreadsheet-level planning and plotting here, folks.
In this business, I think it’s important to allow the characters to determine (to some degree) their own destiny. If you’ve written something a certain way, but it turns out that the character has developed in a different direction, then you owe it to yourself and your story to make the necessary changes. Even though it means extra work, I don’t think you’re bing true to the art or the craft if you let it lie.
As for something unusual about my writing method? Well, I have been known to write on my phone from time to time. I know that’s a lame one. . .sorry. ☹
What are your most significant non-book fantasy influences?
Television and video games. Both are excellent right now, to the point that they’re giving traditional movies a run for their money.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
Yellowstone-the new show with Kevin Costner that came out this summer. If Tywin Lannister owned a ranch in Montana, this is what it would look like. It’s compelling TV.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?
I’d do some kind of workout in the morning (lift weights, run, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). As for the rest of the day? I’d spend it with my family… we’d hang out together, maybe do an activity, then enjoy a great meal.
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
Gotta go with the exclamation point. It’s so overused. Even now, I struggle in my writing with exactly when to use it (maybe even to the point where I err on the side of caution). If something’s dying or on fire, then that’s probably a fine time to use an exclamation point. But otherwise? I just don’t know, man.
The exclamation point is the ‘adverb’ of punctuation.
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
My current WIP is Book 3 in my Clockwerk Thriller series.
It’s got everything that made the preceding books great-airships, steam-powered robots, 19th century special operations soldiers, a beautiful red-headed assassin…everything. Except just more of it!
Dang it-there’s that exclamation point again. . .
If you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?
(Side note: The Expanse is some of my favorite fiction. Gysgt Bobby Draper? Yes, please.)
The answer to that would be Stephen King. Uncle Stevie is THE MAN. I love him about as much as is possible without actually knowing someone. His epic magnum opus, the Dark Tower Series, is a work of unspeakable magnificence. It’s what I aspire to. For now, I’ll just consider that a ‘stretch goal.” lol
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
The least helpful piece of advice I’ve ever gotten is ‘write what you know.’ Of course you write what you know-duh. But you also must be able to write what you don’t know. Or else there won’t be a story (Hello? Serial killers, anyone?).
The most helpful advice? ‘Read what you’ve written aloud.’ I am absolutely convinced that this made the difference for me between ‘bad writing’ and ‘decent writing.’
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
I’d check out America, but in the far future. I’d like to see what we as humanity make of ourselves.
Do evil and fear win out? Or do reason, hope, and strength of character ultimately prevail? And, maybe most important, what about those flying cars we keep getting promised?
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I motivate myself by thinking about what it would be like if I was unable to write-if I had no ideas, if nothing inspired me, if characters no longer spoke to me. That usually scares me sufficiently well that I want to get at least something down on paper.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
An excellent but not well-known book that I absolutely loved was Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora. It’s an incredible science fiction anthology that doubles as a chronological view of the histrory of speculative fiction (as written by African-Americans). The book was published in 2000, so the newest work in it is from the year. The oldest is from 1887. It’s an anthology, which I’ve always liked because it allows you to sample the works of lots of different authors. And it includes one of my all-time favorite short stores ever, The Evening and the Morning and the Night, by the incomparable Octavia E. Butler.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.)
Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!
I enjoy great thrillers, great fantasy, and great military sci-fi. I like tons of action, with sound tactical maneuvering, realistic weapons strategies, and strong, diverse main characters. If you like any of those things, then you’ll enjoy my stuff.
Brilliant, Thomas. Thanks again for joining us, and good luck with the release of Precipice!
Thomas Webb is the author of the Clockwerk Thrillers series. Books one and two, Stalemate and Precipice, are available now.