Hello friends! Today, I have the pleasure of picking the brain of author Thomas Bradley. Thomas is the author of several novels. Legend has it that Tom Bradley Jr. began his writing career on his second birthday, when he used cake icing to scribe something illegible on his high chair. He’s been doing it ever since.
After barely graduating high school, the native Pennsylvanian—with romanticized images of Woodward and Bernstein’s Watergate exploits still rattling around his brain—enlisted in the U.S. Navy with the goal of becoming a journalist. Seven years later, armed with the most rudimentary training needed to write in the inverted pyramid style, Tom went to work for community and daily newspapers in San Diego County. But after sleeping through umpteen city council and planning commission meetings, and wading through mountains of verbal manure generated by politicians of all stripes, Tom sold out his dreams and launched a second career in public relations, first in Las Vegas, then in San Antonio, then back in Las Vegas.
Along the way he picked up a B.A. in Communications from National University in San Diego, and a M.A. in Strategic Communication and Leadership from Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. Tom now pens mystery and caper novels featuring private investigator Noelani Lee and her adventures on the Big Island of Hawai’i.
You can connect with Thomas on several sites:
So let’s get to some questions:
1) What made you start writing? Were there any particular books/events/people that inspired you to start writing?
It all stems from my love of reading. I recall that, in first grade, I was one of two in my class who began reading text beyond the phonetics-based system we were being taught at the time. From there, I dove into books of all kinds and gained an appreciation for how writers could transport me to worlds beyond my imagination. As a kid, I devoured Agatha Christie and A.C. Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, which instilled in me a fascination with mysteries and old-fashioned whodunits. But if a single book had a profound effect on me, it would be Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown. A classic, it tells the story of the settlement of the American West, as told from the Native American perspective. I read it when I was 9 years old.
2) What is your writing process? Is it a set process or more fluid?
Haphazard. That’s my one-word answer. I am an undisciplined writer; while many authors set aside a certain amount of time per day, at a certain hour, to write, I instead write when the muse strikes. I have no set routine, much to my detriment. I’m also an unrepentant pantster; I am not a planner. I never outline my stories in advance, but instead I write from the top of my head just to see where the story and my characters take me. Which also explains why it takes me so long to complete a novel.
3) What advice do you have for new/aspiring writers?
Well, I hope they would be better organized then me, for starters. Then I hope they stick with it. We all have stories to tell—we all have voices in our heads, eager to be heard—so let those stories be told and let your characters have their say. Believe in yourself, believe in your story, and don’t let anyone claim you can’t do it.
4) Where do you draw your inspiration? Is it more internal inspiration or external?
For my mystery/caper novels, life itself is the greatest inspiration. News stories provide fodder, as does the simple observation of people going about their lives. I imagine scenarios first, then ponder how people would act/react when placed in certain situations and forced to interact with other people who may not have their best interests at heart, and vice-versa. Then I sprinkle in real-life settings—in my case, the Big Island of Hawai’i—and go for it from there.
5) What is the deciding factor on whether or not to pursue a project?
I must believe in the story. If the plot doesn’t ring true or the scenario is implausible even by my wacky standards, I dismiss it and start from scratch. Sometimes, though, I let the characters in my mind decide for me. It’s my luck that they haven’t led me too far astray.
Thank you for the interview, Thomas! You have a great sense of humor and I enjoyed learning about your writing habits! It’s interesting to learn about your more “haphazard” style. I’m one of those authors that needs a schedule, so it’s insightful to see how you’re able to go about things differently, but still write wonderful works!
For my readers, I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it! Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.