Monday, August 27, 2012

An Interview with Thomas J Marshall

Connect with TJ on Facebook!
I met Thomas J (TJ) Marshall in 2011, through F2K, a free six-week writing course sponsored by Writer's Village University. Since then, we've become Facebook buddies and swapped critiques at the Flash Dance Group on Writer's Village (WVU)--that's flash fiction (short stories up to 1000 words), in case you got all hot and bothered. As part of my 20K Hit Giveaway events, he won this interview!

Welcome to Unwritten, TJ! Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do besides writing?

Thank you, Mysti for giving me this great opportunity. I’ve never been on a blog before.  I am a career Soldier currently stationed in Ft Hood TX.  I have two grown children; my son who is also in the Army and my daughter who moved out to to start her own life just this last spring.  I also have two adorable little girls, ages 9 and 13. They are my life. Other than writing, I make custom dream catchers. 

I've heard you are very close to finishing the first draft of your first novel. Can you give us any details about it?

Sure no problem. It is cool… Oh, you want more, ok. Well, it is a fantasy adventure novel about Jacob Moore, also known by most as Feather.  This story, called The Chosen One, is the first in The Finder’s Tome trilogy.  In The Chosen One, Feather, a turnip farmer’s son, is discovered to be the only one who can read from a magical book called The Finder’s Tome.  Because of this, he is thrown into an adventure, somewhat against his will, which will take him to the far reaches of FourPosts. In this book he encounters banshees, a dark wizard and a talking raccoon creature among other things. 

When did you start writing, and what inspired you to do it?

I started writing last January when I learned of F2K.  I heard about it through a friend, so I figured, since it was free, there was nothing to lose.  What I found was a love for writing and have been doing so ever since.  I know, not very long. Stop judging. ;)

Who and what are your favorite authors and genres?

Oh, my god, I have so many of them.  Well the first author I really loved was JRR Tolkien. His book The Hobbit was the first full size novel I read and gave me a love for fantasy. I also love Dean Koontz and Stephen King in the horror genre. And for fun and humor, I really love Douglas Adams.

Tell us about your experiences at F2K and WVU. Pros? Cons? Any classes there you'd recommend?

"Feather" by TJ Marshall

I had a great time in F2K.  I used the lessons there to develop my character Feather.  I made the e-zine for three of the six lessons, one of which I was the winner for my class. My experiences in F2K clenched my decision to join WVU.  I really enjoyed interacting with the other authors and didn’t want it to end.  In WVU, I have only found one con.  It is really easy to get overwhelmed. They have so many wonderful classes, I wanted to take them all. By far the favorite class I have taken is the one I am currently in; The Mythic Structure course.  By taking this course, I have been able to outline my story and make it a reality.

The publishing industry is going through some growing pains right now, with the rise in self-publishing and the e-book phenomenon. Have you decided yet what route (in terms of traditional or indie publishing) to pursue with your novel, and if so, why?

I am planning on self-publishing this first trilogy.  By time it is done, I should be a big-time author and have publishing firms pounding my door down.  At least that’s the plan (hee hee). But seriously I chose this route, because although it would be nice to make a million selling my books, I know that isn’t realistic.  I have to get my name and work known first and the easiest way to do that is with self-publishing.

Like most of us writers, you've submitted stories to have them rejected. How do you handle rejection? Does it spur you on or knock some wind from your sails?

I don’t mind rejection letters.  The first flash fiction story I submitted was Run-in with the Beast, a funny tale of two old friends talking about an encounter with Bigfoot.  I received two rejection letters so far for that story.  They are printed out, framed and hanging on my wall next to the original version of the story.  I view the letters as a way to grow and learn.  Although the letters didn’t say much, they both told me something I didn’t know before.

Fairy Dreamcatcher
by TJ Marshall
Sing with me: It's random question time, it's random question time! Do the samba, don't slap your mama, it's random question time! You've been tasked with burying a time capsule to represent life in 2012, but it's only the size of a breadbox. What would you put in it?

Hmm, that’s quite an interesting question.  I would say I would put an Ipad or Kindle in it and a cell phone. I would fill them full of the popular applications. In this age of technology, I think these items really represent a big part of the culture of today.  Everything is digital and everyone is connected by technology.

Finally, Mr. Marshall, do you have any excerpts you'd like to share?

Sure, I would love to. In this scene Feather just learned he is the only one who can read the Finder’s Tome and is trying to figure it out. I hope you all enjoy it.

                The corner of the first page rolled up as if an unseen hand tried to turn it but Feather’s thumb held it in place.  He moved his thumb and the page flipped to rest on the front cover.  Then another did the same, only faster this time. Then another and another.  Each time a page turned, it increased speed.  The pages eventually moved so fast, Feather was able to feel a slight breeze against his cheek.  
          Please show me where I can find Mandrake’s Key, Feather thought. 
          The pages stopped midway through the book.  Feather saw a white light appear in the crease where the binding was.  The light increased until Feather couldn’t see anything beyond it. 
          A voice, soft and gentle, yet masculine, spoke in Feather’s mind.  He recognized the voice as his own. 
Amongst the wastelands the Key doth hide,
And sits upon its throne.
A shadowy tomb carved from North’s tide,
Where the Eagle’s flag is flown. 
          As it spoke, a landscape appeared around him. He was suspended above a desert by a dark blue sea.  He saw the desert ended in cliffs taller than Feather imagined possible.  Carved into the cliff were two goliath-size eagles with wings spread.  The tips of their wings touched and the eagles looked out toward the sea.  
But if thy manage to find the Key
Touch not, you now are warned.
For in the rainbow you’ll surely be,
And thy mission will be scorned. 
          With the last word, the light disappeared and Feather found himself back in the room with Geoffrey and Dillon. The old man squinted and leaned forward as if examining Feather. Dillon was on all fours, back arched, teeth barred and tail straight up. 
          “Where did you go, son?” Geoffrey asked after a moment. 
          “I’ve been where the key is.” 

It was a pleasure hosting you on Unwritten today! I hope you'll be back, and I wish you the best of luck!

Thank you Mysti for having me.  I had a great time!


  1. Yet another great interview Mysti. Thomas, as a veteran I salute you. I wish nothing but success for you with your writing. :)

    1. Thank you Mr. Eason. I wish you the best as well.

  2. Thanks a lot for having me. I had a great time with this interview.


  3. Hi TJ,
    What a wonderful interview. Mysti does an inspiring job. Feather sounds like an exciting book. I love your drawing. It adds a certain touch of feeling. I can tell you love to write. Great stuff!

    Best always,


    1. Hey Marli,

      Thanks a lot. Glad you like the picture. I drew it when first starting this novel. I do love to write, although I haven't been doing it very long. Talk to you later!


  4. Interesting excerpt. It will be interesting to see how a Soldier addresses confrontation in a fantasy novel.

    1. Hey John,

      I have learned to enjoy writing the confrontations in the book. One of my charaters is a military type, so I get to put in some tactical maneuvers and commands in the fights. Thanks for reading and commenting.


    2. In Chronicles of Ch'ien Long had incorporated modern fireteam room clearing tactics and modern dialgue for the archers who had a fairly high rate of fire with a bow. I also worked out a four ballista anti-air battery and how to use bowmen to line up a shot for the ballista.

      Of course Ch'ien Long still set everything on fire.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Ok, going to try posting again. Wonderful interview Mysti! And congratulations TJ! Not only did you successfully show TJ's personality by the questions you asked Mysti, but TJ, you honestly, openly presented your own character and how truly talented you are. I am so happy for you and the road you are taking. Thank you for your service, you are a hero for us all. Best to you for the best sellers you're sure to have!

    Many hugs,

    1. Hey Linda!

      Glad you enjoyed the interview. It was quite an experience for me. Thanks for all your support.


  7. Hi TJ,

    A very nice interview. It's hard to believe you've been writing such a short time. I knew you had talent when I read your Ballad of Feather. F2K gave me confidence in my writing and allowed me to meet some remarkable people.

    Best wishes for success in all that you write. And thank you for attending F2K chats on Saturday mornings.


  8. Hey Leo!

    Look! I am on a blog! Can you believe it? I barely do. Thanks for the great response. I enjoyed writing that poem and have integrated it into the book. Its going to be really cool. Oh, and by the way, I love going to the chats. They keep me motivated and writing. Thanks for keeping them going.


  9. Happy to meet you and your writing TJ. We're neighbors; I'm about 15 miles west of FT. Hood in Kempner. Much success to you and thank you for your service. :0)

    1. Hey Donnalsadd,

      We are actually closer than that because I live about midway between Kemper and Lampasas. Good to meet someone in my area.

      Talk to you later and thanks for posting a reply.


    2. Great interview! It confirmed to me what a terrific person TJ is. I'm enjoying seeing Feather's story develop and can't wait to be able to buy the finished product!

  10. Mum, your awesome!

    Thanks a lot for your support and the kind words. You have been a big inspiration in MS for me.


  11. Hey, no apologies for being a "green" writer, TJ. I only started in 2009, so I'm about as green as it gets. My motto, should you choose to use it, is "I'm green, but I'm mean." :)

  12. LOL Mysti,

    I like that: "I'm green, but I'm mean." But I think my kids would argue the second part.



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