What is your name?
What is the name of the book or series you’re promoting?
Magic’s Heart, the first of the Núminway Chronicles
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born and raised in Guildford, just south of London, England. Having moved around for university and work, I’m now back in Guildford, and intend to stay here for some time.
Tell us about something that has just happened or is about to happen in your life that you would like to share.
I’m currently booking flights and permits to return to the glorious Sierra Nevada of California, to continue with the next leg of the John Muir Trail. I did a solo hike of the trail a few years ago, and returned last year to do the first section with my Father. We, and my girlfriend, are going back to pick up where we finished last time. It’s the most spectacular, inspiring, beautiful place I’ve ever been, and I can’t wait to get back there.
What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 50 or less words, what would you say?
Magic’s Heart is a Fantasy adventure concerning the fate of an old man’s belief in the Heart, the fabled source of all Magic in the world; and the consequences of his faith for him and those close to him.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I’ve already started on the second in The Núminway Chronicles, which will be a long-running series based around the themes and events which follow on distantly from Magic’s Heart. This second book is tentatively titled Bella of the Whispering World, and will hopefully be ready for publication in Summer this year.
What books have influenced your writing?
I think in one way or another you become influenced by everything you read, the good and the bad. But there are a few which come most strongly to mind – and most of them for me are those adventures I happened to hear of first when I was a child. In some ways you can understand more of a book when you grow older, but I don’t think you ever take as much from a book as when you read as a child. It’s the time in your life when your imagination’s at its most free and wild, and this is something I’m trying to re-capture, though for a slightly older audience, in my writing of the Chronicles.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently in the middle of my next book, so right now it’s just early chapters of the second of the Núminway Chronicles! I’d love to have more time for wider reading at the moment, but just can’t fit it in.
Is there an author you would really like to meet?
I think it’s hard not to say Tolkein. I’d like to have the opportunity for a good chat with Terry Pratchett too, I think he’d be a fascinating guy to meet.
Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
I used to be very much a ‘traditionalist’, preferring hard-copy books. But over the past few years I’ve come to realise that ebooks definitely have their advantages too. And the quality of screens and devices now is so high that I’m happy to read any version of a book. Frankly whatever gets people reading, and enjoying it, I think is a great thing.
Are you a self published (Indie) author?
Yes. The self-publishing industry has its critics, and sometimes this is for good reason. But overall I love the control over, and ongoing access to, my book and future series, which traditional publishing would never come close to.
What book would you like to read again?
The Animals of Farthing Wood, by Colin Dann. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read this since I was a child – absolutely love it.
Do you have any advise for other writers?
Write. Keep writing. Then write some more, trying to get better each time. Accept that you won’t be the master writer you think you are from the very beginning – It takes practice. Be open to criticism, but not put off by critics. Most importantly, love your work and the world that you create – if you don’t, why should anyone else?
Do you write under a pen name?
Yes and no.
What are your pet peeves?
People eating loudly in cinemas. People talking loudly in cinemas. Generally anybody close to me in a cinema.
Any pets that you would like to tell us about, share a picture?
I used to have a gerbil named Sonic. Looking back on it, I’m not sure why I named my gerbil after a hedgehog-based computer game character – But Sonic the Gerbil just seemed to have a nice ring to it at the time.
White wine or red?
Champagne. But if that’s not available, white. Or a nice red. I’m not fussy.
Coffee or tea?
Neither. Though my Father is long-since coming very close to disowning me unless I start drinking at least one of them.
Glass half full or half empty?
Depends entirely on which side of bed I got out of.
What is your favorite meal?
Kedgeree (rice, smoked haddock, peas, boiled egg). Still have it every birthday.
One of your favorite quotes.
Umm… can I give you two…? A short one and a (wonderful) long one…
‘Life in Every Breath’
– Bushido saying, quoted in The Last Samurai
‘Some people do not have to search, they find their niche early in life and rest there, seemingly contented and resigned. They do not seem to ask much of life, sometimes they do not take it seriously. At times I envy them, but usually I do not understand them. Seldom do they understand me.
I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know – unless it be to share our laughter. We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we love and want to be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.
For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.’
– James Kavanaugh, from There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves
Name 5 favorite books. Why?
Into the Wild; The Neverending Story; The Lord of the Rings; The Animals of Farthing Wood; and The Dragon and the George (the inspiration for the animated film The Flight of Dragons). They inspire and excite and absorb me as much now as when I first read them.
Are you a morning or night person?
Definitely, definitely not a morning person. Ask anyone. Can happily stay up until dawn if I get stuck into something – usually writing.
What are your favorite hobbies?
Writing; hiking; reading; going to the gym
Do you believe in love at first sight?
I think it’s a pretty sad world if you don’t.
What’s your favorite material object that you already own?
The first printed copy of Magic’s Heart.
What item, that you don’t have already, would you most like to own?
The first printed copy of my next finished book!
Favorite meal at favorite restaurant?
Cau restaurant in Guildford – the biggest steak they do, with sides and ideally more than one desert.
If you could eliminate one thing from your daily schedule, what would it be and why?
Any and all of those anyone little things which have to be done but add up to waste so much of your time and stop you spending longer doing other more interesting and productive things… Doing your teeth, getting dressed, getting undressed, food shopping, getting to work, getting back from work, doing your teeth again, that sort of thing.
What’s your favorite Christmas memory?
Being by the fire in the ‘Christmas Room’ we have at my parents’ house, which only really gets used for the few weeks over Christmas each year. I love it in there, it’s so relaxing, and peaceful. It’s there that I was struck by the initial inspiration for the Núminway Chronicles.
How many handbags or pair of shoes do you own?
Handbags: none. Shoes: two smart pairs; one ‘smart-casual’ pair; two gym / running pairs; one pair of trail-running shoes; two hiking pairs. Oh, and some newly-acquired and unexpectedly-comfortable slippers.
What is your best scar? Tell the story of how you got it.
The ‘smiley’ I received on my first night of freshers’ week at university. Somebody asked me if I wanted a smiley. I may have been fairly drunk, so said yes. I held out my hand. They lit an old-fashioned flint lighter and held it upside down for about twenty seconds, then pushed it into my hand in the fleshy part just beneath my thumb. Apparently the scar was supposed to look like a smiley face. It didn’t then, and many years later it certainly doesn’t now.
You win a million dollars, but you have to give half to a charity. Which charity do you pick, and what do you do with the rest of the money?
Parkinson’s Research. Or perhaps a wildlife conservation charity, or environmental organisation. I’d be pushed to choose between the two. I’d invest half of the rest, and use the remainder to treat myself and my family to something (/ things) fun.
Describe your dream wedding where money is no option.
I can’t stand obscenely expensive weddings. I would never – ever – begrudge someone the day of their dreams, and I’ve been to many extremely enjoyable weddings of close family and friends, which I’ve loved. But I can just think of so many things to put that much money towards for myself and those around me for the long-term, rather than spending it on what is, at the end of the day, a nice afternoon and evening.
What’s your favorite sport?
Anything when it’s a big event. I’m one of those people who has little or no interest in a particular sport through most of the year, then likes to think he knows everything about it when a major tournament or something comes around. The Superbowl – The Masters at Augusta – Wimbledon – the Six Nations – I love them all, and get really into them for those few days / weeks.
If you had to be a teacher of something, what would you teach?
History (I studied for my Bachelors in it) or creative writing. I took a Masters in Intelligence and International Security, and for a while I thought that was the route I wanted to go in life. But basically this world, when you’re studying it through those eyes, can seem a pretty sad and aggressive place most of the time. The idea of looking at everything in that light as a career was really unappealing for me.
What was the first car you drove?
My dad’s Peugeot 206, when I was learning. The first car I owned was a Mercedes C200K. I loved that car – until it broke down. I really haven’t had much luck with cars…
If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
Well I can’t tell you than now, can I?
Where can readers stalk you?
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-Oliver/100007585809838
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7797776.Thomas_Oliver