Sunday, October 25, 2015

THE GAL'S 31 DAYS OF HORROR: AMONG THE STACKS: Phillip Tomasso


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Phillip.  Welcome to The Gal.  Pardon the mess - I've been WAY too busy with all this Halloween jazz to clean up. :p  
            Let's start with something easy: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Phillip Tomasso:
After 19 years with the Eastman Kodak Company, the last ten working in the legal department as an Employment Law Paralegal, I was downsized.  Nearly six years ago, I started a new career as a Fire/EMS Dispatcher for 911.  It is one of the craziest, most hectic, and frustrating jobs I have ever had, but I love every minute of it.  Although divorced, I am the father of three amazing kids who are no longer little children, but have grown up to be wonderful people.  My first book was published in 2000, and here I am still at the writing-thing fifteen years later, with seventeen novels currently on sale.  I am not sure I could ask for much more out of life.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are three things most people don't know about you?

Phillip Tomasso:
Although it seems more and more common knowledge, I do not eat or drink anything blue.  No blue cake frosting, M&Ms, Gatorade...nothing.  (I have no idea why.  It is a phobia I just always remember having.)  I am deathly afraid of spiders.  Any and all spiders.  They don't have to be gib, or fuzzy or venomous.  Living on my own, however, I have learned to kill them with the closest, largest object I can get my hands on.  I also suffer from severe nightmares.  Very few have I used in stories.  While they scare the hell out of me at night, when I awake I realize how silly or out of sequence they are and know they will not work retold in a short story or novel.  (Last night I woke in a cold sweat.  The nightmare: Got a bad haircut.  There was no falling asleep after, though I had checked the bathroom mirror and verified my hair was just fine!)

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Phillip Tomasso:
I have always been a story teller, but not a reader.  I grew up with a reading disability.  I did everything I could to keep that secret.  I managed to squeak by in school.  Multiple Choice tests were the easiest for me.  Writing out long answers was most difficult.  Once I informed a teacher that I really had no clue what was going on, I received extra help.  This actually made me hate reading even more.  I felt singled out because during the school day I left the class for one-on-one instruction.  In seventh grade we were assigned S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders.  That was the first book I read cover to cover (with the exception of Green Eggs & Ham and most of the Dr. Seuss collection).  It was also the moment I realized I wanted to become a writer.  I figured if Hinton, who was just 16 years old at the time The Outsiders was published could write a story that made me want to read, then I too wanted a chance at inspiring reluctant readers!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Phillip Tomasso:
Believe it or not, MTV has a new show coming out in 2016, The Shannara Chronicles.  I am a major fantasy buff (movies, books).  I had not read the Terry Brooks novels the show is based on.  So, while the TV starts on book 4, 5, and 6, I am going all the way back to the beginning and reading the first one.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Phillip Tomasso:
For me characters are the story.  Not the story.  Does that make sense?  If I am reading a book, and I don't "believe" the characters, I can't finish reading the book.  Looking at this question, I define LOVE as a place holder for any "adjective" used to describe what I need to feel when it comes to a character.  An author needs to invoke in me an emotion about each and every character.  Make me hate them, love them, sympathize with them, and despise them, whatever... if not, I'm done.  When I write, I believe I am creating character-driven novels.  I focus on the dialogue.  Oftentimes I read it out loud, as if it were a play.  If it doesn't ring true, I do it again.  I want all of my characters to undergo some kind of transformation, to be a different person by the end of the story.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Phillip Tomasso:
This is funny, almost narcissistic, but when you read my books - if you know me at all in "real life" - you will easily (I mean easily) see some of me in each and every character.  My dry sense of humor, my lack of cooking skills, my love for my kids, the sports teams I follow, and so on.  I don't "throw" me all into one character, but if you read enough of my work you are sort of getting an entire autobiography as well.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Phillip Tomasso:
I am.  I really am.  I have to be honest: if a book has a horrible cover, I am not even giving it a chance.  I know, I am cliche (judging a book by its cover), but what I generally see when a bad cover is attached to a novel is a self-published piece that probably isn't well written.  (I know, I sound like a snob.  I don't mean to sound that way.  But writing something and self-publishing it doesn't make it good.  An editor sending you a contract because the publisher wants to invest in your writing, on the other hand, is something earned.)  Think I crossed topics answering this one.  Sorry.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Phillip Tomasso:
Writing is very therapeutic for me.  It is a release.  Probably one of the most damaging things in my life was my divorce.  That was in spring 2008.  There is still a lot of anger in me.  My wife giving up on a fifteen year marriage was not easy to accept.  Moving out and not living with my kids was crippling.  Although I saw them all of the time, I knew I was being punished for something she did.  The point being, writing has helped me overcome a lot of the issues I faced during darker times in my life.  By 2008 I had five books out; now, I have seventeen published novels.  I've become far more prolific, and less resentful.  This is one positive I take away from my writing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?


Phillip Tomasso:
When I first started writing in the mid-nineties, I focused on short stories.  I had been told by someone that building a portfolio of published short stories would help attract an agent/publisher.  From 1995-2006, I had sold over 100 short stories and articles.  In 2000, my first novel was published (Mind PlayDry Bones Press).  Essentially, from that point forward, I wrote less and less short stories.  And now, I can barely write a short story.  It is a different discipline from novel writing, and a talent I no longer process.  I wish I did, but I just can't figure out how to tell a complete story - beginning, middle, end - in 2,000 words.  I enjoy(ed) writing both.  I just can no longer manage doing both.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Phillip Tomasso:
One project I am very excited about is The Nightbreed Saga.  The first book in the series (Young Blood) was written by my oldest son and me.  We are both Phillip Tomasso.  I am the III, and he is the IV - so we write under the combine named of Phillip Tomasso-squared.  It is an anti-Superhero series filled with vampires, zombies, ghosts, witches, and demons.  Additionally, I have written a few YA novels, mysteries and suspense novels, an adventure novel, and plenty of horror novels.  I am pretty diverse when it comes to my writing, and hopefully appeal to a large audience of readers.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Phillip Tomasso:
I am in the process of looking for a home from my first fantasy novel.  I call it Wizard's Rise.  I have three other novels outlined: the second book in the Arcadia trilogy, the second book in the Nightbreed Saga, and the first book in a new supernatural PI series (I hope to sell once written).

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (You know, STaLKeR links.)

Phillip Tomasso:
Website ** Email ** Goodreads ** Twitter ** Facebook

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
It was great having you here today, Phillip.  Thanks for being a part of this.  
            Before you go, do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Phillip Tomasso:
I find a lot of people that are avid readers also dreaming of writing.  I believe everyone has a story worth telling.  Writing is like brushing your teeth.  You need a developed habit you can follow for when is a good time to write.  I brush in the morning when I wake up, sometimes after a meal, and before going to bed.  It is a routine that works.  I write when I get home from work, and oftentimes before work.  On days off, I write as long as possible.  I write every single day.  Sometimes I get pages and pages written, sometimes a handful of sentences.  Drive.  Dedication.  Determination.  If you have these three things, and you aspire to become a novelist (a short story writer), you can achieve that goal!  
            Hey - thank you for the wonderful interview questions, and the opportunity to be a guest on your blog.  Have an awesome day!


About the author:
Phillip Tomasso is the award winning author of seventeen novels.  He works full time as a Fire/EMS Dispatcher for 911.  He lives in Rochester, NY where he is always at work on his next story.

About the books:

Vaccination Trilogy 1: Vaccination 
Genre: Horror, Apocalyptic, Zombies
Publisher: Severed Press
Publication date: 9.21.2013
Pages: 214

What if the H1N1 vaccination wasn't just a preventative measure against swine flu?  It seemed like the flu came out of nowhere and yet, in no time at all, the government manufactured a vaccination.
            Were lab workers diligent, or could the virus itself have been man-made?
            Chase McKinney works as a dispatcher at 9-1-1.  Taking emergency calls, it becomes immediately obvious that the entire city is infected with the walking dead.  His first goal is to reach and save his two children.
            Could the walls built by the U.S.A. to keep out illegal aliens, and the fact the Mexican government could not afford to vaccinate their citizens against the flu, make the southern border the only plausible destination for safety?

Vaccination Trilogy 2: Evacuation 
Genre: Horror, Apocalyptic, Zombies
Publisher: Severed Press
Publication date: 11.30.2013
Pages: 197

911 dispatcher, Chase McKinney, finds himself in the midst of an apocalypse.  Contaminated vials of swine flu vaccination infected millions country-wide.  Side effects turned those inoculated into zombies.  Some fast.  Some slow.  Both deadly.
            The military escorts Chase, his children and a small band of survivors to a re-opened internment camp.  The purpose is to test non-infected humans with the hope of developing a cure of the diseased population.
            What they find when they arrive at the camp is worse than their darkest fears...

Vaccination Trilogy 3: Preservation 
Genre: Horror, Apocalyptic, Zombies
Publisher: Severed Press
Publication date: 3.18.2014
Pages: 211

It started with the flu in VACCINATION and became a full-blown zombie apocalypse in EVACUATION.  Find out how the nightmare concludes in PRESERVATION.
            Former 911 Dispatcher Chase McKinney learned that those inoculated with flu shots became zombies; that the U.S. government and military were largely infected rendering them useless in the crisis; and that he and his family are forced to continue along on a dangerous journey.
            Crossing into Mexico might provide the only sanctuary from the millions of zombies plaguing America.  The question is, could they make it safely from New York to the border?

Arcadia 1: Damn the Dead 
Genre: Horror, Apocalyptic, Zombies
Publisher: Severed Press
Publication date: 11.26.2014
Pages: 301

Damn the Dead marks the beginning of an exciting new stand-alone series from Phillip Tomasso and takes place some 3 years after the conclusion of the best-selling Vaccination trilogy.

Even in the heat of the zombie apocalypse, a time must come to rebuild.
            Charlene McKinney and her friends are on the run in the mountain ranges of North Carolina.  They've stolen an 18 wheeler filled with food and supplies and the brutal want they stole the vehicle from won't give up until they get back what belongs to them.
            The band of survivors stumble across Arcadia, a fortified town erected deep in a valley.  There is food, shelter and electricity.  Arcadia is fully functional as a community.  They offer employment, have a fire department, peace officers, and a judge.  The welcome sign posted by the front entrance boasts 3 simple laws for citizenship.  No stealing.  No fighting.  No murder.
            Seeking sanctuary within the walls of Arcadia seems like the perfect place to hide.  But in Arcadia, if you break the law you will find yourself damned with the dead.

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