Here's another Christmas story and it's author, Tom McCann.
In the case of THE TREE NOBODY WANTED, the character Thomas is ALL me. Ditto for the Nanny character--ALL my grandmother. That story is based on an actual happening--a Christmas we spent right after WW II in Brooklyn. In the case of my previous novel EARTH ANGEL, none of those characters have much of me in them. However, I did draw on my experiences and knowledge of certain things (like flying for example) to carry the story along.
I also have a collection of short stories, which, like TREE, are all based on my early days in Brooklyn and deal with real people, places and events
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
The quirkiest thing I have ever done is a book I wrote about twenty years ago titled WHY I DON'T JOG...Play Tennis, Bicycle, Swim, Row or Dance. It has an opening chapter about why I wrote the book and what followed was a collection of real obits of people who died in the act of doing those things. On the back cover was my own obituary. I am very "big" on obits. It is the first thing I turn to every day. The publisher insisted I devote a couple of pages to a medical perspective written by a physician. I sometimes think God punished me for writing this anti-exercise book -- two weeks after it was published, I was diagnosed with a heart problem. The book was a big success.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
My mother taught me to read a couple of years before I started school and as soon as I could read, I wanted to write stories. I began by telling her stories and then writing them down. I think that's why my style is conversational. And at an early age I went to the library and began to read good books and tried to figure out how they were put together.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read mostly nonfiction. I selectively read fiction. I find I am disappointed in most new fiction. I love the NEWYORKER and in fact, I am addicted to magazines and newspapers. My favorite trade pub is PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
My first book and most successful was written in the mid-seventies, Published by Crown and titled AN AMERICAN COMPANY, The Tragedy of United Fruit. It went into nine languages including Russian and Japanese and was well reviewed and sold well. It was kept in print and published in many editions and formats. It changed my life. Because it was about real people, places and events and was a "tell all" book I lost some friends but gained some new ones. Then I experimented with other forms--humor (JOG), fiction/fable (EARTH ANGEL), a collection of short stories, a play, and most recently the semi-autobiographical TREE.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Yes, it is hard to keep my sanity in this world and some people think I am losing the battle.
Many people who are around writers think we all are. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Most of the names in my books are people I know but I change the facts of their lives so that they can't say "that's me," Even if they did it would be okay because all the characters in my stories are good people--there are no bad people in my stories.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
The accomplishment I am most proud of is the founding of a program that started out being called the Hood Samaritan that put ex-criminal offenders in a panel truck and sent them out on the streets and highways just looking for ways to help people. It provided employment for people who had a hard time finding a decent job and over the more than thirty years it has been in existence, had helped millions of people. It has saved lives, delivered babies, gotten cats out of trees, helped old ladies across the street and up stairs with bundles, and got disabled cars going again or pushed them to safety. The "hood" was a double entendre because the company's name was Hood and we were putting former "hoods" in the trucks.
I also feel good about a line of compliance training films I produced that keep people in compliance with the laws of antitrust, environmental, product safety, etc. And, some of my TV productions have been educational and worthwhile.
Some very worthy accomplishments. No wonder you're proud of them. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I would definitely like to be a black cat. Smart, self sufficient, handsome, self assured, independent, naturally clean, keen senses, fearless, and so much more. And, I would work overtime to rid the world of rats and mice. Yes, a cat.
What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is junk food of course. It's so good.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My greatest writing roadblock has been finding the time to do it. For years I had to do it nights and weekends, and there wasn't much energy left. That is still my problem. What I do when I feel the need to write something is simply put everything else aside and dig in and do it. That works for short pieces like TREE and even EARTH ANGEL but the real problems come when I have a longer form piece like my play DEMONS where I have to lay it down not knowing when I can pick it up again. I wish I could write full time but I can't.
Yes, when I was able to stop other work adn write full time was a wonderful day. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Advice: If you are certain you have something to say and the talent to say it, keep at it. Keep trying. Don't let the rejection stop you.
I am amazed at the response to it. There has not been one negative comment from anyone who has read it from the people who read the manuscript in the test phase to professional reviewers. Readers seem to take away different things from the book depending upon their POV or their own area of interest. One woman reader has a child with learning disabilities, and she said the book "touched her heart" and she ordered forty copies of it. This, despite the fact that the book has nothing to do with her child's specific problem. People take away positive messages from the book--I like that. I also like the fact that the book makes people think of a higher power.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Readers can find me on the Internet at TMccann001@aol.com or through the publisher's website at www.Exeterpress.com . And, of course at Amazon.com and the Barnes & Noble web site.
Thank you, Tom, for spending this time with us.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this book.
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