Welcome, T M. Tell us how much of yourself
you write into your characters.
First of all,
its important to share that I hold all fiction is not created “ex nihilo” —
“out of nothing.” All our characters, settings, and storylines are rooted in
reality, just disguised or rewritten to paint the desired story we wish to
family and friends chuckle as they recognize parallels between the main
characters, Theo and Liddy Phillips, and my wife and me. Likewise, other
characters in the story have inspiration from family and friends, especially my
two sons and my grandkids. Of course, they were the reason I launched into this
endeavor nearly four years ago.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever
decades as a student of the Bible, I realized that parables and Bible stories
have earned the most attention, so I took my bevy of sermons, Bible studies and
devotional expositions and surprised my family and friends by announcing that I
would transition to writing contemporary parables as a legacy for my
grandchildren from their “Poppy,” ergo Sanctuary and its sequels.
When did you first discover you were a
share of my mother’s clover-green Irish blood flows through my veins. As a
result, I’ve always been blessed with the gift of the blarney. At least that’s
what my family attest. However, seriously drafting my words onto paper did not
become a reality until I returned to college and then seminary late in life.
There I became enthralled with the value of writing and ever since written far
more sermons, Bible-studies and inspirational blog posts than I dare recount.
But the notion of writing a novel came from my wife insistence. Of course, I
fretted and fussed in the early months as I discovered writing a novel required
far more than my Irish gifts could supply. Thankfully, God introduced a
fantastic writing coach/editor to me. She became an indispensable mentor and
encourager throughout the arduous process.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you
I am a
history major and love all forms of history books, but I also have become fond
of mysteries and thrillers by the likes of John Grisham, David Baldacci,
Nicolas Sparks, and Charles Martin, to mention a few. In the foreseeable future,
I hope to set aside more time to reading after my writing days begin to wind
down again. I find myself too engrossed in my writing to fully enjoy leisure
reading, and I do miss sitting on the porch with a good book that stirs my
How do you keep your sanity in our run,
run, run world?
A sense of
humor! I try not to compare myself with others. This is what I shared with my
sons when they were growing up and competing in athletics. “There’ll always be
others who are faster, stronger, and smarter than you. Strive each day to be
the fastest, strongest, and smartest you can be, and you’ll be surprised how
successful you’ll become just being the best you can be.”
How do you choose your characters’ names?
have to read Sanctuary before I answer that question in total. But I will
hint if you study the names of the main characters in the town of Shiloh close enough, many
of the readers will find the underlying source of their names. Besides, at the
end of Sanctuary, the preacher in the story supplies a strong hint.
confess, some of my characters in the sequel, Testament, were named after I took a suggestion from an author
friend. I ventured into a couple of cemeteries to scout out unique, memorable
names from long ago. Also, to honor my dad, his veiled first name becomes the
name of a key older character in the sequel.
What is the accomplishment that you are
most proud of?
two novels and actually working on the third had gotten my attention, but what
stands high above that is my marriage of forty-four years this August to my
beautiful wife Connie, our two sons and their families.
If you were an animal, which one would you
be, and why?
depends on the time of day and situation. Of course, I’ve been called more
animal names than I dare to put into print.
What is your favorite food?
I’m a fan of
God’s message to Peter in Acts - “Do not call anything impure that God has made
clean.” Kind of makes me a fan of most anything, but Southern barbecue, grits,
biscuits, collards, and of course, peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream, all
washed down with sweet tea, rank right up there!
What is the problem with writing that was
your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
to writing a novel filled with believable dialog, and learning to “show versus
tell” after all my years of expository writing. Thank God for a great writing
coach and my wife’s encouragement.
Tell us about the featured book.
SANCTUARY begins a series of stories
that affirms the possibility that life often winds its way by personal
perseverance with the aid of God’s providence influencing our choices along the
journey we find ourselves on. Like Theo Phillips retells his story in SANCTUARY, each of us has particular
personal stories that we most often share among friends and loved ones. You
know, those stories that evolved over a course of time in our life, and after
looking back and taking stock, we discovered that the choices we made along
those particular journeys impacted far more lives than what we likely
envisioned before we began the journey.
SANCTUARY introduces newly retired
publishing executive, Theo Phillips, and his wife, Liddy, to the time-lost
South Georgia town of Shiloh as they leave the
shadows of Atlanta
and move into a quaint home of notoriety. While making new friends, they
discover twenty-first-century challenges threaten the town’s laid-back
lifestyle. Theo's journalistic curiosity launches him into investigating tragic
events that have left Shiloh unsettled. Theo
and Liddy’s retirement dreams take a turn that could unravel both them and the
idyllic life they and many others look for in Shiloh.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Indian-summer gripped Georgia.
Though already the first Sunday of November, hot and humid weather more
suitable for early September caused sweat to trickle unabated down my neck,
dampening the collar of the fresh cotton polo I had just yanked over my head.
The moving truck pulled away as I latched and locked the trailer doors. Liddy
patiently watched from her passenger window as I walked up the sidewalk and
locked the front door of the colonial brick suburban house we had called home
for the last seven years.
I jumped into
the driver’s seat, buckled up and squeezed the hand of my wife of forty years,
then reached for the gearshift. “Any regrets?”
her window and turned her gaze straight ahead as a silly smirk appeared. “Nope.
Let’s roll! We’ve got a moving truck to meet in Shiloh
I dropped the
gearshift into drive, and my foot slid from the brake to the accelerator. Our
Expedition jolted forward with the packed trailer in tow. Liddy stared straight
ahead for the first few minutes while she caressed the manila envelope stuffed
with photos, brochures and paperwork pertaining to the house we contracted to
purchase for our retirement. Liddy dozed off soon after we turned south onto US
Highway 19, and I settled in for the afternoon drive to our destination an hour
south of Albany.
all-too-familiar gated communities and shopping centers thriving under Atlanta’s ever-present
shadow faded in my rear-view mirror…
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