Edgar and Emmy-nominated, novelist, screenwriter, playwright Thomas B. Sawyer was Head Writer/Showrunner of the classic CBS series, MURDER, SHE WROTE, for which he wrote 24 episodes. Tom wrote/directed/produced the feature-film cult-comedy, ALICE GOODBODY. He is co-librettist/lyricist of JACK, a musical drama about JFK which has been performed to acclaim in the US and Europe. Tom authored bestselling mystery/thrillers THE SIXTEENTH MAN, & NO PLACE TO RUN. His new novel, CROSS PURPOSES, introduces NY PI Barney Moon, who doesn’t drive, hates LA, and is stuck there. Learn more about Tom and his work at http://www.thomasbsawyer.com/.
PJ: How long have you been writing?
Tom: Full-time professionally, about 35 years. During my first career as a graphic artist starting in comic books, I did a little writing, but my focus was illustration.
PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?
Tom: After about three years in Television.
PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?
Tom: Coming to Hollywood, I’d anticipated directing, which was what I’d been doing back in NY (commercials, short films, some stage-work). I tried TV writing because I was assured that writers ran that business – which very happily turned out to be true.
PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?
Tom: In TV and film, way surpassed them. Less so in novel-writing.
PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?
Tom: Still the same – getting published – but with more and more focus on promotion. Very few of us can make it in the book biz without a lot of BSP (Blatant Self-Promotion), and other types of publicity.
PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?
Tom: About six months.
PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?
Tom: Probably not.
PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?
Tom: It’s a juggling act, but I enjoy it. I write and/or promote pretty much seven-days-per-week.
PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?
PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?
Tom: Not being instantly recognized for my brilliant talent.
PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?
Tom: Being compared with writers of the caliber of Elmore Leonard and Damon Runyon.
PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?
Tom: Humor, economy, entertainment. Our mandate in TV writing: Deliver the audience to the commercial-break. They’re all sitting there with thumbs hovering over the channel-clicker. Bore them for a second and you’ve lost them. That’s the way I write novels. Read ‘em and you’ll see.
PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?
Tom: It’s terribly important – strike that – vital – to know – with absolute certainty – that anyone who rejects you or your work is out of his or her mind. Believe in yourself!
PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?
Tom: Persistence. Noise. Word-of-mouth. I’d say all of those, plus networking.
PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?
Tom: All of it. Getting noticed at all in a world so full of people yelling “Look at me!”
PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?
Tom: Diesel Bookstore in Malibu, CA.
PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:
- THE SIXTEENTH MAN (Thriller)
- FICTION WRITING DEMYSTIFIED (Instructional)
- NO PLACE TO RUN (Thriller)
- CROSS PURPOSES (Mystery Thriller – w/Humor), 1st in the Barney Moon, PI Series.
PJ: Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:
Tom: A routine arson case sends New York PI Barney Moon to what he regards as an Alien Planet — Los Angeles. His should-be one-day mission quickly escalates to murders and conspiracies, trapping him in Tinseltown – and in growing danger. Worse, Barney doesn’t drive, a problem he solves by apprehending gorgeous would-be car-thief, Melodie, 18. Narrowly evading and outwitting assorted bad guys, LAPD detectives and at the last second, violent death, this comically mismatched pair foils a bizarre terror plot just as it’s about to kill thousands.
PJ: Where can we buy it?
Amazon (print or e-book), and it can be ordered for you by any bookstore.
PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?
Tom: No secrets that I can think of…
There you have it folks! I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of Cross Purposes or some of Tom’s earlier work. I trust you’ll enjoy!