Thursday, June 15, 2023

Author interview with Tom McCaffrey

This month's interview is with author Tom McCaffrey, who is currently 66 and only wrote his first novel 4 years ago (which became a bestseller). He's indie published and writes across multiple genres - legal thriller, crime/mafia, action adventure, sci-fi and fantasy, as well as love stories, so let's meet him:

'I was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, where I lived until I turned 61. I've been married for 45 years to my wife, Lisa, with three grown children and four grandchildren. I have been a practicing attorney since 1984 and work in the entertainment field. 

In 2017 I moved to Berthoud Colorado, and met my magical Mule, Claire.  In 2019, I sat down and wrote The Wise Ass, never thinking it would see the light of day but I was published by Black Rose Writing in February 2021. 

TWA was a surprise success and the other two books in The Claire Trilogy, An Alien Appeal and Kissing My Ass Goodbye, were both published by March 2022. Finding Jimmy Moran, the prequel to TCT arrived on April 13, 2023.'      

He has created a tweetable for you (tweet here):

'Tom McCaffrey believes his novels should be crafted like his legal work. Respect your audience and always appear to be honest and true. The Claire Trilogy and Finding Jimmy Moran brings science fiction and magic into the present-day world and leaves the reader wondering: what if it’s true?'  

I need to know more - how is Claire magical?

'I've always had animals as pets growing up. However I had no intentions of ever bringing what is considered livestock into my family. But let me give you a little background.  

Back in 1992 a psychic, the Reverend John White, a member of the Lily Dale spiritual community in upstate NY, told me I was going to move out west and live on a large property, like a ranch. I thought he was crazy. I never had any intention of moving out of New York.  

In 2014, I attended a gallery where the psychic, Bobbi Allison (the basis for the character Bobbi Angelini), picked me out of the crowd and told me I was going to move to Colorado. I thought she was crazy. 

Fast forward 4 years. Bobbi, who at that point was my friend, was visiting family in Colorado so we had breakfast. I had just adopted Claire, but I never had any conversations with Bobbi about her. First thing out of Bobbi's mouth as I sat down at the table was "You've adopted a mule, she's going to change your life." I started to respond that she already had, that I was a better human through our interactions. Bobbi said, "no, she's going to change you life in a very big way. You'll see." 

At that point in time, I had no plans to write a novel. Indeed, I didn't write it until 2019. But since Claire first came into my life we've had this intuitive connection. If she is anywhere out on the property and I look out at her from my window, she stops what's she's doing and looks up at whatever window I may be at. If I'm working on the property, she'll come over and hang around me the way your most loyal dog may do. When I'm feeling overwhelmed or stressed she'll come over and nuzzle me or give me love nibbles. As I was beginning to think about the book, I would tell her the stories that ultimately made their way into the novels.  She would listen and she has a way of vocalizing at times in response to what I may say to her.  She'll also vocalize in the same manner if my back is to her and she wants my attention.  We share a bond I have never had with any other non-human creature. So yes, Claire is magical, and was far more than just an inspiration for her character in The Claire Trilogy and Finding Jimmy Moran.' 

Oh wow, I've got goosebumps! What inspired Tom to become a writer? 

'I’m a Celt. We are story tellers by nature. I was raised in a family that enjoyed sharing stories around the dinner table. I was hoping to be a professional writer when I graduated college, but the birth of my first child compelled me to do something that would guarantee a regular income. That led me to Law School.'

What a lovely background to bring to his writing. What does his daily routine look like?

'I wake up every morning at 2 am to tend to my Mules Claire and Honey.  Then I sit down and blog – When I am ready to write a novel, I put blogging to the side and use those early hours to churn out the novel.'

Sorry, 2am? I'm usually going to bed then 🤣 I'm struggling to get my head around the logistics here - is he still practicing law and, if so, how does he find time to write too?

'Yes, I'm still practicing law. I write when I wake up, for 2 hours straight. I keep writing every day until I finish the novel. No breaks. It's almost like I channel it. I never actually recall the process of writing. I just get lost in it and then look up and it's 4am.  

I'm used to writing under court deadlines but I don't start writing any book until I know I cannot not write it. I feel like the story is bursting to get out of me. I'm almost at that point with the next book - Where The Ley Lines Meet - which is the sequel to Finding Jimmy Moran and The Claire Trilogy. I hope to start that mid-June and, with a little magic and luck, finish by the end of the summer.'

OMG, my head is reeling - when does he sleep? 😴 It must be his superpower!

'My secret weapon is that I force myself to overcome my natural  desire to procrastinate - I do it now.'

😄 Okay, so if I ditch the procrastinating, I'll turn into Superwoman, good to know although I think I'll still need sleep...!  What does Tom enjoy the most about writing?  

'The readers’ responses to the story. I like to learn that I’ve engaged them emotionally and that they love my characters as much as I do.' 

Aw, that's lovely! What has he found the hardest part of getting published?

'Rejection sucks. Back when I was young, I accumulated a stack of rejection letters in response to the short stories I had submitted. I kept them. They taught me to never quit.'

That's an admirable way of dealing with rejection. What about the best money he's ever spent as a writer?

'The money I have spent on the copies of my books that I have given away. It’s the bread on the water in a pond full of fish.' 

Interesting 🤔 Does he have any difficulty writing characters very different from himself?  

'That’s the thing. My characters take over my writing and I don’t have much say in their personalities or characteristics. And luckily, I’m so old now that I’ve experienced what it’s like at any age. Plus, the lifetime of being a litigator has taught me how to become an instant expert in just about any field.' 

Great answer, although I'm not sure 66 is 'so old'! So moving onto his new book, he's created a short synopsis for us:

'Who is Jimmy Moran? 

It starts with a lucky penny. Then a muse who bestows a mystical gift. Or maybe a curse? Family, friends, and fights abound as Jimmy breaks the law, looks for love in all the wrong places and experiences loss that transforms him. 

A mischievous Bronx boy becomes a man in his search for the love of his life.  This is the coming-of-age story of the character we meet in The Claire Trilogy, who becomes a mob lawyer, Claire the mule's best friend, and the leader of the motley crew of magical misfits.'

And a tweetable version (tweet here): 

'Jimmy Moran unveils the mystery and magic of his childhood search for love to his grown children and best friend Claire the Mule.  Learn what makes Jimmy Moran tick.'

What was the hardest scene to write and why?

'Any scene where one of my characters dies is always hard for me.  I literally weep while I’m typing it.'

Oh, I'm the same! If he could go back in time and talk to his younger writing self, what would he say?

'Never, ever give up.'

Great advice, as so many writers get disillusioned with rejection. As someone who has been through all of this, what would he consider a common trap for aspiring writers?

'Listening to other writer’s advice and rules. Write the story you want to write, as you want
to write it. Other writers have a tendency of trying to impose their style and rules on your writing. 

I only use readers who know my work and style and are there not to change what I write but to let me know if my story is working and to catch any typos. That way I know that the reader base I have created will enjoy my next work. 

You see, I’m not here to become a brilliant writer. I’m here to tell a brilliant story. That’s all that matters to me'

That's an interesting response - what makes 'a brilliant story'?

'I'm not kidding myself. I'm a journeyman writer. I can string words together in a palatable way but I'm great at dialogue and character development. 

What sets me apart is that I can tell a story in a way that will keep your attention from the beginning to the end. I invite you to sit down and become a character at the table in the story. You become part of the experience. I make you want to believe what I'm telling you is true. 

A brilliant story is one that takes the commonplace events found in everyone's life and then weaves into it a little bit of magic that everyone wants in their life. Adults don't want to admit it, but it's true. That makes it all feel real to them. It's like a kid that wants to go to Hogwarts, only I bring the magic into your everyday world and do my best to convince you it was always there. You just have to know where to look for it.'       

I love the idea of opening his readers eyes to the magic, but what do they think? Does Tom read reviews and how does he deal with them? 

'I read them all. Like life, you can’t please everybody. Luckily, I have way more positive than negative reviews. But negative reviews still sting.'     

I think you'll agree, Tom has brought a little magic to this interview too. If you'd like to learn more about him, please visit his links below:

Twitter:  @wisecelt
Instagram: Wisecelt

Enjoyed this post? Never miss out by following here