What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Hi, my name is Tom Sarega and I live in Canterbury in the United Kingdom with my artist wife, Anisa Mandahiling. The town itself is very old with cobblestone streets and buskers playing their melodies come rain or shine. Canterbury was the inspiration for the town of Monedel in my novel.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
It was pretty much the only thing I wanted to be when I was young. I even wrote a series of short stories called “The Adventures of Alex the Ant” which I submitted to Walker Books at eleven years old, although it was not picked up. So Dreamcatchers is not my first but my second series! Nowadays I work a “proper job” in marketing but I still make sure that it involves a lot of writing.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
I self-published my first book as the plot of Dreamcatchers revolves around the Mayan end of the world prophecies - I wanted the story to be available to readers before the end of the Mayan Calendar on 21st December 2012.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
Yes – by day I work full-time as a Marketing Manager for an Information Management consultancy and by night I write about Mayans! Go figure.....
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest book, my debut novel, in fact, is called Dreamcatchers - After Darkness Light.
Dreamcatchers is an intriguing fantasy about five school friends who become caught in an apocalyptic feud between two Mayan brothers.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
The idea for Dreamcatchers originally came to me in 2001. I was searching on the internet for a Portuguese art shop named Destarte, back in the days when the internet was nothing but a mass of blue links.
I accidentally clicked a link to a website about dreamcatchers. On that website there was a quote by Thoreau –
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”
And then it hit me – what if you actually could? And the basic idea for Dreamcatchers was born.
Have a look – I think the website is still there.
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
Dreamcatchers was quite tough to write as I undertook a lot of research to help colour the lives of Iktaniki and Anunaki, the two feuding Mayan brothers. I wanted to know what they ate, how they dressed, what the typical family hierarchy was and what types of weapons they used at war. I chose 11th Century Mexico as the Mayans and Toltecs were involved in a number of battles at this time and so real history influenced the plot that was forming in my mind.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Absolutely – After Darkness Light is Book One of the Dreamcatchers Series. I plan to start writing book two at the beginning of next year.
What genre would you place your books into?
Dreamcatchers blends the historical fiction and fantasy genres, although, ultimately, I think I would call it a (darkish) fantasy novel for young adults. I’m hoping that readers will be better at categorising my book than I am!
Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
All of the characters are great but my favourite would be Kate as she is just so impulsive. I sketch the outlines of chapters as I write them but I do let the characters work their own way through the plot. I often had no idea how Kate was going to react to the situations I put her in. Ronnie was also an interesting character to write as he had a lot to learn about himself as the self-appointed leader of the five friends.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I wrote from about the age of ten and through my teens, followed by a long hiatus until my mid-thirties because my career took over. I draw my inspiration from school actually - I remember being asked to stay behind after class one day and my teacher wondering if the piece I had just written was autobiographical, so immersive were the scenarios I had created. That has always inspired me to believe that I could one day become an author.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
Iktaniki would not be the type of man he is without my discovering a book called The History of the Indies of New Spain, by Diego Durán and Doris Heyden, explaining the story of the warrior Tlahuicole, upon whom Iktaniki was orignially based. So I think that research, as well as imagination, are essential to creativity.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I have two places that I write – either at Cafe Rouge along Canterbury High Street, or at the Canterbury Christchurch University library. The former has a constant hum that doesn’t distract while the latter is blissfully quiet.
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
Absolutely....I hope that as many early reviewers as possible will want to take a look at my work (it was published on Amazon at the end of June 2012).
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I will certainly endeavour to read all of the reviews I receive.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Dreamcatchers has always been the overarching title to the series – in a way the five school friends represent us – we are all Dreamcatchers. However, I didn’t decide upon the title of this novel, After Darkness Light, until I had completed the story.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I wish I knew. The characters seem to pick their own names - but I do like what I’ve come up with - Iktaniki and Anunaki are perfect as the warring brothers.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I wouldn’t say that I decide on character traits at the outset, but it is pretty early on in the writing process. I knew within the first few chapters that Kate would be the feistier of the twin sisters. I knew that Ronnie would need to grow throughout the story.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I do find that if I sketch a plot outline then the story is more cohesive but I do let the characters lead me as I write. I think it allows for more believable characters. Ultimately that’s why we read and write stories – we’ve invested ourselves in the characters and in their journey.
How do you market/promote your books?
I’m hoping to do more author interviews (thank you for having me on the blog Jeanz), blog tours and the like and will probably be doing promotions over the next few months so add me on Twitter (@tomsarega) to keep an eye out for those.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Yes - there is a significant amount of symbolism in After Darkness Light. The object the protagonists seek, the Dreamcatcher, is certainly a metaphor for something very relevant to today’s world. I will be elaborating on that in the next book in the series.
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
This has probably been said a thousand times but if you want to become a writer – you should study writing. Stephen King’s “On Writing” is an excellent book in this regard - it should be read by all budding authors.
Did you have a favourite author as a child?
I devoured books as a child – I was into the Secret Seven and the Hardy Boys, Asterix, Tintin and the Goosebump books.
If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
I think it would have to be Ernest Hemingway, to find out just how he honed his writing technique to become one of the writing greats, George Elliot on writing under a man’s pseudonym and Stephen King for his astounding career to date.
Where can readers follow you?
Your Blog details?
Your Blog details?
Your Facebook page?
Your Goodreads author page?
Your Twitter details?
And any other information you wish to supply?
I would just like to thank my readers for their support, and for spreading the word on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Thank you for your readership - readers make a book, just as much as an author does.
Thankyou for taking the time to take a look at this Interview Template, I hope you have decided to contact me and go ahead and do an Interview.
Thank you for taking the time to take part in this Interview.