Interview with Thomas Drinkard, author of Piety and Murder

If you read this blog regularly, you know that my fantasy novel The Silver Cage was released on December 1, 2010. But mine wasn’t the only book released that day. A number of other novels were released as part of LazyDay Publishing’s official launch. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing the author of one of those novels, Thomas Drinkard. Thomas’s book, Piety and Murder, is a thriller-mystery inspired by news stories about the sleaze within the televangelist organizations.

Welcome, Thomas. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself.

I was born, reared, and formally educated in the Deep South. I’ve been writing and telling stories in one form or another since the first grade. I’ve published poetry in numerous literary magazines and technical articles relating to passing qualification exams for registered securities representatives. I’ve written a complete textbook for that industry and a number of continuing education courses. Like Mack Brinson, the protagonist in Piety and Murder, I’m a former Special Forces (Green Beret is the common term) soldier.

Tell us about your novel.

Mack Brinson has two major problems. He’s trying to recover from the long trauma of losing the love of his life—his wife Song. Now his only family, Song’s mother, Huong, is being systematically, and legally, bilked by a sleazy televangelist’s organization. When Brinson goes to the smarmy preacher’s headquarters in an attempt to stop the thievery, he is physically threatened.

Brinson is a former Green Beret and isn’t intimidated. He goes after the preacher in an attempt to gather embarrassing information. When he gets too close, someone tries to murder him in a running gunfight on the Lake Ponchartrain Bridge.

Brinson meets a woman, Pattie, who finally begins to dissolve the emotional walls he has erected. He begins to learn how to love again. Another woman who figures significantly in the story is the preacher’s nominal wife, Rita.

There is an unseen hand behind the preacher’s organization. The face of the antagonist is unclear, but when Huong is kidnapped, Brinson has to call on his old Special Operations contacts to find the kidnapper and rescue her.

The face of the man behind the televangelist finally becomes clear and shocking. Vengeance, slow and awful, lies ahead.

How did you choose the title for Piety and Murder?

It reflects what the book is about. Hiding behind phony piety is an organization ready to kill.

What was your first reaction when LazyDay Publishing offered you a contract?

Delighted. Bought a bottle of champagne and shared it with my wife.

Did you learn anything from publishing this book?

Persistence is an absolute requirement. I heard an agent at a recent writer’s conference opine that if Faulkner submitted Sound and Fury today, he’d probably have great difficulty finding an agent.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’m currently about one-third through a ‘prequel’ to Piety and Murder. The book shows the origins of the current book. Much of it is set in combat situations.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Bring up the word processor, locate the manuscript, and start typing. The scene is already in my head. I have to translate it to words.

How do you tackle writers’ block?

Currently, I have two novels underway: the prequel I mentioned and a ‘space opera.’ When either becomes a bit stale, I work with the other.

What’s the most personally challenging aspect of writing?

Treating it as a job. Time management is often a challenge unless I have a deadline.

What is the best advice you can give other writers about writing?

Write about people you like. If your characters don’t fascinate you, no one else will like them either.

Do you have a favorite writing teacher or mentor?

In college: the late Stanley Rosenbaum and Jack Kingsbury. They were two gifted teachers. Two wonderful women who influenced me were the late Anne Carroll George who wrote the hilarious ‘Southern Sisters’ series and Helen Norris Bell whose beautiful short story ‘The Christmas Wife’ was turned into a made-for-TV movie that appears every year.

What are your thoughts about the future of digital publishing?

Digital publishing is a tsunami building on the horizon. Growth in digital books has been in strong contrast to decline in hardbacks. Then, when one reads the story of a well-known author whose publisher was literally forced by demand to offer a new book in digital format and then the book sold thousands of digital copies the next week, the trend is clear. Readers like the convenience of sitting at home, reading about a book, and with one click, buying it. I think there were those in the scriptoriums of monasteries who thought the new-fangled device Gutenberg invented was only a passing fad.

Although readers like the convenience of the ebook, they are still drawn by images. Attractive covers and trailers sell more than bookstore signings.

Where can readers learn more about your book?

I’ve posted the first chapter and an action scene—a shootout on the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway bridge—on my blog.

Thank you for joining me on my blog, Thomas, and good luck with Piety and Murder. Keep writing!

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About Mik Wilkens

Writer of fantasy, science fiction, and other speculative fiction. Author of The Silver Cage, a fantasy novel, coming 12/1/10.
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