Thursday, February 12, 2015
Tom Fugate, Author
The author of several novels including Spy Dreams and Sand Trap, Tom Fugate lives in the home where he spent his youth. Born in Kingsport, Tennessee, Tom attended Hiltons Elementary (the same school his parents attended, as well as June Carter Cash), and Gate City High School, where Tom was a star athlete and a ‘pretty decent student.’
Tom graduated from Virginia Tech with a BA in Communications, and then worked in Television for several years. He returned to school and obtained his BS in Computer Science from East Tennessee State University, and currently works for a small computer firm.
A fan of Ian Fleming’s James Bond series, Tom has found his niche in writing intriguing spy novels…
Ian Fleming’s James Bond has influenced your writing and infatuation with espionage, etc., which of the Bond movies is your favorite?
I guess that my favorites would be some of the early ones - Dr. No and From Russia with Love. I enjoyed the Roger Moore movies even if in a lot of ways they were spoofs of themselves. The Pierce Bronson movies were good. I may be branded a heretic for this but I like the Daniel Craig movies. Casino Royale is true to the book just updated for terror and not Russian spies. I think Fleming would have loved Skyfall. To me it seemed like something that he would have written.
Can you share a favorite passage from one of your novels?
That is a tough one. I guess I will have to go with something from Sand Trap. This is something that got rewritten in my head for several years before I actually started the book.
"There are some memories that fade like old blue jeans, the really comfortable and worn ones. They are there, but a mere shadow of their former selves. Then there are other memories that stay as vivid as a brand new color photograph, memories that evoke all of the senses when they are recalled. Sounds, smells, even touch are so vividly recalled to be almost as strong as the original occasion. Your first kiss, the touch of your first true love, the first time you made love, winning the biggest game of your life, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, skiing down a steep mountain and the first time you commit a cold blooded killing: I remember all of these things as if they were five minutes ago."
Do you include personal experiences in your storylines?
I guess that in a lot of ways I am Lee Thomas (the main character in my novel). We both went to Virginia Tech from 1974 to 1978. We lived on the same floor of the same dorm. I think that he is my way of getting to live out the fantasies that I had while reading those books years ago. After all, the James Bond novels were some of the first “adult” books that I remember reading. My views and things that I enjoy doing carry over into the character.
Do you spend a lot of time researching scenarios and scene tactics?
I do not spend great amounts of time on research. I do try and research the types of details that make things believable. I guess I am from something of the radio theater school of writing. In Sand Trap I describe a city street in Paris. The street I use is one that I know exists there, but I do not know the actual location. It is like streets that we all have seen somewhere. Our brains fill in the details with what we think the street should look like.
I like to give you a framework and let your imagination fill in the tiny stroke details. Research on military/police procedures and military lingo I research by talking to friends who have been there and done that. I think I owe it to the real heroes to get things as right as I can. There are several people who have taught me various things over the years that inspired characters in the books.
How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
Maintaining ideas comes easy to me. I am gifted with a very good memory. At a panel explained this to someone by quoting almost exactly the first paragraph of Sand Trap. I currently have three or more Lee Thomas novels, a science fiction novel (or two), a fantasy novel (When Calls the Crystal) and other stuff running around in my head.
When I get a good idea I go ahead and write that scene even if I don’t know where it is going yet. I came up with the ending line of Spy Dreams in college and then had to write a story to get to it. I have a line that just popped into my head one night that solidified a basic plot idea for a novel. The line? “Mom, I am not really in public relations.”
Describe your writing routine...
My routine is hard to describe. I am always going through stuff in my head and sometimes binge on getting things into the computer. Much of my writing is done in two or three hours in the evenings. Then again I might sit at the keyboard for several hours on any given day. I guess that I have no real set routine, but I am trying to establish one.
What are you currently reading?
Havana by Clive Cussler, anything by Lee Child, Stephen Hunter (I guess maybe because I know people who remind me of Joe Bob Swagger) and a variety of other things.
What are you currently writing?
I am working on Cigarettes for Two which is the third Lee Thomas novel. Set in South Florida and the Caribbean it takes place in 1985. I am also working occasionally on the follow up book to that one. It is titled Port in a Desert Storm and is set just before and during the first Gulf war. Then I write the occasional scene for other things like Unfriendly Persuasion, a Lee Thomas novel that starts with a shoot-out in a Wal-Mart. There are other things that get worked on from time to time, usually when I am stuck while working on something else.
Besides Ian Fleming, who is your favorite author?
Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, Lee Child, Stephen Hunter, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov, some Stephen King and others. I think as a whole I like authors who paint in bold colors; the shades of gray are in the characters more so than the stories. I like characters who have flaws, who can be unsure of what they are doing but usually sure of why they are doing it.
What have you found to be your best marketing endeavors?
I have done well with some signings. Facebook has gotten some interest. I also go to places where people who like my kind of stuff go and pass out cards. Marketing for me is still a work in progress.
Do you have advice for novice writers?
Be like Nike and just do it. Word processors and modern self-publishing are wonderful. There is nothing to stop anyone from writing and publishing a book. You may only do it as an electronic version but you can easily do it.
Connect with Tom…
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