Saturday, October 1, 2016

Books: Interview with Award-winning author Karlyle Tomms

Our guest today is Award-winning author Karlyle Tomms, who we are delighted to introduce to our readers. His interview below will give you an insight about his writing and creativity!

Karlyle, please tell us where are you from and what's your background?

I am a hillbilly half-breed. My mother is from rural Arkansas, and my Dad is from southern California. I grew up in rural Ozarks poverty in a four room house with no running water. I was raised by my grandparents, after my mother was killed when I was five years old. I never knew my father when I was growing up. I only knew that he had been a prisoner of war in Japan in World War II and I knew this because I had a copy of the book he had narrated to a ghost writer about his prisoner of war experiences. The book was published in 1954, the year before I was born. He had autographed a copy of the book to my mother when she first met him in California. It is all a very long story, the details of which I don’t have time for now, but someday, I will write my own story. Suffice it to say, my mother was killed, my grandparents raised me and I managed to locate and meet my Dad when I was eighteen by sending a letter to the publishing company of his book which they then forwarded to him. Upon receiving that letter, he wrote to me, and arranged to fly to Little Rock to meet me a few weeks before I entered college.

I was told the whole time I was growing up, “Your mother always wanted you to go to college.” Since my father had a master’s degree and I am the only person on my mother’s side of the family ever to get a degree, with the exception of a couple of distant cousins, and I am the only one ever to get a master’s degree, I assume it was my father’s influence that prompted the goal. I certainly could not disappoint my deceased mother, so I sought to go to college. I received an undergraduate degree in Behavioral Science in 1977 and a graduate degree in clinical social work in 1981. Since 1981, I have worked primarily in addictions recovery and mental health.

That's an exciting story already to start off with! Definitely worth a book. When did you realize you wanted to write and when did you start writing?

I remember writing my first play when I was in about the eighth grade. It was called “Who Ate the Tree” and was a story about the importance of being environmentally aware and responsible. I have no idea whatever happened to it. It ended up in file thirteen, at some point, I’m sure. I know I must have written poetry before that, and I wrote poetry throughout high school.  When I was in college, I was the editor of the campus literary magazine to promote, and print writing talent of students. I don’t doubt that having a father whose story had been published was an influence on my desire to write.  I just know that I have always wanted to do it.

When you're a born writer, it's in the genes... What genre do you write and what's your target audience?

I have had a hard time determining genre. I guess if anything my current work is historical or general fiction. When I started this first book I didn’t have a target audience. I actually never thought about getting the book published, but I had some encouragement from friends to continue working on it. Although I had written for a recovery oriented magazine and for local newspapers, I had never written a novel. I had even written a self-help coloring book back in the early 1990’s, and had a very good chance of getting that published if personal tragedy had not occurred. In 1997, I had to give up on that. My agent moved back to New York, and I ended up moving back to the Ozarks to care for my grandmother in her waning years.

Even though I had ideas for novels, most of which were science fiction, I never attempted to write one before this one. Even as I was writing this one, I wasn’t sure if it would get finished or if it would turn out to be an actual novel. I certainly never gave thought to audience or genre.

It started out as a joke, and once I started, I couldn’t seem to stop. However, I quit writing for a full year because I had no idea where the story was supposed to go from that particular point, and I had absolutely no idea how to end it.  Everything kind of fell into place from that point. I am not quite sure how.

If I were to have to venture a guess about an audience, I would guess probably fairly educated women, some of whom might have had mother/daughter struggles. I might guess those interested in the history around the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights Movement could have some interest in this first book. I would think also, those who have struggled with issues of identity, those coming of age and trying to find their place in the world could be interested in it, and I would guess those who are interested in stories about the haves and have-nots might find some interest in it as well.  All the books in this series are about people struggling with their own issues of identity or abuse, of family, mental health and addictions. These are stories of overcoming our internal battles and our personal struggles. By the time the series of at least four novels is completed, topics of marriage, family, war, addiction, abuse, PTSD, murder, suicide, rape, child abuse, LGBT, transgender, and multiple other forms of human issues and anguish will be covered.

How many books have you published? Do you have a favorite?

Confessions from the Pumpkin Patch is actually my only published book so far. However, I am almost finished with the second novel in the “Soul Encounters” series which I hope to have published before the end of 2016. I also have a poetry book about ready to come out, and I have articles that I wrote for “Recovery Times” magazine back in the 1990’s that I am considering publishing as a compilation. I have even thought about re-vamping my recovery coloring book now that we have the technology of publish and print on demand.

Great plans. What is your favorite quote, and who wrote it?

I actually have three quotes competing for the number one spot. The first is by Mark Twain, “Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain nor freed a human soul.” The second is by Jimi Hendrix, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”  The third is by Oscar Wilde, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”

Excellent choices. Beautiful and meaningful quotes! Do you have a favorite author? Who? What's your favorite book? Has this author or book influenced your writing in any way? 
Actually I read non-fiction and self-help books far more than fiction, even though I am writing
novels. My favorite non-fiction writer I think would be Malcomb Gladwell, and my two favorite books by him are The Outliers and Blink. My favorite self-help or spiritual writers would be tied between Jerald Jampaulski, Marianne Williamson, and Neale Donald Walsh. My favorite fiction, without a doubt, is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This is the only fictional book I ever read that I had a hard time putting down, and that I could not wait for my next opportunity to read.

I actually don’t read as much, or in the way that a lot of people or writers read. I tend to be a binge reader. I may not read anything for a year or two, then I go on a kick and I may read 3-5 books over the course of a vacation, but I don’t have to be on vacation to be on a reading binge. It just hits me sometimes, and I have to stop everything else, and read for a while.
Blink by Gladwell is one of my favorite books, too, and I'm also a fan of Walsh. Are you optimistic/hopeful/romantic?

Ah, a multi-layered question. Yes, I am absolutely optimistic. I grew up with pessimism, trained to hopelessness by a grandfather who had raised children during the Great Depression. I learned in my spiritual studies to train myself to optimism. It may or may not help to hope for the best, but it certainly is not going to hurt. Why not shoot for the stars? Why not have confidence that your dreams are going to be fulfilled? Even if they are not, it feels a lot better to have hope than to think that life is hopeless. 

Romantic? Well, that is a bit more about fantasy than reality isn’t it? If you consider finding a quiet place to sit and meditate romantic, if you consider strolling along the beach looking for sea glass romantic, if you consider finding joy in the sounds of wind chimes while watching humming birds zip about your porch romantic, then yes, I am a hopeless romantic.

Yes, definitely romantic and I can see the poetry in the words! What are you working on now?

I am only one or two chapters away from finishing my second novel in my “Soul Encounters” series, and I have started the third novel in the series. The books are tied together by a soul encounter in which the protagonist of the next novel is a cameo character who interacts with the protagonist of the previous novel. They have an encounter that changes their lives, makes them aware, or shifts the course of life for both of them. That cameo character of novel one, then tells his or her own story in novel two, including his or her own perspective of the encounter with the previous protagonist. The cameo character who has the soul encounter with the protagonist of novel two, then tells his or her own story in novel three, and so on.

I am also working on finishing a poetry book, and I am working on getting some of my photo quotes that are posted on my website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. printed onto T- shirts for market.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

If you just do a Google or Bing search for Karlyle Tomms, there is quite a bit to explore. However, my website is and I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social media formats.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us and our readers?

This has been an amazing adventure that, like so many other things in my life, has seemed serendipitous or pre-ordained. My life has been a series of serendipitous events that have led me to some amazing experiences I never expected. Writing novels and being a published author is just another in the long line of amazing experiences. I guess one of the reasons I think of my series as the “Soul Encounters” is that I have had so many soul encounters of my own. In many ways, life is a long series of soul encounters, and if we leave ourselves receptive to it, life becomes a series of miracles that are triggered by encounters with unexpected people at the most unexpected times. It helps if we are aware of this and receptive to it, but it happens anyway. One result of a series of my soul encounters includes the publication of this first novel. It started out as a joke with a friend. Then another friend encouraged me to write it, and encouraged me to keep writing. Then when I finished writing it, another friend who is also a published author, and who is married to a published author, reviewed it and decided to help me prepare it for publication. Then I happened to get an opportunity to have Merideth Sisco review it. She happened to have worked on the Oscar nominated film “Winter’s Bone” that launched the career of Jennifer Lawrence.

To my amazement, Merideth gave me a glowing review. Then I happened to meet Jarod Kintz through social media, and knew about him because I had his quotes on one of my phone apps. He also agreed to review my novel, and gave a glowing review. I stumbled upon the New Apple Awards, and submitted the novel, not really expecting much, but it won the 2016 New Apple Medalist award for general fiction. If all this did not make me trust God and trust that all good things work together for good. I don’t know what ever would. I am deeply grateful, and I am humbled. 

That's fabulous and I'm so excited for you! Good luck in your writing career and much success!

Find Karlyle Tomms' award-winning book here:


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