Today, I interview Bill Thomas.
Bill lives in Washington, Missouri, and is on staff at First Christian Church there. He’s been in ministry for over twenty-five years. He is also an adjunct instructor in history, Bible, and education for St. Louis Christian College and Central Christian College of the Bible, Moberly, MO. He’s authored two novellas, From the Ashes and The Sixty-first Minute published by White Feather Press of MI and three Bible studies, Surrounded by Grace,The Critical Questions and More and The Road to Victory published by CSS Publishing of OH. He co-wrote Give God and Me a Chance with Laney Jeans from Hear My Heart Publishing and wrote a YA book, The Adventurers: The Store Robbery published by DWB Children’s Line, to be released in the spring of 2019.
I asked Bill:
Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
The first book I wrote that was published was a Christian book. When I first started writing, I felt like it was an extension of my ministry and I’ve tried to view it that way ever since. Like with anyone who writes, I’d like to write a best seller. That’s not been the case, but I do think some of what I’ve written has helped people in their walk with the Lord.
Q: Do you Google yourself?
I am a bit embarrassed to say that I do. There is something cool, I think, about seeing your name in the search engine by the work that you’ve done.
Q: Which means more to you in your writing career: fame or fortune?
I’d like both 😊. Seriously, I don’t know that either is all that important, at least for me. I will try to keep writing to encourage others and improve as much as I can.
Q: How do you know a story/book is finished?
I usually see a story in my head and try to outline it. I try to write what I see. Sometimes, in the process of writing, the story changes. The events turn out differently than what I’d outlined at the beginning. I usually hope to end the story with the reader wanting to have more.
Q: Does your family support your writing?
I’m single, so there isn’t an immediate family, but my family (at large) and church family are encouraging.
Q: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I think it would have been helpful if I’d taken a few classes in creative writing and been a bit bolder in writing when I was younger. I lacked confidence in what I was doing.
Q: Is there a genre you wish you could write that you can’t?
I write in different genres over the years. I suppose I’ve tried many of them. I like the variety of writing it affords. I’ve done some Christian novellas, a YA book, three Bible studies, a couple of plays (Christmas), and helped with a non-fiction biography. I’ve also written for three political websites and written devotions for both online publications and magazines. I think I’ve tried to write in several different ones, but one that I haven’t done that would be interesting, I think, is Science Fiction. I suspect that will remain a “wish,” however. I don’t think I have a good feel for that and how it might connect with faith.
Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I would say between six months and a year, depending on the length and the type of book.
Q: How does your life unfold in a normal writing day?
I work at the church and college, so rarely do I get to dedicate a day to writing. For me, writing comes in spurts. Sometimes it flows easily and other times it doesn’t. While working on a project, I try to write some everyday.
Q: Have you ever cried with one of your characters?
No, I don’t think so. I’ve reread emotional scenes I’ve written and felt that, but as far as tears, no.
Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes. For me, it isn’t so much a lack of story, but more a lack of how to get it down in the best way. That can be challenging and frustrating at times.
Q: What genre do you favour?
I don’t know if I have a favorite. I enjoy the various kinds of writing I get to do.
Q: Is writing your full time job? If not, what is?
No. I am a minister and Bible college instructor.
Q: What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?
I haven’t done any historical fiction, but I have read it quite a bit. In my mind, the writer must be true to the actual character of whom he/she is writing. Abraham Lincoln, in your story, has to act consistent with the real character of Abraham Lincoln.
Q: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do read them. I don’t know that I’ve had a ton of them. Most of them have been good and a few have been not quite as good. I take that the same way I take feedback on sermons or lessons. I think you have to not dwell too long on either the good or the bad. Take it for what it is. Learn from it and move on.
Q: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
In my fiction stories, I like for there to be a bit of a mystery, so there’s that. I don’t know if they are secrets, per se. I do like to have clues that lead up to a reveal later.
Q: What was your hardest scene to write?
I’d say the scenes in the kids’ book I’m working on that involve a character that has special needs has been the most challenging. I want to do it in a way that is realistic and doesn’t “gloss over” or “mock” the character.
Q: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I suppose one has to have some ego to put himself/herself out there in writing to be read by and discussed by others. I think that kind of ego is important. You have to have the confidence to do that. At the same time, there is always someone (or many someones) better than you, so don’t get too big.
Q: Have you set goals?
I have goals for when doing a writing project but not necessarily for what projects are next.
Thank you, Bill, for this interview!
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].