Interview with Tommy Muncie

What motivated you to become an indie author?
Complete creative control of the project is the best part of it. The second best part is not having to spend time writing sales pitches to agents and publishers that would most likely end in rejection - writing time should be for writing stories. Getting my book out there was what mattered to me, not who published it or which household-name book shops ended up stocking it. It’s easily possible to be as professional as traditionally published authors when you’re doing all the publishing work yourself, and that was part of the challenge of going down the indie route. Not to mention I’ve always had a big mouth when it came to thinking I knew how to sell stuff, so I wanted to try it with something I created myself rather than something a boss somewhere told me I had to sell because it was my job.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Hard to answer because I’m still in the early stages of marketing my work, but the one I enjoyed most was giving a reading of the first 7000 words to my local arts club. The book was so well received that it made me confident that in front of a bigger audience I’d pick up the kind of interest I’d need to sell lots more copies.
Describe your desk
My desk is smooth edged and covered in an off-white-cream venir with black binding. I love the look and feel of it, and I’ve had it since I was 16, so pretty much half my life. It’s always tidy (I hate messy workspace) but my one exception to the rule is that sometimes there’s a used Starbucks cup by my laptop. It sits under a window that looks out onto a beach.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Dorset in the south of England, mostly. I suppose the biggest influence as far as Shadow goes is that he grows up on a farm, which I didn’t, but a couple of my friends did and I was always out in fields and back roads, and that might be part of why I became a ranger and there’s loads of countryside locations in my writing in general.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Experiencing things without actually having to experience them. Sounds lazy, but half the things I write about are probably things I’m far better off never experiencing for real anyway! And writing science fiction makes it possible to experience the impossible.
What are you working on next?
A sequel to Shadow’s Talent, currently called Ghost of the Navigator. No spoilers, but there's a teaser for it at the end of the Shadow's Talent ebook for those who get that far.
Who are your favorite authors?
In no particular order: Stephen King; Peter F Hamilton; Robin Hobb; Iain Banks; James Clavell; Sebastian Faulks; Clive Barker; Don Winslow; Minette Walters; Kate Atkinson; Alex Garland; John Le-Carré
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Nook HD.
What are your five favourite books and why?
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

This is an epic tale of plotting and revenge in which none of the author’s colossal wordcount is wasted. Some good films have been made of it, but none do justice to the depth and philosophy of the original prose. It’s a ‘classic’ that reads as well as any modern suspense novel but dares to give us a deeper insight into the human mentality than most modern authors can get close to. If you read nothing else from my favourites list, pick this one. Oh yeah, and it’s arguably the inspiration behind just about any fictional story ever written about a prison break. My first writing with Shadow involved him breaking out of a prison in space. ’Nuff said.

Noble House by James Clavell

Why Clavell was such an outspoken fan of Ayn Rand isn’t a complete mystery to me. Noble House’s heroes and villains are almost all connected with laize-fair capitalism in some way, but this is prose that has a humility and balance that a pseudointellectual harridan like Rand could never have hoped for, nor even desired. Clavell was the modern master of the epic novel, and the only reason I’d pick this book above his others for my favourites list is that this is the one where he shows us that although the world around his characters changes with the centuries, the human mentality mostly does not. This is both a page turner and the reading equivalent of wading through wet concrete, and reading about Clavell’s characters winding their way through the backwards deals and espionage of 1960’s Hong Kong is captivating on a level only dreamed of by most bestselling authors. Even at 74, this epic genius was gone too soon. The shining moment was really the creation of one character: Ian Dunross, the ‘Tai-pan’ of the Noble House. I like to think that even if they seem completely different, a good deal of my own characters have a touch of Dunross in them somewhere. I still can’t make up my mind whether he’s a business hero or just an admirable crook who’s that little bit better at it then all the others around him, but it doesn’t matter - in my book he deserves a place with the great characters of all literature, yet remains comparatively unknown. Why they cast Pierce Brosnon in the role for the TV version is a mystery to me, not to mention a complete miscast. PLEASE, within my lifetime, let someone deliver a remake with Ken Stott playing Dunross instead!

Needful Things by Stephen King

‘You have been here before.’ The horror maestro was, in my humble opinion, at his most self-aware when he chose this as the finest opening line he ever came up with. Thus follows the work that I consider to be his magnum opus. It’s very hard to talk about why Needful Things is so unbeatably clever without giving big spoilers, but lets just say that ‘The Devil’ is so omnipresent in the horror genre that if he really exists somewhere then he’s probably bored of himself in print by now. But he’d probably have a blast reading this book, such is the brilliance of King’s take on him.

Complicity by Iain Banks

If people say ‘Tell me which one book made you want to be a writer more than any other,’ this is the one I always pick. God help me, then. This was my first encounter with a truly lurid, uncompromising and unapologetically foul-mouthed and grotesque piece of fiction, first read at the tender age of 13. If people ever ask me where I get the less nice side of my own writing from, all I have to say is ‘Read Complicity.’ Nobody depicts the excessive, violent and debauched side of Scotland like the late and great Mr Banks. He never wrote another book quite like this one (Stonemouth is probably as close as he came to it) but when I think about it, I wonder if that’s because he knew he simply couldn’t improve on Complicity. Aside from how he held my attention with a highly dubious and in some ways quite deplorable protagonist, Complicity is a brilliant crime-mystery, and was the first book to introduce me to the flashback style narrative and the first person present tense. Not to mention THAT ENDING. No hints, no spoilers, but it’s not so much in what happens as how it’s presented. When I gave it to one of my friends at school, he actually missed the trick until I pointed it out, and so so have many others. Last time I checked the Wikipedia page, it wasn’t even on there.

Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb

This novel is a masterclass in how to complete a trilogy in style. Having been confined so tightly around the location of Buckkeep Castle for the first two books (Assassin’s Apprentice and Royal Assassin), this finale spans locations far and wide and takes the protagonist Fitz on a journey into the unknown. One objective at his quest’s beginning soon becomes a very different one as the various storylines in the series all come together for a spectacular showdown spanning hundreds of pages that still turn over like the wind’s blowing through the book.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The outdoors.
Do you remember the first story you read, and the impact it had on you?
I had stories read to me before I could read, and I can’t honestly say which one was the first, but I remember how I learned to read when I was five. We had this series called ‘Oxford Tree’ that centred around a family with a dog and all their friends. Apparently it’s still used in schools now, and I remember when I was in my early twenties going into a school and seeing some kids’ artwork based on the characters....amazing to think how many kids have learned to read with those books! I loved learning to read, probably because I was good at it, so I guess those are the stories that started it all.

I guess the impact it had on me, when I look back at it now, was that it made me competitive because the various reading levels were colour coded and I always wanted to reach the next one because my friend was one level above me. No wonder nowadays I like competitive people and my own fiction is full of them.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Vaguely. It’s rather fitting really: when I was eight years old we were doing the solar system in class and our teacher told us to write a story about getting into a space ship and exploring the universe. I can’t remember what I wrote, but I still like to think that was the very first root...and that the book I wrote it in is still in my parents’ attic somewhere in a box...
Published 2014-08-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Deception Crossing
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 141,890. Language: English. Published: April 6, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Following the bloodbath that ended his life on Earth, Shadow is on a mission to destroy Daniel Penhallow’s criminal empire. After months of struggling to get inside it, an unexpected ally suggests a simpler plan: Shadow must tell the world the truth about who he is, and admit he’s killed to keep it secret. Lies, murder, extortion, nothing is off limits to the enemies he's about to make.
Fighter's Defiance
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 91,190. Language: English. Published: March 12, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
Following the events of Fighter's Defiance, Screft now has the perfect scam going. Money pours in and the research to make him permanently human is going well, but keeping things under wraps is not going to be easy. An unwanted visitor turns up and starts a bloody chain of events, and some humans aren't as easy to trick as Screft once thought.
Fighter's Mark
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 81,140. Language: English. Published: January 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Science fiction » Military
Being a form-shifting assassin is useful when you have a limitless price on your head. That's what Screft is, and he's using his flawless human forms to pull a fighting scam. He will stop at nothing to become human permanently, and is about to meet Oscar, a disgraced fleet pilot, whose story will show Screft what being human is really about.
Ghost of the Navigator
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 224,780. Language: English. Published: March 16, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
Crippled for life and battling an addiction to morphine following the events of Shadow's Talent, Shadow Hatcher has one last chance at getting his life back. He's going to the Colony to meet Blake Stanford, a man intent on changing the world, with Shadow as his catalyst. Blake is more than what he seems, and is about to lead Shadow into deep secrets everyone else wants to protect him from.
Shadow's Talent
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 152,420. Language: English. Published: June 24, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
(4.00 from 1 review)
Shadow Hatcher is desperate to change his life, but witnessing a murder was not part of the plan. After letting the police record his memories as a witness testimony, the young man who wanted little more than to become a space craft pilot sets himself on the path to discovering dangerous secrets, in particular the reason for his father's fear of those with a mind power known as Talent.