Interview with T.L. Mumley

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
As a young child, I read many magical fairy tales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears and Alice in Wonderland. I loved them...yet these are not what come to mind here.

The first story to really have an impact on me was To Kill a Mockingbird, by Lee Harper. I first read it in middle school, and was deeply moved. It was a pivotal message that seemed to take my soul and lift it out of my white privileged upbringing and into a deep humanitarian spirit that stayed with me.

I was born in the early sixties, during a time when racism was put to the test, but still raged unchecked. The lack of morality, and the social injustice of treating blacks as if they are somehow below others, still resonates today within American society.

Today, forty three years later and seeing my own middle-schooler study the book brought the message back to me. I see this book as having much the same message as my debut novel, Masks of Morality. Trying to find your identity and realizing your own society doesn't always tell you the right thing. Of each and every one of us needing to reach deep into our hearts, minds and souls to DO the right thing. The recognition our justice system is still---well, unjust. And to question reality.
How do you approach cover design?
Even though I have over twenty years of marketing experience, the creative end in terms of graphic design was always done by the marcom folks, while I wrote content. LOTS of marketing content! I've taken graphic design courses in InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop, own the software and play around with it. Yet, still hired a professional to create my final cover design. I did, however, design the concept myself using Adobe's full creative suite, and had my book cover designer (Yocla Designs) use that concept to craft the cover for Masks of Morality. So, although the idea was mine, the real creative flare is that of a professional graphic designer's.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I am constantly reading. The minute I put a book down, another one gets opened. I often read two novels at once. So this question is hard. REALLY hard. There are simply far too many books I've enjoyed to put a favorite label on them.

However, I tend to really like books with a deep moral message (surprise!). I love books that try to create awareness, or contain profound metaphorical messages of social justice. Ray Bradbury was before his time with his keen insight of a dystopian future in Fahrenheit 451. Seriously, digital technology is metaphorically "burning" the pages of print books, Military jets are flying over us while zombies with earplugs become distracted more by a "family" on TV. Cops are stopping people on streets for wearing the wrong clothes. I loved the entire Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins after realizing the author was trying to depict the American war economy today---and her moral warning to our next generation. Corpalism by Arun D. Ellis is a hair raising expose of our world of debt driven slavery in need of a social conscience. And All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown is a fabulous Silicon valley satire that hit me straight in the heart and soul, bringing me back to my own days of working the Silicon Valley circuit I loved so dearly, yet in part question today.
What do you read for pleasure?
Novels. Novels. And did I mention novels? I have a HUGE stack on each side of my bed. Right now, I am polishing off "Before You Know Kindness" by Chris Bohjalian. I LOVE that the setting is in the states I grew up in----or at least spent big chunks of my childhood in. NH and Vermont. I have family there and the story just sits deep within my psyche.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
OK....I have to be honest. I have NEVER read an eBook. I am way too in love with the smell, feel, touch and relax-in-bed mode of a printed book. Sorry Smashwords! I do see the beauty in a digital book obviously, as I would not have published by book through Smashwords. But will I ever be converted? I think not.

If I were to choose an e-reading device, it would be the good ole fashioned laptop, as I like the bigger screen. Despite my years of working in the high-tech field, I really am a tech dinosaur!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I just published my debut novel, Masks of Morality---so really don't know yet. However, I AM a marketing professional so can answer in terms of marketing techniques I plan within my strategy. So far, I've created an author website with blog, Facebook Fanpage, send updates over my social media platforms, (Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook) will be emailing friends and family. I plan to get my book also in print and do book signings, bring it around many bookstores to pitch it. I will leverage my writers circle (amazing people!), will leverage the team I work with as a Writer Coach. I plan to give some books away for FREE to gain exposure, reviews and marketing. i use the power of the Internet and emails (hey, I was an internetworking marketing professional for two decades! i should be able to do this! (gulp).
Describe your desk
My desk is a large, cherry wood colored (not real) L-shaped piece, with paper, books and work cluttered about. It's wedged into the corner of my home office. I spend lots of time there.
When did you first start writing?
it depends on whether "writing" means novels or for work. I started writing marketing content, of which had to be quite creative, angled, and persuasive around 1987. I have over twenty years of experience writing marketing pieces such as articles published in tech magazines, competitive analysis, brochures, story pitches for press, data sheets, white papers and more. But Masks of Morality is the first novel I have written. I plan to write a trilogy based on my Masks theme.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
i grew up in New England, just outside the Boston area in a town called Tewksbury. Dreamy summers were spent in NH on Lake Winnipesaukee, afloat our fun family boats with parties around our two cottages. I realize I grew up privileged, and feel it actually helped me want to do good for the world. To do what's right. I also saw my dad loose almost everything he had, including his life. I learned through this experience the fragility of life, the risks with our safety cushions and how we each need to wish the best for each other. I try to bring this to light in my writing, which is really all about social mores, about doing good, about each of us trying to do our part to inspire, engage, encourage, enlighten and brighten the world so everyone can enjoy the good life. Or at least enjoy their life in peace.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Masks of Morality is a story about an eccentric group of upper middle class parents in the San Francisco Bay area with a common trait of starting a family later if life, into their forty-somethings. In each case a spouse has either opted to stay at home to raise their children, or made significant sacrifices career-wise to dedicate time to parenting. Bringing children into the world close post 9/11 enables the parents to see the world their kids live in clearly, see right though the propaganda machine. To see it’s not 9/11 that changed that world.

For this group of friends heartwarmingly brought together through their children, a decade is defined by parenting and marriage. But it wasn't always that way for them. Caryssa, Stan, Sam and Bryan ride a roller-coaster journey through ups and downs, twists and turns, eventually bringing them back to a place intrinsically close to where they started, with renewed focus and balance. While on this life’s journey, each parent sees a whole new set of priorities, values, and perspectives emerge while seeing things through the eyes, minds and hearts of their children in a world going quite frankly mad.

Introduced to the group along the way is Anna Beauvais, a charismatic and successful working mother of two from Paris who at first, the others want to look at with abhorrence. But as this woman’s tragic past emerges, painting a portrait of both the fragility and resilience of family, a deep and abiding respect and admiration for her emerges. Living vicariously through Anna’s pain, strength and humanitarian morals aide in setting the path in reiterating what really matters the most in life…family, love, and this thing called life itself.

Also echoed through Anna and others family tragedies and trials develops a startling and disturbing awareness of a culture---ours---that mindlessly threatens to exploit all that is dear to our hearts. A culture of irrelevant revenge driven through deep political and economic unrest. And the culprits behind this cultural rot of perpetual war and enslavement for profit are the faces hiding behind masks of “goodness”----politicians, business and religious leaders.

This culture shock sends the parents on a soul-search of their collective conscience, enlightening them of the origins of the ache of late America. Caryssa Flynn, a former high tech marketing guru in Silicon Valley, is deeply touched in such a fashion as to motivate her to make a positive impact through a total new career direction. A direction far away from the money monster behind the masks. That of helping to co-evolve a regenerative and resilient world for our next generation. A positive impact…on all that matters most.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Getting my words on paper, out to the world via the Internet!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing makes me happy. It's therapy for me. I find I can write anywhere, and often jot down thoughts, words, metaphors, information critical to my writing while waiting in a doctor's office, while grocery shopping or even while at a party. Conversations can flow into written word. I have a story in my heart, and it feels good to shout it out onto paper. I love writing so much, I coach kids in middle school how to write. It's my creative outlet.
What are you working on next?
I have embarked upon the second installment in my "Masks" series. My second title will be The Monster behind the Mask. It will be centered more around the money in politics.
Who are your favorite authors?
Too many to name, but I have read every Catherine Coulter novel out there. (I think!). Apart from her FBI and CIA thrillers, I really like authors that write about society, family, reaching for the stars through poverty or other struggles, parenting and life itself. I love authors who question reality within religion and other social mores. Or about searching for one's identity and truth, about morality. That said, other favorites are Andrew Solomon (for his "Far From the Tree"), Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" still sits in a favorite corner of my home to view, Philipp Meyer's "The Son" and "American Rust" were page turners for me, anything written by Ray Bradbury I see as something to aspire to, Dennis McFarland hit my heart hard with "Music Room". I have a stack of Ernest Hemingway books I treasure. This list could go on and on. Let's just end this question with the statement that I LOVE authors! I think every one of them have a song, message, story in their hearts they need to shout to the world.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My beautiful child, the amazing panoramic view from my home, the sunshine, the sound of birds chirping, the chance to write more. Oh, and my wonderful husband, friends, and community. Life is good.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Skiing, walking, gardening, doing Yoga, reading, paddle boarding, camping, hiking. Spending lots of time with my family and friends. Basically, living in the moment every moment.
What is your writing process?
I start out with an outline. Yet, as I write, i tend to veer off outline and my story morphs into something else. I go to a writers circle and read excerpts from my novel to the group, getting feedback to improve the writing. My novel is a much better read due to this group. I have an editor who was very insightful as well.
Published 2017-03-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Monster Behind The Masks
Pre-release—available January 21, 2019. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 76,090. Language: English. Categories: Fiction » Cultural & ethnic themes » Cultural interest, general
An innocent man accused of being a terrorist. A second dead dove found with symbolic messages in blood. Mysterious messages inscribed on the backs of stolen art pieces. A rogue CIA agent trying to psychologically control his daughter... Could our political reality be stranger than fiction? Three Northern California women led idyllic lives---but it's not themselves they are concerned about...
Masks of Morality
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 95,510. Language: English. Published: March 20, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Cultural & ethnic themes » Cultural interest, general
(4.67 from 3 reviews)
Caryssa was a high-tech professional obsessed by the lure of power and money. Until her child came and nothing was about her anymore. She and friends make choices dramatically altering lives surrounding issues of human compassion, moral decision and the reality and spiritual costs of American politics. And what might a bloody dove found behind a Sausalito art gallery have to do with all this?