Interview with Tom Marlow

Published 2016-12-18.
When not writing, what do you do with your time?
Aside from writing, most of my free time is spent on travel. I spend several months each year as a tourist in both obscure and well known locations. I own a small yacht that I've been sailing on an extended voyage from San Francisco to Charleston SC over a period of years, leaving her in distant ports when I tire of the rigor. The voyage is still on-going. Interested readers can follow the progress at

I also like to travel by train. Most recently, I rode the Music Train ( to several great US cities with a musical heritage.

Did I mention I like music? My stereo is on at home for most of my waking hours. I also enjoy cooking. Meals are often prepared listening to rock & roll and eaten while listening to D. Brubeck style jazz, Mozart style classics and George Winston style new age treats.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The first of my favorite books is an easy choice. It would be Pirsig's, Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The second would be Gibran's, The Prophet. The third, McLuhan's, Touch the Earth. The fourth would be McCourt's, Angela's Ashes and the fifth would be Vonnegut's, Sirens of Titan.

Perhaps an unusual list, but I chose each of them because they share a common theme. They are all terribly creative in their premise. There is a specific piece of each that left a mark on me when I read them that I've never forgotten. Despite having read The Prophet nearly forty years ago and Zen about the same time frame, I remember details that still touch a nerve. The fifth, perhaps a surprise to some, made the list for what it had to say about the human condition.

Limiting the choice to five favorites is of course arbitrary. There are so many that if I mentioned them all, I'd run out of time and space.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do remember. It was an existentialist novel. I was in my early twenties and living in the Santa Barbara Men's Club; a YMCA rooming house. I have fond memories of the time and place, but I had no revenue sources then and watched ruefully as my paltry savings shrank to insignificance. I realized after a time that I would not be able to afford a writing career, since they are notoriously back-end loaded when it comes to compensation. After several months I packed up my notes and moved to San Jose where I focused on a math degree. I have incorporated a few of my Santa Barbara experiences in my books but I never finished the first novel. I lost the original notes while I was studying mathematics.
Describe your desk
My wife thinks my desk is a complete cluster****. That's because she doesn't recognize creative organization when she sees it. Like a well-designed web page, my desk is covered with pointers to "things to come". What more should one expect from a desk?
What are you working on next?
I have started a new novel. I don't have a release date yet, but if all goes well, look for it in early 2016. The novel weaves the lives of two aging hippies; one who becomes very wealthy, the other who becomes a poor but dedicated environmentalist. An act of apparent vandalism splits the small town where they live.
Who are your favorite authors?
For many reasons, Robert Pirsig's Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance struck a chord with me the first time I read it. Over the years, I have read and re-read it too many times to count. For that reason, Pirsig is in the top ten despite his dearth of material. Doug Hofstadter, Yann Martel and Ken Kesey (for Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, Life of Pi and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, respectively) are in the same category. My tastes have changed over the years, but when I was young I read everything I could find by Hermann Hesse and Kurt Vonnegut. I often go on "author binges" where I will find an author I like and then read their material until I tire of them. Hemingway is an interesting and easy read. There are so many...
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My bladder. No, just kidding. What gets me up is the need to create. I don't even care what it is anymore. For decades it was software. Now it's stringing words together and planning exotic excursions that keeps me going. Of course I have to give credit to my wife who would likely start banging doors and rattling dishes if I tried to sleep in too late or too often.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The most appealing aspect of writing for me is the act of creation. Starting with a blank page, disparate thoughts are transformed slowly into a cohesive body of work; perhaps the closest thing to giving birth that a man can experience.
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Books by This Author

The Queen's Demise
Price: Free! Words: 1,420. Language: English. Published: October 9, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
Does the punishment fit the crime. You decide. A tourist is brutally murdered. What would you do?
Obscured by Clouds
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 4,280. Language: English. Published: October 9, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
How much fun can two good friends have with a few beers and a 1960 Mercury Comet? You'll have to read Obscured by Clouds to find out.
Better To Know Where
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 75,310. Language: English. Published: September 29, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
Better To Know Where (BTKW) is an exciting look at a sailing voyage in San Francisco Bay. The author brings you aboard his small yacht on an insightful three day voyage through space, time and philosophy. Rooted in aesthetics and the waterfront history of the San Francisco Bay, the novel starts with the basic premise embedded in the title and never looks back.
Blue Zen And Five More Short Stories
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 11,400. Language: English. Published: September 24, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
Introducing a full half dozen short stories, some humorous, some poignant. Blue Zen is perfect for those among us with short attention spans or limited time to read. Laugh or cry with the characters. It's your choice.