Thomas McDaniel is an up and coming author of the Urban Fantasy genre. If he isn't writing, he can usually be found with a controller or keyboard in his hands, enjoying any one of a million different digital adventures. He's absolute rubbish at getting a good night's sleep. Making his home in Bellingham, Washington, he wouldn't trade the Pacific Northwest for anything. He's a huge fan of action movies, theme parks, finding the best food with even better people, and he's always happy to tell a story for anyone willing to listen...
Q&A Tip Sheet
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
It was 2012. I was travelling for the company I worked for at the time. I was supposed to be learning how to manage my own location, and I hated it. It was a great job by most definitions, but it just wasn't for me. So, after watching the first Hunger Games and reading the rest of the series, I decided to pursue a long since buried dream of mine. I sat down with an unhealthy amount of Coke Zero and Whoppers and just...started writing. I hadn't seen the kind of hero I was looking for in a long time and I figured instead of waiting for them to come along, I'd give a shot myself. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I'm not even sure sometimes. The original idea for Encoded came from a particularly stressful dream that haunted me for years about the people I care about having their memories erased and me along with them. For better or worse, I dream exceptionally vividly. It's one of the reasons I'm probably tired any time you see me. The stories tend to play out in my head like I'm watching a movie. Once I've found a path I like, I get it down before I forget it.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Lot of video games. I have a deep respect for the amount of work and effort that goes into creating fully realized worlds with realistic characters and impacting narratives. I also really enjoy action movies, comedies, anime, anything that can make me laugh or keep my attention.
Do you like to create books for adults?
I like to create books that I feel passionate about. When I started, I thought about tailoring my writing to suit a specific audience but the further I went, the harder it got. Characters didn't feel like they were behaving properly to avoid this word or this action. Eventually I learned to embrace the story in my head and write the the way it wanted to be told.
What does your family think of your writing?
They love it. My mom's always asking when I'll be putting something new out. My grandma doesn't like it if the characters get a bit too...intimate.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Lesson 1 - writer's block is no joke. Doesn't matter how creative you want to be, if the inspiration's not there, you are creating anything.
Lesson 2 - over-saturation is a thing. It was a strange experience when I first felt it but doing too much of anything, even if you love it, can take its toll.
Lesson 3 - editing is borrrrrrring.
Lesson 4 - marketing, though necessary, is one of the hardest things I've ever tried to do in my life.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
As of the moment I'm answering this, I've written 3 complete novels. I'm about a third of the way into the fourth one. Though I think I keep getting better at writing with each novel so Rekindled my be my favorite in that regard, I'll probably always love Encoded most. It's got the most mistakes and flaws but it's my first and always will be.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think anything that engages you, anything that draws you in and leave you wanting more is a good story. For me personally, that means characters that have strength, can make me laugh, but are also flawed. They're no good if they're always perfect. I also like stories to feel like they have a reason for being. There needs to be a sense of "why" behind the whole thing. If things just happen for the sake of happening or just to move the story forward, it doesn't feel as real to me. If a character picks a fight because that's what needs to happen to get to the next part instead of because of having a reason to, it doesn't land with the same level of importance in my mind.