Early in life, Tom Fallwell discovered a love for fantasy and science-fiction, delighting in the wonderful escape into realms undreamed of. Weaned on the greats like J.R.R. Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert E. Howard, Roger Zelazny, Robert A. Heinlein, and Michael Moorcock, just to name a few, Tom’s imagination was forever inspired by those marvelous tales.
One day, he discovered a simple book of rules called ‘Chainmail’, by Gary Gygax, and found a new love: the love of creating adventures and stories of his own. ‘Chainmail’ evolved into ‘Dungeons & Dragons’, and Tom played consistently with friends as both a player and a dungeon master (DM) for decades. Such activities helped him develop his ability to create worlds and stories for others to enjoy.
Now retired from his long career as a software developer, Tom writes all the adventures and characters that constantly fill his mind and shares them with the world.
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
The writing, no question. I thoroughly enjoy writing down what I visualize in my head. If I get nothing else from a career as an author, I am having a fantastic time doing the writing. I love my chosen job.
What made you start writing?
I retired from developing software after nearly 30 years, and found a lot of free time on my hands. I has a story in mind that I had been considering for years, and a friend encouraged me to write it down. It was a short story, and it didn’t turn out anything like what I’d originally envisioned, but it was a blast writing it. My friend encouraged me further, so I decided to continue, and wrote my first full-length novel. I have stopped since then.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
More than I could possibly list. I will name a few whose works were inspiring for me. I was inspired a lot by J.R.R. Tolkien’s world building, by Robert E. Howard’s action scenes, by Michael Moorcock’s character development, by Robert Aspirin’s humour, by Frank Herbert’s intrigue, and by Isaac Asimov’s attention to detail. There are so many more, as I’ve read quite a bit of both fantasy and science-fiction and loved them all.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
Just do it. Don’t keep thinking about it. Do it. You’ll never know until you try.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
I prefer either fantasy or science-fiction, as I write, but I’ve read other genres that were equally as entertaining and inspiring. I think what makes a story great for me is the characters. If I can relate to the characters, I can enjoy the tale.
Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?
That’s easy. The Ranger Baric, the protagonist of my Rangers of Laerean series. Why? Because he is the kind of man I wish to be. The kind of person I want to emulate in real life. I want to be as selfless, as brave, as strong, and as good-natured as Baric. I would truly love to hang around with him.
Which book do you consider a must-read?
Well, if you are a fantasy fan, I’d say Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Amber. Both are essential, in my opinion, to truly understand what fantasy is about. If you’re a science-fiction fan, I’d say the Foundation series (by Asimov) and the Dune trilogy (by Herbert).
What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?
I would say it was near the end of my second book in the Rangers of Laerean series. To understand, you need to know that I’m a pantser, I do some plotting, but mostly I let the tale unwind itself as it may. I was going in a particular direction with that book, intending for somethings to happen that I felt must happen, but something (call it my muse, or whatever) told me that I needed to change it. I ended up practically re-writing the entire second half of the book, and in the process killed off a character I really liked. But that is what the characters themselves told me had to happen. So, in my mind, it is their story, not mine, and I had to comply.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
Not so much as I would want to live the story, but for the setting I would say my Rangers series. The world I created, Hir, is one that I would love to experience in reality, if such a thing were possible.
If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?
Well, now this might be a bit of a prejudiced answer, but I would pick another Indie Author, Aaron-Michael Hall. I love her work, and would entrust her to write my biography with honesty and compassion.
We all know the phrase “the book is always better than the film.” Which film would you like to see remade as a book?
I would say Jupiter Ascending. The movie was entertaining, but not great. I believe a good author could turn that into a fantastic novel.
Is there any conflict between what you want to write and what you think your readers will like?
Not for me. I write what I want to write. I may make changes according to reader suggestions, but only if I agree with them. I do not attempt to write my stories for specific readers and their tastes. I write what I want to write, regardless. I hope readers will enjoy what I write, but if they don’t, I’ll still write what I write. It actually might be more accurate to say, I write what my characters want.
What effect can a review have on you, if you read them at all? Both the good and the bad.
I read every review. If it’s a bad review, I listen to what the reviewer is saying. If it is valid criticism, I take it to heart to improve my writing. Though, as we all know, some reviews are more like trolling than constructive criticism. Those I have learned to ignore. Of course, good reviews make me happy and make me smile. I am very excited when someone enjoys what I write.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
Made mistakes. Learned from them. Moved on.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
I am currently near completion of my first science-fiction novel, and very excited to get it done and published. I think what makes it truly exciting for me is that there is no real main character, though one could argue that the Captain of the Valkyrie, the ship, is the main character. But for me, the entire crew is the main character. Even the ship is the main character. You can find out for yourself soon, when Heart of the Valkyrie is released.
And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?
“Grief must come, but it’s still grief and there’s no part of the body that can hurt more than the heart.”
– Ranger Baric, Where Shadows Fall, by Tom Fallwell
Our thanks to Tom for taking part, they were all really interesting and insightful answers.
If you want to find out more about Tom and his work then check out the links below: