Eric Tomlinson is coming out of the closet…

Posted: July 26, 2013 in Friday Guest
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Eric_720It’s good of you to let me have a slot on your blog. You’re sure nobody’s going to read it, aren’t you? Only some of these confessions could be damaging if they got out.

I started trying to write years back. I didn’t have a clue, but always had a deep, profound meaning. People needed to hear my opinion. Yeah right, what a bore.

Out in the real world, I was a suited and booted, serious businessman. Look at the pictures. When that face enters a boardroom, it intimidates. My role is to make projects move in the right direction.

Almost like the tortured super-hero from the comic books, beneath the professional suit, I suffered from … urges. I tried desperately to keep this under wraps. I didn’t want the people who employed me aware I was a latent creative.

In line with my serious persona, I worked on a non-fiction for a few years. When I completed that, I had a huge void to fill and decided to try my hand at fiction again. This time, I realised I didn’t have a clue how to write. I signed up for the Writer’s Bureau creative writing course. I loved the fact it fitted in with my professional work. At times, I’m involved with projects that demand huge amounts of concentration. When this happens, I simply don’t have the mental resources to be able to write creatively.

The first pages of the course scrubbed away a lot of my preconceptions. Nobody wants me to lecture, they want to be entertained. Cut the flowery phrases. Write what people want, not what I think they need.

Even when I started to get places in competitions, I was reluctant to let my business colleagues know. I’d lie about what I did at the weekend, preferring them to think I was having an affair than spending time writing fiction.

Even though it’s reputedly incredibly difficult to get people to read, I tried humour as my first major attempt at fiction. Of course, I fell in love with the main female character, Amara (that’s ok, because she’s based on my beloved wife anyway.)

As a new writer, I had no problem coming up with throw away lines. So, even though she’s a virgin warrior, Amara claimed to have a daughter. When a few readers queried this, I had to come up with a plausible way for this to happen, this gave the back story for my latest book, Amara’s Daughter.

I avoid “deep themes,” in case I’m drawn into pomposity, but there were a couple of ideas running through my head I wanted to work with.

The first came from a forum discussion regarding characters. How many black heroes are there in fantasy? Taking this thought, even the women in most fantasy, high, rather than urban, serve as love interest.

I wanted a black hero, a female black hero, an ugly, marred female black hero!

It disheartened me to see a six year old girl with her hands on her hips roll her eyes and declare men are useless. I don’t actually dispute that many of them are, but I wanted to depict role-models in single and mixed gender relationships, good and bad.

High principles? Not really, love, sex and desire are universal. Soon, I had a whole cast of strong female characters to fall in love with! I’d like to claim that unlike real-life, these women did what they were told, but they were as wilful as any woman can be.

Once I’d had a couple of short stories published and made the decision to self-publish Amara’s Daughter. The time to come out of the closet had arrived. To make it low-key, I booked myself on the business breakfast circuit doing a talk:

I am a Flasher – make people see your point.

In the talk, I compare writing flash fiction with preparing a customer presentation. Explaining how I pare down to the minimum word count to express a “real” story.

They fire the usual questions about where the ideas come from. There’s usually one who wants to tell me they are going to write a book one day. I’ve had amazing feedback, with most of them being interested and supportive.

I’mglad I came out of the closet. In fact it went so well, I can’t wait to see how they’ll react when I turn up next week in my Laura Ashley frock and tell them I want to be called Emily.

 ***

Amaras-Daughter-Cover-MEDIUMAmara’s Daughter – Swords, Sandals and Sex – High fantasy on speed

Carved from ice with blades of fire, the rigidly feminist state of Serenia breeds heroes. Unimaginably perfect, Amara the Magnificent, the legendary Ultimate Warrior is their greatest.

Five years since Amara’s mysterious disappearance, her daughter, Maryan, struggles to escape her mother’s formidable shadow. Shunned by most, her only friends are oddball characters from the edge of society.

The Queen sees Maryan as an asset to the nation, a pawn to play with and a pretty bauble to appease the neighbouring king, but lurking beneath the surface, an ancient terror plots to wipe out Maryan’s bloodline.

Friend, lover, and more, Amara’s Daughter is a turbulent, rite of passage story tracing Maryan’s growth from naive schoolgirl to the woman destiny needs her to be.

***

Living in Cheshire with my wife and our two dogs (Milly and Molly,) I’ve run a successful computer consultancy for many years. The business continues to thrive and I feel blessed that people pay me to solve complex problems for them.

One day, we hope to spend a portion of our year on the Greek islands, where I would love to spend most days writing, but for now, I’m content that with three adult children, I’m being presented with grandchildren at a fabulous rate.

I split my writing time between short stories and novels. I love to take the challenge of creating a viable story in a reduced number of words for flash competitions.

At the top of my list of all-time favourites are CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein. Following them are Robert Jordan and Trudi Canavan, with a whole host of modern writers cramming up behind, including Kim Harrison (Hollows series), Margaret Stohl/ kami Garcia (Caster Chronicles) and Ben Aaaronovitch (Rivers of London.)

Links:

Website

Blog

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Amara’s Daughter

Twitter: @ehhowarduk

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Comments
  1. Very brave! I am reminded of Jo Brand’s early outings as The Sea Monster before she worked up the clackers to ‘come out’ as a comedian. I think hiding out is a common strategy for secondary writers – those who need to earn a crust by other means and whose employers might not appreciate the warrior princess alter ego! Well, I hope the Laura Ashley goes down well, although I’d favour a bit of Monsoon meself 🙂

    PS Is your wife called Mandy? Go on, she is, isn’t she?

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