An interview with writer Tom Lombardo
Tom is the author of the action thriller, American Underground. You can visit his website to find out more about the book.
You self-published your book, American Underground, earlier this year. What was your biggest challenge when you decided to take this route to becoming a published author?
American Underground is my seventh novel, although it is the first I’ve truly tried to market. The way I look at it, this is probably the best time to be a new novelist in a generation. Amazon and GoodReads and especially individual bloggers with dozens or even thousands of followers have created an ecosystem tailor-made for people like me. All I want to do is please my reader, and there are significant numbers of readers looking for exactly the entertainment I provide. The new media connects us, and I’m incredibly grateful. This is today’s path to the right publisher, I think.
What advice would you offer to a writer hoping to self-publish their work?
Focus on what you’re trying to accomplish. In my opinion a lot of the social media promotion advice writers get tends too much towards creating celebrity. What an author wants is a reader. So look for readers, and know that they’re looking for you.
Your book deals with themes of religion, prophecy and economic crisis. What made you want to combine all these elements into a novel?
To empower my reader. I try to show how mad greed and morbid ways of mind can be defeated. End Times beliefs hold sway over 40% of Americans, and they believe that vast wars will end the world. If we expect a horrific end we will produce a horrific end. Our relationship with money is similar. Every single society that has switched to fiat currency throughout all of history everywhere has collapsed. We have fiat money, and we print it every month just to pay interest on debt. This is also careening towards a catastrophic end.
Empowerment is the opposite of that. Empowerment focuses on a prosperous and sustainable future. Rather than prepare for war, you aspire to follow the highest teachings in your spiritual lineage. Rather than go down with fiat currency, you find a better way to live without it. We have an enormous amount of control over the future of our civilization, and we can accomplish it among ourselves.
Is there a book that has particularly influenced your career as a writer?
So many! I wrote my thesis on Richard Wright and aspire to enliven characters with history the way he does. The Grapes of Wrath is an unmatched work of art. Same with The Old Man and the Sea. Tom Wolfe sees with divine clarity. J.K Rawling has unlimited skill at commandeering your imagination. I could go on…
Which books are you planning to read next? Do you have any that you secretly suspect you’ll never get round to?
I’m in research mode now, so I’m reading Debt: The First Five Thousand Years by David Graeber. It’s awesome. He shows how deep in our ontology the concept of debt lies. He demonstrates his thesis with elegant historical examples. It’s fascinating. I’m also studying Mind Siege by Timothy LaHaye, one of the major thought-leaders behind the End Times movement. For fun, my son just got me into Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. As for what I’ll probably never read, I’ll admit that I have yet to finish a Jane Austen novel.
I’m terrible for buying books and having piles of them lying around the house waiting to be read. How do you prefer to read: are you a Kindle addict, library regular or a paperback collector?
When I first heard of the Kindle I scoffed at it. Then I realized that I could buy one and get a couple hundred dollars worth of classics for free, doubling my investment. And as soon as I used it, I never looked back. Someday I’d like to buy a print copy of everything I’ve read on the Kindle just for the sake of bookcase vanity. Especially since a lot of the books I need for the esoteric parts of my research are out of print or had small print runs, so the physical books I do have look a little weird.
I’m a bit obsessive about my books and keeping them as undamaged as possible. Do you have any pet hates about the way other people read or treat their books?
As an author all I want is to please my reader with my story. If you also want chocolate fingerprints all over it, more power to you!
And finally, do you have any random/funny/bizarre stories about books to share with us?
My first job was teaching sixth grade at a rural school on the Pacific edge of Sonoma County in Northern California. I loved that job and have missed it terribly. I read to my students almost every day. I’d perform the narration and the voices of all the characters. I could hold thirty eleven year-olds spellbound for an hour. It completely revolutionized my writing.
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