Bio: After growing up in the woods of Maine, I spent eighteen years teaching international relations at Britain’s University of Hull. Now back in Maine, I draw on my studies to write fantasy novels full of spies, secrets and high-stakes political intrigue.
Welcome to Creekside Café Thomas Kane. Are you an early morning riser or a late-night rambler? I work until 6 or 7 pm at my “real” job so by the time I fix supper and sit down to the computer it’s late. I’m lucky to get to bed by midnight. I really do try to quit writing and go to bed but it’s not easy. How about you?
Thomas: Late night. I used to think I wanted to go to bed and get up very early, in order to have the dawn hours to myself. Even when it has technically been possible, I’ve never made that work for more than a day or two at a time. I’ve heard that the human body clock is set for more than a 24-hour day, and that’s certainly my experience.
Sherri: Do you go by Tom or is it, Thomas? I am just plain Sherri.
Thomas: Tom is great, thank you! Thanks for letting me know what to call you.
Sherri: Living in a small town I forget that not everyone knows me. It’s great to have you at my virtual café. If I ever win the lottery, I’d love to open a little coffee shop where writers and other creatives can hang out and talk about books and drink coffee.
I have a bad habit of drinking coffee late at night. It relaxes me. While I rarely have trouble with caffeine keeping me awake, I’m at that age where sleep is somewhat elusive, so I’ve gone to half decaf. What is your drink of choice?
Tom: Half decaf sounds like a good solution, if it tastes good. I like coffee too. I also drink a lot of green tea, although seriously I do it more for the health benefits than because I like it.
It’s 3:45 AM, which, for better or for worse, is a normal time for me to be awake. Even though it’s June, it’s chilly at this time of night. I’m drinking Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice tea, which warms me up, has body to it, and won’t stop me from getting to sleep.
Sherri: What age is your ideal reader? Who are you marketing your books to?
Tom: I write for adults. My books feature complex political situations and a few big words. However, the main character is a child in Book One, so sometimes people get confused. Since a lot of adults read YA, I sometimes wonder whether I should just go with the flow and market to that audience.
Sherri: Are you self-published or traditionally published?
Tom: I’ve published about 27 books traditionally, and I’m publishing my fantasy novels as an indie. Indie publishing seemed like a way to retain creative control and cut out the people in the middle.
Sherri: I know what you mean about creative control. I always wanted to be traditionally published but after self-publishing I don’t think I could relinquish that control.
Your books are a bit of a genre blend but mostly fantasy, is that correct? Are they contemporary or historical?
Tom: Yes, you’re right. They’re set in an imaginary world similar to Europe in the sixteenth century. Cannons and ocean-going galleons are new technology. The government persecutes people accused of being witches, but the main character is working to change that.
Sherri: Tell us a little about your main character?
Tom: Mara thinks a lot, and she asks questions about things other people take for granted. When no one else is doing anything about a problem, she takes the lead. As she grows up, she makes close friends, but she’s often at odds with the authorities, and she’s often an outsider.
Sherri: Who are your favorite characters?
Tom: Mara is pretty close to my heart, for sure! And I liked her formidable lawyer mother enough to write a book just about her. Other fun characters include Princess-Consort Cordelia, who is close to inventing calculus, Horace, Cordelia’s pet lizard, Euclid Fisher, an aging spy who sees Mara’s potential and Gretchen, whom one reader described as “the moxie girl.”
Sherri: Do you have a favorite scene, one that just feels really right? Tell us why.
Tom: There’s one in which eleven-year-old Mara figures out that people are unjustly accusing her aunt of witchcraft because she’s challenging the authorities and says “That was how I learned what a witch is. A witch is someone who scares people. I always knew that, sort of, but then I understood it in a different way. You can become a witch without meaning to. You can become a witch by being right.” I like to think my depiction of a child figuring out something disturbing about the adult world hit the right notes.
Sherri: For the writers in the group, what is your writing process? Are you a full-time writer?
Tom: Well, I revise as I write, which I know a lot of people say you shouldn’t do. I think a big part of my writing process is auditory. When I can imagine a line of text and hear the cadences in it, I feel as if I’m on the right track. And yes, it feels weird to say, but I am a full-time writer.
Sherri: What do you wish you’d known before you started publishing?
Tom: Running Amazon ads does not need to be that difficult or expensive. I found them intimidating for a long time, but I took Bryan Cohen’s free course, and it helped a lot.
Sherri: What are you working on now?
Tom: I’m finishing work on a fantasy legal thriller called The People vs. Abigail Bennet. Seventy-eight-year-old lawyer Abigail comes out of retirement to defend a teenager against charges of murder. Readers of my Mara of the League series will remember Abigail as Mara’s mother. People will be available in late 2022 or early 2023.
Sherri: Thomas it was so good to have you visit my Creekside Café. If you guys enjoyed this interview, follow Thomas Kane on social media and check out his books. The links are bellow.
Ten Facts about me and my Books
1. My Mara of the League series is an emotional story which follows an introspective woman’s life from childhood to middle age. Mara discovers secrets about her family and her world which send her on a personal mission to save her country from invasion.
2. Mara of the League begins with The Witches of Crannock Dale, in which eleven-year-old Mara tries to save her aunt from trumped-up charges of witchcraft.
3. The story continues in The Rebels of Caer City. Mara is a teenager now, and miserable at a strict boarding school When her best friend vanishes, she risks everything to find her. To succeed in this quest, she must learn to trust her bold classmate Gretchen, and to navigate her first turbulent romance. Mara and her companions end up confronting a conspiracy involving some of the most powerful people in their world.
4. Mara’s school companions move on from political intrigue, but she does not. Book Three, The Hideous Garden, follows her adventures into adulthood. By her forties, she has become head of her country’s off-the-books spy services and close friend to the mathematically gifted Princess Cordelia. Mara and Cordelia uncover an enemy plot that threatens their realm.
5. Mara races to save her country in Book Four, The Rending of the World. To succeed, she must cooperate with her idealistic but misguided former lover. Meanwhile Cordelia’s daughter, the teenage Princess Deborah, finds herself unexpectedly on the throne.
6. The complete Mara of the League series is available in e-book and paperback format.
7. Book One, The Witches of Crannock Dale, is available as an audiobook narrated by the awesome Stevie Marie. The rest of the series will be coming out in audio in coming months.
8.I am currently finishing a stand-alone fantasy legal thriller featuring Mara’s seventy-eight-year-old mother Abigail. Abigail, a lawyer, comes out of retirement to defend a teen accused of murder. This novel, to be titled The People vs. Abigail Bennet, will come out in the fall of 2022.
9. The Hideous Garden features a bearded dragon named Horace. I’ve never had a pet reptile, but after researching them for the book, I’ve sort of fallen in love with them.
10. I recently discovered Gillian Flynn’s thrillers Sharp Edges, Dark Places and Gone Girl. Really amazed by Flynn’s writing!
Mara of the League: The Complete Series
Book Two: The Rebels of Caer City amazon.com/dp/B085XTW5CM
Book Three: The Hideous Garden amazon.com/dp/B08M239BXF
Book Four: The Rending of the World amazon.com/dp/B08LK7SHP5
Audiobook: Mara of the League Book One:The Witches of Crannock Dale barnesandnoble.com/w/the-witches-of-crannock-dale-thomas-m-kane/1141493794
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