Welcome to the blog, John! Could you tell us a little bit about Nowhere Starts Here?
Sure, thanks for featuring me. Nowhere Starts Here is a collection of thirteen short stories which I wrote at various intervals over the past seven or eight years. I’ve been writing short stories since my college days (about a decade ago) but it wasn’t until the last year or so that I decided to put them together for a collection. The stories are pretty diverse and feature characters such as a clown who steals a painting, a declining movie star, a man who is visited by Satan on the eve of his wedding, a writer who is suffering from writer’s block and hears voices, etc. Every character is struggling with something in their respective lives - loneliness, cold feet, addiction, marital problems, illness, etc. Despite some of the darker themes in the book, there is also an element of humor and optimism which is pervasive throughout most of the stories. There really is something in the collection for everyone and the brevity of the stories should appeal to most readers (none of the stories exceed fourteen pages).
What led you to write these stories?
As a writer, I tend to only write when I feel inspired. At an early age, I realized I was a very creative person and writing was my main outlet to convey that creativity. I basically started writing the types of stories that I wanted to read, since most modern fiction seemed somewhat stale to me or devoid of any substance. It seemed like there was an unnecessary dichotomy between the entertaining bestseller type of fiction and the more literary or intelligent fiction; I’ve always tried to blend the two together to create a happy medium. Writing these stories was very natural, but deciding to publish them mostly came from a willingness to finally let other people read my work. On another note, the short story form never seems to get the recognition it deserves, so it only made sense for me to publish this collection; I really wanted to inject some life into the literary short story genre and hopefully get people excited again about shorter fiction.
What was the toughest challenge you faced when writing Nowhere Starts Here?
Writing the stories was a relatively simple task since it happened very organically, but editing them was much more tedious. When I decided to put the collection together for publication, I didn’t realize how arduous the process of editing would actually be; that’s one of the major downsides of self-publishing, as I came to realize. Editing and marketing were two things that I never wanted to necessarily get involved with, but in a way it’s been a fun and instructive experience.
How do you define an existential crisis? Why do you think this is such a powerful theme?
An existential crisis can encompass anything from despair, angst, loneliness, boredom etc. I think these are things that all of us as human beings face on a daily basis to varying degrees. How we choose to deal with them defines who we are and the paths we travel down in life. It’s important for us to confront our problems and tackle them head on, so that we can find our own sense of meaning and happiness in our lives.
What is your best advice on writing?
As trite as it may sound, I think the key to writing is to be genuine and not worry about following any sort of formula. The really great writers always have a unique and uncompromising voice. It’s also no accident that almost all successful writers are avid readers. Lastly, let the story come to you.
Thanks so much for stopping by, John!
John Thomas graduated from Wagner College in 2003 with a B.A. in English. Nowhere Starts Here is his first published collection of stories. John also enjoys writing poetry, screenplays, and essays and is looking forward to publishing more of his work in the near future.
John Thomas can be found on: www.nowherestartshere.com
Nowhere Starts Here is available at Amazon and will also soon be available for Kindle in the upcoming weeks.