by Thomas Brittendahl
Publisher: SolaFide Publishing
Publishing Date: April 11, 2016
Winner of SolaFide Publishing’s ‘So You Want to be Published 2015’ contest
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Everything he owned . . .
Everyone he loved . . .
Something is after him…
Interview with the Author
Michael Pang: Thomas, congratulations once again on winning the So You Want To Be Published 2015 contest! I’m sure that our readers would like to get to know more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Thomas Brittendahl: I am 33 years old, born in Olympia, Washington, but grew up in San Jose, California. I come from a working class family, with two amazing parents and a brother and sister I love very much. I worked since I was a sophomore in high school until I was laid off in 2009 as part of the recession. That’s when I returned to college, where I studied history and philosophy, and where I got turned on to writing. Now, I teach history at a bay area high school.
MP: Where and when did your writing journey begin?
TB: When I was in my mid twenties I felt a deep desire to write something in the realm of academia, especially philosophy. When I went back to school to graduate from college, though, I eventually realized that everything I wanted to say had already been said, and in a way that I would never be able to articulate. However, one of my professors taught her course using fiction novels as a substitute for the traditional monograph or biography. I had never been much of a fiction reader, but saw that fiction could indeed be a vessel through which my ideas could be transmitted. I made peace with the certainty that I would never write anything truly original, but also that I wasn’t really after originality: I simply wanted a way to express thoughts so they would get out of my head. The vessel became fiction, and over time the desire evolved from simply expressing thoughts, to wanting to write something that other people could enjoy. The specific thoughts became secondary; the story became everything.
MP: Wow, and that passion has definitely blossomed as two of your entries were finalists in the contest. Actually, you had submitted four entries to the contest. What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your writing routine fit into your day?
TB: Right now I’m mostly busy revising lesson plans and correcting my students’ work. I’m only teaching three classes, but for a first year teacher, it’s still a handful. Thankfully, my personal writing now consists mostly of revision and polishing completed stories. Several times a week I will tear into a chapter or two from one of my novels and look for places that need revision. The writer’s group I belong to—San Jose Writers—aids in this process greatly. Wherever I am on the talent scale of writing, if not for the writer’s group I belong to, I would be much lower.
MP: Your manuscript, An Evil, has a very interesting take on a somewhat controversial subject. How did you come up with the idea for your novel?
TB: Growing up in a Christian family, the most terrifying things to me centered around religion, so naturally my horror writing has theological undertones. Anyway, I had watched a debate about religion and morality either late in college or right after I graduated, and someone had brought up the Book of Job as a source people could look to for an answer to the question: why do good people suffer? I was roughly familiar with the story, but after the debate ended I reread the Book of Job. When I finished, I scratched my head. I could only think one thing: this would make a great horror novel! I initially intended An Evil to be a novel, but after I started writing I realized the story would be better told as a short story or novella. Being a secular person, I tried to imagine the story as truth, and then I just scratched at it until I found a way to explain questions that popped into my head.
MP: One of the things that the judges mentioned about the manuscripts, were how well the characters was depicted and that “Everything was perfectly on point.” So, I’d have to ask, Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of yourself is reflected in that character?
TB: The character that’s probably most reflective of me would have to be James. I grew up in a Christian household, but became more secular as I neared my twenties. We both love our family greatly, but butt heads from time to time on issues of religion.
MP: This is going to be your first published work. What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading it?
TB: I know the end of the story might be a little ambiguous for people who aren’t familiar with The Book of Job, from the Bible. For those who aren’t familiar with Job I hope they read it, or at least read something about it. If they do, I’m confident everything will fall in place regarding what’s happening in An Evil. I had tried to make some of Job’s backstory more clear in An Evil, especially the wager between Yawah and Satan, but it just didn’t fit well in the story with the point of view. Ultimately, whether people are familiar with Job or not, I would love it if they took away nothing more than a desire to read another one of my stories.
MP: So, I’m sure our readers are dying to find out. What do you have in store next for your readers?
TB: An Evil is actually the third story I’ve written, right after Deification and right before Repository for the Unwanted. Because of its length, it was the easiest to complete and polish. I am currently polishing three full length novels. Repository for the Unwanted takes place in a 17th century European monastery, blending paranormal and historical fiction. Deification is the first book in a trilogy that blends science and political fiction. Intercession is another science fiction story I’m working on. More information about them can be found at thomasbrittendahl.wordpress.com.
About the Author
I am currently polishing two of my five completed novels as well as a short story of about 25,000 words. My writing has thus far focused on science fiction and horror, but include elements of other genres. I never stop writing, and have the framework established for several other novels. I graduated magna cum laude from San Jose State University, majoring in History and minoring in Philosophy, receiving both university and department honors, and currently teach high school in San Jose, Ca.