Today I have the pleasure of interviewing an indie author named Thomas Kozumplik. I recently reviewed his book Djinni Hunter.
Thomas Kozumplik has a retired U.S. Army officer for a father and a riding (horses) instructor from Wiltshire for a mother, so he is from Atlantis.
Although he was an extremely naughty boy at school, he now has an MA in Philosophy, which allows him to teach peoples of all nations. His hobbies include playing the harmonica and discussing Spiderman comics in Czech.
As a boy he planned to be World Emperor, although it now seems clear things are not going according to plan. Thomas was once upon a time a decent rugby footballer.
He is, and has always been, the world’s best Stratego player. Ever. Thomas was married, but soon got over it and now lives with his trusty Staffy guru, a Chinese spy and 26 lovely fish.'
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?I liked writing when I was a little boy, but I also liked drawing and building models and they have fallen by the wayside. I think at 15 I realized that I no longer wanted to be World Emperor and instead would be happy as a poet, tall tales raconteur or travel writer or more likely, a combination of all 3.
- How long does it take you to write a book?Writing for me, as for many I'm sure, comes in fits and starts. Sometimes I can come back from a walk with my dog and the poem has almost written itself complete. Other times I have to stitch together like Frankenstein different fragments. The latter means work. The two books I've written come from sifting through and then honing poems that I've scribbled down over two years. I try to have a loose theme to each compilation. I've got enough poetry for 4 more books so I guess 6 months for a book of poems (but I am teaching at the same time-if I didn't have a job I could write much faster)?
- What is your work schedule like when you're writing?I think it's important not to set unrealistically high standards because if you do then it's easy to quit. I try to sit down twice a week for two hours and whenever I read (usually before sleep or in the afternoons at weekends) I jot down verses as they come to me. Anything I do more is a bonus.
- What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?I'm not sure it's that unusual, but it would be related to where I get ideas and what I find surprising about writing; I find that some poems come as sparks that are reactions to other writers' work. As I'm reading, it becomes a conversation or a match- either using a similar theme or as a jumping point for a different tangent. It's sometimes like a courtier duel and sometimes simply as if the writer has driven me to some previously unknown place and left me to describe as they burn off in their car far away. Other times it's building analogies like genetically engineering superb giraffes. It's the minor league version of the major league mind games people like Mozart and Voltaire would play as party tricks.
- Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?I used to just write poems about my own personal experiences and most of these fell into 3 categories: longing, lust, love and lost love (impossible longing?). Naturally these were based on my own experiences. Then, I thought I needed to branch out into other themes, so I decided to write a bestiary. I love watching the beautiful BBC nature progs and I would then do research on the myths and fables from around the world about each animal I chose. I've got 24 pages and growing like aforementioned superb giraffes. I then decided I would just read a lot of myths and get deep down into Frazer's Golden Bough and Joseph Campbell's work. Unlike the bestiary that has a clear focus and spur, I can't really tie my poems to precise ideas or tales from these works, but they stir my moon mind to become more fruitful than rabbits. I find creative writing exercises nice challenges that also take your mind away from your own plans. They often force you to be inventive.Going for walks with my dog lets my mind wander into poems. I took a photography class a few years back and it definitely helped me become more observant. I think when you are by yourself on vacation (so when I'm visiting friends who are working and I'm turned loose on the town or country) or on a walk you really pay attention to everything and make connections that lead to interesting metaphors.When you're with others you are focused more on them and the conversation so you can miss the details that can evoke meaning. With a pet is often best because you have company and love but there is no conversation so you can focus on what is around and how strange and wonderful it might be. Idioms and proverbs in other languages are also nice sources as they are often so different like putting on a different head- this is the common everyday use poetry that everyone uses and forgets. I speak Czech fluently and am learning Chinese (God help me and the Chinese), so this is always entertaining and stimulating.It's a match, conversation
- When did you write your first book and how old were you?I was six or seven and it was a children's book about an ant and his beetle steed and their adventures. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be an insect Don Quixote-esque (Quixotic- love that word, almost forgot it). I did not know at the time that your average worker ant is a female clone, otherwise I might have written a sci-fi utopia or dystopia. :)
- What do you like to do when you're not writing?When I'm not writing I like talking nonsense over a few pints with friends, playing chess at an average level, extending the might of my Victory garden, brewing beer, taking photographs, reading and hitting the heavy bag. I used to play rugby, but since leaving England this has been left on the fading horizon.
- What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?The most surprising thing is that writing is not just prodigy spillings and isn't Romantic Byron Shelley drinking and then woe is me pouring onto a page. It's often like homework. Many times it requires sitting down even if you don't feel like it and being annoyed and impatient and unable to write until after an hour you get something on the page to work with- and being content even if it's not a pile of perfection. At least that's true of me, which I have to say is a bit disappointing because it would be cooler if it just flowed effortlessly. I learned too that it is better not to overpower with too many images and fireworks so that the effect becomes dulled. Oh, and I am entertained by different genres that I never new existed like Amish Romance and Cozy Mystery. I'm thinking of combining them with a Bollywood soundtrack.
- Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?It changes, right?The authors who influenced me in my teens aren't the same as the ones in my twenties as the ones now, but everything is a tower babel built, right? Now the people who come to mind are:Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath for rhythm,sound and creating new words- changing nouns intonever before seen verbs.Rumi for spiritual depth, longing and unusual images.Dickinson for originality and intensity.Marquez for richness and magical mystery.Hrabal for the same as Marquez but with a restraining hand that makes it more exquisite andbelievable.Li Bai for his light hand and precise details that touch the deep.Vonnegut for being concise, lucid, compassionate yet cynical control.Saki and Wodehouse for being just too witty.
- What do you think makes a good story?Good art does one of three things to and in my mind.1) It explains something you have experienced, but have never really been able to explain coherently. It names, tames and binds through this explanation. It gives meaning clearly and deeply.2) It allows me to experience something (albeit in a less intense way) that I have never or will never experience. I will never live Macbeth's or Medea's lives (thankfully), but in a way I can.3) It shows me something I have seen every day but from a completely different way- one that would never occur to me. This perspective not only makes life richer in experience but it makes me look for other ways of looking at that thing or feeling.I think good poetry does one or all three of the above but is often not so clear and demands your participation in another's very personal experience. It is a sly storm at the edge of consciousness, like a dream you are trying to catch upon waking that might or might not slip away.
'In this poetry collection emotion, mythology and nature are wed. These are contemporary poems about beds full of myths, lands emerging from the deep and wolves lullabying the moon. This is the hunt for the supernatural within the natural, the long love longing of seasons falling:happy homes, sadness and shivers to the bone. This will trigger, tickle and tease both memories and glimpses of personal enlightenment. It is self-help with a smile-without preaching. These poems are scissors for blindfolds, kites to be burned, keys to netherworlds and sails cross nomad seas. Climb upon this paper horse- a storm is coming.'
Check out the book on amazon.