Featured Interview With Ann Marie Thomas
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
The eldest of four children, I’ve been writing poetry and making up stories since I was a child, in London. My work brought me to Swansea in 1972, where I married a Welshman and never went home. I settled and had four children of my own, who are now all married with children of their own. But I only began to write for publication when my children left home.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I have always been a voracious reader, especially science fiction. My ambition was to write science fiction, but over many years nothing came to fruition. I have several novels at various stages of completion in a series called Flight of the Kestrel.
However, one day I looked up at the ruins of Swansea Castle and wondered what it was like when it was lived in. I Googled it and became fascinated by Gower medieval history. My research led me to the story of Alina de Breos, but in the middle of assembling Alina’s story from multiple sources I had a major stroke.
When I came home from hospital, I occupied my time completing Alina’s story and learning to self-publish in print and ebook. My husband contacted the local Art College and they found a talented student, Carrie Francis, who drew the illustrations for the book. Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth was published at Easter 2012, and is the only book about her.
Early retirement from work gave me more time to concentrate on my writing. The sales of over 300 copies of Alina in local shops and museums, and at speaking engagements, led to a second local history book, Broken Reed: The Lords of Gower and King John in September 2013. To coincide with the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta I published the The Magna Carta Story at Easter 2015.
When I was in hospital I wrote a flood of poetry, about my stroke, my therapy, my faith, and random things like the rain outside the window. I published them as an ebook, My Stroke of Inspiration in August 2015. 22 poems in all: verse, doggerel, and blank verse. The poems talk about suffering and patience, therapy and faith. If you are a stroke survivor or know someone who is, these poems will comfort, encourage and inspire you.
I continue to work on my recovery from the stroke, and although I am disabled, I lead a very busy life. I am very involved in my church and active on social media, including two blogs. I am still writing science fiction and the first book, Intruders, is being published in April 2016.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
My favourite genre is science fiction, and I like the classic authors like Azimov, Heinlein and Frank Herbert. But I also enjoy modern authors like Patty Jansen and the team of Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant. I read a wide range of books and a lot of them – 56 last year according to GoodReads. I try to learn from every book I read, but it is hard to take note of style and craft when I get totally immersed in a good story.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
I am a great fan of science fiction, particularly the classics, like Azimov. I am also a fan of the older TV science fiction. Star Trek of course, Blake’s 7, and Babylon 5, for example. During my teens, when I was trying to get to sleep at night, I used to make up stories about my favourite shows.
I would imagine myself on the Enterprise with Captain Kirk, for example. How would an ordinary person like me end up on the Enterprise? Was I from a less developed society, so I wasn’t familiar with the technology (saved me from having to make it up)? Was I, perhaps, from a different time all together – got there through some sort of time warp? Was I hiding from someone? Was I a victim of some ‘bad guy’?
As I tossed ideas around in my head, my cares would fade away, and I would relax, and at some point I would fall asleep. The following night I would try to remember where I had got to, and elaborate on it. Sometimes I would work out some more details, sometimes take the story further on. Some nights, I would be inspired to take the story in a completely new direction. Night after night I would go over the story again and again, until eventually I would tire of it and start a new one.
Many years later, when my children were grown, I decided I enjoyed these stories so much that I would write them down. I soon realised that having myself in every story was not a good idea – there are only so many damsels in distress you can take! My first story had a damsel in distress, which I thought was an acceptable place to start, but later stories managed to have other key characters.
Also, it was a huge cheat to use other people’s settings and characters. I didn’t want to write fan fiction, so I invented my own ship and crew. It took me ages – ready-made scenarios are so much easier. Enter the Kestrel, a fast-response ship with a crew of 11, working for PACT (the Planetary Alliance for Cooperation and Trade), a sort of interplanetary United Nations force.
There are already the beginnings of several novels about the Flight of the Kestrel, and my first one, Intruders, is published on 17 April 2016. Here is what it’s about:
Tabitha Enns is given work experience on board the Kestrel, on the adventure of her life, that will push her to the limit. Tabitha gets to meet her first aliens, but it doesn’t go smoothly, and being out in space isn’t what she expected. When a hostile alien species are discovered, the Kestrel is sent to make contact, leading the crew – and Tabitha – into danger, and the crew have problems with their friends as well as their enemies. Why did a dying man say, ‘butterfly’? Who exactly is the mysterious injured woman, and what is her connection to the hostile aliens threatening not only the Kestrel’s crew but the entire galaxy?
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