Tell us a Little about yourself.
In my working life I enjoyed a twenty-three-year military career with the British Army and then twenty-five years in retail before I retired two years ago. Although I’d dabbled in creative writing I didn’t study or work hard at it until about 2007. Since then I’ve published poetry anthologies, short story anthologies and novels. I’ve been married for forty-three years and have a grown son who moved abroad to live and work in Amsterdam.
Tell us your latest news
I’m a multi-genre author who is equally at home with thrillers, military-themed stories, sci-fi or erotica. My most recent literary experiment was to write ‘Light at The End’, my first post-apocalyptic tale which has rapidly become my top-selling title.
Bill Kane’s long military career had recently ended so he relaxed by joining a three-day sightseeing tour into the Scottish Highlands. At last, the ex-Serviceman would be able to leave stress and decision-making to somebody else, or would he?
While the squabbling of world leaders intensified on international media, Bill, like others, shrugged it off as sabre-rattling, but the sabres in question were nuclear missiles. An unthinkable situation developed rapidly. A missile was launched, and retaliation became an international chain reaction.
On a mountain road in Scotland, Paul Harrington a young coach driver listened to the news in disbelief. When his passengers returned down the hill from the latest viewpoint it would be Paul’s responsibility to get them to safety, but to where? No town was within easy reach, but he remembered a disused railway tunnel not far away. Could he get them there in time, and how would they survive?
When and why did you begin writing?
When I left the military in 1992, I felt that I’d lost something in my life. In the mid-1990s partly as a catharsis I penned the first draft of my military autobiography ‘A Life of Choice’. It was in reality my first book but I would write many more before that one was published. I’d always been an avid reader so I was aware that my story wasn’t ready for other people to see. I revisited my fact-based-fiction military tale several times to rewrite until I published is as a five-part novel in 2017.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
By 2010, I had written a variety of short stories as I tried to learn my new craft. I won second place in an international short story competition. I next entered a story in a national competition and it was one of forty winning tales to be included in an anthology sponsored by English Heritage.
How did you come up with the title for your last book?
‘Light at The End’ is a post-apocalyptic novel in which a long and disused railway tunnel features prominently. The title is partly a play on the adage ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ but keeping in mind that the characters I’ve entombed must think positively to survive.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I never preach in my writing, but I believe that those of us who live in a modern or civilised country which is not continually in conflict for various reasons must be grateful and not take things for granted. We ought to remember that vast regions of the world are filled with people who have rarely if ever seen the freedom and type of lifestyle which we are privileged to enjoy. This latest story reduces the characters primary focus to survival.
What book are you reading now?
On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
What are your current projects?
I’m working on two anthologies of short stories and three novels because multiple projects keep my mind active. My primary work in progress is ‘Light to Dark’ which is Book 2 in the ‘Light at The End’ post-apocalyptic trilogy. Book 3 will be ‘Dark to Light’. The opening tale was experimental but I’ve become absorbed in telling the ongoing story.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Neither my wife nor my son have read any of my books. Of major importance to me is the advice and mutual support provided by the Indie Author Support and Discussion (IASD) group on Facebook.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Estimating the appropriate amount of detail and how to feed it in generically to avoid info-dumps.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Wilbur Smith and in particular the authenticity and detail of his creations related to Africa and Ancient Egypt.
Who designed the covers for your books?
Of the forty-one titles in my name I designed the covers for thirty-two of them. I also designed all of the covers for the nine erotica books published under the pseudonym Katya Cumming.
Can you share a sample of your current work with us?
An excerpt from ‘Light to Dark’ Chapter 1 - Born to be Wild:
I really want to keep up,” Flint said, “but you guys are gonna have to break this down for me.”
“Thanks for asking, mate.” Bill winked at him.
Victoria smiled. “When the nuclear explosions polluted the atmosphere all around the globe there were two possibilities. The most disastrous scenario would be that the multiple explosions would create an all-encompassing black nuclear cloud.”
Flint nodded excitedly, finally on territory he understood. “Like, completely wrapping the planet in radio-active particles?”
Victoria nodded. “In such a circumstance we might not have survived much longer even inside the mountain because it would have brought about a nuclear winter. Without sunshine—natural light, everything would start dying due to the decreasing temperatures. The cold would eventually have pervaded the mountains too—including ours.”
“Okay,” Bill said, “I think I’m on the same page now, so what was the other scenario?”
“I’m pleased to report that the other scenario is what we seem to have now. We’ve seen that there is a huge pocket of natural light above and beyond our mountain range and this forest. Without exploration on foot it would be difficult to assess but I would suggest that the Scottish Highlands are safe.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
When you’re writing it’s good to recognise topics that you know about, but it’s important to recognise topics that you don’t know about. The learning never ends. With these points in mind I would suggest, do not over-promise and under-deliver.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
During my school years I experienced bullying first hand and it wasn’t until my military service that I learned to deal with it effectively. Bullying may not appear in my work but summary justice is a common theme. I believe this stems from my change in attitude and extreme response to bullying when it occurred to me early in military training.
What do you want written on your headstone and why?
‘Here lies Tom Benson: soldier, retailer, author and artist. He was adored by women, admired by men and envied by all who saw his beautiful house and gardens in the Scottish Highlands so realising the extent of his astounding fortune.’ ☺☺
Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I’m a self-taught artist, so I draw and paint when not reading or writing. Physical fitness has been important to me since my early days with the military. Due to a knee injury in my forties I had to abandon long-distance running. In recent years I rediscovered my love of cycling and I enjoy going out on my all-terrain bike or my racing bike.
One final question...Do you have a blog/website? If so, what is it?
- Author website: www.tombensonauthor.com
- Writing blog: www.tombensoncreative.com
A Life of Choice
Jim Faulkner feels there must be more to life than a dead-end job and no social life. How far might the teenager go if he joins the British Army? Jim completes training and joins his first working unit in the UK. The entire outfit moves to West Germany. Jim's adventures see him discovering a social lifestyle he'd never envisaged. The teenager learns about his job, alcohol abuse, sex, relationships, and much more. How will Jim cope when under pressure?
A four-month tour in troubled Northern Ireland can teach people a lot about themselves. Jim Faulkner returns to Dortmund but falls back into his old ways. He leaves the unit under a cloud, volunteering to return to Northern Ireland. A variety of opportunities open up socially and at work. Will Jim settle in his new role, or will alcohol become a major part of his life again? Is Jim shaping up as a soldier and tradesman—and a man?
Londonderry continues to be an education in many ways and an opportunity arises for a three-month course in Catterick. However things work out, it’s time to move on after two years. Would Jim survive two years in West Berlin in the 1970’s, famed for all the aspects of life which the young soldier is drawn towards—alcohol, tobacco, violence, and sex?
What’s life for, if not for living?
During his first year in West Berlin Jim Faulkner faced a variety of conflicts. He had a further year to serve in the divided-city, as he returned to the UK on leave—harbouring a secret. On completion of a rollercoaster two years in Berlin, should Jim reconsider his military career? If he accepts the next posting he’ll be back in West Germany with plenty of opportunities, but will he make the right decisions?
Jim Faulkner started his military journey with profound doubts. Would the army life be a failure or become a fulfilling career? A hedonistic lifestyle almost ended things at an early stage. Jim continues to strive to become a part of the military machine. However he continues it began as … A Life of Choice. How would it end?
Five years have passed since a small band of survivors found themselves entombed in a disused railway tunnel. From high up on the mountain, there were sightings of somebody or something down below. Could it be a person or more than one who had survived residual radiation did this signal new threats to the thriving community inside the mountain?
Coming 2020 / 2021
Be sure to check out Tom's other works. Genres he covers:
- Short Stories
Visit his website for details