Andy Thomas is a former music journalist who still hopes active journalists write about the music he performs. As a journalist he has been published in The Rocky Mountain News, Rock Sound, AMP and Westword. As a musician he has shared the stage with William Elliott Whitmore, Joe Pug, Less Than Jake, Deer Tick and hundreds of others. He lives in Denver with his fiancé, their two cats and a massive pile of unfinished accomplishments. This novel is his first. And I was lucky enough to win a signed copy from goodreads.com and get a chance to read this amazing book. So I am very a happy to introduced Andy Thomas.
1. So according to your biography, you a musical jounalist. Can you tell us about what that is and what it entails?
I'm a "recovering" music journalist. I wrote primarily for the Westword in Denver but I also got articles published in The Rocky Mountain News, (RIP) AMP. Rock Sound and a few others. I always liked it but I decided about a year ago to focus on my own music as opposed to writing about other people's music. Now I try to use those old connections to get people to write about me! It rarely works...
2. After being a musical journalist, what was the turning point that made you want to write that first book that was not about music?
I've always had the idea to write a book, I'm glad I finally took the time to do it. While this book isn't at all about music I'd like to think it captures the "jaded" attitude of a lot of my friends in the music scene. There's only so long you can put yourself out there before you start to examine your life and strive for the next big thing. Within the confines of this book, Dylan's better thing was Hell!
3. You state on your goodreads.com profile that Neil Gaiman is an influence of yours. I am a huge fan of him from his comic book days and now that I think about it, I do see influence of Gaiman in your work. Were you trying to create a world like Gaiman creates but of your own?
I don't even hold a candle when it comes to creating worlds like Neil Gaiman, but I appreciate the comparison! I guess I do recall that I was reading American Gods and Graveyard Book during some stretches of my writing. Those two books are a great example of how diverse a writer he is. American Gods is expansive and brilliant and Graveyard Book is quirky, creepy and fun. He's one of the best for sure! He's someone to aspire to be.
4. How did you come up with ever marching line of people in and out of hell? (is this a spoiler? what do you think?)
The general concept of this book is from a four page Etkar Keret short story called A Souvenir of Hell. It's from a book of short stories called The Busdriver Who Wanted to be God. I'm still not exactly sure what it was about that story and that concept that drew me in; there are a lot of great concepts in that book. I guess it comes from a theory of mine that even when incredible things are discovered, people will find a way to trivialize it and take the magic out of it. I'm not a very religious person but do we really need to find the higgs boson particle? Can't you leave us some mystery!?
5. Dylan and John have a great chemistry. Are they based on you or you and any of your friends in any way? Or even a part of yours or their personality?
6. Tell me more about the character of Dylan. I loved him. He just grabs you and makes you laugh and everything goes wrong for him but he has feelings too and you have to love him. How did you create him?
(note: author decided to answer question 5 and 6 in one answer so here it is:)
I guess I see a lot of Dylan in myself. Thankfully for my friends, John is not based on any of them. I guess Dylan is more based on me about six years ago when I was much more listless and drunk. These days, I'm engaged, gainfully employed and generally pretty happy. I think Dylan does represent me at a stage in my, and a lot of my friends life, when you feel worthless and, rather than trying to better yourself, you just try and run. I guess this book is supposed to warn readers that's not always a good idea.
7. Was there always going to be a Lauren?
I always had the idea of Dylan walking into Hell over a girl he was in love with but didn't even know. Men will always do crazy stuff for women (Hi jen!)
8. Without giving too much away, how did you come up with your vision of Hell and Satan?
There's a great Frank Turner lyric that goes, "It turns out hell will not be found within the fires below, But in making do and muddling through when you've nowhere else to go." I wanted to create a Hell that wasn't terrifying but just boooooring. I feel like an eternity of that is way worse than any torture you could give me.
9. I have to say I could see this playing as a movie in my head as I read it. It had that kind of guy friends on a "road trip" vibe if you will, and the pretty girl, and all the obstacles that would make a really funny movie. Did that ever cross your mind or was this meant to strictly be a book?
I will let pretty much anyone who wants to pay me to turn this into a movie do so. I stopped caring about selling out a long time ago.
10. Was the ending the original ending? (Sometimes authors change I like to ask).
From the second I sat down and started writing the book I knew that is what i wanted the last line to be. I didn't know anything else about the plot other than I wanted it to end that way. Writing a book is a lot like reading one as you're never really sure exactly what is going to happen next.
11. With going into a new kind of writing, did you carry a notebook with you for your ideas or were you able to remember what you wanted to write?
I usually will add notes within the manuscript and cross them off as I go. I probably should carry a notebook because I'm sure I forgot tons of simply hilarious plot twists! Next time.
12. Where is your favorite place to write? For example, a desk, your patio, in the park, etc,?
I usually have to go to a coffee shop to get anything accomplished. I like to have people around me as I write or I feel too isolated and too concerned with the task at hand.
13. Must have food/beverage while writing:
I usually like to have a couple of drinks while I'm writing to loosen up but I've realized that's a slippery slope. I'm not Bukowski and my drunken writing is about as incoherent as it gets.
(nice name drop lol!)
14. What can we expect from you in the future?
I have a concept for a children's book about a stag and another novel idea about the end of the world. I also hope to have some new music out from some of the many musical endeavors I am involved with.
Andy's book "Hell is in New Jersey" is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can find Andy here:
Andy Thomas on Facebook
Andy Thomas on Facebook 2
I just want to say I loved having Andy Thomas come by my blog. His answers are about what I expected of him and I mean that with a lot of love. He is very funny and talented. I hope we get to see the books he talked about at the end of the interview. Click on his links, his music is good. I liked it. And remember if you are looking for a funny read with sharp wit and relatable charachters, pick up "Hell is in New Jersey".