Interview – Tom Reinhart, author of Hegemonian
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by Tom Reinhart, author of Saint Monolith and the newly released Sword and Sorcery tale Hegemonian. Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Tom. Can we get you anything?
Tom Reinhart: I’ve recently become fond of Sailor Jerry’s Spiced rum. Got any of that? Only kidding, I never interview under the influence.
SPS: We’ll put that back then. For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?
TR: I’m just an average guy working an average day job for the last 30 years, trying to pay the bills. But I’ve always been a writer, always had that creative side fighting to get out. Last year I finally decided to take that leap of faith into going public. Pretty scary at first, but it’s getting easier.
SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
TR: I usually write at night, when the day’s ‘to do’ list is done and things are quieting down. I usually put on some headphones and some good music to block out the real world, then I fall into ‘that zone’.
SPS: Can you tell us what gave you the motivation to first publish your own work?
TR: Honestly, when Hugh Howey’s self-publishing success story started to become common knowledge. How could anyone not be inspired by that? Then I started to see all the other people that were trying to follow the same path, and couldn’t resist doing the same. The self-publishing phenomenon happening right now is a great opportunity for undiscovered writers. There’s never been a better time for a writer to go public.
SPS: Before we talk about your new release, we’d like to talk about your debut novel for a moment. Can you tell our readers about Saint Monolith?
TR: It’s the story of Mason Stone, a decorated gulf war veteran and now a SWAT commander in New York City. He has some psychological issues, basically being tired of the dark side of society always taking advantage of the rest. He’s tired of the bullies and the abusers and the criminals. He just mentally can’t tolerate them anymore, so he becomes a vigilante. He takes the law into his own hands where the legal system would otherwise seem to fail. It’s also a love story between Mason and his Psychologist, who falls for him after years of treating him.
SPS: Mason Stone – a decorated war hero, and a respected S.W.A.T. Commander. Also an unhinged lunatic and a psychopathic vigilante. Where does the inspiration come from for such a character?
TR: Hmmm. This is a weird one to answer. If I were to be totally honest, there’s a lot of me in there. Probably too much. I tried to balance the book evenly between the action chapters and the Psychologist sessions. The secret is, every Psych session, the things Mason describes, is actually my life story. I’ll just leave it at that.
SPS: What sort of Demons is Mason struggling to contain?
TR: Mason has had events in his life that have sort of jaded him, made him cynical, mistrusting. Along with that is an intuitive gift of being acutely aware of the dark side of human nature. His demons are the very same people that we all run into on the street every day. The muggers, the rapists, the gang bangers. Mason just has no tolerance left for them, so he takes his sworn oath as a defender of the people beyond the legal bounds that would otherwise limit it. Haven’t we all been in that position where we wished we could just go and play hero and take out some bad guys? To go and beat up a bully? I think Mason represents that person in all of us. Not only can we live vicariously through characters like him, but I think there are some things to be learned from him as well.
SPS: Did you set out with the intention of inserting a love story into a thriller, or was that something that came with the writing?
TR: This was really the most interesting thing for me. I never planned that at all. Sue, the psychologist, was really intended to be just a minor role, something in the background. But I typically don’t plan out my books. I don’t right story outlines and plan the events like a lot of authors do. I just drop characters into a world, and see what happens. I let things develop naturally the way they would in real life. So I started writing Mason’s story, and the next thing I knew he and Sue were destined to be soul mates. Sue actually became 50% of the starring role, and the book became as much about Mason’s effect on her life, as his own. I’m really pleased that it worked out that way though, and the story of their relationship will continue into the sequel.
SPS: Do you have any particular characters in the book that you enjoyed writing more than the others?
TR: I think in those specific terms they are all fairly equal. Each one has their specific role, and just like in real life you have to accept them for what they are. Like a movie, I think each of my ‘actors’ played their parts very well. There’s a nice balance of personalities going on.
SPS: Can we expect to see Mason crop up again in future works, or has his story now been told?
TR: I had always planned for it to be a trilogy. Even though the first book is a complete story, I definitely left the ending leading us right into the next book. I have some great twists in mind too. My goal is definitely to make each book better than the previous. I would never want to just give “more of the same”. That’s unfair to readers, in my opinion. And if it were to become a really popular series, I would consider taking it beyond a trilogy.
SPS: Following on, you have switched genres and Friday January 24th sees the release of your new Sword and Sorcery novel Hegemonian. Are we right in thinking this is your favourite genre?
TR: I would have to say yes to that. I grew up on Robert E Howard, reading all the old Conan, Kull and Soloman Kane books. That would definitely be where my inspiration comes from. Growing up admiring his creations, and to now be publishing my own, quite frankly is an honor. I’ve actually placed a small tribute to REH within Hegemonian.
SPS: Can you tell us about the novel? What can a reader expect?
TR: It’s definitely a Conan-esque style of story, but done in my own unique writing style. I’m creating a large and interesting world to explore, full of great characters and creatures. I’ve really packed a lot into this book, and I think any sword and sorcery fan will find a lot to like in it. Being the first of a series, Hegemonian functions a lot like an introduction to the main character, meaning there are even greater things to come. I’ve had several people read a pre-release copy, and I’ve really gotten some great feedback. Growing up on this genre, I’m really proud of this book.
SPS: Who are the main protagonists and antagonists?
TR: The main character is fierce but noble warrior named Lucan. His homeland is Hegemonia, where the book name is then derived from. Still at a young age, he sets out to explore the world, and encounters all sorts of adventures. The main antagonist in this story is a tyrannical king who, once a good ruler, has now turned evil. King Normaanic has given in to the darker side of human nature, begun to abuse his own people, and intentionally brought his lands to the brink of war.
SPS: Can we expect many a fictional race and beast?
TR: Absolutely. Aside from witches and sorcerers, Minotaurs and other creatures, the beauty of this type of fiction is the world is limited only to the author’s imagination, and my imagination has no bounds. I would like for this to be an enduring series and would probably continue it until I can no longer write. So there is room to be ever expanding. It’s my hope that I’ve put enough into this first book, and written it well enough, that readers will be excited to see what comes later as the series and saga grows.
SPS: We understand that this is the first book in a planned series, was that always the intention?
TR: Yes, definitely so. There’s just so much potential for continuing world and character development, I think the legend of Lucan of Hegemonia could go on for many years.
SPS: Can you tell us one thing about Hegemonian that you haven’t told anyone else? Whether it is story, writing, editing… you decide.
TR: Here’s something that has definitely been a secret until now, and probably would have remained that way except for a few savvy readers. I mentioned earlier that there was a tribute to Robert E Howard in the book. There are two verses in the opening pages that most people would not understand what they mean. The first verse is a response to Mr. Howard’s suicide note. The second is a reference to his poem ‘The Tempter’. Howard historians would have gotten it right away, but most others probably would not have.
SPS: We always like to take a moment to look at an author’s book covers. Can you tell us a little about how the cover to Hegemonian came about?
TR: Unlike most authors, I’m proud to say I do my own covers. From the creative vision to constructing the actual graphic images. The Hegemonian cover is actually very simplified, but that’s intentional. I originally wanted something else with a sword on it and some other stuff, but I realized it would have looked like 100 other sword and sorcery covers. So, since the tale is from an ancient era, I thought it would be fitting to have the book look really old. The classic worn leather binding, with the metallic corner guards, it looks like something from a bygone era. I like my titles and covers to be somewhat unique, and I think browsing through Amazon books, this stands out against the modern looking things.
SPS: What we can we expect next from the pen of Tom Reinhart? The continuation of a series or is something new planned?
TR: I had planned on alternating between Saint Monolith and Hegemonian, so my plan at the moment is to have Saint Monolith 2 out by April this year. But I have a few other voices in my head lately, so I just might whip out a surprise instead. We’ll just have to wait and see.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
TR: Yes. Absolutely, for all the reasons that are well documented and discussed by indie authors all over the web. If not for the self-publishing revolution that’s occurring right now, probably no one would have Saint Monolith in their hands.
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
TR: Just to believe that you can do it too. The hardest part is the first step. A year ago, I shyly told my wife “I think I want to try publishing a book”, afraid she would think it was a dumb idea. Now here I am about to put out my second book, and will probably have three more out this year. Believe in yourself, and go for it. And if I may give one more, really important one; don’t expect overnight success, and don’t get discouraged. Keep going down that road, put out several books, and the recognition will start to come.
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
TR: The undiscovered indie-author. There are some really talented writers out there, none of whom are household names. But they all deserve a chance; their voices deserve to be heard. So if you like to read books, after you’re done with the #1 best seller of the week, check out some of the lesser known books. There are some great treasures out there that deserve to be found.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today Tom, and all the best for the future.
TR: Thank you for having me. It’s really an honor to even be asked to answer questions. Now we can have that Sailor Jerry’s!
SPS: Of course! For more information on Tom Reinhart and his work, please do visit his Author page here
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