Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Author Interview: Thomas Fahy

Thomas Fahy grew up in Los Angeles, California. He has studied literature and music throughout his life and received undergraduate degrees in both fields from the University of California at Davis. After earning a Ph.D. in literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he taught at several schools in California. He now lives in New York, where he is a professor of literature and Director of the American Studies Program at Long Island University, C. W. Post Campus. His latest novel Sleepless is in stores now.

How did Sleepless originate?
I came up with the idea while working on my last book, The Unspoken, which is about a group of teens who are haunted by their childhood memories of growing up in a cult and now must face a horrifying prophecy—that they will die from their worst fear. The main character, Allison, is epileptic, and during her seizures, she has these visions of terrible crimes before they happen. Her visions made me think about nightmares and the power they can have over us—to make us scream, break out in a sweat, and, in some cases, sleepwalk. I thought it would be kind of cool to write something about sleepwalking—as if it were a disease that could infect people and make them do things.

How does Sleepless differ from your other works?
Unlike The Unspoken, which is told from Allison’s point of view, I decided to have the two main characters, Emma and Jake, narrate Sleepless. Each chapter alternates between them, so we get different perspectives on each of them (as they’re falling in love), on their other friends, and on this epidemic of sleepwalking that is causing teens to kill each other.

How do you go about researching your novels?
Two ways: books and travel. For Sleepless, I started out by researching and reading about sleep disorders, voodoo, and mesmerism—all of these things are part of the mystery in the book. Once I start any project, I also discover things that I need to research along the way. Sometimes a character has a hobby or interest that I don’t know a lot about, and that inspires me to learn more. I also like to travel, so I want to visit the places I write about. This wasn’t too difficult for Sleepless. I was living in Sea Cliff at the time, and I thought it would be a great setting for the book. The store Mystic Dreams, where Ms. Dupré reads tarot cards, is based on a real place called Dreams East on Main Street. I also lived a block away from the towering, yellow Victorian house where Dr. Beecher lives and where the teens discover what’s behind the murders in town.

What impressed you most during your research?
There are a lot of paintings in Sleepless (which are part of the mystery), so my research involved studying these paintings—learning about the history of each one and about the myths and stories they tell, etc.

Do you have a novel outlined pretty much in its entirety when you start writing, or does the plot take shape as you write?
I always have an outline when I start, and sometimes, it’s pretty detailed. But in my experience, writing takes on a life of its own at some point. My characters always take me in directions that I don’t expect, which changes things. That is part of the fun!

What books have most influenced your life?
This is a difficult question because I discover new books all the time that inspire me and help me see the world in new ways. I love reading anything I can get my hands on. I’ve always been a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, and right now, I’m really enjoying Lisa McMann’s series—Wake and Fade.

Are you working on any other projects that you would like to share with readers?
Right now, I’m working on something a little different—a book called The Philosophy of Horror. It’s a collection of essays about horror books and films and television shows, about why people like to be scared. It’s coming out a few months after Sleepless. I’m also brainstorming some ideas for my next teen horror novel.


Thanks Thomas!

For more information about Thomas Fahy and his novels, please visit his website here.

16 comments:

  1. Great interview Tina! I love hearing about how book ideas originate with authors. :)

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  2. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    ___________________
    Vince
    Best place for your complete Internet marketing

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  3. Lovely interview Tina. Thomas Fahy seems like a very interesting person, and kudos to him for residing in the super awesome NY! I think his new project sounds fascinating, the Philosophy of Horror. I'd like to know why I still watch zombie movies even though they scare the hell out of me, LOL.

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  4. It's always great to know how a book originates and what's in the author's mind as they write! It also amazes me the amount of research that most books take! It's so impressive!


    Thanks for the wonderful review!

    xoxo Amy (Park-Avenue Princess)

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  5. Oh! I loved the things he researched: sleep disorders, voodoo, and mesmerism. And the paintings he mentioned he had to research sound very interesting! Wicked interview!

    Bianca

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  6. Great interview!! I want to read Sleepless really badly, the painting refrence sounds so awesome!! Can't wait to see what his new book will be like :)

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  7. Chapel Hill! They have a great archives program for the Civil Rights Movement.

    Anyway, I love the cover and the concept. While it's a good thing he sees these visions, I can't think of a worst thing to bring them on.

    Valorie
    morbidromantic@gmail.com

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  8. This sounds like such a cool, though creepy, plot for a book. I definitely want to read it!

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  9. Great interview! The way the story is written, going back and forth between the two characters while they fall in love sounds really interesting!

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  10. It's fun to learn that specific buildings from real life inspired a fictional structure. I'm sure there will be fans who go by that yellow Victorian and wonder what REALLY goes on there. :-) Good interview!

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  11. The essay collection sounds interesting.

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  12. This was a great interview! That's really cool about how he thought up of his book Sleepless. I'll have to read The Unspoken. "The Unspoken, which is about a group of teens who are haunted by their childhood memories of growing up in a cult and now must face a horrifying prophecy—that they will die from their worst fear." SCARY!

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  13. From the author's interview I am definetly adding "Sleepless" to my TBR list. I love it when authors tackle topics that seem to stem from deep-seated fears, like nightmares and sleepwalking.

    -Britt
    brittanynoelle (at) gmail (dot) com

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  14. I love hearing about how authors come up with ideas for books. I've never heard of the author or his books until now!

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