His name is Tom Sawyer and that is his real name; no pen or nickname.
“No I don’t fish or paint fences. I write,” he said with confidence.
Sawyer is a full-time landscaper with the Detroit Zoo and a part-time writer. He’s also a full-time husband to Colleen and father to Jonathon, Kathleen and Elizabeth. But you’d think he was a full-time writer with how he does it and the passion behind it. With 30 years of writing and working for newspapers, he had the bug under his belt. His main subjects were sports and features. Now he’s writing a different kind of sporting.
“I think I’m an entertaining writer,” he said and shifted comfortably on the grayish couch, “live it, dream it.”
And he does because he never takes time off from writing. He started writing later in life rather than as a kid. In 1999, he wrote and self-published his first book, The Lighthouse. His second novel was Fire Sale published in 2010. Then came The Sisigwad Papers and The Last Big Hit in 2011. You think he might take a breath yet, but nope. Fire Sale Tales was published in 2012. When he said he never takes a break, that is NO understatement. A sequel and prequel to Fire Sales and The Sisigwad Papers called Fire Sale Tales came out in 2013. It is a collection of short stores and where did he get more stories?
“I basically got a back log of stories,” he said, “I have a collection of short stories that tie into Shadows In the Dark and am currently working on my novels White-Out and Suspicious Minds and Murders as well as some other projects too numerous to name right now.”
What, does he write in his sleep?
He writes mostly horror and that’s what he’s known for. His vampire novel, Shadows In The Dark, that came out in 2013 is paying homage to Bram Stoker, Sheridan Le Fanu and the Hammer Vampire movies. He likes to pay homage to writers and people that have influenced him in his art. Right now, his books go through Black Bed Sheet Book publishing, but he is always on the look for representation. While he pays homage to the horror greats and continues to write horror, he does venture into other genres. He’s working on a mystery book about an Elvis impersonator helping the police to solve crimes and murders. This had me snort laugh several times when he told me about it.
He was inspired as a kid from The Twilight Zone. When it rained, he was the story teller to other kids in the neighborhood. He laughed at the fact that he’s “old enough to remember the last few seasons of Twilight Zone. My favorite show and biggest influence on wanting to be a writer is Rod Serling.” His other favorite shows and the original Outer Limits, Night Gallery, One Step Beyond, Lose, and the Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
As a writer of horror, what scares him to watch? The original Haunting, The Changeling, and The Exorcist. Yea, ok who doesn’t get scared watching The Exorcist?
“I definitely won’t go through a cemetery at night,” he explains, “I don’t like being lost in general, but especially i9n the woods at night.”
Yes, I watched The Strangers and Blair Witch Project, I’m not a fan of the woods either. As much as he says he’s afraid of things, Tom has braved some of the most terrifying things anyone should; he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2007. He’s been fighting is all along and he’s says he doesn’t consider himself a survivor.
“Cancer battler,” he said, “I like that better than survivor.”
So as he continued to battle it after that, he’s been cancer-free since 2012. A fun and fabulous way to help deal with it and help fight this nasty disease is he put together an annual Halloween Party fundraiser and calls it Fright Night Cancer Fight. He’s done that from 2008-2012 to benefit pediatric cancer victims.
“It was scary enough for me,” he went on, “imagine what is was like for a kid.”
Since he doesn’t do the Halloween party shin-dig, in 2013 he put together and hosted a Vincent Price film fest. Him, Wolfman Mac and his nephew, Brent, put together a weekend marathon of fun. They thought, one time while they were watching movies, “I wonder if we could pull this off.” He’d like to do it again with Poe or William Castle films. Ok and if that wasn’t enough, he also has started some writing groups.
“I helped to create two writing groups, the Michigan Horror Writers and the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers,“ he said, “I am also a member of the Collaboration of Independent Artists (CIA).”
Are you tired yet?
He does set some writers rules for himself. He won’t write anything to do with killing kid or animals and he stays away from the sparkly vampires. You all know what I’m referring to. He wants to stay with the violent realness that feeds what people crave when they read horror.
He takes time to meet and greet fans at different conventions when he can swing it. With a full-time job and a family, he does what he can. He’s been doing cons since 1998. He likes to stay in Michigan, because funds are tight, but he would love to venture out into the tri-state areas cons.
He is a true Detroit native as he’s a huge fan of the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings. Like apple pie and white bread, he thinks Elvis and The Beatles are the greatest ever.
“I could talk about writing all day and I think a writer should tell a good story and be entertaining from the opening sentence until the very end of the story,“ he said with pride, “make the reader not want to put your book down.”