Tom Starita – Interview

J.R. O'Neill - Tom Starita

Tom Starita

Tom, could you tell us a little about your writing process?

The first step is to think of an idea worth spending the next couple of years obsessing over. Once I grab hold of that idea I try to get it out as quickly as possible. That means a basic 20 to 30K rough rough ROUGH first draft, the equivalent of framing a house. There might be chapters where I only write a sentence or a paragraph or make a note saying: “In this chapter make sure you mention spoons or else you’re going to be so pissed at yourself a year from now when you realize you forgot to mention them.”

Once the first draft is done I write draft after draft with the goal of adding more. I have found by doing this I see connections I would have never made on my own and I think/hope/believe helps my characters become “real.”

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

For my first book, “Two Ways to Sunday” I wrote the whole thing in four different apartments. When I wrote my second, “Growth and Change are Highly Overrated” (looking for a book deal) I woke up every morning at 8:30 and wrote for four hours in the local Starbucks. Seeing how I’m not a morning person I will never do that ever again. For my third as yet untitled book I go to my local coffee shop, “Beans and Leaves” on Forest Ave here in glorious Staten Island, NY and for the price of a medium coffee spend my entire afternoon on Twitter and Metsblog and occasionally writing.

Is there one book you have written that is your favorite? Which of your characters is your favorite? And which is the biggest trouble maker for you?

My first book, “Two Ways to Sunday” is my favorite, just because you never forget your first. My favorite character and biggest trouble maker is the same guy – he’s living inside “Growth and Change are Highly Overrated.” His name is Lucas James and he is Tom Starita, if you took away all redeeming qualities and characteristics of who I am.

Two Ways To Sunday

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

Stephen King, George RR Martin, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, C.S. Lewis, Ray Bradbury, Chuck Klosterman, Bill Simmons, Michael Crichton, autobiographies in general and anything any comedian writes – especially Marc Maron’s book, “Attempting Normal.” I love any writer who writes something honest.

If you could cast the characters from your latest book in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

Hmmmmm the “Two Ways to Sunday” movie would have the following:

J.R. O'Neill Tom Starita

Ed Norton

Chris Marcum: younger version Ed Norton
J.R. O'Neill Tom Starita

Michael Keaton

The older version would be Michael Keaton

J.R. O'Neill Tom Starita

Jennifer Lawrence

Jen: younger version would be Jennifer Lawrence

Meryl Streep

The older version would be Meryl Streep because who wouldn’t want the greatest female actress ever in your movie?

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

I can’t write a sentence until I know the character’s full name. Sometimes I’ll choose a name based on personal preference. Other times I try to get cute and sneak in a hidden meaning. And I always try to include shout outs to people I know who have supported me. Odds are if you know me you’ll see your name somewhere.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

I taught high school for seven years and there have been a couple of times where a kid told me I helped them in some way.

Either that or winning the Mr. Riu contest in Costa Rica back in October of 2012. That’s a long story with some incriminating pictures and video.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Procrastinating.

The goal is to be a brand – I want people to look forward to the next Tom Starita book.

Were you already a great writer? Have you always like to write?

I don’t think I’m a great writer. I think I’m good with potential. I’ve always had a pen in my hand or a keyboard in front of me. Starting from notebooks filled with teenage angst that I’ll never go back and read to writing embarrassing love letters to girls who hopefully lost them to writing nonsense on the internet. I figured that the nonsense I was producing was just practice, like spending hours in a batting cage.

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

You are going to be rejected over and over and over. There are going to be times where you are convinced that this is going to be the moment where you finally break through, only to get the email equivalent of a sucker punch while you’re sitting in a coffee shop. Even if you think you’re prepared for rejection there’s nothing like having a day ruined at 3:30 in the afternoon.

It’s one thing to say you can deal with rejection, it’s another when you’ve been rejected over 100 times. All you can do is keep writing. If you’re shopping one manuscript start writing something else. The more material you have the greater the chance that something will break through. And most important of all, don’t write with dollar signs in your head because the odds are not in our favor. Write something you’re proud of and let the rest sort itself out.

If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living?

Anything involving people. Teaching, training, customer service, dancing…

Are you a plotter or a pantster? (Write by the seat of your pants)

My first book I did something Stephen King hates – I plotted everything out. I had a huge white board that summed up every chapter and every day I would consult and adjust and erase. That was because I had the naïve notion that I could go from writing cute little blogs to a 110,000 word book. I needed a white board to not feel overwhelmed and give up. My second and now my third book I just write and let the story take me wherever it wants to go.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

If I’m going to be embarrassingly honest I read every single thing that mentions my name. I don’t think any good can come from responding to a review, besides, “thanks!” because then you’re the crazy person arguing with someone for having an opinion. Fortunately I haven’t been savaged yet but when that day comes I’ll probably hang out in bed for a couple of days.

What is your best marketing tip?

Social media is free – use it all – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs etc etc etc.

What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

Trying to get published. Sending out the query letters, waiting three months to get a polite rejection, rinse repeat.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Good ideas are so hard to find that I don’t think it’s smart to say, “No I will not write about such and such.” If the idea is solid and you believe you can bring something new to the subject then go for it and let the rest sort itself out.

In “Two Ways to Sunday” who is your favorite character?

Valerie. I think she’s the only character that’s totally honest with who she is and what she wants. It’s also fascinating to me that no matter the demographic, everyone who has talked to me about my book does not like her. It’s kind of like the way people feel about Skyler from Breaking Bad.

Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

Racy because it’s a fine line between artistic and porn.

Tom what is your latest book? How many books have you written prior?

“Growth and Change are Highly Overrated” will hopefully be on your bookshelf sooner than later, although who knows – maybe the book I’m working on now leaps ahead.

What are you working on now? What is your next project?

It doesn’t have a title yet and because I’m beyond superstitious I won’t mention anything about it. Just know there is a main character and he gets involved in things and stuff.

Tom Starita

Tom Starita

Tom, the following are some Crazy Questions That No One Ever Asks Authors. The thing is these are the ones my readers like best…Answer if you Dare..

What has been your biggest disappointment in life?

My Pop-Pop not living long enough to see, “Two Ways to Sunday” published. The day Frank Starita died I went to visit him in the hospital and had a private moment with him. He was unconscious but I told him how much he meant to me and how my first book was coming out soon. I also told him he was an inspiration and when I said that his breathing changed, so I know he understood what I said. He’s the funniest man I’ve ever known and if I’m ever lucky enough to be a Pop-Pop myself, he’s my model.

The second biggest disappointment is not as serious but devastating as well:ONEILL
The 2006 New York Mets. I was convinced that was finally going to be the year and when Beltran struck out to end the NLCS I didn’t move from my floor until 10am the next day.

What is your greatest joy in life?

Chicken fingers from the Mike’s Place on Hylan Blvd here in beautiful, snow ravaged Staten Island.

Mike's Place  4677 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10312 Phone: (718) 984-9479

Mike’s Place 4677 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10312
Phone: (718) 984-9479

Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of, and what did you do?

I had a rough spot a couple years ago and I did the only thing I could, I kept breathing. My only goal was to survive each day until I was able to go back to sleep. Eventually the days added up and the storm ended. At the same time, I forced myself to confront every horrible thought and feeling because I knew one day I’d be able to use them in a story. Your sword gets sharpened on the rock of horrible life experiences.

What is your biggest fear?

Failing. I have one dream, that’s carving a foothold in the literary world. The four scariest words in the English language are, “never heard of it.”

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Well I want to be cremated but that wasn’t your question.

“You won’t find me here, I’ll meet you at the beach.”

JRONEILL

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I have gotten into intense arguments about this very topic. I would choose the ability to destroy things, only to have them instantly repair themselves. For example:Let’s say I’m watching a Mets game and we lose a heartbreaker. I would love to be able to throw my remote into my flat screen, causing a massive explosion and fire and damage and then have everything go back to normal – the apartment repairs itself, the television is fixed and the remote is back on couch. There is something therapeutic about seeing something explode. You really can’t be angry after that.

If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?

Mr. Loud – I would wear something really bright and bullet proof and I’d arrive on the scene yelling. I don’t care who you are, if you’re in a stressful moment and suddenly this guy comes out of nowhere screaming his head off you’re going to get flustered and make a mistake.

JR ONEILL

What literary character is most like you?

Jon Snow – because I’m kind of a bastard and know nothing.

What secret talents do you have?

I can lift ten pounds over my head without breaking a sweat.

JRONEILL

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

France – I’d love to live in a cottage in the south of France and write for a year, living on wine and cheese and hated by the locals for being American.

J.R. ONeill Tom Starita

Tom’s Cottage…

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

That’s easy – a sloth

J.R. O'Neill Tom Starita

Tom’s Alter ego the Sloth

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

Have a conversation with Trey Parker from South Park.

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

Russian

What were you like as a child? Your favorite toy?

If I was comfortable around you I was loud and obnoxious. But until I reached college I was quiet in school because I was always afraid of not being funny. That’s the one thing I’ve learned, don’t avoid doing something because you’re afraid of the result.

Favorite toy…the old hockey game with the rods and the metal players.
J.R. O'Neill Tom Starita

Every night after work my Dad would play me and beat me. He never let me win, something I always respected. When the game was over we’d get into a hockey fight and he would pull my shirt over my head and beat me up.
I know how it reads but trust me, he’s a great dad.

Do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?

I never have nightmares, or if I do I don’t remember them. It’s normally nonsense involving people who aren’t who they really are – which basically sums up life in general.

You can follow along with Tom on his journey but utilizing the links below. Remember to subscribe to this page and get the updates right in your in box.

Facebook:

Facebook

Twitter:
@TomStarita

Website:
www.Goppygots.com

Amazon Author Page:
Tom Starita Amazon Page

Goodreads:
Goodreads

Barnes and Noble:
Barnes & Noble

If you are or will be in the New York / New Jersey area on April 29, 2015 You can meet author Tom Starita and get your signed copy of “Two Ways to Sunday” at Pompton Plains New Jersey’s Number One Salon – Allure Hair Designs Located at: 610 Newark Pompton Turnpike. Pompton Plains, New Jersey 07444

Wednesday April 29 5-8 pm

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity! Call Allure Hair Designs for more info or to book an appointment. (973) 616-7444

Allure Hair Designs: Facebook Page:

Allure Hair Designs

Allure Hair Designs

Thank you Tom Starita I learned a lot and I am sure my readers will also. Remember to keep us updated on your news.

Buy Your Copy of Two Ways to Sunday! Today!!

2 Comments

  1. Tom Starita

    Thanks for the interview! I had a lot of fun answering your questions. Hope everyone enjoys my book!

    1. J.R. O'Neill (Post author)

      I had fun putting it together. Hoping you will consent to giving us a character interview also??

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