January 8, 2012

Sean Thomas-Alaskan Resident and Writer

Alaska’s been my home since on and off since 1955 and I grew up mostly in Eagle River, a small community just north of Anchorage. In a few minutes, one can drive north or south of Anchorage/Eagle River and be surrounded by pristine wilderness with clear unpolluted lakes, rivers, and creeks loaded with fish and surrounded by green forests flush with wild game.  
The state is rich in history, minerals and oil, diverse native cultures, and lots of mystery—missing planes, missing people and very few roads.  For a serial killer, there are many places to hide a body. Alaska has had several serial killers. One, Robert Hansen, kidnapped prostitutes, held them captive, tortured and sexually assaulted them, then took them to the Alaskan bush to hunt them down.   Nicholas Cage came to Alaska this last fall and filmed a movie, On Frozen Ground, based on Robert Hansen.
In school, I was an average student.  I spent more time reading novels instead of concentrating on my school work and polished off a book a night.  My favorite authors were Jack London and Edgar Rice Burroughs.  At thirteen, I wrote my first story based on a plane crashing in the wilderness and the passenger’s survival.  My teacher, Mrs. Green, liked it.  She liked it so much she had me read it in front of the class.  I was the only one who read a story.  I was so embarrassed it killed my inspiration to write until I was in graduate school when I became the editor of the Vandal Review, a ROTC newspaper.  I didn’t seriously start writing again until 1990.   
The writing bug bit me but I really wanted to write fiction.  I picked a writing partner, a former coworker of Aleut heritage.  She wrote children’s books while I wrote a science fiction detective novel.  Occasionally, we would kibitz over our projects.  We joined a local writer’s group.  The group met weekly and everyone submitted 10 pages a week for review. After a couple meetings, my partner quit.  She said the members were the meanest, most vindictive people she’d ever met and quit writing.  I continued on with the group, accepting their harsh criticism.  I found with all the editing on other member’s works, there was little time to work on my own novel.  So over the next few years, I took creative writing courses.  My writing kept improving.
I took a screen writing course at the University of Alaska Anchorage taught by Kim Rich.  Kim wrote numerous screen plays and a book, Johnny’s Girl, about her life with her father, an Anchorage Mafioso.   Through her course, I finally understood how stories were put together following the Greek tradition.  I had four books in the hopper.  My Alaska State Trooper mystery novels, Dark Project, Dark Soul and Dark Gold, were published by Infinity. My third mystery, actually more a horror novel, Dark Shaman, was published by Trafford, a Canadian press. 
In the late 90’s, I had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure with atrial fibrillation.   My congestive heart failure reversed itself, but the irregular heart beat remained.  Several of the drugs that had helped keep my heart in sync failed.  So, doctors at the Alaska Heart Institute performed ablation therapy.  
 I lost eight months of short term memory and my ability to write. When I finally got my energy back, I looked down at the computer screen, it looked like gobbledygook, like Sergeant Snorkel from Beatle Bailey cussing.  couldn't string sentences together and it took three years to relearn my writing abilities. 
Around that time, I started to have a dream--a nightmare about a Roman Legion expedition to Qin that had been blown off course, went up the Yukon and  merged with Athabascans.  Tons of gold were hidden with their ancient weapons and Roman armor.  I had to get the story down on paper to stop the nightmares. So Robert Sable, my Alaska State Trooper, emerged in a new, different mystery novel, Lost Legion.  Other Robert Sable Mystery novels quickly followed: Stalker, Silent Killer, Alaska Dutchman, and Deadly Rites.  Lost Legion and Silent Killer were picked up.  The other three will be released from Whiskey Creek Press in 2012.  Synopses of my novel can be found at my website and blog.

All Information on Sean E. Thomas can be found at any of these sites:
Website:  www.seanethomas.com
Facebook: Sean E Thomas
Tumblr: Alaskan Novelist



17 comments:

Pauline B Jones said...

My dad was stationed in Alaska at the end of WWII and my hubby did some work their as a geologist. Amazing state. You've overcome a lot to keep writing. Kudos and congrats!

jrlindermuth said...

Congratulations on all you've overcome to fulfill your dream of writing. It should be an inspiration to those who lean on lesser excuses.
I like the idea of wilderness at the doorstep. But the thought of Alaskan winters makes me shudder.

Lauri said...

Your strength and stamina is a testament to your purpose in life.

Someday I will see Alaska. It's on my bucket list and I have extended family who have lived there for years and years.

Debby said...

You sure have worked hard for what you have. Congrats. It stuck about reading things a loud in class. I try hard to never single out a student like that.
I have to read your books. My hubby is a retired CT state trooper. Ikow the jobs do not compare in many ways.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Fran Orenstein said...

I think Alaska is one of the most beautiful, wild, and exciting places on earth. Thank you for doing it justice. Sometimes mortal illness spurs us to do things we only dreamed of. For me it was cancer. I'm happy you recovered and can write again. Lots of luck with your books.

elaine cantrell said...

I love Alaska. It's totally awesome.

Jillian said...

What an amazing journey you've had. So glad you continued with the dream. Beautiful photos of your state as well.

Nora said...

Your bio should be a book. I know others who had heart problems and suffered memory deficits. And Edgar Rice Burroughs, I loved reading him too when I was a kid. Whatever happened with the movie of John Carter that Disney was producing? I love hearing about Alaska. I think it could be a country on its own. Thanks for your entry. I enjoyed reading it.

Sean E Thomas said...

Alaska's a great state, great summers, but right now Valdez has 156 inches of snow. Cordova's worse. The snow's so deep this year people are climbing out their second story windows and using snowshoes to get around.

Sean

Sean E Thomas said...

JR
Actually Lost Legion and Silent Killer are novels 5 qnd 6. Whiskey Crrek has alos picked up Stalker (May), Alaska Dutchman (Sep) and Deadly Rites. Oh, I'm in Seattle right now blogging from a Comfort Inn.

Sean

Sean E Thomas said...

Debby:

My nephew is a reitred Captain from Alaska State Trooper. He checked all the procedures to ensure I was on the right track.

Sean

Sean E Thomas said...

All:

Alaska's been my home on and off (out for grad school & military service) since 1955. My parents settled in Eagle River in May 1960.
I can drive only a mile and I can be in heavy wilderness. I love fishing and boating. I am deeply involved in the US Coast Guard Auxilairy--a volunteer group dedicated to saving lives on the water. Due to sickness I was unable to go out the last two summers and enjoy Prince William Sound (real wilderness).

Sean

Lori said...

Sean, what a great story of your life! I envy you the forested wilderness and the multitude of wildlife (can you please make Sarah Palin stop shooting wolves from airplanes? That's cruel and unsporting, and the wolves don't deserve to die!). I do not envy you your snow. I live in central North Dakota and for the past three winters we've had nearly 200 inches of snow. This year, so far, two inches -- and it's melted. Looking out my window in January and seeing no snow, with record-breaking high temps, is unreal. Your books sound wonderful, and I salute you for working SO hard for your comeback from CHF! Good for you, and keep writing!
Lori

Sean E Thomas said...

All:

Today I'm in Auburn, WA visiting relatives. Even in the saddening times with the loss of my sister and niece, there is a sunny side. Washington weather is similar to Alaskan springs minus the mud, dry pavement, no ice, no snow, etc. The morning we left Anchorage, it had snowed a foot and a half. I left my son money for a snowplow. It snowed a lot more in Eagle River. Guess I going to woe him more $$$. South Central AK is having record snows.....

Sean

Debbie Kump said...

Thanks for sharing the beautiful images from your state! Each time I visit Alaska, I am more and more impressed with its people and majestic scenery. I wish you all the best as you and your family cope with your losses.

Sean E Thomas said...

Debbie:
Thank you for kind comments. My wife hints that we may move to Idaho in a few years (becoming snowbirds--going state side for the winters). At this stage of the game though we're retired from work, it's hard to envision. However, lately I've been using the snowblower twice weekly--Alaska has had record snowfalls--twice the average. Right now I'm in Seattle for two family funeral and thought temperature is in the mid 40s during the day and mid 30s at night it's almost like an Alaskan summer.

Sean

bn100 said...

Sounds like there are a lot of places to use as inspiration in a book.

bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com