May 26, 2013

Sean E. Thomas Shares His Writing and Life Journey in Alaska



Alaska’s been my home since on and off since 1955.  I grew up mostly in Eagle River.
In minutes, one can drive north or south of there and be surrounded by pristine wilderness with clear unpolluted lakes, rivers and creeks loaded with fish and 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.  
This wilderness is great inspiration for Mystery novels as there are many places to hide a body.

In truth, Alaska has had several serial killers. One was baker and businessman Robert Hansen who 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, Frozen Ground, based on Robert Hansen.  It’ll be out later this year.

My writing experience started in grade school. I spent more time reading novels instead of concentrating on my schoolwork. My favorite authors were Jack London and Edgar Rice Burroughs.  In the seventh grade, I wrote my first story based on a plane crashing in the wilderness.  My teacher liked it so much she had me read it in front of the class.  I was so embarrassed it killed my inspiration to write paving the way for high school where I excelled scholastically.

I attended Alaska Methodist University, majoring in chemistry with a minor in mathematics. 

At the University of Idaho graduate school, I went into organic chemistry and enrolled in ROTC for the deferment.  ROTC leadership requested I take over as the editor of the Vandal Review, a ROTC newspaper.  It was there I met and married the love of my life, Doris.  We’ve been married for 40
years.  We have one son, Robert, who is a computer genius working for the Alaska Railroad.  My son built and maintains my website.

I seriously start writing again in 1990.  
At that time, I was records/copy machine manager for the Army in Alaska and wrote an article on copy machine management.  It was accepted and published in their International Quarterly.  

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.  We joined a local writer’s group that met weekly.  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 for my own novel. I enrolled in creative writing courses, improved on my style and eventually moved forward.
 
I took a screen-writing course at the University of Alaska Anchorage taught by Kim Rich. Through her course, I finally understood how stories were put together following the Greek tradition.  By then, I had four books in the hopper and my Alaska State Trooper mystery novels, Dark Project, Dark Soul and Dark Gold, were published.  My third mystery, actually more a horror novel, Dark Shaman, was published in 2003. Whiskey Creek Press, my current publisher, picked these four novels for conversion to e-format.  Since these were my earlier works, I revised, streamlined and punched up the prose and dialog before submission. 

I had been diagnosed and was living with congestive heart failure with atrial fibrillation and was on a handful of medicines that on any given day had a 14% chance of killing me.  My congestive heart failure reversed itself, but the irregular heartbeat remained. Complications arose resulting in surgery where I was on the operating table for nine hours, and during that time the doctors cardioverted me eight times—that’s being hit by the electrical paddles 16 times—stopping and starting my heart.
As a result of the cardioversions, I lost eight months of short-term memory and my ability to write.


After I had gotten my energy back, when I looked down at the computer screen, it looked like Sergeant Snorkel from Beatle Bailey cussing.  I couldn’t string sentences together.  It took three years to get back my writing abilities.  

In 2006, I retired. Around that time, I started to have a reoccurring dream about a Roman Legion expedition to Qin (China) that had been blown off course, went up the Yukon and merged with Athabascans. I had to get the story down on paper to stop the nightmares. So Robert Sable, my Alaska State Trooper, emerged again in a new, different mystery novel, Lost Legion. 

Other Robert Sable Mystery novels quickly followed: you can see the long list on my site www.seanethomas.com  There you’ll find all my work including the many award winners with synopsis. 


My next release, The Frozen Treasure, will be out from Whiskey Creek Press in June 2013.

 I am currently working on a new novel in the series with the working title, Blood on the Moon--a multi-millionaire has upped the winner’s prize for this year’s Iditarod race to $5 million.  Last year’s champion is the first to die along with all his dogs.

Stalker, Alaska Dutchman and Deadly Rites were submitted to Alaska Professional Communicators contest.  Alaskan Dutchman--the Official Second Place Winner and all three novels received rave reviews by the judges! 
.

(Pictures provided by Author)

9 comments:

jrlindermuth said...

Enjoyed learning more about you and your writing career, Sean. Probably inspired by reading Jack London, I considered moving to Alaska shortly after statehood. Since I abhor cold and snow, common sense kicked in. But I still like to make a vicarious visit every now and again. Best of luck with the new book.

Karen H in NC said...

Enjoyed reading about your writer beginnings. Just proves the road to being a published author is long and hard sometimes.

My son-in-law is a nature photographer and has visited the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska several times, spending 6-8 weeks there each time. The photos he took are absolutely beautiful...but while I would really like to visit, I know I would never want to live in Alaska...too cold and snowy for me.

Sean E Thomas said...

Thank you for your comments. I like to add weather, color, touch taste and odor (smell) to my novels. Alaska is great in the summers and depending where you live (I live in the banana belt Anchorage/Eagle River) south central or southeast weather's rather mild--especially southeast.

Glenda Fralin said...

I really enjoyed reading about your experiences in Alaska and how you've overcome you heart condition. That can be a scary thing.

My parents were stationed at Fairbanks during the Korean War. Dad was in the Air Force though he never got to fly like he wanted.

I suffer from COPD and understand the difficulties of working through a chronic health condition.

I wish you well. Keep writing. Your books sound thrilling.
Glenda

Sean E Thomas said...

Here are some websites I use that can assist authors in their writing:
Sense http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense
Odor/fragrance/smell
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odor
Color http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color
Taste http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taste
Sounds People and Things Make http://esl.about.com/od/vocabularyreference/a/sounds.htm
Weather http://esl.about.com/library/vocabulary/blwordgroups_weather.htm

Sean E Thomas said...

Happy Memorial Day and Thanks to all our military members for their service

Sean E Thomas said...

Here is a quick overview of Alaska via Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska
As you can see there is a lot of material for novels and mostly wilderness with lots of places to hide bodies (586,412 square miles). Our famous serial killer, Robert Hansen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Hansen hunted his victims, killed buried them in the wilderness. There were more than 21 women. This winter, a Nicholas Cage movie, Frozen Ground, will bring this horror to the screen. Hansen's mistakes was he buried the bodies. If he hadn't done this the animals would've left virtually no evidence and he probably wouldn't have been caught. Another mistake was his killing fields were a short drive from Anchorage and Palmer in a favorite hunting fishing area.

Sean E Thomas said...

Annette:
Thank you for your time and support. The set up of the blog was exceptional!

};-)

SE (Sean E)

William Kendall said...

Excellent post, Sean! I haven't been up to Alaska as of yet, but I will down the line. I've been fascinated by the state as long as I can remember.