Tom Welcome to Empowered to Prosper. Please introduce yourself, then tell us how you got started writing.
I’m a very transparent person. I have no secrets about myself. I’ve lived a tough life having been sexually abused when I was twelve years old. I was out of control and a felon by time I was fifteen. The Lord revealed Himself to me when I was twenty-eight and I became a Christian. My life has been on an upward path from that day—Dec. 13, 1970.
You’ve been a speaker for more than twenty-five years. What sparked your writing journey?
Although I was a speaker, I was writing along the way. I had some articles published in company and denomination magazines. I self-published a book back in the mid 70’s. Nonfiction writing has always been a part of my adult life.
How does your faith play into your writing?
Everything I do is an act of worship. I learned this from Julia Cameron in the Artist’s Way. Until then I thought only spiritual things could be worship. My favorite verses are Prov. 16:9 and 19:21.
Where do your story and character ideas come from?
From my life, for the most part. One day I was out working in the yard and Barbara, my wife, called me to the phone. It was one of our granddaughters with a question. I answered her and I went back to work in the yard. Within forty-five minutes, in my mind, I wrote a children’s story based on her question and my answer. I distributed the story to all of our grandchildren for Christmas. It has become a part of my legacy never to be forgotten. Another time, our newly acquired black cat got into the duct work in our house and provided me with another children’s story—in fact, probably a series. Our minds are awesome creations.
In my newly released historical novel, the protagonist is based on my maternal grandfather. The rest of the characters are figments of my imagination.
Let’s talk about your debut novel, Night of the Cossack (Bound by Faith Publishers, April 2011). Please tell us a little about it.
This is my first work of fiction, which took me five years to write. I have found writing fiction is much more difficult than writing nonfiction. It’s a story about a 16 year old who is kidnapped by a Cossack soldier in 1898 and is forced to be a Cossack himself.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
It’s about my maternal grandfather. Both of my grandfathers died before I was born. I had a little information about my maternal grandfather. I wanted to know him so I started researching Russian history and found the information I had was fact. I began writing about him with the purpose of creating my own grandfather. Then I started writing for my six children and fourteen grandchildren. I let my wife read it and she thought it might be publishable.
What is a Cossack?
Cossacks were members of several peasant groups of Russian and Polish descent. They lived in autonomous communal settlements, especially in the Ukraine, until the early 20th century. In return for special privileges, they served in the cavalry under the czars. They were well known for their horsemanship. They raided villages for supplies, women and young men to increase or replenish their ranks. Eventually they became a part of the Russian army.
The Night of the Cossack looks like it required quite a bit of research. How did you go about that? Did you encounter any obstacles?
Night of the Cossack did require a lot of research. I worked hard at it and took my first fifty pages to a Russian History professor at a local university and asked her to read it. She did and told me there wasn’t a word of truth in it, which really threw me. At the time, I was tutoring English as a second language and there were some students from Russia and Ukraine. One of them read it and told me it was all true. I told her I was confused. She asked me where the professor was educated and I told her in Russia. She told me that was the problem—that there is one version of history taught in the universities and there was the true history written by those who escaped and immigrated to the USA. After that, I continued researching and writing.
We are all about journeys...unique ones at that. How complex was your path to your first published book?
I agree, I’m always on a journey. This is why Prov. 16:9 is a favorite verse. The path to my first published book, Night of the Cossack, wasn’t complex at all. Mainly because I wrote eighty percent of it for myself without thinking of being published. I was busy creating my grandfather, who died before I was born, and filling a void in my life. Near what I thought was the finish, I let a friend read what I had written and she suggested I pursue publication. I joined a local critique group. When I was nearly finished, a publisher came to me and asked to publish it. What is complex is getting people to read the first chapter, which greatly enhances the chances of their purchase.
How can readers find the book and where can they find you on the Internet?
At the present time, if you do a Google search for Tom Blubaugh, nearly 90,000 results show up. This is hard for me to believe with my last name seemingly not that common. Not all of are me. One in particular was recently convicted on fraud—definitely not me.
I can be found at http://tomblubaugh.com . http://nightofthecossack.com also feeds into my site. I’m on Facebook here and here . I can also be found on Twitter @tomblubaugh and I have a blog. My book is available on my site, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Do you have a nugget of writing advice that has completely changed how you view of writing?
Writing is a group thing. Surround yourself with a good critique group. One of the most valuable things I learned is this—if one person says a part needs to be rewritten, it may be just their opinion; if two say a part needs to be rewritten, you should take a good look at it; if three or more say a part needs to be rewritten—rewrite it.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning to write and wanting to publish?
Don’t wait another minute to start promoting your name and what you’re doing. A deep platform is extremely important if you want to see your work do well. I don’t know how the writers did it before the computer.
Any last words?
There is a great need for clean, wholesome literature for young adults.
Thanks for interviewing me, Paulette.