Interview with Author Tom Garback

Tom Garback
Tom Garback, author

Biography

I was born the winter of 2000 in Philadelphia to a mother, father, and sister. We enjoyed, for the most part, that middle-class, Irish Catholic, suburban lifestyle. Two dogs and a cat passed through our house. I gave up all the many sports I played in Catholic school when I transferred in 4th grade to public, where I warmed up to my love of reading and writing. School came easily to me, and all through my K-12, I enjoyed Scouting, especially the passive outdoors and aggressive service sides of it. I went to Boston for my undergraduate education, from which I’m currently taking a break for personal and pandemic reasons.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

I’ve written poetry, fiction, non-fiction, short films, a less short memoir, a YA Fantasy novel, a three-act play, and outlines for every other kind of book out there. But my list of publications is mild, even for the beginning of a writing career. So it meant a lot to hear catapult wanted a short story of mine (slated for February of this year). This feels like the first Big News of its kind, and I hope it’s the First of Many, too.

Why do you write?

For far more interesting reasons than why I breathe, though they’re admittedly some of the few things I can’t put into words.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

If I don’t write by early afternoon, I likely won’t for the rest of the day. My writing place is wherever I live at the moment, be it a dorm or a bedroom in my parents’ home. I can’t write in public, or to put it more honestly, I’ve never tried. I am not superstitious, so I have no tricks or habits, though I wonder if I ought to. My process is messy and scrambled as hell from start to finish, from outlines written one line at a time months apart in variously themed folders on my Reminders app (I once had my Notes app delete hundreds of notes and have since been too scarred to ever use that app again), lines that have no idea who’ll they’ll soon be paired with in a working storyline. First drafts are torturous, and I’m suspicious when they’re not. My revisions fold over one another without sequence, and I’m never quite sure when its time to polish a draft or reconstruct it altogether, though I rarely do the latter because of how meticulous (obsessive, paranoid) my outlines are.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

There’s one of my weakest points as writer, actually. I don’t have a list of beta readers. I’ve always imagined a page of acknowledgements that wryly thanks myself and the publisher alone. Truth is, I am more solitary than is useful when it comes to craft. But I’m still young, and it’s best to know what’s got to change if you’re going to change inevitably.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I am finishing up a second draft of a short story about a murderous traveling sex doll. It’s not as trashy as it sounds, but it’s twice as fucked up. In the next few weeks, I hope to finally (finally) start finalizing an outline for a horror novel about the Catholic parish that raised me.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

I want there to be as many readers who hate my work as those who love it.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

They’re as helpful as you make them. Most of the time it depends on the mood you’re in when you read them.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

I’d say I’m a novice, too, so my advice is to stay humble.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

Despite what I’ve said about my life, other people. No one gets published alone. Like it or not, everything is networking. Books are a business. Ink is money. The resources inside our heads must include creativity and passion as much as professionalism and realism. Now, I never said I’m good at any of this. It’s just that as a Publishing student, I can say there’s a lot of truth to this stuff. But nothing is ever the whole truth, so you’d do well to compensate by making your own.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

You can browse some of my work on my website, which is under construction for the winter, at https://tcgarback.wixsite.com/website/writing


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