Hey Readers! I’m so excited to welcome Author Douglas Vigliotti! Today, we’re going to be finding out more about his novel Tom Collins: A ‘Slightly Crooked’ Novel, as well as finding out what character he found most entertaining! So without further ado, let’s get our chat started!
Welcome, Douglas! Tell us about Tom Collins: A ‘Slightly Crooked’ Novel.
In short, Tom Collins is about a guy who’s out with his buddy, meets an older woman, they hit off and sleep together. Five days later, he’s at a work event where he wins a long-sought-after award but simultaneously learns the woman he just slept with is his new boss’s wife. And the story sets out… It’s an edgy book with a lot of heart. I’d say that’s a good one-line synopsis of my work in general, actually. Thematically, the book deals with some pretty heavy concepts—consumption, influence, infidelity, finding oneself, etc. Hopefully, in a fun way, though.
What inspired you to write Tom Collins?
I think like many writers, some admittedly and others not so much, lived experiences serve as an inspiration. I will never shy away from that. But I will say there’s a big idea that is baked into the entire novel. The story is a vessel for that idea. That was there from the moment I wrote the opening line, “The room is hollow.”
What character did you find most entertaining to write about?
Tom Collins is written in first person and present tense. So you’re literally inside of the head of Christian Ballantine (protagonist) every step of the way. So in a way, he kinda had to be the most entertaining for me. It would have been really hard to write the book—ha! He’s unbridled, raw, emotional, and, one might suggest, disillusioned at times. But he still finds time to be charming in his own way. Sounds like a fun character to write, no?
Are any of your characters based on people you know?
I think all characters are influenced by the people around us. Some serve as better templates for characters than others (without question.) But once the story begins to develop and evolve, there are certain elements that characters need for a story to work. IMO, you can’t base them verbatim off people; otherwise, you risk losing the story. You’ve gotta serve the story.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Short answer: no. Not even close. I mean, I was always creative and have a painting in my office that I painted in the sixth grade of a Picasso. I was also the editor of the elementary school newspaper. So the seed was there. Without question, it was just never watered. It took me a while to find writing. Oddly or not so oddly, depending on how you see it, this ties back into Tom Collins. (But I’m not saying anymore—ha!)
What has your journey been like on the publishing front?
With my nonfiction, I’ve worked with a publisher and self-published. With my fiction, I started to go down the traditional path—query, agent, sell work, etc. As any writer knows, this is tough sledding (for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons.) Fortunately, I found an agent who wanted to work with me, but something happened as I continued to get closer to the industry. It became more and more apparent that at pretty much every phase of the traditional model, the main goal was saleability. Agents want work they can sell. Editors want to buy work that already sells, etc. The business relies heavily on duplication (as do most successful businesses.) In that process, creating “another one” becomes the most important objective for everybody. Their lives and careers ride on it, which is fine, by the way. It just didn’t appeal to me (and my goals.) So I started my own imprint—Slightly Crooked. I’m proud to say I partner with some super talented professionals (at every stage of the process) to give the books the proper treatment. I’m also doing something a little different in that, Slightly Crooked: Good Stories, Told Well is also a podcast that will feature my novels season by season. Professionally voice-acted, of course. Tom Collins will be season one.
We’re you involved in designing the cover and picking the title?
Absolutely. Although there might have been titles that felt more “now” or “buy me,” there was never another title option for the book (in my mind.) Any other would have violated the entire vision for the work. As far as covers go, I prefer simple and stripped down. I’m very big on aesthetics. In the end, there’s either aesthetical congruency or there isn’t when you’re trying to bring a creative vision to life. In that sense, every element becomes important. I value aesthetics over pretty much everything.
Will there be a sequel to Tom Collins?
Most likely, no. But I never say never. However, there will be another Slightly Crooked novel in 2022. I won’t give too much away, but it’s quite different than Tom Collins (story-wise, anyway.) The protagonist is an edgy female character, and the story is written from her POV. It’s a double-life tale that involves a crime.
Walk us through your typical writing day?
I have a pretty simple method. Wake up at 5 am, drink two cups of coffee, and read for 30 minutes. Then, I sit at the computer and write for a minimum of 30 minutes. Naturally, sometimes I go longer. And, many days, I struggle to get to thirty. I do this pretty much every day, though. If I’m working on a novel, then that’s what I’m writing. When I’m not, it could be my journal; it could be a blog post for my website, or maybe a poem. It doesn’t really matter, but I tell myself the night before what I’m going to write in the morning. That way, there’s no downtime. Sometimes something really emotional will hit me, and I’ll have to deter from the plan, but that’s a good problem. I wish that happened more often.
Do you believe in outlining before constructing a draft?
Always. For me, a solid three-act structure along with the protagonist’s flaw/arc is a must before I put pen to the page. After that, it’s about getting draft one down as fast as humanly possible. I’m a huge proponent of intentional storytelling (similar to that of a screenwriter.) You have an intention for the scene, act, chapter, whatever. How do you get there? Well, that’s art. Go connect dots. Writing is different than storytelling (in my eyes.) Storytelling is intentional; writing is more intuitive. I believe there’s only one natural, alive voice for a writer. But you can tell a zillion different stories with it.
Anything else you want to tell readers before I go?
This has nothing to do with my book or writing career. But it’s an important message that I want to continue to spread as far as I can. Life is hard, and people are struggling. We’re all imperfect. But your smile and kindness will make it a bit better. I know this because on my bluest days, a smile has done that for me. Remember: being kind should not be conditional. If you’re conditionally kind, then you’re not kind. You’re the opposite. So you just gotta be it.
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