... Tom Olbert
1. Tell me about your book Desert Flower and where you got your inspiration
Thank you, Sonnet for letting me be here. “Desert Flower” (Published by Eternal Press, now out at EP and Amazon) is a short vampire novelette about a child bride in Afghanistan who is rescued from her abusive husband by a vampire girl. It’s a tragic coming of age story of a strange friendship, an ill-fated love, and innocence destroyed. I set out to write a vampire-themed revenge story about child brides, as I’d heard troubling reports about them through Amnesty International. I hadn’t expected to go quite this far with it, but my research brought up a lot of information about Afghanistan. Obviously, it’s a turbulent place where life can be hell, especially for a young girl on her own. A vampire thrown into the fray made for the right mix of good and evil, both pure as innocence. And, an immortal perspective on the timeless brutality of Man.
2. What was the first thing you wrote?
I’ve been writing about as long as I could hold a pencil. I started out writing science fiction just for myself. My first published short story was “Rat Race,” a darkly comical sci-fi about dinosaurs and alternate evolution. It appeared in “Unicorns and Space Stations,” a long-since defunct publication put out by some gentleman out in Provo, Utah.
3. Was there ever a time when you nearly gave up on becoming an author?
Yup. There was a time in my early 20’s when I felt like I was at a dead end in every sense, and I thought I’d never write again. But, it came back. It’s as natural as breathing. It’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do.
4. Is there anything that annoys you connected to writing or being a writer?
Sure: Not being good enough. You slave over a story, scene by scene. Tear it apart, do it over until you’re satisfied. You go back later, after it’s in print, and say to yourself how much better a job you could have done. Improving as a writer is a continuing process like anything else. You just keep trying to reach higher.
5. Have you ever based a character on a friend or family member?
Yeah, once or twice. (I’ll decline to mention names.)
6. Who is your favourite character/s you’ve created?
Ruhee, the heroine of “Desert Flower” is certainly different from any other character I’ve developed. She really goes through a baptism of fire in this story, and it just flows very naturally, more effectively than with any other character I’ve taken on that kind of journey. She’s the first character I’ve taken from childhood to adulthood, so that was interesting. On the lighter side, I loved developing Garth Jenkins and Sally Drake, a couple of wise-cracking truckers I created for my sci-fi novella “Long Haul.” (Now out from Mocha Memoirs Press – available at Barnes & Noble.) That was my first attempt at comical action/adventure. It was also my first attempt at first person narrative. I had a ball with it.
7. Pick one of your characters and tell me what they would do in the real world?
Chris, the hero of my other vampire novelette “Unholy Alliance” is a vampire hunter who falls in love with Sara, a vampire. When we last saw Chris and Sara, they were off to the darker regions of the world to fight against evil. If they were in the real world now, I guess they’d be in Darfur killing Sudanese war criminals. Or, possibly in Syria knocking off some of Assad’s thugs.
8. Is there anything you particularly like to write about? Is there anything you
I never know what I’m going to write about. Whatever idea hits me, I’ll follow it to its logical conclusion. It’s usually on a whim.
9. What do you enjoy doing outside of writing?
I volunteer in my spare time for campaigns and causes I care about. I’ve met some very interesting people that way.
10. As an author, who and what do you recommend reading?
Dickens and Hemingway, definitely. And, Ray Bradbury. Right now, I’m reading a book entitled “Beside the Darker Shore” by Patricia Esposito; a very unique and beautifully written vampire novel.
11. What’s your next project? What do you look forward to in the future?
I’m working on a couple of short stories now, both science fiction tales. I have a lot of ideas in mind at the moment for sci-fi and vampire stories. Lillibridge Press is coming out with”Shattered Universe,” a Print on Demand anthology of three sci fi novellas of mine they recently published as ebooks. I’m hoping it does well.
12. If there was a fictional zombie apocalypse, which fictional character would you choose to be your wing man?
Spike, from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” He’s got the street cred on the paranormal apocalypse deal. (Plus, he’s way more fun than that Angel guy.)
13. What was the last book you read?
“The Dark Ones” by Megan Harmon. (A young woman with a hidden destiny falls in love with a werewolf and gets pulled into a wolf vs. vampire war. Fun, atmospheric escapism.)
14. Where would you like to go if you had a time machine?
Ancient Mesopetamia, to witness the dawn of civilization. Stonehenge, maybe, just to find out why they built it. The hanging gardens of Babylon. Easter Island at its peak. Who could pick just one?
A lost dream, a desperate hope...lost innocence, and a horror black as night.
A young girl's innocence is ripped from her when she is turned against her will into a vampire. Hunted and alone, Fleurette longs for escape from her hellish existence of eternal night,blood-letting and carnage. In war-torn Afghanistan, another young girl, Ruhee has been cast into another kind of dark bondage as a child bride. Raped, tormented and suffering, she longs for escape. These two lost souls find a strange but pure form of sisterly love together as they survive side-by-side in a world gone mad. Ruhee must grow up amid war and turmoil. As if American predator drones and the deadly raids of the Taliban were not bad enough, she must keep her "sister"'s dark secret, while merciless vampire hunters lurk in the shadows. When Ruhee comes of age and finds an unlikely but pure love with a brave but deeply troubled_young Taliban soldier named Batal, Ruhee finds herself trapped between light and darkness. Her heart is torn in two, and she must make an impossible choice between love and immortality, as her young life teeters on the brink of hell.
Fleurette started, her head snapping up from the throat of the mountain bandit she’d just killed, his blood still warm as it dripped from her lips. She sensed something riding on the cold desert wind. A lonely spirit, reaching out in pain and longing. Not like a roaming ghost, but alive. And, close. An innocence that touched her heart, pure as a flower growing alone in the desert. The moonlight washed silver across the sand and the rocks. The shadow of the lonely soul in pain reached out, beckoning from the village nearby. Inviting her. She spread herself upon the night wind and followed…
About the Author
Tom Olbert lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In addition to science fiction and dark fantasy writing, Tom's interests include promoting clean, renewable energy and the protection of human rights.