Thursday, March 17, 2011

Author Insides - Tom Sterner

Tom {WordWulf} Sterner, lives in Redding, California and Arvada, Colorado. He has been published in magazines and on the internet, include Howling Dog Press/Omega, Skyline Literary Review, The Storyteller, and Flashquake. He is the winner of the Marija Cerjak Award for Avant-Garde/Experimental Writing and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2006 and 2008. He edited the English translation of Hameed Al-Qaed's 'Noise of Whisper', edited and wrote the foreword for the Arabic to English translation of the poets of Bahrain, 'Pearl, Dreams of Shell' published in 2007. Published work includes two novels, Madman Chronicles: The Warrior and Momma's Rain. He is online at

A collection of Tom's haiku appeared in the Autumn 2010 issue of TBS.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was eight-years-old a teacher told me that unstoppable was not a word when I used it in a story. Unstoppable was and is a word. I refused to take it out, had my A knocked down to a C for my stubborn and insubordinate attitude. I learned that I was a writer and could use whatever words I chose, even if I decided to make them up. I made a choice and learned to rely on my feelings when it comes to writing. Authority figures have always been a pain in my ass.

Why do you write?

Writing is partly a method of catharsis for me, a natural and necessary part of what/who I am (like breathing).

Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?

I have always been a writer. Working to survive and feed my family was much more difficult than I ever imagined while keeping my writing-self alive.

What do you think makes a good story?

The twists and turns of life sprinkled with a generous mixture of imagination.

What's your favorite genre to read?

I have always read most anything I can get my hands on. I like historical fiction (John Jakes) and philosophy, Nietzsche, Hesse, Abraham Lincoln. Classics are always a good bet too.

Who is your favorite author or poet?

James Douglas Morrison and Abraham Lincoln.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?

Selected Writings of Abraham Lincoln, The Lords and the New Creatures, The Philosophy of Nietzsche.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?

Big Red, Old Yeller, Call of the Wild, Poe, as a boy. Everything from George Carlin to Tolstoy as a man (and don’t forget Elvis).

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?

When I was a child the voices began speaking in my head, telling me there was a path outside the violence, madness, and hunger of my life. I began to escape by listening to them and have never been able to persuade them to stop wailing.

What does your family think of your writing?

My mother liked my singing but made me promise to never publish stories of our lives until she was gone. Like many poor folks, she was ashamed and proud, chose to bear her suffering in silence. She is gone now. My five wonderful adult children adore me and my writing. My wife supports me and is patient with me while weathering my demons.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

It is all I do unless I am warming soup or drugging myself into restless semblances of sleep.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?

I am a quirk, a ritual, I am.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Fighting and begging, querying and submitting (how I loathe that word), finally getting published, novels, songs, poetry and art, then pounding the internet in an attempt to market my work.

What are your current projects?

Two novels, Momma’s Fire, and The War Years, finishing a fifteen year project, Ten Thousand Whisper (10,000 haiku). I’m also working with my oldest son recording a couple of hundred songs written in my rock ‘n roll singer days and working on video clips with my youngest son. These boys are dragging me kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

What are you planning for future projects?

All the above and a forever project, Primeval Dreams, conceived with my good friend, Michael Annis, senior editor and founder of Howling Dog Press. We are the Owl Men whose vision is audio-video realizations of the dynamics of performance whose construction is the bone bolts and blood nuts of literary experience within manifest existence, interpreted through the Danse Primeval, the See of Dreams…

Do you have any advice for other writers?

If you’re a writer or a singer, you know you cannot stop. Keep everything you write, keep it forever. When I was 19-years old I was angered by a group at a university because they wanted to change one work in a song I wrote. I became so frustrated I went home and burned everything I had written from the time I was eight years old. Don’t do that. Date all your work, most times it’s the only date you can get (and a pretty good one at that). Submit, submit, submit; send out three pieces for every rejection you receive. Change a word or two if you must, learn to accept criticism. You can always go home and shoot your television if you need to vent.

Where else can we find your work?  

Contact Information:
Tom (WordWulf) Sterner

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