Thomas James Brown, or just Tom to me, has done something amazing. He’s written a novel titled  Hell’s Water where he delves into the horrors of drinking in Southampton. Have a sip of Brown’s insight into uni life in this interview.

The Wonder: hello! how are you?

Thomas James Brown: hey! I’m good, cheers, yourself?

TW: I’m good thanks! First things first, congratulations on publishing your first novel Hell’s Water!

TJB: Cheers! It’s very surreal to think it’s actually out there now. I can’t really edit it any more, it’s a finished piece.

TW: was it hard letting it go?

TJB: Yeah, definitely. Especially after having worked on it for so long. It’s been a part of my life for so long now that it was very difficult to declare finished.

TW: how long did it take you to write it?

TJB: the first draft took about eight months, which isn’t that long as far as books go, but I feel I’ve told the story I wanted to tell. Then there was about 4 months editing.

TW: how did you manage that and uni work?

TJB: I’m not actually sure. Never mind going out, too! I just seemed to fall back to it, whenever I had a moment spare moment. It wasn’t a chore; I enjoy the writing/ crafting process so that definitely helped

TW: that’s definitely a good thing. As you were writing about uni life as well, you could say they fuelled one another.

TJB: Exactly. Going out, drinking and being hungover a lot, all in the name of research 😉

TW: lol. Exactly. What made you decide to explore uni life within the horror genre?

TJB: Good question.  I’ve always written with an eye for the dark / twisted / quirky, ever since I can first remember starting, so when I had this inspiration, the need to tell this story, it seemed natural to me to want to do it through horror I suppose.

For a lot of people, alcohol is horror. The two just seemed matched in more ways than I could have hoped for. There are so many differing perspectives towards alcohol-

On the face of it, people go out, they get drunk and they have a good time, and that can’t be denied. It’s such a social aspect of life, especially in the university bubble, but then there are the hangovers, the sickness, the biological aspects to consider, all the things you’re warned about. Then there are the religious sides of it, the behavioural sides, etc. etc.

Alcohol can completely change who a person is and that was another defining source of inspiration regarding the theme of demonic possession in Hell’s Water.

TW: That’s deep! Are you religious then?

TJB: I’m really not, although each to their own and that!

TW: lol. How has the publishing side of things been? I have to say congrats again for having your novel be the first result when I searched for Hell’s Water on Google.

TJB: Wow, I wasn’t even aware of that! Thanks! The publishing side of things was always going to be the hardest. I’m very glad with the way it had worked out in the end; through the print-on-demand service I’ve used, I have complete control over the process from formatting the book to how much it costs to marketing.

TW: is the control factor what made you decide to use the print-on-demand service as opposed to approaching publishing houses?

TJB: I approached a couple of more traditional publishing houses after the completion of my first draft. When I did hear back it was ‘original writing but not looking for this at the moment’…so I took matters into my own hands!

TW: Well done you!

TJB: I was determined to see the project through to completion and had had such positive feedback that I wasn’t letting go. And now I’ve launched and am selling! It’s a great feeling.

TW: It’s inspiring to other writers that there are other ways to be published now. Would you encourage other writers to go down the path you have?

TJB: I think the traditional publishing houses have something of an imagined monopoly over the process, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you can get published through them, there are obvious perks too, but for someone in my position, the print-on-demand is ideally suited to me.

I think there’s a lot to be said for getting your stuff out there and read, which is the bottom line as far as I’m concerned.

TW: So what’s next for you Tom? Are you waiting for the orders to roll in or are you already thinking of the next novel?

TJB: Well, I’ve just heard back from Southampton uni that I’ve been accepted onto the MA in Creative Writing for next year so that’s exciting!

In the meanwhile I have just started my second book, while trying to market the first as effectively as possible. So lots to do and look forward to!

TW: It looks like 2011 is going to be a big year for you!

For more information on Tom check out his website, become a fan on Facebook and then buy his book!