The Blurry Line between Author and Character

I fell upon a blog post today about developing characters for your story. It reminded me that people often ask me about the characters in my novel. Most recently, I was asked how blurred the line was between my own personality and that of the main protagonist in my novel, Del Booker. I thought I’d share my answer with you:

On the surface, Del and I share a lot of common ground. But he could have just as easily been a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker. The fact that Del is trying his hand at theatre is by and large out of laziness on my part. Same with his physical description. But I think the real story has little to do with what Del actually does, or what he looks like.

At this point, I’m just another reader like anyone else, and I don’t see any more convergence between Del and myself than I do between Sir Laurence Olivier and that girl who played Buffy the Vampire Slayer – sure, they’re both actors, but that’s about where the comparison ends.

When I get down to it, I tend to think that of all The Call for Something‘s major characters, Del Booker is the least like me. Conversely, I’ll come right out and admit that all the other major characters are just different versions of StephenThomas, the person; and gender, job, age, or what you will, are just details: they might change, but they’ll never change a thing.

Categories: In Case You Were Wondering, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

For the True Listeners…


Visit their MySpace page at:

I remember attending a Coldcut concert by  in the late 90s, maybe early 00’s, and for the first five minutes they played nothing but crap—just noise. You began to wonder what the hell they were doing—if they’d lost all ability to put together any consonant sounds at all. And sure enough, bit by bit, folks began to leave. There you had these folks who paid however much money to listen to this celebrated duo, and eventually they just decided ‘Fuck it—it’s just not worth it.’ So they left.

After the crowd had been substantially skimmed—after a good forty percent of paying customers had walked out—one of the Coldcut performers said something along the lines of, ‘Now that only all the true listeners are present, we can finally start the show.’ After which they proceeded to bring the house absolutely down—and it was great. It really was.

I thought to myself that if I ever produced anything—book, music, show, whatever—that I’d want to do something along those same lines. Because I obviously have no control over who decides to pick up The Call for Something—but I do have some control, at least, over those who decide to keep reading it, after they’ve the slogged through the first few chapters.

So that’s a little bit of what I was going for, with the first couple chapters of the book. To bore the casual reader out of continuing, until only those who care at least a little bit about what I might have to say are left.

I don’t want anyone doing me any favors. Don’t pretend to be my friend by reading this or by buying this (on Amazon or wherever). Buy me a beer instead. Don’t read this just because your buddy saw it on Facebook, and mentioned it.

As the title suggests, The Call for Something, particularly in its language, is necessarily vague and even hard to listen to at its outset; and you will not be able to appreciate it unless your own understanding—your self-understanding, when you decide to crack it open—is focused. Take from it what you will; but the first two chapters are programmed to guarantee that you’ll get nothing, if you expect to be given anything.

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The Accident of a Cohesive Novel: How The Call for Something Came About.

Since I joined Facebook and announced to people that I have written and published a novel, I have been hearing from a lot of people I haven’t seen in years! I am thrilled and also a little freaked out by all the direct messages on my Facebook page, but I want to honor some of the questions that I received. They are a great excuse to post things to my blog, so I’m going to break them up into blog posts. The first one I will summarize as:

How did “The Call for Something” Come About? Here goes…

In general, The Call for Something came about as a result of a habit of writing – even a compulsion to do so. Circumstantially, at the time that I began writing, I found myself with a hell of a lot of time on my hands. And specifically, if the truth be told, I was pretty drunk in the moments immediately preceding the first words of the book. This last detail is arguably incidental; but if you’re curious as to the particular circumstances under which the story was conceived, I wouldn’t be telling the whole truth if I left this admission out.

The Call for Something was a long time in coming – I’d written so many poems, essays, short stories and ramblings by that time, that the accident of a cohesive novel probably had to happen sooner or later. Much like the mathematical theorem which asserts that a monkey randomly hitting keys on a typewriter will eventually combine to produce King Lear. I’m pretty sure that if you were to sleuth through all the literary verbiage I’d piled up prior to my tapping out this novel, you’d be able to find all the seeds of this story in that massive, gargantuan heap. But that wouldn’t be necessary. It occured to me, in those seminal moments just before the book’s beginning, that within everything I’d written so far, there seemed to be a unifying theme that had been tying all my ramblings together. Suddenly everything presented itself in a cohesive whole; I can actually recall a physical feeling when the idea seemed to fall into my lap.

There are three events in The Call for Something that did actually happen to me. Two of those I fictionalized as I went along; the third is almost entirely true to life, and yet so implausible it would have been considered bad fiction if I’d recounted it precisely as it happened, ironically.

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Facebook Page is Up and Running!

Okay, I finally took the plunge and got a Facebook page for “The Call for Something”. I asked my sister to help, of course. It’s quite overwhelming. She jumped right in, wrote a note to her numerous Facebook contacts and now (at the writing of this post) there are 11 “Likes” of the page. She says she’d like to see 30 by the end of the week.


The Call for Something

Promote Your Page Too

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Marketing Blunder or Marketing Genius?

So, I took my sister’s advice and I sent out an email to all my friends announcing that I had published a book. Well, that’s not exactly how it happened. As soon as (the self-publisher I worked with) told me that it was available for sale, I emailed my friends, family and others to let them know it was available. I hadn’t yet received my own copy. Then, my sister keeps going on and on about marketing the thing and that I need to do something.

Then, I got the book. It came in the mail with some additional copies, and I was so excited to break the spine on “The Call for Something” all bound and crisp.  But I don’t know what happened. It just felt so weird. I started perusing the pages, and I felt so… exposed, or something. And it just felt like crap. Like the whole book was like a party turned sour after a night of beer pong and car bombs.

I couldn’t stop myself. I headed straight for my laptop and banged out a letter apologizing to my friends and family for announcing the birth of the novel. I told them, among many other things of course,

“I take my leave in thanks and in apology to those who have purchased my recorded ruminations so thoroughly digested and passed, it seems, more through my bowels than my brain.”

Not surprisingly, the letter resulted in a phone call from my sister, who immediately took to admonishing me for my letter of apology and regret. That led to more admonitions from my mom who echoes just about everything my sister says when it comes to marketing.

More strangely, it would seem, my sister who dragged her feet to order the book after my first email (the one where I was so excited about having a book published) ended up turning around and ordering (not one, mind you, but) five paperback novels, telling the pathetic tale of 22-year-old Del Booker.

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Marketing “The Call for Something”…

My sister who has a degree in communications says I should market “The Call for Something” through my blog and other social media. I’m the kind of person who needs to do things systematically, step-by-step.

She says things like, “you need to start a conversation about the book”. And I’m thinking, “I wrote and published the damn thing–how’s that for conversation?” But she says that’s not enough. So bear with me while I try to figure out what I’m doing here.

You’ll bet she will be all over me, getting me to brag about my book…

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Taft Bridge Photo for the Website

Image of Taft Bridge for Header

Picture of the Taft Bridge and Kalorama by Josh Carolina.

My sister, who is helping me put this website together, told me that I need to find an image for my header. The original one with this site design has a camel nose pointing towards some pyramids. At first, she thought we could put a picture of a backpack. She told me I could try to find something in the Creative Commons that would be available for free use, but eventually, we thought maybe something less personal to someone would look better.

Those of you who have read the book would know that there’s some reference to any number of places in Washington D.C. Running away from home, Del Booker, manages to cover a lot of DC ground.

Anyway, my sister and I eventually stumbled upon this picture of the Taft Bridge and Kalorama by Josh Carolina.

This is a great picture. When I was a high school student, I used to walk across this bridge all the time. The views off the bridge are impressive.

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Hello world! The Book is Finally Available!

The Call for Something by Stephen ThomasIt’s been a long time coming, but my first complete novel is finally published and available everywhere.

You can find it in any of the online sites:

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

Let me know if you have found my book elsewhere–especially any brick-and-mortar bookstores!

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