Author Interview – Tom Pawlik

Tom who? you might be saying. Rightfully so. Tom Pawlik is a fairly new author. His debut novel Vanish won the 2006 Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest and was subsequently published in 2008 by Tyndale House Publishers.

It just so happens that the CSFF Blog Tour is featuring Vanish this month, though Tom’s second novel Valley of the Shadow just came out. Much better, as far as I’m concerned, to introduce readers to the beginning of a series instead of jumping into the middle. Readers would definitely miss out if they didn’t experience Vanish first.

All that being said, I was able to ask Tom a few questions about his writing.

RLM: How did you conceive of the premise for Vanish and its follow up, Valley of the Shadow?

    TP: The basic premise grew out of a dream I had several years back. I’m not sure about other authors, but I get a lot of weird ideas from dreams. Then I spent the next couple of years developing the story line before submitting it to the CWG [Christian Writers’ Guild] contest.

RLM: You are among friends, Tom. 😉 I know of more than one speculative fiction writer who got the idea for their story from a dream. In fact, I’m included in that group! 😀 But I’m curious about your involvement in the CWG/Tyndale First Novel contest. What do you think set Vanish apart from the other entries?

    TP: I don’t believe any of the other finalists were in the Speculative genre. I had convinced myself there was no way I was going to win because Tyndale doesn’t typically publish this type of book. Thankfully, they liked it well enough to pick it as the winner.

RLM: Tell us about the editing process. Did your editors at Tyndale ask you to make any major changes, and if so, how hard was that?

    TP: I had always heard how tough the editing process is, but my experience with Tyndale was actually a very pleasant one. We started with a conference call in which they go through a list of items they liked as well as some suggested changes. I had originally written Mitch’s father as a Presbyterian minister and they suggested changing his occupation to avoid that cliche. In the end, I was glad they did because I would have never thought to make him a congressman. And now that change has opened a door for some other, future ideas.

RLM: When you wrote about Conner, Mitch, and Helen’s plight, what kind of reaction were you hoping to generate in the reader?

    TP: I wanted each of the three main characters to be flawed but likable. Even though they each had some dark secret lurking in their pasts, I tried to make them sympathetic characters.

RLM: Sympathetic characters in mortal (or immortal) danger. I wondered if you were hoping to generate fear as much as curiosity or surprise or excitement, but I suppose that’s best left to the reader to discover.

Describe your journey as a novelist. What got you started writing, who influenced you, what are your aspirations?

    TP: Being a novelist has been a life-long dream of mine. After 14 years of pursuing the career through the conventional routes, I had nearly given up until I came across the CWG website and saw the contest. I was absolutely thrilled to win and get my first publishing contract. I was a huge fantasy and sci-fi fan through my youth (and still am). Obviously, Tolkien and Lewis have both influenced me tremendously. I also enjoyed Gordon R. Dickson’s writing, Asimov, Bradbury and others. My goal is to be the premier Christian sci-fi/fantasy author of the twenty-first century. How’s that for an aspiration!

RLM: Hey, another similarity between us! 😀

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions, Tom. It’s great to get to know another Christian speculative fiction author.

As visitors here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction might guess, I’m not alone on this blog tour. Take some time this week to see what these other bloggers are saying about Vanish (and as I find them, I’ll put √’s with the permanent links to their posts):

Published in: on June 22, 2009 at 11:06 am  Comments (11)  
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  1. Oh, great interview!

    “My goal is to be the premier Christian sci-fi/fantasy author of the twenty-first century. How’s that for an aspiration!”

    LOL…he’s certainly not alone there. 😛

    I’m really liking the premise of this book….I must go check it out!


  2. Great review, Becky!
    Winning a contest-how cool is that!


  3. Interesting interview — I picked up on the Tolkien influence, and already planned to mention it in one of my upcoming posts. Glad to know there’s yet another author whose journey has been years in the making: it gives the rest of us hope!


  4. My post is finally up! Kewl interview. A dream huh? Never heard of that happening. LOL. I’m having trouble, as I did last time, posting the participants list. I’ll get back to work on that.


  5. Nice interview! Thanks to both Becky and Tom!



  6. Thanks for visiting my site. I just received the sequel of the book and look forward to read it!


  7. […] forget to check out the other bloggers (listed below my interview with Tom) posting about this book. I particularly recommend Phyllis […]


  8. Thanks, all, for the feedback. I really appreciated Tom fielding those questions at the last minute. I enjoy getting to know authors through this kind of interaction.



  9. […] CSFF Blog Tour, Day 3 – Themes in Vanish Filed under: CSFF Blog Tour, Judgment, Satan — by Rebecca LuElla Miller @ 11:51 am Tags: hell, Satan, Tom Pawlik, Valley of the Shadow, Vanish Today is the final day in the CSFF Blog Tour for Tom Pawlik’s debut novel, Vanish. Check out what the other bloggers are saying by clicking on the post links (check marks) next to the list of participants below my interview with Tom. […]


  10. Shoot, it looks like I missed out on a good one. I feel strangely distant not participating this month. Ah well, it was for the best with all that has gone on this month! I’ll be back in full force next month. Great stuff Becky. Too bad you can’t be nominated for top blogger.


  11. […] status. You can find the updated participants’ list at my site at the bottom of this post – If I’ve somehow overlooked your participation and your name is not on the list, please contact me […]


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