Short, Sharp Interview: Tom Pitts

PDB: Can you pitch PIGGYBACK in 25 words or less?

When two girls disappear with a trunk-load of pot, a lovable loser persuades a sociopathic killer to pursue them across California in a violent goose-chase.

Gee, that was 25 words exactly.

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

With limited time and a funky schedule, I resort to a lot of catching up with TV on the internet. Oh yeah, all the kids are doing it. Flavor of the week in our house has been late-night sessions with HBO’s Bored to Death. Fun and funny. It’s been out there a while, but I’m always late to the party when it comes to these things. Book-wise I’m reading Joe Clifford’s first draft for his next novel; I’ve been nailed down with a no-disclosure clause that forbids me to discuss it. (But, trust me, it’s good. Joe’s pushing the envelope) Movies? I’m still waiting to see Killing Them Softly.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

Of course. We all started with the simple pleasure of reading someone else’s work. We became fans, soaking up the genius of others. I don’t read Cormac McCarthy and think about how I would have written it; I’m lost in his ability with prose. I go again to that magical place, the willing suspension of disbelieve. Now that I think about it, you have to be able to return to that objective state, the state of pure enjoyment. It’s like suggesting a musician can’t be a fan of music. If we couldn’t be objective, we’d be cursed like the fry cook who can no longer enjoy hamburgers.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

With the base-rate for selling a screenplay set at $110,000.00, who wouldn’t be? But the rigid formula and format intimidate me. Cramming in all that interior\exterior stuff, the love interest must arc by page such and such, and don’t go over 120 pages, but don’t go under 100, all seem tough enough, but to then have some suit tell you, “Sorry, but there’s no car chase in here. Give us something with more explosions!” I’m not ready for the cookie cutter yet.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

Piggyback  was based on something that happened to a friend of mine who is in that line of work. The trunk load of pot went missing; I just took it from there. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the degenerate lifestyle I lived while I was stung-out on heroin provided me with a worldview that shapes much of what I write about. It’s as though I were a method actor that was lost in a character study for ten years. The most actual research I did for Piggyback was Googling what kind of Mercedes a character would be driving. In the novel I just finished, Hustle, a sleazy tale of two male prostitutes who try to blackmail one of their clients, I did actually talk to a guy that was steeped in that trade for years. The conversation didn’t yield much though, he just told me about some scams and different ways to rip off johns. I was ¾ of the way through the book by the time we sat down and didn’t end up using any of his stories.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

I’m guessing very, but I don’t really know. It seems like it’s an effective way to get the word out there, but I’m never sure how much I’m annoying people. I’m sure I’ve got a load of friends that have blocked me because they’re just tired of hearing about it.

PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2012/13?

Piggyback  is out on October 29th with Snubnose Press. I’m querying agents for Hustle; I’m going to find that disturbing piece of work a home. I sent it to one agent so far; he had one of the assistants read the first chunk. I received a letter back stating that the characters were way too “unsavory”, which I took as a great compliment. And next year, of course, another novel. Bigger, better, and maybe even more “unsavory.”

Bio : PIGGYBACK will be released by Snubnose Press on October 29th.

Tom Pitts also has a story out in the new Shotgun Honey Anthology, Both Barrels. Got get ‘em both.Links to his published stories can be found at

In addition to writing, working, and surviving, he is also an assistant-editor at Out of the Gutter’s Flash Fiction Offensive.

Published by PaulDBrazill

A writer and teacher, from England and living in Poland. 'The Poundland Poe.' Books include The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, and Gumshoe Blues. This/ That/ & The Other.

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