domingo, 22 de abril de 2012

#Author #Interview: Thomas Jerome Baker

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1. Your name:

Thomas Jerome Baker

2. Short Bio:

I’m Thomas Jerome Baker, author, brother, uncle, husband, son-in-law, brother-in-law, cousin, father, son, and teacher. I have to say there are two passions in my life: writing and reading (lifelong) and teaching English. I even met my wife, Gaby, at an English course and can boast I’ve been reading, writing and teaching for as long as I can remember.

I’m the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010 - 2011), a Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago, and the Coordinator of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK.

3. When and why did you begin writing?

My writing has always given me such personal enjoyment. I started writing poetry and short stories in grade school but never showed them to anyone.

I began to share my writing with my students because I found it was a way to get reluctant readers to engage on a deeper level with a text. I feel that writing is a great way for me to reflect on life in general and express myself a lot more eloquently than the hustle and bustle of everyday life permits.

Progressing into the ‘author world’ is a personal goal and allows me to leave a bit of legacy for those who know me best, my family...

4. What inspired you to write your first book?

My students, who were all boys, weren't reading well. They could read quite well, but they weren't interested in reading, frankly. Over the winter holiday I wrote "Meet Me in Memphis", a wonderful boys book, with lots of familiar places, love, romance, danger, and a difficult decision to make for the two protagonists. It actually got the boys reading and I've been writing seriously ever since.

5. Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
As a matter of fact it did. I didn't try to find a publisher, and I didn't want to pay an exorbitant amount of money to have a publisher print a few copies. Seven years went by before I had the will and the technology to self-publish on Amazon.

6. What made you decide to self-publish?

To be frank, self-publishing puts me in control of everything, and I like that. I've published 34 books in a very short period of time and that would have been an impossible feat with a publisher.

7. How do you market your work?

I do a lot of social media networking, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Goodreads, and several others. Also, I am a people person so it is easy for me to talk one-on-one with individuals about my work. I find people are more inclined to buy my book when they get a personal introduction and pitch. It’s all about selling yourself first and your writing second, in my opinion.

8. What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words, what would you say?

Interviews go from being an imaginary event to a very sophisticated discourse process, like this interview, for example...

9. How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?

That’s tricky since "Amy Winehouse: Angel Song" was not an autobiography, but an act of redemption. When she was alive we spent so much time focusing on her problems and very little on what her musical legacy was, on the one hand, and her personal significance to the world was, on the other. That kind of story needs more time to dig deeper, emotionally, in oneself.

Further, all the proceeds, every penny, every dollar, every pound, every Euro, the entire proceeds, all of the money for the sale of the book goes to the Amy Winehouse Foundation to help young people who are struggling with alcohol addiction.

Again, to speak frankly, drug and alcohol addiction is not a very popular charity to give money to / to donate financial resources. Yet I would suspect that most of us would have very little trouble in identifying someone who needs help.

The ironic thing is that the earlier you get rehabilitation treatment and therapy for people in need, the better the outcome is. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to wait until someone hits rock bottom to help. By then, it's usually too late to do much good.

To make a long story short, Amy Winehouse is a person who I consider to have been a brilliant musician, singer, songwriter, given to us on Earth for a short time, and in that time, proved that she belonged among the Angels in Heaven according to what she taught us with her music, her voice, and yes, her life. She is missed down here...

Obviously, this book took a long time to write, but when I'm writing about teaching, it's usually my experience that is ultimately readily available for expression. That's a very quick process. As I said before, I've written 34 books and the majority are books about some aspect of education, which I'm familiar with. Again, it's quite a swift process.

10. What genre would you place your books into?

English Language Teaching / Education / Historical Fiction / Romance / Non-Fiction Biographical

11. Where do you get your book plot ideas from?

My life experience on the one hand and inspiration from my wife and my son on the other.

12. Do you have a writing routine?

I have to write some every day. Writing gives me a way to spend my time creatively, imaginatively, and passionately engaged in bringing something together that often has not been said adequately. So, yes, I write every day, and it is a lot of fun, pleasant, and deeply satisfying for me.

To say I'm addicted to writing would be an injustice, however. Just like the human body needs food, my mind needs a creative outlet. For me, that's writing, a personal necessity.

13. Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?

I’ve been fortunate not to have writer’s block, but if that were the case I’d try to figure out what was coming between my ability to write, and then, more importantly, decide if there was anything I could do about the situation. More often than not, life presents you with situations that are beyond your control, and when you accept that, to live with ambiguity, you are able to carry on with the things you want to do. At least, that's what works for me.

14. Are there any specific authors whose writing styles or subject matter inspires your book(s)?

In the field of ELT, Scott Thornbury is an awesome author, as well as Herbert Puchta. Herbert is a Past-President of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL), a global organization dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of English as a foreign language.

I have several of their books, and they have influenced my thinking about ELT and being a teacher in general. Both have been wonderful role models for many teachers to aspire to one day. I do not exaggerate when I say that achieving a quarter - one fourth - of what they have done in their careers would be a satisfying and rewarding career for most of us in the field of English Language Teaching, to include myself.

Herbert's work with teaching teenagers is fantastic and Scott is always willing to extend a warm hand of guidance to anyone. He writes a regular blog post on Sunday on his blog, An A-Z of ELT, that any teacher could take advantage of.

It costs you only your time, and the learning is guaranteed. You always learn something new, or, you see a given aspect of teaching in a different light. It's because you were thinking, questioning your beliefs and assumptions. These are my giants, Scott and Herbert, and they willingly make their shoulders available for anyone to stand on...
15. What are you currently reading?

I actually am just beginning "Dreams of My Father" by Barack Obama. The book was given to me as a present four years ago (1), so it was about time I got around to reading it. It is a real page turner so if you put it off until now like I did, you should check it out!

16. What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?

Never give up your dream. Work hard. Write about the things you know about and, the people and the places that you know about. In that way, your writing will be authenticly YOU, and thus, very convincing. Don't worry so much about being rich and famous - just enjoy the journey and let the fame and riches take care of itself. To be frank, most writers write as a hobby, few are able to make a living as a writer, so whatever you do - don't quit your day job!

17. Do you have another project in the works? If so, what is it?

Yes, the third book in the Storyteller Series - the trilogy. I have one more book to write, and then I will lay the Last Storyteller to rest.

This mystical story is about the son of the Storyteller. The Son must carry on with life after his father and mother have died and left him as the only StoryTeller alive on Earth to find the Philosopher's Stone and to save the world from the forces of evil who also want the stone.

I'm actually still letting the story develop in my mind before I sit down to write it. As the last book in the trilogy, it is going to be the decisive moment for the Earth, based on his failure or success in keeping the stone out of the hands of those who would use its power for evil purposes.

Stay tuned for this one - it's gonna be a great book! Look for, "The StoryTeller's Son" to complete the trilogy if you already have Books one and two: Book One: Celestial Games, and Book Two: The StoryTeller.

18. How can people get in touch with you?

My website is

19. Could you give your readers the following:
a) Your blog details?
b) Your Facebook page? Facebook
c) Your Goodreads author page? Goodreads
d) Your Twitter details? @profesortbaker!/profesortbaker

20.Where can readers buy your books?

Thank you so much & good luck with all your books.

You're welcome & thank you kindly for the interview...

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