T.A. Riddell

Tom Riddell is the author of the Vanquished Heroes series.  His story in A Tall Ship is titled Rasputin's Whimsey.  He kindly consented to an interview at Krogfiction.  

1)      Why did you decide to write about pirates?  In my story I wanted to, in part, explore how and why an honest captain and crew would end up living the pirate life. It is a hard life why take the risk?

2)      Why do you write at all?  What made want to spend your life on work to which a smaller and smaller percentage of Western culture is receptive every year and for which most folks doing it receive very little monetary remuneration?  The stories I write I write for me. I don't expect to get rich and famous I just want to share my work with anyone who might enjoy it. I have a lot of stories floating around in my head and I'm going to write them whether anyone reads them or not.

3)      Do you have a favorite movie pirate, if so, who is it and why? I must confess that it is Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. He's brash, cocky and even in the face of overwhelming odds he never gives up. Plus, he goes out of his way to taunt the authorities. I tired to incorporate some of these qualities into my own pirate captain without making him a shameless copy.

4)      Without spoiling the plot, what inspired you to write your story for A Tall Ship, a Star, and Plunder? A friend showed me the listing for the open call for the project. I read it over and thought to myself, “I got this!” Then it was just a matter of which of the five stories that popped into my head to use. In the end I used elements of two.

5)      So, pirates in general, are they lovable rouges, just misunderstood, adventurers, romantic rebels, or are they just bandits on the sea, thieves, and murderers? In real life the romanticized version of the pirate crumbles very quickly. As a US Navy veteran I have seen the havoc that Somali pirates leave in their wake. That's why I gave my pirate crew more of a military motive.


6)      What is your opinion of the classics in the genre in which you generally write?  That is, do they deserve to be classics? I usually write in the fantasy genre. The Godfather of Fantasy has got to be J.R.R. Tolkien. Thanks to his ground breaking work in the genre there isn't a fan of fantasy literature that doesn't know what a Dwarf or an Elf is. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy definitely deserve to be classics.

7)      Is there an author that you emulate? While there isn't a particular author I try to emulate there are  elements of several that I draw from. However, there are even more that I avoid all together. It's not that they are bad authors, it's that they do things in their writings that drive me crazy. So when I write I don't do those things.  Why? I feel the result is a style that is uniquely my own. Maybe someday someone will complain how my writing style drives them crazy.

8)      How much do you read? I used to devour books. I used to read two and three books at a time. I could burn through twenty-five to thirty books in a month. These days with my work schedule and my free time spent writing I'm lucky to complete two in a month.

9)      Where did you get your start in writing? I was recently reminded that I started writing at home. Around age six I wrote a Christmas skit called Reluctant Santa Claus. It's still hanging on my parents refrigerator. I misspelled “Claus”

10)  What is your most current project that is close to publication? My current project is a short story called Vampire's Dilemma. It's my first foray into the horror genre. My intention is to release it for free as an eBook along with four other shorts of different horror genres. Whichever one gets the best response will be expanded into its own novel or series.

11)  Do you like to read your own work out loud to an audience? While, I have never done so I think that I would enjoy it. As long as I get to pick the passages. Some of my recent work gets a little sexy. I don't think I could read it if my mother was in the audience.


Mr. Riddell, thank you for stopping by.