Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus (FSF): Hi Thomas. So tell me…how has the last year of insanity been treating you?
Thomas Davis (TD): It’s been a crazy year. I was laid off from my job as cable tech but luckily got something better a few months later. I also completed my book series this year.
FSF: That’s amazing, and it’s quite a long series too. How does it feel to have it all out there for the public to devour?
TD: Well, most of it is out there. The final book is still unreleased. It feels good to have a complete body of work. I’d like more feedback from the public. I want to know what they think of the story and if it’s affected them in any way.
FSF: So when did you know you wanted to be a writer, and can you tell us a bit about the journey that led to your guest Versatile Layer novel?
TD: I used to write and illustrate comics as a kid and young adult. I had the idea for The Red Girl: Versatile Layer book 1 since 2010 but I didn’t know what to do with it.
In 2017, after seeing The Last Jedi, something just clicked in my head. Write The Red Girl as a book. It’s funny. People hate that movie but it inspired me to peruse writing seriously. I wrote up a few chapters and hired someone off of Fiverr to format it for me. Once I had the template I was able to complete my first book.
FSF: So tell our readers about Versatile Layer as a series and why it should be their next binge read?
TD: Versatile Layer is a Space Opera series. The best way to describe it would be Romeo & Juliet meets Star Wars. In the far future, Terrans (humans) live entirely in spherical space colonies and breed mostly through cloning. Their home world is no longer a memory. They have wars with an alien race that shares the same solar system, known as the Arez. They hail from a planet called Samael. They’re tall red skinned beings with sharp ears who are physically superior to humans.
Versatile Layer actually has two main characters. Our star-crossed lovers, Jake Takeda and Adeola M’falme.
Jake Takeda is Terran. He was born on a space colony called Lhasa, that was destroyed in an alien attack. He’s a soldier with a genius level I.Q. and he wears an Exo-suit called a Versatile Layer. He’s a lot deeper and nuanced than this description but you gotta read the book to get the full picture.
Princess Adeola M’falme is an Arez. She’s the only child of the emperor’s Third wife (Third Mother). She’s an accomplished warrior who refuses to kill. Even in moments where her own life depends upon it.
Jake and Adeola meet on Lhasa as teens. They’re separate just before the colony is destroyed. The core of the story is their quest to be reunited and the obstacles they face.
It’s a character driven story with tons of heart, action and humor. Each book flows with the pace of a feature film and they only take about two hours to read.
FSF: I’ve started reading the first one and I’m really enjoying it. Now let me ask…do you write with an audience in mind or do you write for yourself and hope readers will jump on for the ride?
TD: I write mostly for myself but I’m inviting. I want people to live in this universe that I’ve created. I want them to understand it as we explore it’s nuances. I want to inspire others to imagine their own stories within the framework that I’ve created. In the future, I would even like other authors and creators to craft their own stories within the Versatile Layer Universe.
FSF: That’s always cool. I’ve seen that a lot in the GameLit community. So how much of your work is inspired by your own life? I’m mIy referring to your characters. Do you take traits from yourself and people in your personal life and breathe then in to your characters?
TD: Originally, Jake Takeda was pretty similar to me (not the genius level IQ bit. That’s all him.) I poured a lot of my own fears and anxieties into the character and said, “here, you deal with this.” He’s grown beyond his early conception and taken on a life of his own. Because If I was the star of the story, the bad guys would’ve won already. ? But I think as writers we put a little of ourselves into our characters. You just don’t want to write a story about yourself.
FSF: What are some of your biggest influences, both literary and film based on your writing aside from The Last Jedi which you mentioned.
TD: I grew up absorbing comics, manga, and films. I love Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. That’s my favorite book. Jim Starlin did an incredible job writing the original Infinity Gauntlet series for Marvel. If you’ve seen Infinity War and Endgame, you owe it to yourself to read the works that those films were based on. It’s a completely different story. I loved the show Farscape. It’s so weird and wonderful. That show reminds me to get a little weird and goofy when my work calls for it. And to not be afraid to go there. You can only take yourself so seriously. You gotta get silly sometimes.
FSF: I’ve read The Infinity Gauntlet, I’m also a huge comic fan. Grant Morrison is a huge influence on my own writing, and so is Hunter S Thompson. I loved the abstract brilliance of Fear and Loathing and I agree the film was an excellent adaptation. Can you recommend some indie Sci-Fi or Fantasy for our audience?
TD: I’d recommend “The Rose” by Paul Alleva. A really mind bending sci-fi vampire read. The Moon Warriors by Kayla Krantz. Can’t think of anything else off the top of my head. I’ll probably remember a bunch later.
FSF: I really need to check out Paul’s book I’ve heard great things. So what are your favorite aspects of self publishing? And what do you find to be the biggest challenges?
TD: I love getting that proof copy into my hands. This idea you had is now a tangible thing that you can hold. I also love setting up at conventions and turning strangers into readers. My biggest challenge is getting my work out to the people (especially online.) It’s like you’re shouting while being drowned out by a thousand other voices.
FSF: How important to you is reader interaction as an Indie author, and what is your favorite way to network with readers?
TD: Very important. I want to know how the reader experienced my work. All of you readers out there. Your feedback and reviews matter. Don’t be shy. If you like something, say something. A good review brightens my day.
I love book conventions. Hopefully, the world will get back to a state where we can have them again.
FSF: What takes up your time when you aren’t writing?
TD: I’ve been hooked on a game called Genshin Impact lately. It’s an anime inspired RPG. I just can’t tear myself away from it.
FSF: So what’s next for you? You mentioned the final release in Veesatile Layer. What do you have planned for when the series ends?
TD: I’m planning out a shorter series at the moment. An action comedy about vampires and those who hunt them. R rated jokes and situations. Very different from Versatile Layer which was conceived as a PG-13 affair. If you’re old enough to watch a Marvel movie, you’re old enough read Versatile Layer. My next project is going to be more of a Seth Rogan type of thing.
FSF: Looking forward to it. So I always like to ask this question to end my interviews. What one piece of advice can you offer to new and aspiring authors?
TD: I would tell a new writer to identify the source of conflict in each scene. Conflict can be as large as a fight or as small as unspoken tension. But you need conflict to make a scene interesting. Otherwise, the scene is just exposition.