Tell me a bit about yourself….
I grew up in the woods of Maine, moved to England where I lectured at a British university for eighteen years and came back to Maine again. My academic specialty was international relations and strategy. I’m currently writing a fantasy series called Mara of the League. The series begins when Mara is eleven and the knights who are supposed to be protecting her village arrest her aunt for witchcraft. As Mara tries to save her aunt, she learns things about her country’s politics which shape the rest of her life.
The Mara series is available here:
Book One: The Witches of Crannock Dale amazon.com/dp/B07XWXP1X2/
Book Two: The Rebels of Caer City amazon.com/dp/B085XTW5CM/
Book Three: The Hideous Garden amazon.com/dp/B08M239BXF
What genre/s do you write in?
Low fantasy. I also write non-fiction, mostly about politics and history. In addition to that, I write supplements for role-playing games.
How long have you been writing?
I wrote a poem about dinosaurs at around age six! I started publishing material for role-playing games as a teenager.
Do you have any published books or articles? Tell me a bit about these and what publishing route you took.
I’ve published thirty books and around a hundred shorter pieces. My most recent works are Books 1-3 of my low fantasy series Mara of the League. Others include non-fiction works on such topics as Chinese Grand Strategy and Maritime Power, Ancient China on Postmodern War, and Military Logistics and Strategic Performance. My gaming publications feature the sourcebook GURPS Espionage, the Shadowrun adventure Ivy and Chrome, and a series of supplements for Ars Magica and Cyberpunk published by Atlas Games. My non-fiction and gaming books were traditionally published. My novels are self-published through Amazon KDP.
Did you use an editor? If so who?
Currently using the awesome Toby LeCrone!
Did you use a book formatter and cover designer?
Currently using Suzanne Minae (formatting) and Tallulah van der Made (design). Strongly recommend both of them! Recommend their writing too!
Did you self-publish or get traditionally published? How did this go for you?
I’ve done both. I’ve had good experiences both ways.
How do you market your work and promote your brand?(Include links)
I’m active on Facebook and Twitter, I launch each new book with a blog tour, and I put out a free monthly newsletter. The newsletter is named Metis, after the Greek goddess of insight. Each issue includes personal news from my world, updates on my fiction, and articles. The May 2021 edition featured true stories of my family’s encounters with bears. In June, I’ll be discussing calendars in the world of my Mara series. If you are interested, you can subscribe here:
What social media and writing platforms would you recommend?
I’m most active on Twitter and Facebook. The Twitter writing community is very supportive and includes a lot of neat people. I also find Twitter useful for book promotion since it makes it relatively easy to meet new people.
Do you use an agent?
No. I had one for a while in the 1990s, but not anymore.
Do you use paid advertising? If so what?
I’ve had great experiences with Silver Dagger blog tours!
Do you have a blog or website?
Yes! My website is thomasmkane.com.
What inspires you most to write?
I got the original idea for my Mara series when I was very young and my mother told me the story of Cassandra. As I grew older, I became interested in writing about a Cassandra-like character, and about the reasons why she was able to foresee the danger that others could not. As I studied the ways in which Britain, France, and the US failed to stop the Nazis in the 1930s, I developed more definite ideas about what a Cassandra-like character might pick up on.
What do you do to help with writer's block?
I normally have the most trouble when I’m starting a scene. The reason is often that I’m trying to jump ahead to the part that really seems important to me, even though the characters aren’t there yet. So, it often helps to go back, think of where the characters were in the last scene, and take them step by step into the new one.
How do you plan your writing and start?
I go through periods when ideas come to me quickly and I think up the entire paragraphs I want to deliver. When I do, I take notes. Then I assemble those notes into outlines and often do some preliminary research. Actual writing takes on a life of its own, and although I generally follow the outline, I don’t normally refer to it very often.
Is writing your full-time job? If not what else do you do?
Feels weird to say it, but yes, writing is my main job. I also teach adult education classes and do private tutoring.
What are you working on at the moment?
Book Four of my Mara series, The Rending of the World. It’s a war story that looks closely at how things like logistics shape what happens on the battlefield. It’s also a book where my main character passes on some of her wisdom to the fourteen-year-old crown princess.
What is your target audience?
Fantasy readers who are interested in following the adventures of an introspective MC as she grows from childhood to middle age and becomes ever more deeply involved in international intrigue.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I’ve done it in about eight months.
When did you first discover you enjoyed writing?
When I discovered The Lord of the Rings at age 11, I knew for sure that I wanted to be a writer. By around age 16 to age 17 I had done enough writing to say with assurance that I actually enjoyed it.
What is your writing schedule look like?
Start as soon as I’ve finished my waking-up routines. Write until it’s time to connect with people on social media. Ideally, log off from social media and do at least one thing related to writing promotion.
What does your family think about you writing?
My sisters are the closest family I have left, and they’re very supportive!
What do you do when you are not writing?
Walk in the woods around my house. Read and watch Netflix. Socialize, often virtually.
Where do you get information and ideas for your writing?
My academic background has given me a lot of material for writing about war and international intrigue. It also gave me the opportunity to travel and to see some interesting things. For instance, I’ve observed armored warfare exercises at the US Army’s National Training Center. Since I write fantasy, I am also grateful to have had the opportunity to visit a fair number of castles and other historical sites.
What do you think makes a good story?
Relatable characters are high on the list! The stories I enjoy most are ones that capture moments and situations that feel meaningful to me in some way.