T.M. Brown Q&A
This weekend, we get to welcome author Mike Brown back to Thomasville! He has been here to sign the first books in his Shiloh Mystery Series, SANCTUARY and TESTAMENT, but is returning just in case you missed him or wanted a second chance at buying that signed copy. ;) This series, if you haven’t heard of it, takes place in a small Southern Georgia Town, and is woven with colors of faith, along with the obvious mysteries that outsiders Theo and Liddy Phillips are faced with. As for the author, let’s get into those interview questions . . .
1. Walk me through what a typical day looks like for you.
Wow, though my wife and I are now both retired from the 9-to-5 grind, we’ve never been busier. Now that I am actively writing the third installment of my Shiloh Mystery Series (Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest, late 2019/Spring 2020), my typical day begins at about 5 a.m. I watch little television so my news comes from my internet feeds. As an independent author, staying in touch with my social media network is important and takes up more time in the early morning than I wish, but it also has been rewarding as my network has grown as my novels have gained traction across the country.
At least three days a week, my wife and I visit the gym for an hour just before lunch. The other mornings, my wife keeps me hopping with her “honey-do” list and an occasional errand or two. The afternoons are now set aside for actively planning and writing my next novel. My wife understands that I am lost in Shiloh (though actually at my writing desk) until just before dinner. It is during dinner when I share my day in Shiloh with my wife. She asks about each character as if he or she were getting updates on our own family and close friends.
After watching any of a number of recorded PBS/BBC shows after dinner, I usually crawl into bed and try to read about a chapter in my latest book - right now I am reading Pat Conroy’s, South of Broad Street.
Pretty boring, but most days are full days. Oh yeah, most weekends are either built around author events, conferences, festivals, or spending time with our five grandkids.
2. What has been your favorite part of writing the Shiloh Mystery Series?
Building relationships with all my characters and walking the streets of lil’ ol’ Shiloh. I write with a premise of a story in mind and then allow my characters to respond to the events which are affecting their lives and the tranquility of the community. Writing a series allows you as the author to become so deeply embedded alongside your story's characters, they effectively drive the writing of each story forward. And, I am so entrenched in Shiloh that I can venture onto any street, alley, or road leading out of town, walk into any shop or other place of business, and find my way onto the farmsteads, estates, and even know what’s inside an abandoned mansion or two with as much familiarity as I have when I leave my own home. Shiloh has become a home away from home - and has become as real as my imagination allows without fearing detached reality. Maybe that’s why I get asked, “Where’s Shiloh, I want to go there and see this quaint, time-lost town for myself?”
3. Have you lived in a town like Shiloh (or Thomasville) before? If so, how did that experience influence the setting of this series?
Absolutely. In fact, Shiloh is an amalgamation of memories tucked away from decades of travel throughout the South. My wife and I also had the distinct pleasure of residing in small towns like Shiloh. After walking away from nearly thirty years of traveling as an sales and marketing executive, I went back to school and attended seminary, which afforded me the unique opportunity to teach, preach, and coach in lower Alabama, Northern Florida, and South Georgia before my wife and retired to our current home in sleepy Grantville, GA about 45 minutes South of Atlanta, although I refer to Newnan, GA as my hometown because it is where I spend most of my time and served to inspire the town square makeup of Shiloh.
4. The subtitle on your website reads "Southern Stories with a Message." In what way did you choose to weave your faith into the Shiloh series?
I began the journey of writing these stories wanting to provide my grandkids with some inspiration from their “Poppy,” I believe my grandkids and anyone who chooses to read my stories will discover some inspirational. thought-provoking scenes and overt messages to help them navigate through their own challenges in life. I did not intend this to be about defining a particular faith, but about living out out one’s faith as an action verb through our relationships with others. I love the line, we get to pick our friends, but God identifies our neighbors. How we treat our neighbors means more to God than how we relate to our friends. I believe the notion of “Sanctuary” carries well beyond the first novel in the series for a reason, but you’ll have to read the books to see if you agree or not...
5. Finally, what was the biggest mystery you've had to solve?
In truth, figuring out how I would fare facing the sea of novels and authors that readers are swarmed with when they walk into great indie bookstores like The Bookshelf. In my writing, the biggest mystery remains whether I’ll continue my Shiloh series beyond book three, or head off onto another story away from Shiloh. As soon as I solve that mystery, I guess I’ll leave my answer a mystery…
It was wonderful to read through these responses from Mike! The amount of love and dedication he’s put into the fictional town of Shiloh is inspiring and just makes me want to start writing!
Make sure you come visit the store this Saturday between 2 and 4 p.m. when Mike Brown will be signing copies of these first two books once again. And, Mike told me at the end of his email that he heard a rumor that Mrs. Claus might be arriving with him to help highlight the "Christmas in Shiloh” endings in both of his novels—what better way is there to officially kick off the Holiday Season?