David Tomlinson wanted to make one thing clear: writing a book is not easy.
“I always knew I wanted to write a book,” Tomlinson told students of the DIS English Honor Society last week. “So I started writing and reading. A lot. I eventually started outlining my novel and began writing it piece by piece. It took me two and a half years just to write out each scene after the outline.”
Tomlinson was the invited guest of the English Honor Society, as they had just finished reading his first novel, The Midnight Man, a project that took Tomlinson eight years to complete from start to finish. Tomlinson’s two daughters, Cadence and Laurel, also study at the school.
Students asked Tomlinson numerous questions, but they seemed especially keen to learn more about his inspiration behind The Midnight Man, a gripping crime thriller that takes place in rural Oklahoma.
“I actually grew up in a small town called Perry, Oklahoma,” Tomlinson said. “So I was really interested in taking the social forces of the mid-1990s in Oklahoma and personifying them into the characters in the book. I wanted to cover stuff like racial bias, politics and social inequality.”
Tomlinson also detailed the many emotions that came along with the release of his first-ever novel. He’s attended numerous book clubs that have studied his book, and he said that he was fascinated by the many reactions that it received.
“I’ve learned that once I’ve written the book and released it into the world, I no longer own it,” Tomlinson said. “Your experience with the book is yours. It’s right. It scares me a bit, but it’s also cool. I’ve been to book clubs where people have had very personal connections with it that have been really cool for me to hear.”
The author’s ultimate advice to the group of aspiring writers was to keep persistently writing, even if the results don’t turn into the next great American novel.
“If you want to be a creative writer, most good writing is rewriting,” Tomlinson said. “The first draft is never going to be great. The sentences in this book have been written at least a dozen times each. It only gets better over time.”