HEAVENLY follows a man who is given a second chance at life after he dies and comes back as another man. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I based the premise on an idea which begs this question: If you were to die unexpectedly, would you feel that you lived a satisfying life? I think people are pursuing their financial goals and personal goals every day but rarely do they stop and take the risks necessary to live a truly fulfilling life. Some of those risks include reaching out to other people. Without other people, it is not possible to live a full life. That is in my opinion, of course. It’s human connections and interactions that make this life worth living. We may not get a second chance like Peter does in the book so we better be prepared just in case we have to answer to a higher power about the lives we’ve lived here on Earth.
This is the ninth book that you’ve written. What were some things you’ve learned as an author that you’ve used in this book?
I learned that not everybody will relate in the same way to every single book I write but I also discovered that every book is unique. HEAVENLY says everything I ever wanted to say about life and the possibilities that await us when we die. I have no regrets about writing it nor do I have regrets about any book I’ve written. Each book I wrote had a purpose and a story to tell. Whether or not everyone relates to that story is another topic altogether. I hope other people can get something positive from the books as well. If they don’t, I can’t make any apologies. Everybody is different and I’ve learned to understand this fact.
Your characters, as usual, feel authentic. Were you able to relate to your characters while writing them?
Of course, I felt a connection to the characters in HEAVENLY, almost more so than in any other book I’ve written. I feel the characters I write so deeply and hope others can see that the central characters I write are full of passions and dreams. I want my books to have relatable characters first and foremost. That is the goal I strive for in each and every book. I see myself in both John and Peter in this particular novel.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a film criticism book. I also do movie criticism on the side and I’m writing a book called “100 Movies I Love” which details my analysis of 100 movies I absolutely adore. It should be out by the end of the year. Movie fans, take note. Some classics and some modern day classics are discussed in great detail!
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Heavenly is a fascinating and stirring contemporary fiction novel that explores the themes of second chances, priorities, love and hope. It follows the remarkable journey of John, a man who is suddenly killed and, instead of being admitted to heaven he is given a second chance at life by returning to earth as another man, Peter.
Duffy gives a very detailed description of John’s physical appearance, and later, Peter’s physical appearance. The effect of this is twofold. Firstly, the reader gets a feeling for the characters and the characters begin to come alive. Secondly, the reader begins to see how much value John, and later Peter, place on physical appearance – both themselves, but also in those that they attempt to form relationships with. Set in the present day in various cities in the U.S., the setting is described, but not in great detail. It does seem authentic but doesn’t give the reader the feeling of being immersed in the setting.
Although the story opens with John, there are really two main characters in this contemplative story, Peter and Tara. Both of these characters are fairly well developed. Peter, a middle-aged man appears to be overly interested in how women look and is constantly concerned about money. Although he has been given a second chance at life, he doesn’t know this. Tara is on a very different journey, although her life also focuses on money. Both characters yearn for love, this is evident in their dialogue with other characters, with each other, and their inner dialogues. Both characters also switch between having hope and feeling hopeless. There are also a number of smaller, but equally intriguing characters, whom often offer sage advice to the main characters.
Heavenly is a well-structured literary fiction novel that I found to be easy to follow. Although John and Peter are similar, it is clear from the structure which character is speaking. The structure follows Peter’s life as he ages, and the reader continually asks themselves – is he going to use his second chance wisely?
Heavenly is an intelligent and poignant novel exploring themes of hope, love and second chances in refreshing and satisfying ways.
Pages: 234 | ASIN: B08Z2ZG5SR
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Stockboy Nation follows Phillip on a journey to discover a new life and re-evaluate his romantic relationships. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from the first book?
I wanted to convey the idea of the ever changing state of the world we live in. While Phillip was seemingly getting back to square one as the book starts off, the world was evolving into something that is almost completely different than what he had been expecting. When he’s back in New York City and the plot takes a turn that echoes real life recent events, we see that no matter what Phillip had done, he would have been back to square one anyway. We are never fully “settled” no matter what we may think. That I think is the greatest takeaway of the book.
I also liked the idea of introducing a new female love interest in to the mix to sort of test the boundaries of his love for Melissa. That was the main goal of the book. To explore the love triangle between Phillip, Melissa and LeAnn. I wanted readers to be taken on a journey to see which characters they wanted to end up together at the end.
Phillip ends up back at the same bookstore where he previously worked. Was this theme of starting back at the beginning something you did intentionally?
Absolutely. For Phillip to move forward, he had to confront his past and this book which he wrote about the store where he worked. I wanted Phillip’s character to move forward by confronting the details of his past which includes his love/hate relationship with New York City. It was intentional to bring him back to his old stomping ground in NYC.
Romance, and contentment, are themes explored in this book. Was there a certain perspective of these themes that you wanted to portray?
Yes. Romance and contentment with the cards you have been dealt in love (and life) were topics I wanted to portray. The perspective is that your happiness with life can be challenged at any given time. The same for one’s happiness in his/her romantic relationship(s). Life is never at a stand still and as we constantly evolve as human beings, our need for change and also for stability comes in to question. I think the book touches on these topics head on and I am very proud of it.
Will there be a third book in the Stockboy series?
Good question. Right now I am working on a “Heaven” project and the sequel to “The Separation.” It’s anyone’s guess whether or not I will return to do another “Stockboy.” I guess it all depends on how readers like “Stockboy Nation.” I’ve heard good things so far.
Phillip Doherty is a 40 something year old writer living with his long-term girlfriend Melissa in California. After publishing two books, the first one being a success and the second one the opposite. He is left with the feeling that his career is going nowhere and he has no steady job.
His girlfriend Melissa, tired of her jobless boyfriend and their financial status; encourages Philip to find a job. After many twists and turns, Philip decides to make a big change in his life and sets himself on a path of exploration into new romantic relationships and professional possibilities, discovering that life might be more complicated than expected.
Stockboy Nation is a contemporary fiction novel revolving around Philip, his romantic aspirations and his concerns about his professional and personal life. It’s a levelheaded look at what it means to be satisfied with your life. Phillip’s life, muted by failure, has potential to go in some interesting directions, and the novel does well to make these elements of choice and possibility stand out as characters of their own.
Thomas Duffy’s intriguing novel takes place between New York and San Diego and unfolds in what feels like a natural pace. Told from a third person perspective, it mainly presents Phillip’s outlook and shifting sometimes to other main character’s point of view, which was a nice change of perspective, but the star of the show remains Phillip.
Dialog is a big part of the narration and make up a significant percentage of the story. I felt that Duffy dialog feels like a natural interaction between the characters. Sort of an Aaron Sorkin level of intrigue, without the speed, and Stephen King’s depth, without the horror. I like the insightful atmosphere the book brings and I enjoyed the story’s pace however sometimes the dialog slowed the pace a bit.
The plot itself is relatable, because it comprises common issues that we all face throughout our lives, the kind of dilemmas adults encounter when decisions such as marriage, love and career goals are at stake. In addition, it tackles a very specific and current worldwide topic that any reader will relate too.
Phillips character went through a heft amount of changes and I enjoyed watching him evolve, but I would have also like to see that same shift in the other characters in the book. However, the main character’s personality is very well defined which made it easy to picture the story and get into the atmosphere.
The climax of the story was short and almost unnoticeable, it was nothing too dramatic, it felt like a story you hear from your friends over drinks, which can be good. I would recommend this book to people looking for a light reading experience or someone who is eager to have an introspective moment.
Pages: 228 | ASIN: B08B1BRTTX
Social Work is an emotional story following two people overcoming obstacles and trying to find happiness. What was the inspiration behind Marc and Lauren’s bond?
I actually had a bond with a few different mental health professionals who just happened to be female over the course of my life. One who was a big help to me shaped the character of Lauren. The bond you see in the book is based on reality in many respects though certain elements of the bond were fictionalized for dramatic effect. I am thankful to have worked with great, caring, professionals who were efficient in terms of helping me get my own life back on track after some hard times.
This is an evocative story that is high in social commentary. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?
The loss of my friend to suicide helped me to put together the courage to write this book. I wanted people to see the world through the eyes of someone down on their luck who has mental issues. I wanted people to care about a character they wouldn’t normally like instantly in real life. I certainly feel I achieved the goals I set out to fulfill with this story. I think this is my best work so far.
What character did you enjoy writing for? Was there one that was more challenging to write for?
I enjoyed writing the two central characters, Marc and Lauren, equally. Lauren was a little more challenging to write as I had to delve deep into the life of someone who helps people for a living. I’ve asked professionals to read the book and tell me if they think I was on point. I’m still waiting for their feedback. The reviews have been great. I got newspaper coverage in my hometown of Queens, NY from a local paper and a spot on an Internet TV show. I feel I did something right so far.
What story are you currently writing and when will it be available?
I am working on the sequel to my first book, “Stockboy” titled “Stockboy Nation” and it will be available in 2020 when the marketing campaign ends for “Social Work” and I scrape together more money to invest in the latest novel. I hope people will love it. “Stockboy” deserved to have more dialogue and this time I deliver in that particular regard.
Social Work is Thomas Duffy’s seventh book. It is a moving story about a young man named Marc who meets a social worker named Lauren after his attempt at suicide. This story is an exploration of the bond between Marc and Lauren and the problems they face in trying to overcome the obstacles both of them experience trying to achieve their own personal happiness. It is set in New York City.
In Social Work author Thomas Duffy, follows his characters through their everyday lives as they work toward their respective goals. Marc attends counseling sessions with his social worker, Lauren. Marc has a rocky past to work through as Lauren has a budding relationship with her boyfriend, Ahmad, that she is building simultaneously.
Both main characters are so relatable. Duffy doesn’t shy away from Marc’s struggles or the struggles of those in his counseling group. Marc had taken some less than savory paths and ended up in a very dark place, eventually attempting to take his own life. Lauren shows him that there is hope and that life is worth living. Readers will identify with Marc’s lows and many will also identify with stepping into the shoes of those who help to lift others out of the abyss.
Lauren is an excellent social worker, and seems to really follow the rule book. She keeps counselor/patient boundaries very clear, at first anyway, but does seem to struggle with letting Marc go once she decides to leave her job. The two had developed a close but appropriate working relationship. She feels guilty when she decides to leave, and struggles with being another person in a list of those who have deserted Marc. Handing Marc over to another social worker felt like giving up on him or throwing him away to both parties involved.
Duffy also delves into relationship complications that both main characters experience. Both Marc and Lauren have their own problems in love. Marc falls for a series of girls who are never quite fitting for what he needs. Lauren hints that her now fiance, Ahmad, isn’t her type but provides her with stability and prospects for the future. Admittedly, Marc is her type, but that doesn’t seem to be an option.
Thomas Duffy also examines a predicament that many of us find ourselves in. Marc is ambitious. He has big dreams, but not a big bank account. Instead of following his dreams, he is forced at times to settle. He wants to get into the entertainment industry, but isn’t independently wealthy. This means he can’t afford to put his job to start up any projects. This leaves him to work in a job that is unfulfilling.
This is the second Duffy book I have read. His style is simple, including lots of back and forth conversation between characters that gives readers a fly-on-the-wall sort of feeling. We hear what the characters say to one another, but we are also privy to their internal dialogue. This gives a unique perspective into how people feel verses what they show to the world. He gives a glimpse into humanity’s dynamic that we are all familiar with but don’t often talk about.
Social Work flows well and is easy to understand. The characters are endearing and relatable which got me invested in the characters.
Pages: 272 | ISBN: 1694404684
Stockboy follows Phillip as he struggles to achieve things beyond his mundane life. What were some driving ideals behind this story and how did it change while writing?
The book was essentially written based on my professional and personal experiences. I originally wanted it to be an honest autobiography but I couldn’t resist some key changes in the plot about a quarter through and made it a work of fiction instead. I wanted the story to show some key components of the problematic quest to achieve the American Dream. If you’ve ever seen the 1999 Albert Brooks comedy movie, The Muse, I took a lot of inspiration from that film in finding the comedy in the disappointment found in everyday life.
You’re able to capture the emotions of life as an average person and have them resonate with readers. What is your writing process like?
My writing process consists of starting off with something real and taking it and spinning it in a fictional direction. I’ll start writing about a real life experience and transform it after a few sentences into something fictional. This was originally a serious book but I took my cue from Albert Brooks’ film that people like to laugh too, and mixed some comedy in for good measure. I think there are some great moments of original humor in Stockboy. I like all the film and literary references I put in the book.
This story is ‘for anyone who has ever worked retail’. I feel that working retail gives one a general sense of people and society (good and bad). Have you worked in retail before?
Yes. For many years I worked in retail. Only these past few years have I been out of the industry. Working in the industry with people from all walks of life is a great experience but it comes with its fair share of drawbacks. People don’t want to see you succeed, sometimes, for whatever reason. Especially when you start at the bottom. When I was working in Times Square in retail, there was a supervisor who just wouldn’t let me advance, again for whatever reason. I had the credentials I needed to move up. Again, I don’t like to be negative but in certain jobs, people only like to see others get but so far. I think this book is positive though, overall, and a fun and serious read at the same time. What do I know about everyone else’s experiences in retail? Not much. This story is just drawn from my own personal experiences.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
It’s something completely different! A “truly moving book” but like some famous writers and directors, I like to keep the plot top secret until it’s released or about to be released. It will be out early next year at this point. I want to enjoy the holiday season.
Stockboy features the story of Phillip, a single 30-something retail employee, who is trying to rise above the job for which he was hired in a large Times Square theme store. While waiting for a big break, he works hard and, in the interim, falls in love with a woman who comes to believe he actually works as a teacher. While confronting different elements in his job and personal life, he finds himself struggling to stay afloat in his effort to find romance and financial success. This is a story for anyone who has ever worked in retail and yearned to rise up in order to achieve happiness.
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Stockboy by Thomas Duffy is the story of Phillip, a man who is in his dead-end job. Stuck with no relationship. Stuck in his mundane life. Phillip is a good guy. He is smart. He has a degree. He has an excellent work ethic. However, he feels like he is only spinning his wheels and wasting his time on a life that is going nowhere. He feels his life ticking away while waiting for his love life to work out, his bosses to see his potential, and fulfillment to come his way.
Phillip is such a relatable character. He is sort of an “everyman” underdog. Everyone has felt unfulfilled at some point in his or her life. Readers will definitely identify with this character. He is the typical good guy who finishes last. He’s smart and capable and a great worker. He also gets passed over time and time again for promotions or wage increases at his bookstore job. When he does find a woman he loves, his life tailspins in that area as well. He can’t catch a break. As my grandfather would have said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s the same thing.” Phillip lives a “Groundhog Day” sort of life on his cyclical hamster wheel of a life.
The themes in the story fit right into our current social climate. Wages are stagnant. Growth is slow. College students owe student loans they can’t pay while working jobs below their qualifications. People can’t go to the doctor because they can’t afford insurance. When they do get insurance, they are still scared to go to the doctor for fear that the condition will be worse than they expect. People are living paycheck-to-paycheck. Opportunities for a better life are few and far between. People still manage to get up, put their torn sneakers on, and go back to the grind everyday. This is Phillip. He personifies a big chunk of the American workforce, and likely those abroad.
The writing is great. It is simple and direct without being boring. It doesn’t feel pompous or overbearing. Thomas Duffy is a good author that way. He reels you into his stories and his characters in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling he’s attempting to make up for content with flowery language. The content is there, so he doesn’t have to put on airs. I saw one or two simple typos. Beyond that, the spelling, sentence structure, etc. are great. This was an easy read. The book is easily digestible and could be knocked out in a weekend. Duffy books are always page-turners for me.
Other than a few minor errors the writing is solid, the characters are relatable and the situations they find themselves in will hit close to home for many readers. I like this writer’s style and have read his work before. He delivered again and didn’t disappoint. I’d love to read more of his work.
Pages: 200 | ASIN: B00CA517C8
Tags: alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, book store, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, contemporary, contemporary fiction, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, life, literature, love, love story, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, romance, shelfari, smashwords, Stockboy, story, thomas duffy, urban fantasy, writer, writer community, writing