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The Importance of Taking Risks

Thomas Duffy Author Interview

Thomas Duffy Author Interview

To Never Know depicts the story of Steven and how he is affected by his life choices and forces beyond his control. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

The story is loosely based on the time period I was in high school up until the time I reached my mid-twenties. I always wondered what life could have been like had I taken more risks when I was a teenager. I was in Florida at the time of 9/11 and right as it happened, I wondered if any of my friends or acquaintances had been affected. There was no Facebook back then so it was more difficult to keep in touch with old friends and classmates at that time. The idea became a story which I felt should be told regarding love, loss and the importance of taking risks in life. You never know when it will be too late to reach out to someone. Therefore it is so important to make good choices today and always follow your heart. As I wrote the novel, I explored the notion of reaching out to someone who lost a daughter in 9/11. I believe this storyline made the novel more powerful. I hope the reader will be moved.

Steven is an interesting and relateable character. What was the inspiration for the main character’s traits and dialogue?

This character is all me. He speaks like me and acts like me especially during the time period the book is set in. I have changed considerably in some respects but most of the dialogue and traits I carry with me to this day.

What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

The moral of the story is that we must move forward and learn from our mistakes. We will make mistakes but we can’t beat ourselves up over them. We must try to value the beauty of life and take pleasure in the little things. I have a fascination for the minor details of life. In the end of this story, lives have been transformed due to the events that took place during the course of the novel. I want people to come away with a feeling that anything is possible if you are just willing to take risks in life.

What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?

The next book is called The Separation and is a sci.fi. book. It was supposed to come out in late August but due to the passing of a friend, I couldn’t make the Booklife contest I wanted to enter so I delayed the release to late November. It will definitely come out then. Expect to be moved. It’s a very thought-provoking story.

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To Never KnowSteven Lewis is a young man with no concrete plans for his future after school. For a short time during high school, he wanted to ask a girl named Kelly out on a date but never had the courage to do so. As his life is taken in a different direction than he had hoped, he holds on to the thought of actually getting to know Kelly. Even after several years pass, he is determined to find her again. His quest to know her leads him to a tragic discovery. When he meets her mother, Emily, his life will never be the same. This is a story of love, loss and hope. It is an unforgettable personal journey about the quest for happiness after tragedy.

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More Than Just a Monster

Thomas Duffy Author Interview

Thomas Duffy Author Interview

Heart Breaker is a dramatic story about one woman’s traumatic and tumultuous life. What was your inspiration for this story?

I had met a girl a lot like Amber during my time on an online “dating” telephone service years ago. She always seemed to have bad luck yet she was very smart and capable of doing a lot more with herself than what she was doing. Her story sort of debunks the lifestyle you see in movies with the “hooker with a heart of gold.” It’s so hard to keep the “heart of gold” when nothing in your life ever goes right. I would like to hope this girl has found some kind of peace in her life. She deserves to.

Amber is an interesting character that is sometimes impulsive and rash. What obstacles do you feel were important to highlight the characters development?

The Amber we meet at the beginning and the Amber we see at the end is a character completely transformed. She has learned the error of her ways in an uncomfortable and heart-wrenching way. It’s important to remember that her decision to do what she does to Jeffrey comes from the way she had been treated. I think we become a lot like the people we are around. Unfortunately, Amber’s abduction by Miguel has negative consequences for her as she ultimately becomes almost as heartless and vicious as he was to her. For Amber to just move forward like nothing had happened to her, that was almost impossible to convey. People always take bad experiences with them for a very long time. She just happens to act on her impulses because of what was done to her.

Was there anything from your own life that you were able to put into the story?

Surprisingly, yes. The forest fire story Amber tells Jeffrey that happened to her as a young girl. That was actually an event in my own life from when I was in the Boy Scouts that I was able to put in the novel. I have had almost as much bad luck as Amber. Some people will not relate to Amber at all. However, I feel she’s totally relatable in my opinion because everybody has had a streak of bad luck in their lives. Hers is just more continuous than the average everyday person. Also, some of Miguel’s suicidal thoughts have some element of realism because they are based on some of the more disappointing aspects of my own life. It was important to see Miguel as more than just a monster. I wanted to add some humanity to him. I hope readers, if they can’t sympathize with him, will understand why he is remorseful in the end.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

“The Separation,” a new sci-fi book, is coming out in November. I’d like to follow that up with a third book for my truly moving book series (which consists of “One Love,” “To Never Know”). Not sure what the story will be. Several ideas floating through my head right now.

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Heartbreaker by [Duffy, Thomas]Heartbreaker is the story of a down on her luck young woman named Amber. She comes to New York City and gets into more trouble than she ever imagined when she becomes an independent escort. When a client kidnaps her, she begins to value her life more than she realized she could. This is the story of Amber’s journey to overcome her past and present on her quest for a better tomorrow.

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Heartbreaker

Heartbreaker

Heartbreaker, by Thomas Duffy, is a dramatic story about a young woman, Amber Robertson. The book opens in Brooklyn on Amber’s 19th birthday. Her birthday is eventful as it is the first time she is arrested (for stealing). While in jail, she meets Missy, another young woman, who has been arrested for prostitution. As Amber and Missy talk, Amber decides that the life of an escort is as good as any other (and could help her earn some much needed money).

Amber starts her business with some online advertising as an independent escort. Unfortunately, she immediately draws the attention of a pimp, Pete. He starts making promises of protection for a cut of Amber’s money. Soon, her landlord, wants to evict her, so she starts renting motel rooms.

Unfortunately, she soon faces bigger problems. She’s kidnapped by one of her clients and starts a sordid love affair with another that eventually makes a sudden turn into something even more frightening.

As you can imagine, this book is complex and not necessarily a feel-good story. Heartbreaker’s protagonist, Amber, goes on a wild and weird anti-heroic arc right from the beginning of the story and the audience can see how those early misfortunes lead to an increasingly painful and tumultuous life. She initially presents as both hesitant and impulsive; constantly not sure about what she wants to do, but will then make a sudden and foolhardy decision.

As a reader, there is some sympathy for Amber. She ends up in pretty bad situations. Anytime things start to look as though they may improve for her, it only gets worse. Yet, she is also frustrating. Her impulsivity sometimes leads her into her worst outcomes. For example, late in the story she takes bold, rash action. Of course, I am avoiding sharing the ending here to prevent spoilers, so you will have to read for yourself to see how Amber’s story fully unfolds.

This story, in its own way, forces the reader to examine the evil that can hide in people. The evil, within the story is almost infectious, capable of spreading from person to person, evolving and mutating along the way as it collides with new lives, who act it out in their own unique way. Amber’s progression through the story seems to demonstrate her methods for confronting the evil in her past and present. It shows how she, like anyone, is capable of becoming somewhat immune to bad acts, bad people, and a bad life. Like so many people, she acts out what she has seen and experienced by replicating pain onto others.

This book is well-written, but I felt there were some issues with the pacing. At points the story seemed to drag out, such as during Amber’s interactions with Miguel and Jeffrey. I think these could have been shortened up a bit without losing any essential character development. Heartbreaker is written for mature, adult readers, who enjoy dramatic characters in intense and emotional situations.

Pages: 184 | ASIN: B017UZDW02

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To Never Know

To Never Know

To Never Know depicts the story of Steven Lewis, and how he is affected by his life choices, his stalled inertia, and forces far beyond his control.

To Never Know, by Thomas Duffy, is a millennialist coming of age drama centered on the late adolescence and early adulthood of the main character, Steven Lewis.  The story starts in 1994 in Queens, New York. Steven is in his Senior year of High School. Steven has a crush on a girl in his class, Kelly Brennan. She seems to be interested in him, finding excuses to interact by asking for his notes and a stick of gum. But he never works up the courage to ask her to Prom.

The story skips past graduation and things have changed for Steven. His life continues a downward progression: his grades are not as good at college as they were in High School, he drops out, takes some time off. He tried calling Kelly again, but he could not bring himself to talk to her.

A family friend encourages him to send Kelly a letter, so he does, on September 10, 2001. Keeping in mind that Kelly lives in New York, you can make some good guesses about where the story goes after that, but this story packs a lot more into it, as Steven’s life events continue to unfold.

This story is an exploration of millennialist worries and fears in a post-9/11 life: adulthood with its ever-increasing responsibilities, how to live a good life, intimacy, isolation, establishing one’s self-identity, and the existential fear of death. The story is deeply emotional, with conflicting emotions. The quality of writing is strong enough to convey nuanced emotions and details. There were a few copy editing issues, but none bad enough to detract from the powerful meaning of the story.

The title, To Never Know, gives some insight into the central themes within the story. There is a strain of philosophical agnosticism (not in the religious sense) that there are unknown unknowns in our lives and that tomorrow is never guaranteed. There is also the theme that there are “bells that cannot be un-rung.”  Steven cannot go and have the relationship he wanted. We will never know what life would have been like if one thing would have been changed in the distant past, and we cannot know what tomorrow will bring.

This book is good, but really heavy at times. It is intended for adult audiences, and probably best understood by older millennials. There are depictions of sex, death, terrorism, and coarse language. The content of the story takes an odd twist at one point, and the end is unexpected.

Pages: 208 | ASIN: B01K7RYJB6

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