• Q&A with WriteByNight Consultant Tom Andes

     

    Tom Andes (Albuquerque, NM) is the author of the detective novel Wait There Till You Hear from Me, forthcoming from Crescent City Books in 2025. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in dozens of publications including Best American Mystery Stories 2012 and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He works as a freelance editor and writing coach, teaches, picks up catering shifts, pet sits, and moonlights as a country singer, performing solo and with several bands. He has recorded two critically acclaimed EPs of original songs which will be released on vinyl by Southern Crescent Recording Co. in 2025. He can be found at tomandes.com.

     

    Where are you from?

    I grew up in Southern New Hampshire, less than an hour from the Atlantic Ocean, but I’ve lived all over since then, mostly in the Bay Area and New Orleans.

     

    Where did you study?

    I attended Loyola University New Orleans (BA, 1999) and San Francisco State University (MA, 2005; MFA, 2008).

     

    How did you get your start as a writer?

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved reading, and I’ve tried emulating what I read in notebooks of my own. I started writing poetry more seriously in college, and the year I graduated from college, after taking John Gardner’s famous advice about reading all of Faulkner and then all of Hemingway to clean the Faulkner out of your system, I sat down and wrote what I’d consider my first real short stories.

     

    List some of your influences.

    Huckleberry Finn is probably the novel I’ve returned to most over the years, and Raymond Carver was the first literary short story writer I fell in love with (thanks to Altman’s Short Cuts, I discovered him on my own, before being introduced to his work in writing workshops). Probably my favorite genre to read is the crime genre: Gillian Flynn, Laura Lippman, George Pelecanos. Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö’s Martin Beck series consists of nearly perfect police procedurals. Roberto Bolaño. John Edgar Wideman. Junot Diaz. Graham Greene. Jean Rhys. I love Frank Stanford’s poetry, too.

     

    What is the hardest part of writing for you?

    Getting started. Finishing. Making a plan and sticking to it. Being willing to adjust when my plans go awry. Committing to a genre, a shape.

     

    Word association: Literature.

    Seriousness. Deadly, killing seriousness.

     

    What’s the last book you read and what did you think of it?

    I just finished Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. I thought it was terrific. I finished the book in the middle of the night, and I was terrified to walk around the house. I love how she couches these urgent concerns about feminism and gender in what’s generally considered a popular—if not a disposable—form. I also think her prose is fantastic—funny, self-aware, caustic, electrifying.

     

    Where do you see the world of writing and publishing heading?

    I would say we’re heading for a world with fewer gatekeepers, a more democratic literary world, but I don’t always think that’s true (nor do I think a world without gatekeepers would necessarily be more democratic, or better). People love to talk about the demise of literature, just like they talked about the demise of libraries a few years ago, but more people are writing than ever (and libraries are thriving). Certainly things seem to be changing. More and more, I think the world is what you make of it. There are lots of opportunities out there—not always paying opportunities, but opportunities—and you never know where things will lead.

     

    Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

    At the risk of stating the obvious, write. Like Maupassant said, “Put black on white.” I don’t think we really figure anything out unless we’re engaged in the process, since for many of us, the process of writing is actually the process of deciphering the process itself, of learning how we write.

     

    Interested in working with Tom? Request a free consult now

     

    “Tom is thoughtful, reflective, and insightful. It occurs to me that coaching of this sort is a kind of therapy, with the goal of producing a piece of writing, of whatever size or genre, that readers will find valuable—worthwhile, memorable, perhaps inspiring. I like that method … because it gives me criticism from a knowledgeable, experienced writer.”

    — David W.

     

    “Tom has been my coach from day one. He is truly amazing. With his guidance and help, I have learned how to make my sentences come to life.”

    — Sophia A.

     

    “Tom helped me to articulate what did not work and how to improve on it. Four months into our professional relationship, I remain impressed by his diligence, attention to details and promptness. Thank to his precious advice, one of the poems I had been working on for a long time has been ACCEPTED!”

    — Brigitte L.

     

    “It was awesome, I really dug talking with Tom and he was super helpful/reassuring/inspiring. I’m super excited to work with him.”

    — Dane G.

     

    “Tom is everything I ever wanted in a coach. Humble. Forward and task-oriented, yet personable and focused on the project. He offers suggestions in a way that is helpful/useful and not judgmental. He’s also a good reader. Someone who reads into the texts with x-ray skill.”

    — Vivian C.