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Interview with Local Author/Teacher Tom Gramza

IN THE February 19 ISSUE

FROM THE 2011 Articles,
andContributors,
andEducation,
andEvery Other Book,
andJames Garcia Jr.
SECTIONS

by James Garcia Jr.

Before anyone thinks for a moment that I might be the only published writer in Kingsburg, please allow me to introduce another. His name is Tom Gramza and he is an elementary school teacher and author of the fantasy novel, Tolund’s Waking. I have only known him for a short time, but it is instantly obvious to me that he is one of the most likeable and easily one of the most positive individuals that you could ever hope to meet. I would like to introduce you to him.

Tom Gramza

KRL: Tom, how long have you been teaching?

GRAMZA: I have been teaching for about 13 years.

KRL: Tell us about yourself. What makes Tom Gramza tick?

GRAMZA: I am a high-energy person by nature. Once I find something that I really love I can get pretty crazy about it. I coach tennis for the Rafer Johnson Junior High School boys and girls teams and I coach the boy’s team for Kingsburg High School. I sometimes preach for the evening ‘Outpour’ service and lead worship for Kingsburg Community Church, as well as lead a weekly Bible Study for the college group. My greatest passions are (in this order): my faith in God; my awesome wife, Kendra; my sons; my friends and church family; writing creatively; coaching and playing tennis; and laughing a lot.

KRL: When did you first know that there was a creative part of you that might be interested in writing? Or writing a book?

GRAMZA: I’ve always loved to read. Growing up, I became a huge fan of Edgar
Allen Poe, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Eventually, on a dare from my sons, I tried my own hand at writing and found that it was a great outlet for my own imagination. I can honestly say that ‘writer’s block’ seems like a myth to me because I always have more ideas than I actually have time to write. To me, writing is a reward and not extra work or a chore. Carving out the time to write is really the hardest part of the creative process for me.

KRL: What is Tolund’s Waking? How did this novel come to fruition?

GRAMZA: Tolund’s Waking is an intense fantasy / adventure novel aimed at younger readers, but is also being very well-received by adults who’ve read it. My best comparison to what it’s like is kind of a cross between Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. As I mentioned before, my sons dared me to write an original book when they found themselves frustrated with a lot of best-selling adventure series that turned out to be too boring for them. I came up with the character of Tolund Dellender and the story took off from there.

KRL: Who should read your book? Is it for all ages?

GRAMZA: Tolund’s Waking is pretty intense and creepy, so I wouldn’t recommend it for most children under the age of nine. However, for older readers who love suspense, action, and characters that are worth caring about, I think it’s a lot of fun and a great read.

KRL: What are your plans for your writing? Is there a second career there for you?

GRAMZA: As of right now, writing is something I’m doing whenever I can scrape out the time. Teaching, coaching, and helping out at church give me plenty to do, but if God opened the doors for me to write more often, I would jump at the chance.

KRL: I understand that there is a second and third book in production. What can you tell us about them?

GRAMZA: The second book in the Dellender series is entitled, The Screaming Lands. I have already plotted that book as well as the third book in this story arc/trilogy. I’m having a blast seeing Tolund’s character move into new challenges and also to show the readers new places and characters in Tolund’s world of Vedris. Another fun part of writing the second book is responding to what readers have been asking for more of. I’m still writing what I want/need to write, but I’m really fired up to write more of what people liked in the first book. I guess the biggest headache about this is that people are getting on my case (in a nice way) to get the new book done, and I can’t get it done that quickly. But I do promise that those books will happen and that they will be of the highest quality I can produce.

KRL: Do you have a presence on the Internet?

GRAMZA: I do have my own website and I am always happy to talk to people on Facebook. I have a lot of fun with my writing and I really get charged up by talking to other people about it; I always welcome questions or comments about my books.

KRL: Where can your novel be purchased? In what format is it available?

GRAMZA: Right now, the easiest way to buy Tolund’s Waking is by going to my website and following the link to my Smashwords page. It’s $4.99 for the e-book and you can download it right away to your PC, Mac, iPad, Kindle, etc. I am in the process of getting it out in a soft cover print edition, but that’s going to take some time. I do want to appreciate all of the people, both kids and adults, who have reacted so positively to Tolund’s Waking. Their strong support and encouragement have made doing something I love to do that much more exciting!

James Garcia Jr. is an ongoing contributor to our Downtown Doings section and a long-time resident of Kingsburg where his debut novel, Dance on Fire, is set.

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