Hi Mr. Thomas, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have always loved to read and I've always had an interest in the Arts. I became an actor at age 17 when
a theatre company hired me and kept me on for the next 8 years. While that sounds amazing and easy...it wasn't. I made very little money, certainly not enough to live on. But I didn't care, I was on stage and getting paid to act.
They produced 2 shows a year each one ran for six months. So if I did two shows back to back I would be in rehearsals and performing for an entire year. I loved it. From 1997 to 2005 I opened and owned my very own all comedy theatre and made a living as a producer, director, actor and playwright. During those years I produced 66 productions and wrote 20 of them. This time I did make a living at it. outside of my interest in writing and acting, I've always had an interest in music, playing the drums and singing. My favorite band of all time is The Beatles. After I left the theatre the next logical step was to write novels.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? Do you wanted to become a writer ever since?
I always wanted to be in show business. From as far back as I can remember I loved movies and television.
I knew I wanted to act in the theatre and on film. But writing was something I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I do.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
A trip to Disneyland when I was a young boy guided me for the desire to write. After going inside The Haunted Mansion I knew then and there I wanted to write! I begged my mom to buy the record of the Haunted Mansion before we left the park and I played that record until it was scratched and warped. I thought I could write good stories I could make enough money to buy my mom a house. (the imagination of a child.)
What inspired you to write Forever ME?
I was just about to leave the house one morning when I caught a segment on morning television about a group of teen girls at a Texas high school who had organized a group called, “Redefining Beautiful.” They were trying to encourage fellow female students to go one day a week without makeup. They were stressing that you don’t need makeup to be beautiful. I was so amazed by their bravery and confidence to go against type, especially in high school and at an age where girls feel the most awkward with themselves. A close friend of mine who is a film producer had been asking me if I had anything I was working on I could share with him. By time the segment was over, I had the basic plot in my head and before I left the house, I already knew the ending of the story. I phoned my producer friend and told him I had something, we met that afternoon and I pitched the idea to him as a film. He loved the concept and told me he was interested. Could I write the screenplay? I went to work right away. But about 50 pages in, I found these characters were so lifelike, I felt it needed to be a book, it could always be a film later. I called my friend back, said, I have to write this as a novel. With his blessing and two years later. Forever ME was published.
How did you come up with the title?
It just was there, I virtually didn't have to think about a title. Since the story is about a girl and struggles with identity.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this book?
How emotionally attached to the story I became. Also how much the characters took on a life of their own.
By that I mean, I had planned certain characters to be just sort of there...but they took over and became much more substantial to the story. That was a welcome surprise.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I will try not to give away any secrets, but killing a certain character really took a toll on me and I cried a great deal while writing it.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I love Hannah's daily banter with her father. In the first chapter it was just a funny comic exchange but then when it came around again, I discovered this was something they did every morning together. So it became a fun challenge for Hannah and Jacob to tease each other in fun.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, that God created you and in all the world there is no one else like you. And the thought that you feel you have to blend in to avoid being bullied or to act a certain way to be liked is wrong. Be true to who you are, stand up for what you believe in, don't let others take away confidence, if you are creative and people criticize you for it, they are the one who lack imagination not you. Forever ME is for every person who needed one person to stand up with them and for them and encourage them to be themselves!
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do and what I love most is when teen girls write to me and tell me they identify with Hannah, or that they wish that Forever ME had been a book when they were an insecure 14 year old girl. Some tell me they totally relate to the story and characters and others had said the book changed their lives. That is powerful!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Bullying is a strong theme throughout the novel...but it's not limited to just, students vs students, it also shows parents bully their kids and even friends bully each other. If someone is bullying you and you're scared... PLEASE TELL SOMEONE! If that person won't listen, TELL SOMEONE ELSE! IF no one in your life listens
TELL ME! I will listen!
Thank you so much, Mr. Thomas for giving us the opportunity to interview you and I wish you all the best! :) Now, here's an excerpt from Mr. Thomas Amo's Forever ME.
ExcerptHannah gave a look of confidence as she pushed her head through a fresh t-shirt. After a lighting fast washing of her young face, and brushing of teeth, she looked into the mirror, grinned and then stuck her tongue out at herself. Reaching into her backpack she retrieved her flip-flops, hair ties and hairbrush. She quickly ran it through her long shoulder length brunette hair and grabbed a hair tie. After a couple of twists she had it into a ponytail and ready for the day, with flip-flops in one hand and backpack in the other she opened the bathroom door. Her father stood with arms crossed looking at his wristwatch. Hannah tapped the crystal and smiled. “See dad, barely thirty-seconds.”Jacob nodded as he took note of his daughter’s bare feet. “So you don’t wear shoes to school now?”“I’m not going barefoot, I’ve got my flip-flops.”“You know in my day we called those thongs.”Hannah gave her father a long stare of disbelief. “Yeah, dad—don’t,” she said curtly as she quickly grabbed some coffee, poured it into a travel mug and shouted bye to Dude. She then hoisted her backpack over her shoulder, kissed her dad on the cheek before he went inside the bathroom, and made her way out the front door still barefoot.“Hippie!” called Jacob as he laughed to himself.Hannah raised her hand, popped up two fingers, and gave her dad the peace sign as she left the house and took in a breath of fresh morning air. She tossed her backpack into the rear seat of her 1996 Jeep Wrangler. Sure it was sixteen-years old but it was the same age as her and she loved it. She loved its square headlights and half doors. It was bright yellow and showed plenty of wear and tear. Two large grey strips of duct tape in the shape of the letter “X” covered the well-worn driver’s seat. No matter how cold it was Hannah always insisted on never putting on the canvas top. This was a Jeep, it was supposed to be rugged, plus there just wasn’t enough duct tape to cover all the cracks and tears in it.
Title: Forever ME
Genre/s: Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Synopsis:Forever Me is considered YA and NA.Inspired by True EventsHannah Richards isn't your typical 16 year-old at Wichita Falls High. Fashions, trends, cosmetics and style are unimportant to her. An avid reader, guitar player, classic movie and television buff, Hannah marches to the beat of her own drum. Visible only to her Father the town Sheriff, and her two best friends. Hannah lives a simple, un-pampered life as an "Eastie."After coming to the aide of Taylor Monroe, a popular member of the ultra snobby "Stilettos" at school, Hannah's life beings spiraling out of control. As she starts spending more time with Taylor, her best friends abandon her, after a series of misunderstandings, causing Hannah to re-invent herself.Hannah quickly gets caught up in a life much different than the one she knows, where status, glamour, makeup, appearance and acceptance become her masters. And what of the dark secret that haunts the streets of Wichita Falls?Can Hannah survive the lies, deceit, jealousy and rage that are now waiting for her behind every corner? Will she succumb to the pressures of popularity? Or will she be crushed under the heels of the "Stilettos"?~High school is hard enough just being yourself, let alone being someone you're not~
Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | TwitterThomas Amo is the author over 20 comedies and farces for the live theatre. This former full time theatrical producer has spent the last thirty years writing in many different genres, from pilot scripts for television to screenplays on independent films. Outside acting, directing and producing, his first love has always been writing. Forever ME, marks his debut into YA fiction