I recently read and reviewed Angels At The Gate, by Author T.K. Thorne, a biblical/historical fiction that I enjoyed thoroughly. Angels At The Gate piqued my curiosity about biblical times, and Lot’s wife; a woman who was never given so much as a name in the bible. T.K. Thorne let her imagination soar, crafting an entire story about Lot’s wife, based on an obscure passage in the bible. I am so honored to feature T.K. Thorne on my blog, and I encourage readers to share this interview, and/or leave a supportive comment!
Hello, T.K. Thorne! Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed on A Well Read Woman Blog. Please tell me a little about yourself and your background.
I’ve been a storyteller all of my life. My earliest memories are making up roles and magic powers for my stuffed animals that formed a guard and protected me at night from the bad guys under the bed. Then I enacted slice-of-life dramas with my plastic horses and sometimes Barbie doll (although I preferred the horses) and play-skits for the neighborhood kids. (Being the writer/director, I got to be queen!) My grandmother read to me constantly, often over my head, and I was an avid reader. My first love was science fiction (as was my first published short story) and I have a science fiction novel waiting to be published. I accidentally became a police officer and after retiring from that profession, I became the executive director of a CAP, a nonprofit that provides security and stranded motorist in downtown Birmingham.
Although the commonly accepted marketing advice is to find your niche and stick to it, over the years I have written short stories, novels, poems, scripts, and non-fiction on a wide variety of subjects. My Blog is about “What Moves Me.” There is just too much interesting stuff in the world to explore!
That is absolutely adorable about your stuffed animals with super powers. 🙂 You clearly have been using your creative imagination to craft fantasy worlds around yourself since day one! I can see why writing is a good outlet for you. 🙂
Please tell me about your historical biblical fictions, Noah’s Wife, and Angels At The Gate. Who is your intended audience, and why should they read your books?
My audience is readers who have an open mind, like a strong female character, adventure, and an epic love story. Readers should be aware that, although these novels are about women mentioned briefly in the Bible, neither Noah’s Wife nor Angels at the Gate “preaches” anything. My premise was to base the stories on what I could learn about the scientific evidence of the disasters and the archeological and historical evidence of the cultures of those times periods. Both the story of Noah’s flood and Sodom & Gomorrah were probably older stories that the Hebrews incorporated into their body of literature, retelling them, as so many cultures have done with ancient tales, within the context of their beliefs. That said, the stories are set loosely within the framework of the biblical ones.
I back you up 100% that your biblical fiction isn’t “preachy”. -Which I appreciated!
Not much is mentioned in the bible about Lot’s wife, not even her name! How were you able to create an entire story, based on one reference to her in the bible? Please, if you would, take us briefly through the process of creating Angels At The Gate.
Angels was built on the foundation of the research required for Noah’s Wife on Middle Eastern culture and early religion. Although Angels was set several thousands of years later, the difference in culture was not as great as you would think. There were still farmers and nomads and city dwellers. And the fundamental nature of humanity has not changed.
I began by searching for a date. I thought it would be no problem, but it turned out that it was about a 500-year problem! That’s how much dispute there is about when Abraham lived. There is even some debate on whether he really existed. Once I made a decision on that, I worked on learning about the cultures of the different peoples, the land, the political scene, etc. A trip to Israel in 2011 provided incredibly rich material, allowing me to walk in the footsteps of my characters, and I am grateful, in particular, for a desert ranger and a Bedouin boy whose input was not to be found in any books. As you can imagine, there were many books read too—everything from dog behavior (a desert-bred saluki is one of my major characters) to the history of textiles in the Middle East, books about Abraham and early religions, theories about the origins of angels, theories about the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah, and, of course, the Bible itself.
The other part to your question is how the story came about. I assure you, when I began, it was a mystery to me too! My writing is character-based and everything flows from that. I knew Adira had a little “problem” with obedience and that this would be a story about choices. From that, her character took shape. Adira came alive immediately and took over. In the beginning, for example, after announcing that she had grown up as a boy in her father’s caravan, when she looked in her robe to check on the puppy she had hidden there, she confessed she had stolen it. When I wondered why, she explained that with the limited resources in the desert and the caravan cook’s bad temper, she was afraid he was going to throw the puppies in his pot. That set the stage for the character of the cook, and the dynamics for the story built from and played off the characters. I just needed to figure out what kind of crisis was going to happen next and let my “children” react to it. Often they surprised me, which I consider one of the joys of writing.
That is amazing. Thanks for sharing your creative process!
Your first biblical fiction, and debut novel, Noah’s Wife, earned ForeWord Review Magazine’s 2009 “Book of the Year” for Historical Fiction. You must have been delighted that your debut novel made “Book of the Year”! What was your reaction?
I couldn’t believe it at first. I kept staring at the notice! I floated for a long time. 🙂
I bet! 🙂 Have you won any other awards for your writing?
ForeWord Reviews “BOOK OF THE YEAR” for Historical Fiction
Portland Book Review for Short Fiction
Chattahoochee Valley Writer’s Contest for Short Fiction
Eugene Walters Writers Festival Termite Hall for Screenplay
Magic City Writers’ Contest for Short Fiction
Birmingham Library Haiku Poetry Contest
Awesome! You also wrote Last Chance For Justice: How Relentless Investigators Uncovered New Evidence Convicting The Birmingham Church Bombers. As a former captain, and longtime police officer of the Birmingham Police Department, you had an inside view of this case and investigation. Please tell us a little about this non-fiction book of yours.
This book came about after I attended a presentation on the infamous 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church where four young girls were killed, a bombing that changed history. The story about the investigation was fascinating and turned many of my presumptions upside down. Another surprise was that I realized I had worked in the police department with one of the primary investigators! After the presentation, I told him someone needed to write the amazing story of how he and an FBI special agent took on and solved a thirty-two year old case with no physical evidence and no witnesses. To make a long story short, I turned out to be that person. After 18 months of secret interviews (FBI had not approved the project yet) I started working on this book. This was my debut in nonfiction, and I tried to bring my storytelling skills into play to give justice to this important piece of history.
That is incredible! You are just an all around super-woman! BTW, how does one “accidentally” become a police officer?
One starts out as a youth wanting to be an astronaut to get to meet aliens. When that doesn’t work out, one picks another career, such as social work and ends up writing a paper on a police-social work project. That gets one a job working for a police department as a grant writer, until one decides that being a police officer is a lot more fun than writing grants and probably the closest one will ever get to meeting aliens . . . or at least different and interesting people.
Ah ha! Yes, I can see how police work sorta chose you, as opposed to the other way around. 🙂 Very good!
The ‘cover lover’ in me must know, who designed your cover for Angels At The Gate?
My wonderful sister designed the cover for Angels at the Gate. She’s the graphic artist in the family, has become a good editor, and also helps me with marketing. In fact, she is my most fervent fan and has created a “Super Fan Club” for me. (She tweets @blackburnfork). I am very fortunate!
Haha! Yes, I have met her! She is great, and “fervent fan” is an understatement! 😉
How can your readers and fans discover more about you and your work?
My website is tkthorne.com; I blog at tks-tales.com; Facebook page is T.K. Thorne and Twitter is @tkthorne and email is TK@tkthorne.com. I love hearing from readers and speaking with book clubs (either in person or Skype).
Lastly, is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like your readers and fans to know?
The best way for a reader to help an author is to talk to friends about books they enjoy. Thanks for inviting me to share! —T.K.
T.K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama. “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” When she retired as a captain, she took on Birmingham’s business improvement district as the executive director. Both careers provide fodder for her writing, which has garnered several awards, including “Book of the Year for Historical Fiction” (ForeWord Reviews) for her debut novel, NOAH’S WIFE. Her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list. Her new historical fiction is ANGELS AT THE GATE. She loves traveling, especially to research her novels, and speaking about her books and life lessons. She writes at her mountaintop home, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap.
Angels at the Gate is a story of adventure and the power of love, a compelling saga based on historical research about the ancient biblical world of Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the woman who “became a pillar of salt.”
Noah’s Wife transports readers to an ancient time and place, while delving into issues that affect our contemporary lives–family relationships, autism, religious freedom, kidnapping and cultural change. A biblical novel that is not “Christian Fiction,” T.K. Thorne’s version weaves myth, history, and archeological findings with her vivid imagination, wisdom and humor into an epic tale you will not forget. Told from the unique perspective of a young girl with what is now called Aspergers, this is the story of Noah’s completely unknown wife, Na’amah.
Told by a longtime officer of the Birmingham Police Department, Last Chance for Justice is the inside story of one of the most infamous crimes of the civil rights era. T. K. Thorne follows the ups and downs of the investigation, detailing how Herren and Fleming identified new witnesses and unearthed lost evidence. With tenacity, humor, dedication, and some luck, the pair encountered the worst and best in human nature on their journey to find justice, and perhaps closure, for the citizens of Birmingham.