One local writer has too much personality for one name. That’s why, Tom Gnagey chooses to write under half a dozen pen names, with different genres attributed to each. With more than 70 novels and nonfiction books, along with hundres of stories to his credit, he is one of Northwest Arkansas’ most prolific writers. And, perhaps, one of the best kept secrets of the Ozarks.
His days as an author began long before his adult career as a clinical psychologist, when his mother took down stories before bed, as he created them. Every day he writes something new, he said, but his latest book is what he’s most excited about.
Peter Alexander — a kind, soft spoken bookstore manager and writer — awakens to realize the week just past has been erased from his memory. A blackmail note suggests he was videotaped killing someone. The mystery ensues in “Sanity in Search of Peter Alexander” (2013). Gnagey, or Garrison Flint — his pen name for this book and many of his mystery novels — sat down to answer a few questions about his writing and his newest release.
Find more of Tom’s books by visiting his website, tomsbooknook.com.
Q: What is it you love about writing?
A: Writing gives one the opportunity to present ideas that can promote positive changes in the readers and through them the world. Writing has always helped me clarify and organize my own ideas. Regardless of the genre, my goal is always to base my message in positive social values. I treasure the feedback I receive — positive and negative — because it shows that what I wrote encouraged others to think through important ideas. I just love to write, however, and would do so every day whether anybody else ever read it or not.
Q: Do you have a favorite genre? Which one and why?
A: I have to present two equal favorites. I enjoy crafting mysteries because they must be fully logical, with the end result well camouflaged until the last possible moment. They must be sprinkled with reasonable “foils” that tempt the reader to follow a false path. (“Raymond Masters Detective” series)
The second are pieces that pair old characters with young characters so they can play off each other, each learning important things from the other’s perspective. (”Ripples,” “The Chipper of Oakton Villa”)
Q: If you had to choose your greatest accomplishment as a writer, what would it be?
A: My fifth-grade teacher would say my discovery of spell-check and learning to type. I suppose I would point to pieces that I know have changed lives. “The Little People of the Ozark” series, for example, which presents a society based on clearly positive, people-friendly values and compares that approach with our own, current cultural values — so many of which include the ugly flavors of greed, revenge and lack of compassion. My less subtle social allegory, “The Weaving of Lelonia” makes a more direct and pointed comparison. Some have said I am more a social philosopher and less a writer. I’m OK with that.