Interview with Tom E. Hicklin, Author of Sunset Over the Rockies
10 Nov 2020
What can you tell us about your new release, Sunset Over the Rockies?
Sunset Over the Rockies is the story of Bill Barton, a veteran of the American Civil War, trying to make a future for himself in the young town of Denver after his best friend is killed and he is left for dead in a violent attack on the road to Central City. After a year of loneliness and longing for more in a frontier town, Bill finally finds love and a promising future, only to have everything taken from him in a tragic act of revenge.
Sunset Over the Rockies is the story of the clash when civilization, with its quest for structure and morality, meets the uncompromising brutality of the wilderness. It’s what happens when that clash wears one man down until he has to choose: Embrace the brutality and seek revenge, or rise above it and seek justice.
But also Sunset Over the Rockies is the story of my hometown, and what it may have been like in its infancy.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
I’ve always been a bookworm, reading in my room when my brothers would be out playing. I think and dream in stories. Even when I did play, it was filled with complex characterizations and elaborate backstories. When it came time to choose a major in college, English with an emphasis on Creative Writing, seemed like a no-brainer.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
I’m not a big fan of these kinds of questions. I’m 61 years old and have been reading my whole life. Trying to come up with a top-five would be disingenuous because it would be so skewed toward the thinks I’ve read recently. My interests have changed dramatically over the years. As a child, I would read anything about American history, specifically the Civil War or the Revolution. In my teens, I got into science fiction and fantasy. One of my favorite books at that time was Riverworld, by Phillip J. Farmer, because it took all those historical figures I’d been reading about (not to mention Mark Twain, one of my favorite authors) and put them in a science fiction setting. I was a big fan of Jack London and Ernest Hemingway and wish authors could live like that now—typing out bestsellers on a clipper in the South Pacific, or a room in old Havana or Paris. Instead, I just sit and my living room and clunk away on a Mac. These days my reading as taken a more jaundiced approach, constantly evaluating plot and characters, appreciating a particularly well-crafted phrase, or wincing and laughing knowingly at something that just didn’t come of quite right. Interestingly enough, it hasn’t depreciated my love of reading at all. If anything, it’s enhanced it.
I think this is the longest non-answer from a non-politician ever.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
Jack London: What are your top five favorite books? (Just kidding.) I would ask him about his adventures in Alaska and the South Pacific, and how they influenced his writing.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
The characters. I find after living with these made up people for weeks or months on end I come to love them in a way. Writing the death of a major character is not easy for me.
What is a typical day like for you?
I don’t have a typical day. I still work a regular job in retail. On the days I do have to myself just to work on my craft, I usually write in the morning and, since I’m self-published, spend the afternoon working on ways to sell more books.
What scene from Sunset Over the Rockies was your favorite to write?
I loved describing the beauty of the Rockies and the Colorado skies at the beginning of the book. There’s no place on earth quite like it.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
I live by the golden rule as much as I can: Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you.
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