Author Q&A

Open Book with Tom Rimer

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It's been a while since author Tom Rimer has been back to the Berkshires, but he's always thought the area was the perfect setting for a book.

So it only makes sense the 2006 Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts graduate placed the events of "The Glowing," the first book of his science fiction/horror trilogy for young adults, in Adams and atop Mount Greylock.

"I spent an important four years there," Rimer said of the Berkshires during a recent phone interview. "I was familiar with the area well before I went to school there. I camped a lot on Mount Greylock. It's been an important part of my life since I was a child, so setting the climax of this story right up there, on the peak of the mountain, was really important to me."

In "The Glowing," a group of teenagers and their astronomy club advisor take a field trip to the top of Mount Greylock for a comet viewing party. While on the summit, the group witnesses an attack, from space, on the town below. Together, this small band of survivors, makes their way back down the mountain to discover what happened to the town and the surrounding communities.

"If you live in the area, you may recognize some landmarks, but it's not 100 percent geographically accurate," he said. "I'm paying homage to Adams and to the Berkshires, but I did take some liberties with the locations. For example, there isn't a highway near Mount Greylock, but there is in the book because I needed one there."

Rimer, an English language arts teacher turned school administrator, said he began writing the first book in the trilogy about eight years ago.

"I always wanted to write a book, but I never had a story that spoke to me. This one just came about accidentally. I had this idea in my head that developed over many years. I had no plan to go out and write it," he said.

When he did begin to write, Rimer said that as a teacher, it "just felt right" to write about teenagers.

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"I wanted a story that featured a bunch of teenagers who live pretty normal mundane lives who are put in this situation that is a lot scarier," he said. "It was really important to me to make them real teenagers — real teenagers in a crazy situation."

To keep things interesting for readers, Rimer decided to tell the story from multiple perspectives, including that of an adult — the group's astronomy club advisor/teacher.

The teens, he said, will remain in the Berkshires in the second book due out in July from Shadow Spark Publishing, with more of the action taking place in North Adams. The final book of the trilogy, set to be released in November, is set in the Berkshires, but also takes the characters into other locations in New England.

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"The first book took so many years to write, but books two and three are being written in just one year," he said.

Rimer, who resides in Foxborough with his wife and two children, took time away from his writing to answer a few of our questions:

Q What are your favorite science-fiction books? Any favorite authors?

A Right now, it would be the "Embers of War" series by Gareth L. Powell.

Q What are your favorite fantasy books? Favorite authors?

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A "The Lord of the Rings" (by J.R.R. Tolkien) is high on my list, but I would say my all-time favorite fantasy author is Robert Jordan. He wrote the 14-book "Wheel of Time" series, which I have been reading (and re-reading) off and on since I was in middle school. I'm still not finished.

Q What books, if any, did you use to research your book?

A None. Just my own imagination mixed with the experience of living in the area for four years.

Q What young adult books or series are your favorites?

A.  Probably "The Chronicles of Narnia" series, if you consider that YA. My favorite middle-grade series would be R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps," which I credit with helping me first realize that I would one day like to write my own book.

Q What books are on your nightstand?

A. On my nightstand is the book I'm currently reading, Book Six in Jordan's "Wheel of Time Series" ... "Lord of Chaos" and a signed copy of "Jumanji," but Chris Van Allsburg.


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