Tom Weston is the author of the award-winning young adult novel First Night, and its sequel The Elf of Luxembourg was published in 2010. He is also the author of the historical novel, Fission.
Born in England, Tom now resides in Boston, Massachusetts. For more information, visit him at http://www.tom-weston.com/
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in England, but I’ve lived in the USA for almost 30 years, most of those in Boston, Massachusetts. Before turning my hand to fiction, I had a successful career as the CEO of a consulting company, a conference speaker, and writer of industry articles and business books. But determining that the business world lacked a sense of humor, I decided to hand in the jacket and tie and instead turned to the world of literature. My works include the fantasy-based Alex and Jackie Adventures, and the collection of short stories, Tales from the Green Dragon Tavern.
What made you first decide to become a writer?
I had run a consulting company for the longest time; and a great deal of that was speaking and writing. I had always dabbled with writing, but my first encounter with it professionally was then –speeches, business articles, and books for the industry. It was quite successful, enough to finance what I’m doing now, but when an opportunity came to spend some time in Luxembourg, I handed the reins of the company to someone else. It was supposed to be just a sabbatical, but I never went back.
Can you tell us about your latest book?
Fission is based on the true story of scientist Lise Meitner, who was born in Vienna in 1878 and who died in 1968. That’s a fairly long period to cover – 90 years – so I ignored her childhood and pick up the story in 1906. That way I only had to do 62 of the more interesting years. The story is full of many famous people from that period: Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg, Adolph Hitler, Eleanor Roosevelt, President Truman, and Kaiser Wilhelm II, to name a few – and of course, Lise Meitner, perhaps the least famous but most important as far as our story is concerned.
Funnily enough, as my latest work, Fission was also my first. I originally wrote it as a screenplay, and although I’m still waiting for Spielberg to return my call, it did get a good enough reception to encourage me to write more. I put Fission on the shelf for a while and turned to other works – First Night and The Elf of Luxembourg and the short animation, There be Monsters! But I couldn’t just abandon Fission – it’s far too important – and now with two novels under my belt, I decided to rework Fission as a novel.
What inspired you to write it?
I first heard of Lise when I read the David Bodanis book, e=mc2. It was such an incredible story that it seemed perfect as a Hollywood blockbuster or an epic TV miniseries. It had everything you could ask for – intrigue, danger, two World Wars, Nazis, Emperors, Presidents, and the Bomb – the story just cried out to be told. As no one else seemed interested in telling it – and as I had the time to spare – I decided that if no one else would write it, then I would.
I did some research, read biographies of her by Patricia Rife and Ruth Lewin Sime, and the more I found out about her the more of an epic tale it became. At one time she was amongst the most famous women in the world and then…nothing…there was a deliberate attempt by the powers-that-be to write her out of history. She should have won a Nobel Prize, but she didn’t. She should be studied in school, but she isn’t. She should be as famous as the others I’ve mentioned, but hardly anyone alive today knows her name.
This erasing from history began while she was still alive. It was deliberate, systematic, bigoted, and politically motivated. Thankfully, the authors I’ve mentioned, amongst others, have done a great deal to keep her memory alive and raise a general awareness of her; and the scientific community, at last, acknowledges her achievements – but all this comes too late for her, of course, and, therefore, too late to right the wrongs done to her.
What is one thing you hope readers will take away from this book?
While Fission documents the wrongs done to Lise, I also felt that I had been wronged. Here was someone worthy of my attention and I stumbled across her by accident. Given her contributions to science, her name should have been as familiar to me as that of Einstein, Planck, Bohr, and Heisenberg. My quest is to right that wrong and make Lise Meitner a household name. If, because of my contribution, some more people know her name, then the book has been a success.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Fission is available in Hardcopy, Paperback and eBook from:
Amazon.com (including Kindle), Barnes & Noble (including Nook) and Smashwords. Or support your local bookstore: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780981941370
Purchase an autographed copy of Fission from the publisher at: http://www.tom-weston.com/fission/
Also check out the Espresso Book Machines (EBM), located in stores, libraries, and universities around the world.
If you could meet any writer (living or dead) who would it be?
I will cheat a little and say Harpo Marx. Yes, he did publish a book, Harpo Speaks, so I think that counts. I’ve always loved the Marx Brothers from when I was a child, but as a child, Harpo is the one I identified with the most (and still do). If Harpo is prohibited, you can sit me down in an English pub for a pint of beer with Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore.
What is one fact about yourself you wish to share with our readers?
There is a rumor circulating that a copy of First Night was seen in the library of the Haunted Mansion at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. While I can’t comment on the authenticity of that sighting, I can confirm that my favorite ride is The Pirates of the Caribbean. And it has been since long before the movies came out. It’s the only thing that is a must-do when I’m in Orlando. I’ve probably ridden it 100 times. My wife and I, on route for a dinner reservation, once went to the park, rode the Pirates, and then immediately departed.
I know that technology has come a long way since Walt first unveiled the Pirates, but the imagination, artistry, and attention to detail that went into that ride has never been beaten.
What is up next for you?
I’m currently working on the third Alex and Jackie Adventure, which is titled Feathered: Being a Fairy Tale. It is set in Ireland and has the sisters involved with Fairies, Vikings, and the Book of Kells.
In addition to that, we have started pre-production work on a sequel to There be Monsters! It will be another animated adaptation of one of the Tales from the Green Dragon Tavern.
Is there anything you would like to add?
A portion of all sales of Fission, no matter where purchased, go to the “Because I am a GiRL” campaign by Plan, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children since 1937. Visit PlanUSA at http://www.planusa.org/content1619891 or get involved with your own national/regional Plan office.