Author Thomas Duffy talks about his latest book Social Work. A New York story removing the stigma of mental illness

One Duffy To Another!

I connected with author Thomas Duffy on Facebook and very much enjoy his posts and comments about what it means to be a writer in New York and his movie reviews. So, when an opportunity came up to ask Thomas a few questions about his new book Social Work, I jumped at the chance, particularly as my name sake too!

So, Social Work is lucky number 7 book for you.  Was it a labour of love? Or do you feel you’ve found your writing groove?

Lucky number 7, indeed. This book had a very precise and important purpose for me. In August of 2017, I lost a good friend to suicide. Having struggled with depression myself, I felt the need to tell the story in order to help people who may be suffering from some form of mental illness. People with mental illness don’t always address their problems with others. Instead, people wrestle with their depression in private and nobody knows about their suffering. And, then you learn that person you care about is no longer here due to suicide and it’s too late to help. I would have been unable to write about this topic had I not lost my friend. I feel sharing what kind of help is available to those who suffer is so important. This book is very important. It was most definitely a labour of love. 

What is the one thing you wish you knew before you started your very first book that you would like to share with other aspiring writers?

Show don’t tell is a biggie. My first book, “Stockboy” is a great book but I wish I had known that books without a lot of dialogue aren’t easy sells. People love dialogue and with my first novel, I focused a lot of telling rather than showing. My second book, “Off the Line” was written so long ago and was actually my first book. Never publish your first book unless you’re sure it is good! Family approval doesn’t count. “Off the Line” got one bad review from Kirkus and that was enough for me to stop standing behind it. I wrote it and think it may have its place in literature but I probably made so many mistakes with that one, it’s not even funny. The first problem with it was having a character who everyone will not relate to which is OK for an established author but very tough for a first-timer. 

I’m about to read Bowie’s Books, which is a collection of 100 books David Bowie deemed important and life changing to him. I won’t ask you for 100, but if you could pick 5 books which have left an imprint on your life, what would be and why?

“Tender is the Night” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is absolutely my favorite book. I like the way the book portrays its characters. As it shows the love between a couple which echoes the author’s relationship with his wife Zelda, we get to see truly emotionally involving exchanges that are absolutely moving and this book haunted me when I first read it and has stayed with me to this day.

“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn offers complexity through characters in a marriage that is the total opposite of what marriage is supposed to be. But, the plot is surprisingly plausible and chilling, and the book is full of nail-biting suspense and thought-provoking drama all rolled into one. You can’t read this one without thinking of how icy marriage can be and how we could hardly know the one we lay next to at night. Frightening. 

“The Shining” by Stephen King. Creepy, and purely horrifying, this is King at his best! Who can forget the eerie descriptive passages King uses to evoke terror? Genius. Nothing short of genius. Thinking of it still keeps me up at night!  

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. Edge of your seat suspense and a premise that is purely masterful, this is sci-fi for a reader who likes to have action and involving characters. The premise is scary but the action is what this book is all about. I love it. If I was female, I would want to be Katniss Everdeen. 

“Curious George” by H.A Rey and Margret Rey. Who could be closer to my heart than Curious George? The monkey whose curiosity resembles my own. Love the monkey. Love the stories. This series will be forever dear to my heart.

Social Work has some strong emotional themes such as suicide and depression. Is your aim to give a personal view of mental health and reach a specific audience, and do you think the US government is doing enough when it comes to support services and breaking down the stigma of mental illness?

There is still a stigma about people taking medicine to fight depression. Having suffered from depression myself, I am usually quiet about the problems I face now because I got help. Without that help, though, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I want to reach people who haven’t gotten help yet and to say it’s OK to get help. People are here to help and it’s not anybody’s fault that you suffer from mental illness especially your own. People need to know that and we could do a better job getting that word out there. I’ve lost three friends to suicide. That number is way too many.

Publishing and promoting your own books must take up a lot of your time, what’s one thing you would like people to understand or do when it comes to self-promoting authors? 

I don’t want to go to a publishing house begging for them to look at my work. I want someone to see my work and to come to me. I have written seven books. People know what I can do. I want a chance at a big house publishing deal one day but I do this all on my own right now. It’s expensive and time-consuming but I believe in my work and I believe in myself. In time, the ends will justify the means.

I hope Social Work becomes a big hit for you! Will you be solely focused on the launch, or are you already cooking up another storyline?

Thank you so much. I am trying to line up appearances on TV and at libraries. I have three other books in the works. One is a fictional book on Heaven, sort of like “What Dreams May Come” but different. LOL. Also, “Stockboy Nation” which is the sequel to “Stockboy” and “United: The Separation 2.” So, I’ve got my work cut out for me! 

Social Work is the 7th book by Thomas Duffy
Social Work is available now on Amazon, click on the image to buy!

Thanks so much Thomas! Support independent writers and check out Thomas Duffy’s books here!