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by Tom Mach
This is a topic that’s going to reveal more about me than maybe I even knew myself. Since I tend to live vicariously through my “good” (or not horribly evil) characters, I should probably begin there, discussing how the many characters in my 16 short stories in my book Stories to Enjoy told me a lot about myself.
In “Burning Faith,” Benito Lucchetti (a landscape worker for the Franciscans) feels obligated to buy a map from a greedy-eyed Bedouin who claims it will lead him to a sacred relic in Israel. With considerable doubt in mind, he makes the dig, not expecting to find anything. One thing people don’t know about me is that I sometimes am easily persuaded and will buy something just to get the person off my back.
In “The Lead Bird,” I, like Robin, worked in market research and had trepidations when I had to conduct a focus group with doctors. (My focus group came out exceptionally well, in case you are wondering.)
“The Crossword Puzzle Murders” came about when I realized I was a crossword puzzle fanatic. When I get the daily paper I ignore the news, run through the comics, and then settle in for the challenge of doing the puzzle. With the help of my wife, I almost always finish it.
“Real Characters” was based on a play I wrote by the same name. Most people don’t realize that I wrote a play that was actually produced for stage (unfortunately, not “Real Characters” but “Brain Trust”) and they also don’t know I was a lead actor in two community theater performances in an Ohio town.
People also probably don’t know that I tutored young children in writing and reading (which I still do) and I get a great deal of enjoyment in seeing them develop into better writers and readers. This prompted me to write a story called “Priscilla’s New Word”—which, by the way, won first place in a contest sponsored by the Kansas Author’s Club.
I also revealed a part of me in “Frozen History,” a story about a young man named Dante Lamprey facing imminent death due to a missile strike from Iran. Dante’s taking this rather calmly, figuring that there is nothing he can do about the situation anyway. I’ve become like Dante in my later years, not getting all wired up about what doomsayers predicted for the world. If it’s out of my control, I’m just wasting time worrying about it.
Another aspect of me that people don’t know about was shown my story “When Kansas Women Were Not Free.” This had to do with a woman named Jessica in 1867 who is shocked by the treatment Kansas hotel clerk showed toward former slaves as well as toward women. I am a strong advocate of equal rights and would have been both a suffragist as well as an abolitionist had I lived back in that era.
Most people don’t know I published my first short story in a magazine called Stamp World many years ago. I reprinted this story as “Stamp Prisoner” and it involves a psychic trying to escape from the law by hiding in a stamp.
“Doll House” came about because of my fascination for engineers who create mechanical things. Most people have no idea that before I became a writer I was a chemical engineer.
One last thing people don’t know is that I used to meet often with a fellow writer and have a cup of chai tea with him at a nearby café. Then one day I discovered that he had pancreatic cancer and died only a few weeks later. He was the inspiration for my short story entitled “Breakfast, Over Easy,” where my protagonist learns one day that his friend fails to meet with him in a diner—and he learns that his friend is dying of cancer. There’s more to that story, but I’d like you to read it so you can learn the dilemma he now faces.
This unique collection of 16 short stories written by prize-winner Tom Mach includes stories such as "Real Characters," which is about a writer who gets his wish--that his characters come alive.... "Breakfast, Over Easy" makes you wonder about loyalty in the face of temptation.... "When Kansas Women Were Not Free" takes you to a time when women were less free than former males slaves.... "Son" make you think differently about compassion. One novelist describes STORIES TO ENJOY as "memorable and intriguing, with O. Henry twists that are sure to surprise and entertain."
Tom Mach wrote two successful historical novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, both of which have won rave reviews and were listed among the 150 best Kansas books in 2011.Sissy! won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award while All Parts Together was a viable entrant for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Award. He also wrote a collection of short stories entitled Stories To Enjoy which received positive reviews. Tom’s other novels include: An Innocent Murdered, Advent, and Homer the Roamer.
His poetry collection, The Uni Verse, won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. In addition to several awards for his poetry, Writer’s Digest awarded him ninth place in a field of 3,000 entrants.