River Rising
by T.P. Jones (Author)

The Gamble
by T.P. Jones (Author)

by T.P. Jones (Author)
About Tom

In the sixth grade, given the assignment of writing a one-page story, I wrote 37 pages. That ignited my life-long interest in fiction writing, although much time and numerous sidetracks were to ensue before the child's dream became the adult's reality. Now, many years later, The Loss of Certainty trilogy begins my literary career.

I grew up in Foxboro, Massachusetts, a semi-rural town 25 miles south of Boston, then moved as a young man to Kennebunkport on the south coast of Maine, where I learned something of the writer's craft as a reporter on the local weekly newspaper over summer vacations. After college and a stint in the Army Reserve (during the Vietnam War), I obtained an MFA from the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, studying with Kurt Vonnegut. He was writing Slaughterhouse Five at the time and just beginning to become an iconic literary figure. From Vonnegut I learned the value of writing to entertain whatever the seriousness of the underlying message, but I did not yet become a writer. All I mastered of the writing life at the Workshop was the drinking part.

Leaving Iowa, my future wife Elisabeth and I moved to San Francisco (where else?) and I obtained work editing the employee magazine for a division of the Singer company, more writing, to be sure, but oh, so far from what I wished to do. On the side, I attempted a little fiction, not much and nothing any good. In truth, I had no subject matter, no compelling idea to entice me irresistibly back to the typewriter after a day of turning out stories about punch press operators and management directives. Two years of this and I decided a little indirection was called for, specifically a career that didn't have anything to do with writing. And thus we moved to Connecticut and I became a mathematics teacher. Don't ask.

I taught. I gave up drinking. And during the summers, after the lapse of several years, I began once again to write, beginning from scratch, the search for a subject. Work and politics were topics that had, I thought, been too much ignored by American fiction writers, and so I decided I would tell a story about city politics and use Moby Dick as my model, the finest work novel in the canon. Where Melville described life on a whaler, however, I'd write about local government, and where Melville had a white whale, I'd have a massive flood. All well and good, except that even with a subject matter in hand, I still could not see how to make the novel work.

Which brings us to the spring of 1983. To see what happened next, click here.