Name: Thomas (TJ) J. Shepherd
School: Western Carolina University
Majors and Minor: Literature, English Education, and Creative Writing
Employment: 5th and 6th Grade Exceptional Children Teacher
Genre of Choice: Fantasy
Favorite Author: Guy Gavriel Kay, Pat Rothfuss, or Ursula Le Guin
Current Literary Projects: 3 novels, 2 short stories
I was born into a middle class family in a small western NC town. Family and heritage was our creed. The farm on which we lived had been in the family for almost two hundred years–still is. Like most children, I was expected to do chores and maintain good grades in school. And also like most children, I managed to do fairly well in school while avoiding most of my chores.
I grew up into a well-adjusted, intelligent young man who had a passion for reading. At the time, I didn’t realize how deep my love for books ran. Some four hundred books later, I realized I enjoyed books and reading a little more than the average teen. By high school, my love for reading had metamorphosed into a need and love for writing–a love which won over many girls with carefully crafted poems and songs. Not.
High school soon passed and college reared its ugly, many-faceted head. It was time to choose a career. It was a no brainer! Most high school students hated reading and hated writing even more. “I can change that,” I told myself. And so when the form came my way, I filled out “English Education.” A few years have passed, and I’m still in the classroom–though I’m no longer a student. Or. . . Maybe I still am. I’ve realized that a passion for reading and creative writing doesn’t necessarily mean that one has a passion for literary fiction and poetry explications. Even so, I still hope to inspire young students to delve into the newest Harry Potter incarnation or Sherlock Holmes tale.
Oh, and I failed to mention one thing–I still write. I plan on publishing a fantasy novel within the next ten years. Why? Because I want to write a novel. I know I won’t become that famous, nor will I become a rich and wealthy person. But maybe. . . just maybe. . . My novel will help create new, impassioned readers. I may not be the next Tolkien, but I won’t know until I try. As the basic information above states, I’m currently working on three novels and two short stories waiting in the wings. One of the novels is fairly well-developed; the other two are still in the idea stage, but I add to them frequently. The short stories are side-projects, diversions, and they help me to continue to practice my craft while taking well-deserved breaks from the punishing job of novel writing.
As you all will discover, I’m something of a cynic, an ass, and occasionally, paradoxically, a romantic. I’ll boast, complain, and laugh at others’ expense often. If you’re like many in my life, you’ll laugh. If you don’t, I’m sorry you have no sense of humor, and I hope they one day create medication to fix you.
That’s about it, readers. If you have any other questions, let me know! Just send them to me by way of comment or email.