Tom Clavin interview with David Alan Binder

posted Sep 5, 2019, 9:50 AM by David Alan Binder   [ updated Sep 6, 2019, 9:56 AM ]

 Tom Clavin interview with David Alan Binder


His bio from his website:  TOM CLAVIN was born in the Bronx and grew up on Long Island. After studies at Suffolk County Community College, University of Southern California, SUNY Albany, and SUNY Stony Brook, he emerged with Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in English and Literature.

 In the newspaper business, he was a reporter for 15 years for The New York Times and also served as managing editor at The East Hampton Star and for 10 years as editor-in-chief of The Independent group of weekly newspapers. Tom has also been a columnist and contributing writer at The Press News Group on eastern Long Island. As a freelance writer he wrote for several prominent magazines on a variety of topics, including Men’s Journal, Smithsonian, Parade, Reader’s Digest, Golf, Cosmopolitan, and Family Circle. He has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, and National Newspaper Association.

Four of his books have been New York Times best sellers: Dodge City, The Heart of Everything That Is, Halsey’s Typhoon, and The Last Stand of Fox Company. Other recent titles that have received popular and critical acclaim include The DiMaggios, Lucky 666, Last Men Out, Gil Hodges, Roger Maris, Being Ted Williams, and Reckless. Valley Forge, published by Simon and Schuster, was released in October 2018, and Wild Bill will be published by St. Martin’s Press in February 2019.

His website:



1.     How do you pronounce your name (only answer if appropriate)? 


2.     Where are you currently living (at least the state or if outside US then Country)?

Sag Harbor, NY, about 100 miles east of New York City.

3.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

That what Mark Twain said is true, it is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Write every day, and on the days that you think, you’re producing crap . . . well; you had to get it out of your system.

4.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

My boring consistency of getting to my desk the same time every morning to write every day. And because I’m often writing about people and events in American history, my daily travels through time.

5.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

 For some writers, self-publishing may be the only route available. Often, however, such works don’t have the benefit of higher editing standards. My experience is publishers offer that input as well as a PR and marketing team to bring the work to readers’ (and reviewers’) attention.

a.     Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located?

St. Martin’s Press in New York City.


6.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I’ve not written a book for an electronic version only and my only experience with alternative publishing was so long ago I doubt it would be relevant today.

7.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published? Alas, I’m not clever enough about the business to think of anything that hasn’t been thought of and shared by people more clever. Get an agent who cares about your work.

8.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?

Funny you should ask that. The only somewhat atypical way I suggest – and this is for nonfiction -- is find about a dozen books published in recent years that have done well (or better!) and have similarities to your work. Look in the Acknowledgments for the agent each author thanks. Those are the agents to approach because they have a track record and some success in your same field.

9.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be so specific that this most likely will not have been seen elsewhere)?

Again, nothing clever. Write more than you dream or talk about writing. Grab your lunch pail every morning and go to work whatever time of day is best or available.

10.                        What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating? That people would publish what I produced. Though I’ve worked very hard over the years, I still look at being fortunate and people taking a chance on me as blessings.

11.                        How many books have you written?

The number I use for public consumption is 18. Go ahead; make a liar out of me.

12.                        Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be so specific that this most likely will not have been seen elsewhere)?

There definitely are no tricks.  Be organized and prepared, and depending on your life situation, try to write the same time and the same amount of time every day. It’s something like a musician – practice that instrument every day and look for every opportunity to play.

13.                        Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

This probably does not apply to a nonfiction writer, other than if the story has a twist, don’t give it away early!

14.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

A well-designed cover helps. Perhaps, as in the forthcoming All Blood Runs Red, a remarkable story pretty much no one knows. Couple of very good blurbs help.

15.                        What is one unusual way in which you promote your work?

Again, I’m not clever enough to do anything unique. I do very much enjoy doing readings and signings and meeting people, which is also an occasional antidote to writer isolation.

16.                         What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

 I would have been involved more in writing workshops at the college and community level. I had a snooty attitude that writing can’t be taught and I had to make my way alone. I still believe the best way to be taught writing is to keep writing, but one can benefit from sharing work with peers and with those with more experience and by interacting with people on the same mission.

17.                        What saying or mantra do you live by?

No good deed goes unpunished. Well, okay, while I think there is some truth to that, for a better answer, I refer people to the final line of the “Abbey Road” album.

18.                        Anything else you would like to say?

Every second you’ve spent reading this is one second less you’ve spent writing!