Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Seton CC's May Visiting Author, Phil Tomasso/Thomas Phillips, author of "The Molech Prophecy" and "Vaccination"

Yesterday Seton Catholic Central High School welcomed author Phil Tomasso, who writes under the pen name Thomas Phillips, as Seton Catholic Central High School's May Visiting Writer.  Our Creative Writing students read both his novel The Molech Prophecy and his short story "Vaccination", which recently appeared in Shroud Magazine's Halloween Issue, while the rest of the student body read only "Vaccination."

As Phil Tomasso, he's written over 70 short stories that've appeared in a variety of genre magazines, ranging from westerns to crime/mysteries and horror.  He saw five crime/suspense novels published at the midlist level, and also wrote two children's chapter books under the pen name Grant R. Matthews. 

Phil shared with our students his inspirational story: as a child, he hated reading.  Suffered from a reading disability, and did everything he could NOT to read.  That typical student who, through natural intelligence and creativity, bluffed his way through most his work and tests with decent grades.  However, when teachers discovered his reading disability in the fourth grade and he had to receive special reading instruction, he came to loathe reading and school even more.


Until he read The Outsiders, a novel that transformed Phil for life.  He fell in love with reading and worked to overcome his disability, which has lead to being a life-long, voracious reader who consumes books, reading three different books at a time.  
 
Phil shared with our students the ups and downs of his writing career, how he discovered early and quick success writing short stories, and how - after a long lay-off - he's come full circle back to his love of short stories with the publication of "Vaccination" in Shroud's Halloween issue.  He related the tough decision he made recently when, faced with too much editorial conflict with his recent novel, concerning changes to his style and story that he felt detrimental, he pulled his newest novel, Sounds of Silence, from publication. 

He also shared the personal transition he made after becoming a Christian, how initially he felt the need to distance himself from his former work as Phil Tomasso, and how the publisher of The Molech Prophecy asked him to used a pen name.  Thomas Phillips was born, and he discussed with the students the realities of using a pen name, and his recent decision to resume writing under Phil Tomasso.

The Seton students thoroughly enjoyed Phil's visit.  He's earned some rabid new fans, and made several of my zombie-craving students very happy with the news that he's currently fleshing "Vaccination" out into his first full-fledged zombie novel.