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Eric Tomasek

  • Eric Tomasek, Computer Information TechnologyEric-Tomasek-200x200_web

    Eric Tomasek's humorous satire, "The Tale of Murphy the Legislator," won Volume 15's Runner-Up Prose Prize and is a favorite of many readers. Eric talks with us about his creative process, his hopes for a writing room, and the moral of his story.

    Illuminations: In your Vol. 15 bio, you claim you have enjoyed a variety of interests (music, fitness, nutrition, computers, fashion, power kiting, and video games) but that your interest in writing has remained constant. Why is this? What does writing "give" you that nothing else can?

    Eric: I am extremely logical and creative. Writing science fiction is an outlet that allows me to take factual information and my own creative twists to synthesize something new.

    Unfortunately, it's not exactly the writing process that I always come back to as much as the creative process. I will spontaneously create a complete plot in a matter of hours; if I don't immediately start writing, these plots finish themselves in my head and I move on. I have resorted to outlines, more than writing, because I don't have the dedicated time required to write what is in my head.

    I:  I hear you. Is Illuminations your first publication, or have you published your work elsewhere?

    E:  I used to maintain a blog, which potentially doesn't count. That aside, Illuminations is my first publication.

    I:  "The Tale of Murphy the Legislator" is a humorous and witty take on the old Murphy's Law - anything that can go wrong will. How did you come up with the idea of building a story around this maxim?

    E:  I used to sit down in The Mill and write. My goal was to start and finish an entire piece or section in one hour. My typical strategy involved soliciting a series of random ideas from Facebook friends, and then writing whatever happened from that mess.

    Murphy came to my rescue one dire Sunday morning when none of my Facebook ideas seemed helpful. The story I submitted was written in about an hour.

    I should learn to edit, but when I do my product loses flow.

    I:  Do you prefer to write fiction, or do you enjoy playing around with other types of writing, as well?

    E:  I have attempted slam poetry.

    I used to research and write about political situations, but the ensuing discussion was never beneficial. I find it's more enjoyable to take real situations and extrapolate them into ridiculousness--then point out the commonality between my extrapolations and the original reality. Is that satire-ish?

    I:  Indeed! What other creative activities do you enjoy engaging in?

    E:  I occasionally sketch. I also write electronica and play a few instruments.

    I:  Your "Murphy" story won the Runner-Up Prize for Prose. This was a remarkable achievement given the number and caliber of the prose entries we received. What did it do to your world when you found out you had won a prize?

    E:  I have really been encouraged to write more as a result. I'm glad I had the opportunity to enter in Illuminations. I am working on several new short stories for competition entry later this year.

    I:  Great! What advice would you give others who want to write? What works for you?

    E: If you're writing fiction, be absolutely convinced of your characters, your world, your plot. You will never convince anyone else of your authenticity if it's not experientially real for you as the writer.

    I feel like modern authors lack this self-assurity. Science fiction authors in the 40s-70s wrote the craziest things, but it didn't matter… they believed it. You don't find lengthy, unnecessary explanations that border on excuses in their writing. They tell you the sky is pink with black spots and that's just how it is. Move on.

    I: Where do you see yourself as a writer in ten years?

    E:  Right now I am focused on finishing my degree in web design and programming. I hope that a new career will afford me some financial and time freedoms that I have not had over the last 10 years.

    I would really like to have a farm house with a writing room, used frequently, with some lengthy works ready for presentation to publishers.

    I:  Sounds good! On a final note, in the spirit of your prize-winning story, how relevant has Murphy's Law been in your own life?

    E: I feel like if there is a point to the tale of Murphy the Legislator, it is this: while everything can and may go wrong, you must keep going. Use whatever skills you may have to overcome obstacles. Make the best of things as they go bad. If you fail in the end, at least be stylish about it.

    I made that all up just now, so, please don't think there is some secretive depth to Murphy. Ultimately, the most important and relevant lesson of Murphy's short escapade is: If you're about to kill your nemesis in a thunderstorm, don't lift a spear, lightning-rod-like to the sky before you strike.


    From "The Tale of Murphy the Legislator":

    By Eric Tomasek

    Murphy swiped the scroll and tore its seal open quickly, but not so quickly as to miss the seal of his wife's family.

    "Murphy," it started in his wife's handwriting. "I have decided it best to accept the marriage proposal of Randal, whose high rank in the Erritian military promises a good future for our children. If I am able, I will argue for a light sentence for you... perhaps in the mines or some such. Farewell. P.S. I am taking our dog. And changing his name. You know I hated Bruno from the start."

    Murphy's face turned pale as he read, word by word, the betrayal he'd been expecting for years. Jessica had been courted by Randal but had refused him after Murphy's timely promotion. Now the tables were turned.

    His fingers curled their way around the letter till they formed a fist-skin stretched around large knuckles, color changing to red, then white, as rage tightened his fingers.

    "What else!" The exclamation thundered through the infirmary, drowning out the death whimpers of dying soldiers. "What else can go wrong?"

    Thunder shook the foundations of the compound, and a swish of rain sounded loudly. Murphy simply stared out a nearby window. Thunder drove home its point, and the sound of wood splintering answered in echo as the gates failed.

    Shaking in rage, Murphy gathered a second sword from Jakes' bedside and strode with angry determination toward the sound of running soldiers. The gates had failed. The Council members had drunk themselves to death, and the military was on strike. Even the weather was against him.

    But he would not die quietly. Not before noon, and not without a proper cup of tea….