Chat with Tom Shepherd


Hey, it’s Mischa. This should have gone out last week, but Aadi has been sick and she didn’t tell me about it. So, I’m stepping in to take over and get this done. Tom, here, was gracious enough to come in and chat with me today. He’s the star of A Shepherd’s Song by Janice Lane Palko.

[Mischa] Who or what are you? What are your vitals? (age, sex, species)

[Tom] My name is Tom Shepherd, I’m a senior physics major at Three Rivers University in Pittsburgh.

[Mischa] What part do you play in the story?

[Tom] I’m the main character. How about that? I was never the main anything before, and now there’s a book about my life.

[Mischa] How would you describe your book?

[Tom] The book describes how I went from being one of life’s biggest losers to having such a wonderful future, if I hadn’t read the book, I wouldn’t have believed it.

[Mischa] Tell me about where you live? Who do you live with?

[Tom] I live in the dorms at the university with my roommate, Rob Bubash. He’s big, loud, and annoying. At 6 feet 4, I describe him as looking like an origami bird, I’d once made in fourth grade art class. If you overlook all of that, he’s got a heart of gold and takes care of me when I really mess things up.

[Mischa]  What’s the most important thing in your life right now?

[Tom] At the beginning of my story, the only thing important to me is surviving. I didn’t think I had much of a future. But my story is one of hope and redemption.

[Mischa]  What do you hope nobody ever finds out about you?

[Tom] Now, I don’t fear anyone finding out about the old me, but when the story begins, I’m a vulnerable mess of a guy, who lies and connives because I believe no one could ever love the real me.

[Mischa]  What do you like or dislike about the other characters from your book?

[Tom] What I like about the other characters in my story is that we are all basically good people who are just trying to cope when life deals you a bad hand.

[Mischa]  In your opinion, what is your best feature?

[Tom] The girls in the book tell me it’s my eyes, but I think my brain is my best feature. I’m pretty smart, but that is also a bit of a curse as I overthink everything.

[Mischa]  What’s the worst thing someone ever did to you?

[Tom] My dad was pretty much not there most of my life until he was forced to care for me. In the book, I describe our relationship like I’m a houseplant and he just waters me from time to time.

[Mischa] What’s the worst thing you’ve done to someone?

[Tom] The worst thing is lie–a big fat lie is at the center of my story.

[Mischa] Read any good books? What were they?

[Tom] Since I’m in college, most of books are text books. I like Sci Fi because I’m really into astronomy.

[Mischa] What type of places do you hang out in?

[Tom] I’m pretty shy and don’t hang out much with anyone but Rob.

[Mischa]  What annoys you more than anything else?

[Tom] That’s easy. Chaz the other guy in my dorm. He thinks he’s better than everybody, especially me.

[Mischa]  What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?

[Tom] Gloria. I meet her in the beginning of my story, and she’s so beautiful, at first, I don’t think she’s human.

[Mischa] What time of day is your favorite?

[Tom] I love the night because that’s when the stars out. I love stargazing.

[Mischa] What kind of weather is your favorite?

[Tom] Summer. My story takes place in the winter before Christmas, and I’m dreaming of heading to Martinique for spring break.

[Mischa]  Do you have any pets? Do you want any pets? What kind?

[Tom] Me a pet? I’m afraid of dogs. And, of course, Gloria’s family has a bulldog named Regina who despises me. (I think she could tell that I was a liar.)

[Mischa]  Do you have any magical items? Where did you get them?

[Tom] I don’t have anything that’s really magical, but I do have a really awesome telescope, and it allows me to gaze at the constellations–so in a way, that’s really a magical item.

[Mischa] If you could change anything in your book, what would it be and why?

[Tom] My story has a happy ending, but there are some scenes in my book where I’m such a pathetic loser and I do some incredibly idiotic things, that I cringe just thinking about them. I really didn’t want to share them in the book because I’m not proud of them, but then I realized that they were just stepping stones in my life that have brought me to this better place. And if my poor judgement and choices could be transformed, then I thought maybe others might be helped too. If not, they will at least get a laugh at how moronic I could be at times.

[Mischa] Last question and I’ll let you go. Who would play you in the movie?

[Tom] My story happened in the 1980s, and in the book, they tell me I look like Tom Cruise (in his younger days).

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