Thor Garcia

Thor Garcia: Writing is therapy

in Culture

Prague-based expat writer has new book coming out in the fall

Thor Garcia, the Prague-based American writer of The News Clown: A Novel, Only Fools Die of Heartbreak and Tund, encourages writers to get out of their comfort zones.

Garcia was born in Long Beach, California, and has worked as a journalist in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and New York City, before moving to Prague to pursue his dream as a writer.

His next book, Pussyland, will be out in October 2015 and published by Equus Press.

He was 15 when he knew he wanted to become a writer.

“It was a combination of my personal background. I was in general, very good in my English classes, and I read over 100 books every summer,” he said.

As influences he cites Sherlock Holmes stories, Catch 22, and authors like Tolkien and Tom Wolfe.

After high school he went to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to pursue a degree in English. He became involved with the student newspaper, writing five days a week. He eventually became the editor of the newspaper. With this educational background, he managed to get work as a journalist after graduation.

“I worked for seven to eight small newspapers, covering mainly crime and politics. Ultimately, I became a specialized journalist in education and politics,” he said.

However becoming a writer was harder than he thought.

“It was years of submissions and rejections. To write about what is real and honest is quite painful,” he says. In his mid-20s he would look at his work every night after work.

“I wouldn’t be happy until my work was published,” he said.

He moved to Prague after some friends from UCSB established an English-language newspaper in Prague called Prognosis.

“I loved Prague. It was everything I could dream about,” he said, adding that it was a totally different taste of life and gave him a whole new perspective.

“Prague gave me mental space as a writer. In America the system is more closed; there are billboards and advertisement everywhere. Prague offers more freedom to think, read and explore,” he said. Garcia found himself caught between two cultures.

“By living in Prague I feel I’m just on my life longest vacation. I never had a day I was not fascinated about the city and not felt inspired as a writer,” he said.

Garcia said he had a difficult, tortured childhood, and he was raised in the rougher parts of town. His typical lower middle-class family in southern California did not have much. Based on what he experienced, he should have sought a psychologist.

“I have a funny personality and a psychologist was nothing for me. Writing became my way of therapy. My ideas are mostly real stories that happened to me. However, as a writer I got a chance to make a better version of it,” he said.

It took him 10 years to develop a style he was comfortable with.

“To tell someone what happened, speak about emotions and then put it into a story is the hardest part to achieve,” he said.

The News Clown and Only Fools Die of Heartbreak are collections of his short fiction. Nevertheless, the stories are partly based on personal experiences, while the other half is based on his imagination.

“I usually take one idea and expand it to different stories. You want to make people cry, and you want to make people laugh,” he said. His way of imposing funny black humor into his stories is a way of dealing with difficult subjects.

Garcia has received some feedback on his work. “The literary world is cruel. Often other writers can be real bitches,” he says. He explains that as a writer, an individual has to invest a lot of ego and their work becomes a part of their identity.

“From outside the literary word people are not in indirect competition with you. The feedback is usually good,” he continued.

He said the occupation is tough. “There will be rejections and criticism. You might be disappointed, but develop yourself and go out and kill someone,” he said.

Garcia emphasizes the importance of doing something that you have never done before that makes you uncomfortable. “Don’t take the easy way and don’t be afraid to write about the hard things. You want to make an interesting story,” he said.

His final piece of advice for anyone who wants to become a writer is to write and read a lot.

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