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We take a break from crime stories today.

And bring you an insightful interview with FFO fave, Mister Tom Pitts.

We sat down with FFO legend Tom Pitts to chat about writing, his latest work, and the value of a bit of time off the social media grid. 

Flash Fiction Offensive: Give us an elevator pitch on your latest work, 101. That means no more than three sentences. 

TOM PITTS: I hate the elevator pitch. Okay, here it goes. Kid on the run hides out with a reclusive pot farmer up in weed country. Doesn’t realize his host is a badass till the trouble he’s running from shows up chasing his crazy girl. Worlds collide as different groups close in on the host and the kid. They hit the road back to Oakland where violent hilarity ensues.  

But the elevator pitch isn’t really fair because that’s only the bare bones. The connection between the kid’s mom and the reclusive pot farmer—one that dates back 20 years to a horrific shared experience called the Fulton Street Massacre—also drives the story.

There’s a lot going on in this one. The biker’s who’re chasing the kid and the girl (one of their daughters, by the way,) the Russians, rule-bending FBI agent, the local crusters from the weed and speed business in the hills, two evil assassin clean-up guys, and a desperate cop bent on bringing in his own Moby Dick. It’s fast-moving, multi-POV mayhem. Hopefully it thrills and entertains.

FFO: You famously took a sabbatical from social media recently. Was that in order to work on this book specifically or just personal reasons? How did it help? Is a social media presence crucial these days to building and maintaining any kind of following?

PITTS: I don’t know about famously, I actually didn’t take a break at all. Perhaps I should. Maybe it just seems like I’m absent because I’ve slackened off my social media presence. Not intentionally either, I’m just burned out on it. I think it’s a pretty common scenario. Facebook in particular started getting tiresome around the election. Then, with the recent FB scandals, a lot of people backed off. The end result, the social quilt is threadbare. My feed feels like it’s narrowed to the same six people. And let’s face it, social media was more fun four or five years ago. There was more interaction, more levity. There’s been a few sobering shifts in the country, and that’s reflected in the lack of whimsy online. Sometimes I’m a bit self-conscious about not giving it enough attention, but then I remind myself that it’s not the real world. It’s not writing. That’s the most important thing, it’s not what you’re creating. Don’t get the two confused.

FFO: Political correctness is constantly everywhere. Is this good or bad for both writers and readers?

PITTS: I ignore it. I have to. Hustle was a real lesson in ignoring what people what people were going to think. I think you have to tell the story of real people and how they think and react. Writing is about empathy. You’ve got to get inside the character’s heads. That forces you into sort of a neutral position. You’ve got to stay objective, because you’re a voyeur in your own story. If you’re trying to send a message or soften a character, the reader will sense it, and it’ll taint its authenticity. 

FFO: What's next on the list of creative projects? 

PITTS: After shouting from the rooftops about simplicity, I’ve started a novel that takes place in three different decades. The late 80s, 90s, and the present. Don’t know if it’ll even work. The idea is to try to have three separate storylines going simultaneously with the same characters at different times, but without any flashbacks. Now that I’m knee-deep, I’m running into issues like how you keep the tension going if you know a certain character is going to live? How do you avoid spoilers and keep each plot linear?  See? Even trying to explain it gets confusing.

FFO: And now, an Inside the Actors' Studio question, just because (Pick your favorite one and answer it): 1) What is your favorite curse word? 2) If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at The Pearly Gates? 3) What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

PITTS: Um, I’ll take number two, Hector. I’d like to hear God say thank you for forgiving him. Which I do on a daily basis.

FFO: Any additional information or insight? 

PITTS: Nope. No insights here. I’m but a cog in the wheel, just a fellow traveler.

When Tom Pitts isn't writing, he can be found running on the treadmill of life, trying to keep food on the table and a roof over his family’s heads, while living in ground zero for gentrification.  Oh, and drinking. He works in a little time for drinking too. 

Twitter: @mrtompitts
Instagram: @TomPittsAuthor 

(interview by: Hector Duarte, Jr.)

Tom Pitts has been called the "underworld bard of the Bay Area." He received his education on the streets of San Francisco. He remains there, working, writing, and trying to survive. He is the author of AMERICAN STATIC, HUSTLE, and the novellas PIGGYBACK and KNUCKLEBALL. His new novel, 101, will be released by Down & Out Books November 5th, 2018. Find links to more of his work at: