Adding to the name: Local man to become published author

Tom Kies may be known around town for his work with the Downtown Morehead City Revitalization Association, and most recently, as president of the Chamber of Commerce, but he can soon add another title to his name: published author.

Mr. Kies’ new book, Random Road, published by Poisoned Pen Press, will be released in May. In this mystery novel, the reader comes to know the protagonist Geneva Chase.

Ms. Chase is a reporter who works for her hometown newspaper. She also has a drinking problem, which has ruined her reputation.

When six people are found murdered in a mansion inside a gated community, Ms. Chase finds one last chance to redeem herself.

Though this is Mr. Kies’ first published novel, it is not his first attempt at writing.

“I’ve always wanted to write fiction, so I thought I would try my hand at a mystery,” Mr. Kies said when asked why he chose to write a mystery fiction novel.

“This is actually my fifth attempt at a novel. The first one was a historical novel about pirates. It was awful,” he said with a chuckle. “Then I wrote three more, and they were all mysteries or thrillers.”

The inspiration for Random Road came from a former coworker.

“I used to work with a lady at a newspaper in Connecticut, and she was really the inspiration for this, not that she was a heavy drinker, but she went through a little bit of a tragedy, and she showed incredible courage,” Mr. Kies said. “When I visualize the character, I visualize her.”

Though the novel is not officially for sale yet, it’s garnering attention.

“This is the first book that any agents have actively taken an interest in,” Mr. Kies said. “This book I had four agents all ask for a full manuscript at the same time, and that’s never happened before.”

The book has received good reviews from several sources including Library Journal.

On March 1, the book was given “Debut of the Month.”

The review said, “Kies’ debut mystery introduces a reporter with a compelling voice, a damaged woman who recounts her own bittersweet story as she hunts down clues. This suspenseful story will appeal to readers who enjoy hard-nosed investigative reporters such as Brad Parks’ Carter Ross.”

Receiving reviews is one of Mr. Kies’ favorite things about having people read his book.

“It is every dream I’ve ever had. I have worked for newspapers and magazines my entire life, but what I really wanted to do was write novels. The fact that it has been so well received is beyond my imagination,” he said.

Once the book is released, Mr. Kies will promote the novel by selling it at local, independent book stores, as well as attending several book tour events.

He will travel to Phoenix, Ariz., the first week in May for a book event. In September, Mr. Kies will head out to San Francisco, Calif., for a mystery writer’s conference.

Locally, Dee Gee’s Gifts and Books, on the Morehead City waterfront, will host a book signing with Mr. Kies, and he will also speak during Carteret Writers’ April meeting.

Random Road will not be Mr. Kies’ last attempt at writing. A sequel to the novel is already in the works, and the writing process has been a bit of a pleasant surprise for Mr. Kies.

“I’ve always liked fiction. You can let your imagination go wild,” Mr. Kies said. “At some point when you are writing, your characters almost take on a life of their own. I know it sounds crazy, but there are plot twists in Random Road I hadn’t anticipated. There are plot twists in the second book that I didn’t see coming.”

This project has been in the works for some time, and Mr. Kies hopes the book will capture his audience’s attention.

“I just hope they enjoy reading it. I’m not trying to change the world or anything. All I’m trying to do is tell a good story,” he said.

Story in the Carteret News-Times-six column headline in the features section