A Kansas Author ~ Interviewing Thomas William Montgomery

Welcome back! I want to start off by saying how much I appreciate you stopping by to check out my interviews with these fabulous people. I hope you’re checking out the rest of the website along the way! Anyone who has ever managed their own website knows how much work goes into these boogers so it means a bunch that you’ve spent any of your precious time here.

With that said, I have another exceptional person for you to get to know today.

Thank you for joining us today, Thomas.

T: Thanks for your interest.

Let’s start with where you’re orginially from.

T: I’ve lived nearly all my life in this wonderful state of the Union. I lived most of that time in Fort Scott, Kansas, but have lived in Augusta where I graduated from high school, and Emporia where I graduated with two degrees.

Impressive! May I ask what your two degrees are in?

T: I have a degree in Psychology (minor in Literature), and a Master’s in School Psychology (clinical emphasis), as well as 76 post hours.

When did you begin your writing journey?

T: My very first story was written while I was in ninth grade. My mother, prior to her premature death, was fond of reading to me and activated my own love of the written word. In fact, I almost had a degree completed in English and literature, before switching fields to psychology, where I spent most of my professional career practicing (and writing continuously but only reports, manuals, workshop materials, etcetera.)

How old were you when your mother passed?

T: I was ten when my mother passed. I was later adopted by her sister who became my “mother” until five years ago when she passed.

I’m sorry for your loss. So when exactly did you decide you wanted to publish?

T: The first real writing for publication began only four years ago following my retirement from ten years as a minister. Since then I have written eight books, and am currently working on number nine. They are all available through Amazon as I self-published through their creative arm: CreateSpace.

Wow! Eight books in four years. That’s wonderful! Tell me about your published works.

Viet Nam and Other InterruptionsT: My current list of books are: Viet Nam and other Interruptions, a trilogy written from the trauma perspective, and originating out of my visit to The Wall; that others in the PTSD group I belong to encouraged. That was followed by Grandpa’s Stories: Moral Stories for Young Readers, written for the age group called “tweenies,” eight to thirteen; and then immediately followed by a poetry devotional with commentaries entitled, It Was a Crystal Clear Night. I would fully admit that God had a huge Hand in that creative endeavor. I felt a need to revise slightly, the Grandpa book, because it needed to fit more closely with the next two books to form another trilogy. I have just finished, Grandpa’s Stories: Advice for Teenagers Living in Today’s World. All of this writing occurred within three years.

If you’ve done that much in such a short time, I know you’re not done yet. What might you be working on now?

T: I am presently completing a professional manual on how to interview children and adolescents, written for psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and social workers. The title will probably be: The Brief Practical Manual (BPM): A Manual for Those Who Interview Children.

Do you have a genre preference?

T: I am fairly mixed at this time, always open to new ways to express creative writing.

Good way to be!

How about when you’re reading? What genre do you lean toward then?

T: Outside of the many comic books of my childhood, I still very much appreciate the works of Herman Melville. I continue to read other authors, and just finished an intriguing book called ‘Riveted,’ by Jim Davies. Following a wonderful conversation I had with a patron who attended the Kansas Author’s Fair, I am double-reading currently, A Man Called Intrepid, and Kiss the Boys Goodbye. During college (especially with the degree program in Literature), I read like a fiend in multiple genres, both in the older classics, including Beowulf and working hard through the British Literature requirements (even learning to read in the Anglo-Saxon language as we translated), plus the more modern works. Of that reading, the most intriguing were the books by Jean-Paul Sartre, William Golding and Joseph Conrad. After switching fields I was mainly focused on more than a hundred, professional books for the next thirty years, having lost my interest in reading for fun.

What would you say has been your biggest challenge in life?

T: I would say it would be coming to terms with my Viet Nam experience as a combat medic even this many years after the event. 

Does your writing help you cope?

T: Writing helps me to focus, share, and in many ways it provides comfort from the physical pain I am now living with. It is also a way of leaving a heritage behind me as I pass.

What is the physical pain you’re dealing with caused by?

T: I am in constant physical pain from Agent Orange Poisoning acquired while serving as a medic in Viet Nam; and psychological pain from the recoiling and continued menace of PTSD.

I’m going to ask some things I know are probably covered in your book. You don’t have to answer anything you don’t want to. I’m aware of what PTSD is and have done quite a bit of research on it. But for readers who may not know much about it, can you explain what PTSD does to you?

T: PTSD existed within me since the war, but I only addressed five years ago with the help of another victim and friend. Looking back, I can now see how it caused havoc in my life. The pain for PTSD comes in the form of horrendous nightmares, flashbacks (even in public if there are loud noises, especially behind me), and depression, as well as physical symptoms such as shaking, tremors, headaches. lose of handwriting ability and now keyboarding, etc.

Were you able to get any help?

T: My first attempts at going to the VA in the early 70’s were very bad: shouting doctors, impatient nurses, poor care, and no sympathy for mental war wounds. I swore I would never go back even though I qualified. Now, Topeka is one of the top VA facilities in America; especially in treatment of mental disorders. I have had nothing but the best of care (with one exception and that doctor is long gone).

I’m glad to hear that. I can only imagine what the journey to improvement was like for all involved.

And what about the Agent Orange?

T: Agent Orange is a Dioxin (remember the community of Love Canal living next to a Monsanto Chemical Plant). It attacks the body and brain directly, then the genetic structure of all parts of the body. This is why most of the qualifying conditions are cancer conditions; and why, if my children, grandchildren, great…….are also markers if they were born with mental retardation, cleft palate/lip, sexual organs disorder, etc., are also markers. I possess three of the thirteen conditions the government finally agreed were connected to AO; and possibly a fourth. I always wondered why my doctor of thirty years asked me long ago, if I had been exposed to AO, but, of course, there was no admission on the part of the government at that time and no treatments. Agent Orange attacks the nervous system, organs, body integrity, and for some (many, actually) it is a slow death sentence. There is no cure for AO. They only treat the symptoms as they emerge. Suffice it to say, I am grievously affected and am terminal. I don’t think the details will be of much use to you. By the way, there is also Agent Purple, Pink, Green, White…. It was supposedly spread to kill vegetation so that we might be able to see the enemy better. We never did see the enemy better, but it killed every living thing underneath its carpet, and is now killing thousands of Viet Nam veterans years later. My resiliency is still good, but it can be any little thing that will break and I am gone.

Thank you so much for sharing what you have. Sometimes it seems as if the passage of time causes memory loss among the masses. There are too many things we should never forget. This is one of them. Thankfully, you’ve written your story down.

T: Viet Nam Series was written not only to help me divest some of the baggage, but was also written for others suffering from trauma: soldiers, abuse, divorce, hardships, etc. Within the stories are also commentaries on how to get help and why one should. Additionally, I introduce God as having always been present, is present, and always will be.

God will absolutely be! You said you were a minister for ten years. When did you first get to know God?

T: As for God, I refused His first call when I was 19; His second call when I was thirty; so when the third call came, it was so impacting that I readily agreed to follow His lead. I quit my job at the height of my career, financially and superiority, went into a poverty lifestyle and became a full-time minister, until AO forced me to prematurely retire and move to Topeka to be near the VA. I still do pulpit supply work on occasion.

And what led you to write the Grandpa Series?

T: Grandpa series (all three) were written with my grand/great-grand-children in mind,Grandpa's Stories II Grandpa's Stories with some stories written specifically for them; but also for all children and teens. I am keenly aware that a lot of what they read now is fantasy, gore, battles, fluff…if they read at all (video games dominate). So I built each story with a moral or lesson that they have to work out. The revision and the Teen series all contain 20 or more acute, insightful questions to each story to help the reader delve deeper into meanings, applications and the like. What I wanted to accomplish, am accomplishing is to have real-life, current day stories and not make-believe. The PBI was written out of my own history of seeing over 3,000 kids, teens, adults, and families over 45 years. It was written for psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, special educators, and those that work with this population.

I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve shared with me… with everyone. Thank you for your service.

Everyone else, keep scrolling down for more on this beautiful author.

A Sample From Viet Nam and Other Interruptions:

From Viet Nam and Other Interruptions, Book One, story one:
Walking Guard at the Cesspool: A Collective Memoir
(Fragment 114)

Short Time Fever

Drinking alone now. All my buddies I would have partied with have gone home. So it is just me, the sky, the damn, alcoholic dog, and the small Delta Force of bottles in the corner of the hutch. I have been burning with The Fever for over a month now, but it is my own damn fault I’m on extended tour, and I am not about to make any friends and I certainly don’t want to know anyone’s names. They promised that if I stayed during the transition and trained the new medics I would not have any field duty, and in thirty days I could go home, too. Most of the staff was being replaced. If the enemy only knew how light we are. Oh, we could hold our own, and the two quads on the perimeter could pull mighty mean. Still, it is all a ghost town for this ghost walking around in it.

This is the ninth book written by William B. Worcester (who wrote his other books under a non de plume), under the Amazon label, and the first delegated to the professional audiences of psychologists, psychiatrists, special educators, nurses, doctors and social workers.
His previous books are: Viet Nam and Other Interruptions (a trilogy), about the Viet Nam war (and other non-war life events) from the trauma perspective; followed by another written for Children/Tweenies entitled,Grandpa’s Stories: Moral Stories for Young Readers. The moral stories book has a second addition (book six), revised in a manner to be used by counselors, informed parents, and therapists. What makes it unique is the listing of twenty or more insightful questions for each story to help the child reader, parent, or counselor to develop a deeper understanding of the stories implications.
The fifth book, It was a Crystal Clear Night, contains Christian Poetry with Commentaries. Books seven and eight complete the Grandpa series: Grandpa’s Stories: Advice for Teenagers Living in Today’s World, with twenty or more questions per story. In addition to the questions provided, each story is written to provide advice through the story mechanism itself. All books are available from Amazon.
He has lived a rich and varied life that vocationally has included: psychologist, professor, minister, therapist, crisis worker/Field Supervisor, advocate, parent, Spiritual Mentor, consultant, expert witness, combat medic, survivor of PTSD and combat-related injuries (to included Agent Orange Poisoning), survivor of divorce and now happily married, and terminally afflicted from the AOP.
He has worked with children, teenagers and adults throughout his life. In addition to his professional careers, he has also been a pilot, WSI and professional lifeguard, CPR Certified, head coach in soccer (High School and with three competitive teams) & a USSF Official and Instructor, amateur astronomer, competitive sailor, photographer, film critic, CISD for police and firemen, ambulance driver/medic, created a suicide hotline and was a worker, advisor to SRS, hospital chaplain, parachutist, co-creator of a personality inventory, inventor of a locator schedule for the Sheriff’s department, creator of and continued participant in the first Kindergarten “Round-up” for a school system, developer of a Crisis Intervention protocol for a school system, mentor to beginning school psychologists, instructor/presenter at numerous workshops on a variety of topics, Keynote Speaker at assemblies, and a variety of other personas, much of which has been curtailed by his afflictions. He now enjoys writing stories and poems, and traveling with his wife making memory events. He even has taken some college courses (which now are free). He is blessed with many grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He gives much praise and eternal gratefulness to the Holy One who had rescued him.