Author's latest book celebrates old friends
Since the time he was known as "The Dumpmaster's Boy," Thomas Sheehan has felt impelled to write, and the latest result of that obsession is A Collection of Friends, a memoir about growing up in Saugus.
"It's great stuff," Sheehan says proudly. "I'm loaded with memories. I sit down at 3 or 4 in the morning and the stuff flows right out of me."
That speaks volumes of a man who is generally humble about his flair for poetry, essays, and mystery novels.
Tall with a ruddy Irish appearance, Sheehan moved from Charlestown when he was just a boy and he has been collecting memories ever since. The stories, filled out in more than 200 pages, tell of his young days, his war days, "The Hermit of Breakheart Woods," "The Ghosts of Lily Pond," and most importantly to him, his grandfather, "Johnny Igoe, Spellbinder Remembered," otherwise known as "The Dumpmaster."
Sheehan says it was his grandfather who introduced him to poetry and fed his fiery need to write. "He used to read yeats to me when I was 7 or 8 years old," he said. "I have Yeats on tape reading several poems now and I swear it's my grandfather's voice. I would listen to the words and their music and feel the grab of the words like handles. I forever leaned on him."
Since the early days of listening to his grandfather read, Sheehan has shared his own words at local readings, published more than a half dozen books of poetry and managed to combine passions by writing mystery novels and short stories often centered around sports or historic events.
As Sheehan talks, his arm rests on a short stack of books, Death for the Phantom receiver, Vigilantes East, Ah, Devon Unbowed, This Rare Earth & Other Flights and The Saugus Book each of which were penned by him. He said he is hoping to finish up work on Murder from the Forum soon, a mystery set around hockey.
But when he wakes up in the morning, usually at 3 a.m., it's anybody's guess as to what he will spend seven or eight hours tackling.
"Some days it's a poetry day, some days it's a mystery day," he said. "Some days it's administrative work, some days it's just editing."
Sometimes, Sheehan said, what he chooses to write is simply a thought he carried to bed with him the night before, or a line that came to him in his sleep.
"It's a hunger, a thirst, a memory, a mindset," he said. "Something that lingers."
Whatever it is that drives him, it certainly has prolific results. Aside from his books, Sheehan has also published countless short stories, and poems in small literary magazines and on the internet. And he still has a wealth of material locked up in his computer waiting for the finishing touches.
"If I'm facing a dry time, what some call writer's block," he said, "I'll write about my typewriter; once I wrote about my pencil."
Last summer Sheehan said he would wait until his house was empty then he climbed a ladder to paint his house. A friend drove by and yelled, "You're too old to be on a ladder Sheehan." It became his next short story.
A list of many of Sheehan's works can be found on the web site, Nuvein. Spoiled Ink and Kudzu Monthly, also online, carry his work as well and This Rare Earth & Other Flights can be found at Barnes and Noble.
A copy of A Collection of Friends can be had by contacting Sheehan or his publisher, Pocol Press at www.pocolpress.com.
When asked how long he'll keep up his manic writing pace, Sheehan laughs.
"When they kick the feet out from under me," he said. "Itís love and energy that's the big thing...You can't beat it."
Sheehan said one of his editors has a quote hanging on the wall of his office, "You come with two things ó love and energy, so you damn better well use 'em."
"I said that," he said. "And it's true."