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Interview with T.M. Brown

Southern stories with a message. That’s T.M. Brown’s tagline. A Southern boy at heart and Mike to his family and friends, he has lived and traveled in many states far removed from his beloved boyhood roots in Georgia and Florida. He and his wife of over forty-five years, Connie, live near Newnan, GA. In 2014, Connie encouraged him to retire and write memorable stories as a legacy for their five grandchildren. Hence, the quaint South Georgia town of Shiloh came into being with colorful and often quirky characters populating the idyllic, rural community. As he learned during his decades of travel throughout the South, even wholesome small towns are not free of conflict and scandal.

We featured Brown and his 2nd novel, Testament, in 2018. Now, we’re back with book 3, Purgatory, the 3rd and final novel in the Shiloh Mysteries series.

What message do you hope readers take away from this final novel in the Shiloh Mysteries series?
Birthing a child does not make anyone a parent. God reveals genuine family ties develop through acts of selfless sacrifice over time and in the trials that threaten the ties that bind us as family.

That may sound profound, but in writing this story, it became evident that a child can feel like an orphan though they have parents. It is the parent God holds accountable in such an estranged relationship.

What literary pilgrimages have you taken? What was your favorite and what did you discover or learn?
Thanks to the sixty-eight year ongoing pilgrimage I am continuing to be on, my memories have offered me my literary pilgrimage. Since I began writing my Shiloh stories over six years ago, my imagination has been inspired by long-forgotten memories that crept out from my mind’s dark shadows.

However, I traveled to Sparta, Georgia not long after I had stumbled across internet photos of a nighttime blaze that razed the town’s historic and much beloved courthouse. The book cover on my first novel, Sanctuary, was selected from the images I used in writing the courthouse fire scene in my first story.

We have traveled in and out of many postcard-quality town squares throughout Georgia. Still, Sparta’s time-lost downtown in the shadow of its now newly reconstructed courthouse remains an inspiration these past four years. Whenever folks ask if Shiloh exists, I confess it’s fictional but was inspired in significant part by little old Sparta. There’s a history there that this article does not afford the time to share. In summary, progress and history can bypass a town’s proud past, much like the Shiloh in my stories.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? How?
In the developmental editing process, I allow objective eyes to help me glean the dross that might distract readers from the core story. Otherwise, I write to bring an original tale. I invest as much forethought in the essence of the plot and relationships as in the actual writing that I feel each story deserves. Of course, once I begin the actual writing process, the characters and all too familiar settings bring the story to life. My biggest smiles come whenever someone says they loved the characters and settings in one of my books and can’t wait to read the next story.

What have you learned from writing a series? What is next on the horizon now that you’ve wrapped up the Shiloh Mysteries?
Writing a series has its advantages, as well as challenges. Though Sanctuary was intended to be a standalone novel, readers and my publisher urged me to write a sequel, which became Testament. Of course, even before Testament released, I knew Purgatory beckoned to be written. Shortly before actually writing Purgatory, I decided to make it a standalone novel that would also serve as the capstone of the Shiloh Mystery Series.

I realized, after the fact, I should have written Testament as a standalone sequel to Sanctuary. It serves well as the bridge novel in the series to Purgatory. Though, it remains reliant upon the reader enjoying Sanctuary first.

I am currently working on an alternative historical fiction story about Joseph of Arimathea and Simon the Cyrenian as exiled disciples in the years following Jesus’s death. A story I’ve considered since I was a Christian History major in seminary. However, their recorded stories exist merely in legend and lore. Thus, I will allow your imaginations to ponder the story which may require my wife and I to travel to Cornwall and Wales in the coming year. I feel the need to follow the legends and tales to prepare me to write their story.

Otherwise, possibly on the other side of the next book, Theo and Liddy Phillips may resurface in a new adventure to appease their fans. I am assuming I still have enough wit and discipline to tackle yet another book before my mind seeks to retire by then.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Investing in Kari Scare as my writing coach and then editor. She shared my Christian view as an author and understood that I wanted to write my stories to reach a broad audience. We have since become good family friends while she has gone on to help other aspiring authors, though she answers the call to edit my manuscripts now. (

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
As I shared above, I research and plan my story months in advance of the actual manuscript writing. I believe an author should know his characters and settings intimately before writing stories about them.

What did you edit OUT of this book?
As I also shared above, everything and anything that would distract a reader from enjoying the story. It is the most laborious editing I do with objective eyes and ears to help discern what stays and goes.

Tell us a little about the legacy of the Brown family that inspired quite a bit in this series.
My father’s family has multigenerational roots in and around the greater Atlanta area. My father and grandfather shared the Southern name of Wiley Virgil Brown. Although my father despised the name Wiley, I remember my grandmother screaming the name when angry with my grandfather. Thus, Wiley became a main character in Testament, though he has died in the beginning of Purgatory. My memories of growing up in Atlanta when I was a youngster and returning many times after we moved to Florida.

Many sayings were inspired by either my father or grandfather throughout my stories as well. Though my father and grandfather are long gone, their legacy galvanized my memories throughout the writing of the Shiloh stories. My one regret is not talking more to my father about his youth in Georgia. It was not until my uncle, his last surviving brother, offered his eulogy I learned about my father’s hard life during the Depression. A time that shaped his hard-nosed family and home values. I was 57 years old when I learned about the youth my father never discussed. But, it explained why we took so many trips when I was young to visit his Uncle Kerry’s and Aunt Monk’s farm in Snellville, Georgia.

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
There is no right answer here. One side of me says I would have opted to study journalism or creative writing in college. Yet, then I would have exchanged that knowledge for all the experiences and memories I garnered that shaped my writing by the time I decided to retire.

How do your faith and spiritual walk play out in your novels?
Though my stories are written for a broad audience, my main characters have faith-based responses inside my stories. Even the preacher-friend of Theo offers down-to-earth advice laced with some godly wisdom. The Christian audience enjoys the Shiloh stories with a slightly different filter than readers who may not share the religious views espoused in the story. Still, they likely understand the implications of the moral choices that the characters had to face.

Finish this statement: In the future, I will…
strive to make the next story I decide to write the best yet. Each book is intended to serve as a legacy of love to my grandchildren—the five reasons I have and will continue to write all my stories.


Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having an active imagination and a flair for the dramatic. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning author and speaker who works in the health & wellness and personal development industries, helping others become their best from the inside out. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and son, and a Shiba Inu-mix named Nova. She has sold over 20 books so far, three of which have won annual reader's choice awards. She is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

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