Alumni publishes his first novel

By Tahja Smith and Taylor Weaver — 1996 GlenOak graduate, Thomas Sweterlitsch, always thought authors were people who lived in New York and drank cappuccinos; however, he now knows that is not true.

He wrote the novel, Tomorrow and Tomorrow, a sci-fi mystery that was published in July. He recently sold the rights of the published novel to Sony Pictures.

The novel, Tomorrow and Tomorrow, is about a man abandoned after the destruction of Pittsburgh, a city turned to ash. After losing his wife and child, the main character, who is still obsessed with the past, becomes an investigator and recorder for murders and discovers a baffling glitch in the archive system, which is where all the records are kept. He soon uncovers a secret nightmare beyond his imagination.

Sweterlitsch’s inspiration for the book came to him while he was on his honeymoon with his wife to Prague. Several years after the trip, he discovered the walking map he and his wife used to navigate around the city. He felt this was the only way he could remember the trip so he wrote a story about a man who could only revisit his memories through an active map and that short story eventually became the novel. Many of Sweterlitsch’s short stories shaped him into becoming the author he is.

Sweterlitsch had been writing since he was 7-years-old. When he was 9-years-old, he wrote a six-part saga called “The Red Ribbons of Death” in a notebook. He continued writing in high school when he joined speech and debate his sophomore year doing original oratory. Sweterlitsch claimed this was a huge part of his high school career.

Although Sweterlitsch had always enjoyed writing he was content with keeping his work in his drawer and never intended to get anything published.

“I didn’t truly know you could actually be an author professionally until kind of recently. I knew people did it but it just always seemed like people who wrote books were kind of this other group of people,” Sweterlitsch said.

He broke the business by having work ready to send to a publisher at all times.

“It was pure luck,” Sweterlitsch said.

After becoming good friends with published author, Jonathan Auxier, he realized being a writer was an actual full-time job. Auxier then introduced Sweterlitsch’s work to his agent which eventually became Sweterlitsch’s.

“Have work ready so that when a door opens, you’re able to walk through the door,” said Sweterlitsch.

Sweterlitsch has spent the past 12 years working at the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped as what he calls himself “a human catalog”.

He is still unsure if he wants to be an author for the rest of his life because he really enjoyed his job working at the library where he got the news that Tomorrow and Tomorrow had the possibility of being turned into a movie.

The publishing agency generally tries to sell the movie rights with every book they publish. Although Sony has bought the rights, the movie is not guaranteed.

“There is a large gap between the studio buying the option and versus them actually making it so I don’t even think about that part, I am not holding my breath,” Sweterlitsch said.

The book took two years to write on his own then an additional six months was added with editor suggestions. He had to revise and edit it over 25 times before the book hit the shelves.

Sweterlitsch is currently working full time on his second novel, another sci-fi mystery, that is a part of his two-book deal with the publishing agency. The novel is due to the publisher in Oct.

Sweterlitsch’s advice to students who want to become published authors is to most importantly just read anything and everything and write as much as you can and to always have work available to be sent to publisher because you never know when opportunity might strike.

“We all have choices in life. We just have to make them,” Sweterlitsch said.

[Updated Aug. 7, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]