By Joe Prezioso
When you meet Tom MacDonald around the Town, be careful what you say and how you say it, or you might become the next great characters in one of his novels.
Taking inspiration from real life as he works and traverses the streets of Charlestown, MacDonald has cobbled together a marvelous side career as a novelist – now having three published crime novels under his belt.
Last month, MacDonald came home to Charlestown form his book tour, and held an open forum to discuss his new book, “The Revenge of Liam McGrew” at the Boston Public Library in Charlestown. He was invited by the Friends of the Charlestown Branch of the Boston Public Library.
This is MacDonald’s third venture into novels and he has already received critical acclaim. Earlier this spring, it was announced that he was a finalist for Best Crime Novel of the Year at the Beverly Hills International Book Awards, and he was also a finalist for Book of the Year, Mystery and Thriller, at the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
“My first novel was the ‘Charlestown Connection,’ that’s also a crime novel set right here in Charlestown. The second one was ‘Beyond the Bridge,’” said MacDonald. “I am very honored to be here. The library has just been really wonderful to me.”
At his Charlestown forum, MacDonald spoke about setting the character of his book.
“In the case of my book, Charlestown is the character, and how that kind of forms the protagonist. He’s 100 percent Townie,” he said
MacDonald’s world is one of fiction that blends the locations and places of the Town with that of his made up criminals, police, mayors and the populace that creates the depth of realism of the characters in his books.
His new book spans the Charlestown Irish connection by taking readers to Belfast, Ireland for locations out of the Boston area.
All three of MacDonald’s books are about crime.
“Well I just, that’s what I read growing up,” he said. “The Parker books (Spencer), Micky Spillane and Raymond Chandler. All that stuff. So that’s what inspired me.”
In his new book, MacDonald acknowledges that he would not be anywhere without the help of his wife Maribeth.
“It all starts with my wife, Maribeth, whose loving support and ruthless story analysis are unmatched. Without Maribeth, none of this happens,” said MacDonald in his book.
His first and second books were published through a connection with a college professor that MacDonald had taken a writing class with.
“It was wonderful, just wonderful,” he said. “It was a huge surprise. I did not think it would get published and just sent it off. When I get the phone call, I just jumped out of my shoes.”
The new book was not done with the previous publisher though.
“The third one, my wife and I decided to independently publish,” he said.
When not writing, MacDonald can be found at St. Mary’s-St. Catherine’s Parish where he runs the Harvest on the Vine Food Pantry. He also teaches writing during night classes at Boston College.
Born in Dorchester and raised in Braintree, he now lives in Boston.
MacDonald attended Stonehill College, earning a B.A. in Sociology. Fifteen years into a career as a computer programmer, he went back to school and received a Masters in Business Administration from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. There he learned that he had the talent to write, which he later pursued at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program in creative writing, completing a Masters of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in fiction.
If you want to read his previous books, or the new one, the books are available or will be soon at the Boston Public library.