Meet the Author: Painted Oxen by Thomas Lloyd Qualls

Today we welcome Thomas Lloyd Qualls as we travel to Northern Nevada USA to learn how building bridges, gryphons, practicing law, and Calvin and Hobbes make the case to support Thomas in his writing life. Grab your paddleboard, let’s go …

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a writer, a condition that is apparently incurable. I live in the high desert beauty of Northern Nevada, along with the children’s author Lynell Garfield and our son August. I am a former copywriter, a licensed attorney who has overturned two death sentences, and a one-time vagabond who regularly wandered the globe with a backpack and three changes of clothes.

I’m the author of two novels, the co-creator of several video storytelling projects, and the former owner of a music festival. I am also a sometimes painter and a contributor of essays to Rebelle Society, Wild Heart Writers, and Reno Tahoe Tonight Magazine.

My debut novel Waking Up At Rembrandt’s received national critical acclaim. The Midwest Book Review called it, “an impressive debut novel showcasing an undeniably talented and imaginative author.”

My second novel Painted Oxen was awarded the 2018 Landmark Prize for Fiction and was published April 02, 2019 by Homebound Publications.

In writing, one of my goals is to bridge the worlds of literary and spiritual fiction, adding something new and valuable to the written landscape. With all my creative projects, I work to build bridges between people and to foster positive curiosity about each other and this beautiful crazy world. You can follow my trail of words and other misadventures at

In which genre do you write?

I write fiction (novels), poetry, and essays. And I sometimes collaborate with other local artists on things that defy category.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I don’t know exactly when the awareness came, but I really can’t remember a time when I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. Also, I realized pretty early on I probably wasn’t the type who could have a normal job.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

My whole life is an interesting quirk.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

A gryphon. Because, gryphons.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

A cabin with a view, stocked with good food and coffee, a trail to run on nearby, preferably near water.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

Run, ride my bike, paddleboard Lake Tahoe, practice law, research the next book, feel guilty about not writing.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

These “favorite” type questions are hard for me. But for contemporary writers I’d pick someone like Neil Gaiman or Jeanette Winterson. Historical figures, I’d pick Rumi or Rilke. I would not want to have preset questions, just an organic conversation.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

Any kind of consistent writing is helpful, whether it is journaling, morning pages, essays, or a blog. All of it keeps the gates open, the flow going.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

Definitely Calvin and Hobbes. Because, Hobbes. And also because my life is a little like Calvinball, where I get to make it up as I go.

If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? 

In some ways I am all of my characters.

Modern lifestyle photographers

Thank you Thomas for being a part of MTA. It was wonderful to learn more about your background and writing life. I’m adding your book to my ‘to be read’ list, sounds wonderful! Plus, I learned something. Now I know about gryphons! HA! –Camilla

Book Blurb

Two men, three realms, one goal: to find the heart of the world.

Painted Oxen is a novel of transcendence, one that not only invites its readers into its story, but somehow enmeshes them in its alchemy, leaving them changed in unexpected ways at its journeys end. Bridging the worlds of ancient Tibet and modern-day India, Painted Oxen weaves a tale of two men—one young, one old—on parallel journeys. Their separate-but-connected pilgrimages are equal parts internal and external.

The old man, a Tibetan monk, is searching for a sacred hidden valley known to bring enlightenment to those who enter it. The young man is backpacking through India, searching for a guru or the love of his life; he doesn’t care which. A mysterious red-haired woman who resembles an ancient goddess appears in a series of dream chapters that tie the two journeys together.

The underlying theme of the novel is the transformation of the human heart, which is required to arrive at any true change in our lives. With its authentic voices, unforgettable characters, and well-crafted story, Painted Oxen successfully bridges the worlds of literary and spiritual fiction, adding something new and authentic to the literary landscape.

You can find Painted Oxen wherever books are sold.

US Amazon:

UK Amazon:

Painted Oxen by Thomas Lloyd Qualls

Book trailer:


social media links:

Reviews of Painted Oxen from other authors:

Reading Thomas Qualls’ ‘Painted Oxen’ I am reminded of a quote by T. E. Lawrence, ‘All men dream but not equally.’ Qualls’ multithreaded narrative explores the crisscrossed yet meshed realities of the senses, the spiritual quest and the dream realm. The reader is also a select disciple on this pilgrimage and reciting the alchemy contained in these pages is softly and inescapably transmuted at the end. – Poet J. K. McDowell, author of Night, Mystery & Light

Lit by ancient starlight, we follow Thomas Qualls along the sacred river through the heart of India. Reminiscent of Kerouac’s On the Road, we meet fellow travelers seeking transformative knowledge, mercy and grace. Painted Oxen entertains, informs, and delights. –Mark Daniel Seiler, Award Winning Author of River’s Child and Sighing Woman Tea.

Part lyrical prose, part musings of a wandering backpacker, part mystical quest, Painted Oxen is a story of many parts: becoming and unbecoming, seeking and finding, and ultimately, of leaning so far into mystery that falling through to the other side of a dream seems like it might not be so far out of reach. Thomas Lloyd Qualls’ words may be fiction, but they invited me to be more than the reader of a story – suddenly I was part of the story, intent on figuring out what all the layers might mean and accepting the invitation to hold truth and mystery close to the bone as one essential whole. Read it, and embark on a journey that will continue well after the last page. – Heidi Barr, author of Woodland Manitou

What would happen if Paulo Coelho and Alan Watts had a love child? It might look a lot like Thomas Qualls’s new book, Painted Oxen. I am rarely challenged by modern fiction: challenged to keep up, to stretch, to imagine, to feel. Somehow this writer weaves mystery, ancient wisdom, and one hell of a sexy story into a book that makes you wonder, makes you think. -Jacob Nordby, author of Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives

Part travelogue, part dream journal, part meditation, Thomas Lloyd Qualls’ Painted Oxen is less a work of literature than it is a work of alchemy. Dreams and reality mingle here until the reader does not know if they have dreamed the book or the book is dreaming them. – Jason Kirkey, author of The Taste of Water and Stone

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And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

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