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

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

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 …

Buy Me A Coffee

Meet the Author: Becoming One With The Universe by Al Duncan

Today we welcome Al Duncan to Meeting the Authors as we travel to Dunedin, New Zealand and learn how a wolf, an owl, John Lennon, and The Himalayas align to inspire the story of Al Duncan. Grab your travel gear and let’s go ….

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Life has been a very colorful experience to date. I’ve amazed myself by fulfilling a dream of becoming a self-published author of a book that resonates with so many. Even if they haven’t purchased it, the comments I receive on my author page are amazing. 

Looking back life has been an incredible, yet challenging journey which has given me the gift of not only believing in myself but also the ability to write from the heart. Even to the extent that many believe my writings are divinely guided.

I love the beach and am blessed to live directly opposite a beautiful beach in a quaint little beach house in Dunedin, New Zealand. I have worked in a myriad of positions from managing bars to Mentoring Youth, to saving the World with Greenpeace. All of it has lead to a purposeful point in life of creating a fulfilling lifestyle.

In which genre do you write?

Nonfiction. Inspiration. Spiritual.

How many published books do you have?

One at this stage. “Becoming One with the Universe – Inspirational Reminders, Signs and a Story”

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

I was blessed to cross paths with a very wise soul who truly taught of the magic of unconditional love. Unbeknown to me, my soul had enrolled me on a spiritual apprenticeship spanning 20 years. When my mentor tragically departed, a knowing spark eventually arose insisting the wisdom and knowledge be shared. It was like being handed a “baton of light”. It was up to me whether I chose or even had the courage to run with it.

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

I tend to become obsessed with my writing. It becomes 24/7 and everything I do revolves around it. Hence why it’s has been nice to have a break. I’m blessed to be able to write at the drop of a pen. Inspiration may flash through my mind at any time; hence my belief that there is no such thing as writer’s block. The flow comes and goes. When it goes, it’s simply time to rest and enjoy life in other ways.

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

The wolf and the owl. The owl for its wisdom and the wolf for its incredible survival instincts.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

My ideal working space is varied. A lot of my writing I have done in South East Asia and Western Australia. So anything from a beach setting with an iced coffee, or hidden away in a little guesthouse room typing, formatting and editing away to all hours.  Ideally, I’d like a cool comfy funky chair that I can spin around full circle in for fun. A desk would be handy. And a fantastic view of nature for inspiration or so I can happily procrastinate.

What are you currently reading?

Haha well, funny one. I’m reading my own book for the first time from the perspective of a reader. I want to check out what this Al Duncan dude has got to say!

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

In the last 5 years, I have traveled throughout South East Asia and Nepal. I love exploring new places and discovering and interacting with new cultures. Right now, I’m in recharge mode back in New Zealand. Deciding on my next move in life and trusting the process, as well as integrating all that I have experienced in the last few years. And lots of nature hits!

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?

I would love to sit, laugh and chat with the Dalai Lama. Cups of tea and biscuits shooting the breeze. Ahhh yes! I would ask him what his innermost thoughts were on the state of the world. What his beliefs are around humanities ability to turn it all around, and live the ultimate purpose of living as One. John Lennon would pop in to sing “Imagine”. And Bob Marley would sing “One Love” to end our time together.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

Hmmm, that’s a good one. Discipline. Wow yes, I’m a master of discipline now! Determination. Self-belief. And, how I overcame the many times I wanted to give up on it all. Also, as my numerology suggests I really do have inner gifts.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Inspiring …hmmm.  A 16-day expedition high into the Himalayas. 5100 meters. Stepping back in time to what the modern world has long forgotten. And the incredible experience of living one of the greatest analogies. The art of living life and fulfilling our dream one step at a time.

I experienced altitude sickness on the Larke Pass. The guide having observed our team for the last 9 days made the decision I had the inner strength to go the distance. I recall him taking a triumphant photo of me in front of Tibetan pray flags on the highest point. I was smiling; however, I was also well aware I had 9 hours of trekking through a snowy unforgiving wilderness. I could literally feel each step I took for the rest of that day. The insights were incredible in hindsight.

The absolutely amazing courage the human spirit has when faced with adversity is mind-blowing.  To the extent that when we recall these times, they are sometimes the greatest reminder that we are divine beings and capable of anything when we utilize our minds for its true purpose.

You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?

Well, firstly I get nervous, hehe Following this is a process of finding my mojo and being in the zone. I surprise myself as to how I come across. I was recently interviewed by Mike Dooley, live on Facebook. That was a first! Yes, one of the dudes that were featured in “The Secret”. I also woo-hoo and jump around a bit to get my energy levels up. And if possible, a stroll in nature works wonders.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Life was simpler. Yet being a grown-up is almost a blessing in that we become aware we are at choice in whatever we do with life. And, anyway, my inner kid is still alive. I was scuffing through autumn leaves the other day in the park and woohoo-ing on a swing. I’m still a big advocate of a simple life.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

I can’t recall the name of the last one I watched. But a recent one was “A Dog’s Purpose”. The storyline was heart-warming, as well as tear evoking. I love inspiring movies. Put a dog in it, and it’s a must!

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

Yup Al, I chose you as I’ve learned not too many people would believe that penguins can talk. We in the penguin kingdom know you believe we can fly! Yes, one of our angelic penguins was the inspiration behind your children’s penguin book. The sombrero you ask Al? The Galapagos bro!

Tell us about your most recent book.

Becoming One with the Universe. Is just that. A process of becoming the most authentic version of ourselves. I would say for want of a better phrase it’s a self-development book with a difference. It has been referred to as what will become a reference book for years to come. My story of becoming is a part of the book. This is something I didn’t want to include, however, there was an intuitive insistence that this would offer the reader a more authentic and greater understanding of the content, concepts, insights, and inspiration shared.

A final word from Al …..

I am currently excitedly working on a new book. This book will have a different style but still packed full of inspiration, insights, fun, and intrigue. It’s an adventurous story of becoming, with an intriguing storyline based on a solo travelers insights with the intention to inspire people to go for their dreams. I also have a children’s book ready to go. I just need the right illustrator to cross paths with.

Thank you Al for joining us on MTA. It was beautiful learning more about your story and writing life. Al and I have known one another for more than a year and I’m so happy I was able to interview him. He is a deeply beautiful and kind human! Blessings to you Al! – Camilla

Extracts of a few key phrases from online reviews. (There are also many more on my author page.):

I found it a delightful read, thoughtful, entertaining, enlightening and REAL.

An amazing, amazing life transforming book. The best part of this book is the simplicity and ease with which Al ignites the readers’ minds. A must must read.

Within the pages of this beautifully written book, you will discover some of the most heart- warming and authentic words. Al will take you on a journey of self-discovery that is so comforting and puts your heart at peace.

This book has offered the best cognitive enlightenment I’ve received from the universe yet.

If you are on a spiritual journey, please read, re-read, reopen any page at any time and you will always find some very inspirational ideas, in such a depth, and with so much truth, that it all makes sense. This book, my bible, makes you think, question,realize, smile… and anything in between… such unique and beautiful writing!

Al’s humor shines in his writing, even with the darker subjects like death, I get a sense of peace.

Love it! It is one of the most inspirational books that I have read in a long time.

No matter what stage in life you are, this book will certainly be a keeper!

Beautiful and uplifting on so many levels. Comforting but at that same challenging. Familiar but giving depth and inviting the reader to ask the questions of oneself.

Where will you find “Becoming One with the Universe”?

Only a tap or seven away. Pretty much most online bookstores around the world. Shop around. Some have great discounts. Remember its 728 pages. Read it all or happily open any page for an answer to a question.

UK Amazon:

US Amazon:

Australia Amazon:

If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!

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 …

Buy Me A Coffee