You won’t find much online about this instalment of the Weekend Name Drop, yet he is one of the most energetically intellectual and creative people I know. Meet A.D. Thomas.

Name: A.D. Thomas (a.k.a. Dale Thomas, a.k.a. DTH)

Creative fields: Artist, Writer

Location: Taumarunui, New Zealand

Best known for: Author of the book, Alphabetica; living in a church

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Painting by A.D. Thomas of his church-house in Manunui – displayed in the Taumarunui Catholic Church

My connection: I met Dale many years ago at a house party hosted by a mutual friend in Taumarunui. I learned he was an artist and that we shared an appreciation for Dire Straits. Almost a decade later, at another house party, we met again and agreed we must try a game of chess. Still, it wasn’t until we started working together at Taumarunui High School that we got to know each other better and developed a friendship that has included several chess matches (in which I’ve only managed one draw) and plenty of discussion around literature, art, beer, philosophy, family, sport – the most interesting things in life. Dale has been the first reader of all my books and I helped him publish his own book of essays, Alphabetica.

Inspiration for this writer: The primary reason I write these Weekend Name Drop posts is because I admire creative people, particularly in the fields of Arts and Letters. Dale ticks the boxes as an artist and writer, but more importantly as a friend who enjoys talking about big ideas and how these can be expressed. We get excited when we find the best illustrations of these. For an example of the kinds of conversations we have, see Dale’s post on this website about Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, which was developed from correspondence between the two of us about that great book. When I joined the English Department at Taumarunui High School, I needed to learn a lot about New Zealand literature and Dale was my go-to-guy, regularly depositing short stories and poetry in my staff pigeon hole. He has been an integral contributor to all three of my novels, patiently listening to my rants about their ideas in the early stages and serving as my first reader, offering tremendous feedback and encouragement. Te Kauhanga is dedicated to Dale in the guise of one of his other aliases: DTH.

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Painting from one ceiling in A.D. Thomas’s church-house.

Why you should check him out and share with others: Those fortunate enough to know Dale personally will appreciate how he has painted the interior of his church-home in Manunui. He literally is Taumarunui’s Michelangelo, even painting his ceilings. Like Colin McCahon, much of his art work is adorned with verse and quotations of his own devising or of those he admires. He also has a grand collection of books which, for this minimalist, has been a great source for research and expanding my reading. It is this admiration for the thoughts and language of great writers and philosophers such as James K Baxter and Rainer Maria Rilke that inspired Dale’s first commercially published book, Alphabetica. As I wrote in my Amazon review, “His writing is organic and folksy while at the same time touching on deep philosophical themes aided by a plethora of quotations … It is a collection rooted in New Zealand yet inspired by some of the greatest thoughts and thinkers in western philosophy and literature all encapsulated in digestible yet filling chapters of 3-5 pages.” You won’t find a lot online by A.D. Thomas, so pick up a copy of his essays. A highly unique and interesting read. Just check out the sample below.

Sample of work:

alphabetica coverFrom “X Marks the Spot”, chapter 24 of Dale’s book of essays, Alphabetica:

“Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of Rum”

It never did rhyme, but stayed with me always nonetheless. And I’ve got Robert Louis Stevenson to thank for that. Him, and my ten year old imagination, which lived for a time in the pages of my favourite book: ‘Treasure Island’. It takes me back, you know, back to when being a pirate was a serious career path for me. But the furtherest I got to that was crayfishing off a tug out of Port FitzRoy. Was seasick most days and never saw no treasure or mermaids. Just a few washed up pirates singing the same old tune. Personal failures aside, I’ve still held to the notion that piracy is a profession of real class. Some of my most favourite historical figures are pirates: Drake, Raleigh, Frobisher. Funny, these were the names of our houses at RBHS, along with Nelson. I was in Drake One, or D1, and our house colour was red. It seems ironic that the disciplined structure of our school was based around the names of pirates.

My son Quill loves pirates too. And it’s fair to say there’s a certain sea-swagger about him, a devilish grin, a bit of flamboyant masculinity, although he’s only six. One Sunday, pirating together on the overturned picnic table, with our wood swords, flag and watering-can canon, the girls suddenly appeared on the horizon, just fore of the portside poop. They hailed us, and, with much entreaty, begged to join our crew of ruthless buccaneers. We wanted them to board us so as to try out our cool swords, but we agreed to their terms on condition that Zola was called Ruth (because up till then we were ruthless), and that we were the bosses. That is to say, the captains. I then hailed them back: “Come, me hearties, join our terrorising of the oceans, and come wage war upon these vast hordes of the Royal Dandelion Navy!” Such were my words. “Hark how they flee before us and founder in our wake!” I added, gesturing vastly to the fore and aft, starboard and port. But Captain LongQuill was having none of that flower nonsense, and wasn’t happy with the girls on board his ship. He wanted a word with me, alone. We went below the decks (we sat down) and the previously ruthless captain whispered to me: “But, Dad, you don’t get girl pirates, just boy ones.” I took this in, but put him straight: “Sure ya can, Captain, why some of the most fearsome pirates in the business are yon ladies. Aye, aye, Captain, shiver me timbers and bury me at sea, if there ain’t some wicked woman buccaneers about. Arghhhhhhhh.” Quill didn’t quite know what to make of that so shrugged, and Typhoon Trixter and Ruth (alias Zola the zealot of Oslo), joined our crew … plus some cats which follow Ruth everywhere, and teddies and dolls which come with the Trixter. Captain LongQuill just shook his head and stared at the hordes of dandelions ahead.

Find out more:  Profile on antonymillen.com, Amazon, Goodreads

The Weekend Name Drop is a weekly feature on this blog, promoting people I have encountered who are doing creative things.

Antony Millen is a Canadian living and writing in New Zealand. He is the author of three novels: Redeeming Brother Murrihy, Te Kauhanga and The Chain.

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