Master of Crime: Center Grove Alum Publishes Mystery Thriller
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
We all have dreams growing up, but they don’t always come to fruition. For Norm Thoeming, however, multiple dreams have transpired.
A 1993 graduate of Center Grove High School, Thoeming was involved in both marching band (as drum major and playing sax) and theatre, participating in Center Grove’s productions of Charley’s Aunt, The King & I, Oklahoma, and You Can’t Take it with You. He went on to Indiana University, where he majored in telecommunications and theatre. It was on IU’s campus where he discovered his love of improv comedy.
“I was in a group called Full Frontal Comedy, which started in 1995 and is still going to this day,” Thoeming says, who landed an internship at a talent agency in Hollywood the summer before graduating.
He worked in television post-production, which provided him a foot in the door of LA, a city crawling with hungry hopefuls. Thoeming didn’t uproot and move west on a wing and a prayer, however. He had a job offer and a handful of friends, making the transition much less bumpy.
In 1997, at the age of 22, Thoeming moved to Los Angeles, where he appeared in movies, television, stage productions, web series, and commercial advertising. He also joined a rock band and got plugged into the comedy scene doing mostly improv and sketch comedy. In addition, he tried his hand at writing screenplays. As he finessed his style, Thoeming found himself penning a mystery novel. But there was a learning curve as writing fiction was a whole different ballgame. He also had to acquaint himself with the world of publishing, a process that he says took 6-8 years. To continue learning his craft, he began attending writing conferences.
“I always wrote but never with training or direction,” he says, joking that “somewhere in Johnson County, there’s a spiral notebook with the beginning of a really poorly written crime novel.”
Now that he’s found his tribe, he’s enjoying being around a like-minded community of writers.
“We have that same weird sensation of anxiety wrapped with darkness as we stare at a [computer] screen and finally bring [a story] to light!” he says.
In April 2019, Thoeming released his first piece of crime fiction, a novel titled Come and Get Me, published by Crooked Lane Books under the pen name August Norman. Based in Bloomington, it’s a story of a female journalist named Caitlin Bergman, who returns to campus to accept an honorary degree. While there, she’s enlisted to help find a missing student. The story was inspired by the 2011 never-solved Lauren Spierer case, in addition to several other disappearances.
Thoeming has been fascinated by thrillers ever since he was a kid watching PBS mysteries, Murder, She Wrote and Magnum, P.I. with his family.
“It’s not that we were obsessed with murder. We just like problem-solving!” Thoeming says, who enjoys exploring what a character can conquer in the danger that surrounds them. “[Mystery writing] is a frontier that lets people triumph over the worst times of their lives.”
Next spring, Thoeming’s second novel in the Caitlin Bergman series will be published. The plot involves Caitlin’s search for her birth mother, a mass grave, and a cult in coastal Oregon.
Though Norm has stepped back from regular acting gigs, his day job and novel writing keep him plenty busy. He also still performs live improv comedy every Friday at Second City in Hollywood with his troupe, whom he trusts implicitly.
“When you work with people long enough, you trust that you can do anything, and they’ll be there to support you,” Thoeming says. “Unlike standup comedy where it’s you and only you, with an improv comedy troupe, you’re working with a group of people who are all on the same side. It’s freeing and fun.”
The rest of the year will be spent editing his next book and promoting the current one. On his tour, he’ll make stops at ThrillerFest in New York, the Southern California Writer’s Conference in Irving in September, and the Magna Cum Murder Crime Writing Festival in Indianapolis in October. He also plans to set up local signings in Greenwood and Bloomington in the fall.
“It’s been a magical thing to see people come to signings whom I haven’t seen in years—teachers and friends from high school,” Thoeming says. “It’s also fun when 100 of your Facebook friends suddenly show up for a signing.”
Thoeming, who married actor and writer Rebecca Stevens in July 2017, is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers, and the Sisters in Crime (even though technically he’s a Mister in Crime).
“It’s fun becoming a part of a new community of writers,” Thoeming says. “It’s also great having a dream come true.”
For more information on August Norman or to see his book tour schedule, visit augustnorman.com