12 October 2020

Author Spotlight || Richard Thomas


Today's Author Spotlight is Richard Thomas, dark fiction and short story author! 

Read on for the full interview.


What's your latest release? 


My third short story collection, Tribulations, came out in 2016, but I have stories out all the time.


Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 


My latest work would be my story, "Battle Not With Monsters" out in Cemetery Dance any day now. Slated for 2020.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


I was invited to submit to an anthology of classic horror stories, and then got rejected. LOL. I wanted to write about a man who thinks he has committed crimes but cannot find any evidence. It's a paranoid thriller, with a horrific ending.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?


I had a sense of the character, and tapping into the weird paranoia of authors like Brian Evenson and Stephen Graham Jones helped.

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?


For me it's always character. Plot has to be original, but if you don't care, don't feel something, the story won't add up to anything powerful.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?


I like playing with the difference between perception and reality. How can my protagonist go through something and not be sure what's real? It's fun to play in those grey areas, those spaces between lucid and delusional.

What books or authors influenced your own writing?


So many. Early Stephen King, but I don't write like him. I'm a maximalist, he's more straight forward. Chuck Palahniuk, but he's a minimalist, and has more humor than me for sure. A lot of neo-noir authors—everyone from Brian Evenson and Stephen Graham Jones to Craig Clevenger and Will Christopher Baer. The new-weird of Jeff VanderMeer and China Mieville. Reading Haruki Murakami was a big influence, as well as authors like Shirley Jackson, Mary Gaitskill, Livia Llewellyn, Kristi DeMeester, Damien Angelica Walters, so many.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?


My first novel, Transubstantiate, was seven POVs. I vowed to never do that again. LOL. So my second, Disintegration, was one POV. One man, alone, isolated, losing his mind, killing bad people, as he slowly figured out the world around him was not entirely accurate or honest.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?


LOL more than I should. I like to find the people that love my novels (and stories) to see why they loved the work. It's good to hear, when you're struggling with a new story or book. I also DO like to read the negative reviews to see where I can improve.

What led you to start writing?


I've always loved reading and writing. One day, after seeing Fight Club, I woke up and vowed to start writing again. I was 40 years old. I started hanging out with authors, taking online classes, and then got my MFA. As my work started to get published I got more confidence. My story "Stillness" got accepted in Shivers VI alongside Stephen King and Peter Straub, and that gave me the strength to push forward.

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?


I like writing dark fiction—fantasy, SF, horror, magical realism, Southern gothic, neo-noir, new-weird. I like the conflicts, and what people go through, and how they come out the other side. There is strength in surviving. I'm writing more hopepunk these days.

What's one of your favorite words?


Vainglorious is one I just love to say. My novel Transubstantiate, that's a good word, too. 

What are you currently reading?


Mostly the best of the year anthologies—best horror, best f/sf, best American (literary).

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?


Radiohead's In Rainbows is one I like in the background. More instrumental.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?


Quit drinking and start writing. LOL. 

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?


Blade Runner is probably my favorite film of all time. It's a beautiful, haunting, emotional, original film with an excellent sound track, and special effects. 

Which animal would you say is your spirit animal while writing?


I used to always say cheetah when I was a kid. But I'm older and slower now. An owl maybe?

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?


Cottage for sure. Way more interesting. 

What is something about the genre that annoys you?


For horror, it's reducing the story to gore. There is so much more you can do. There are fates far worse than death.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?


My maximalism. I like to write immersive stories. 

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?



Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?

My story "Asking For Forgiveness" is me trying to write like Cormac McCarthy. I like this last line to the story: "She will not let us expire, this last great race, she will not let it all end with a whimper and a cough, a last gasp and shuddering sickness, she will swim in the water, she will kneel in the moonlight, she will pray to the lost gods, and bleed in her solitude, my father standing with his shadow cast out, darkness ever creeping, asking for forgiveness."

What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?


Don't write what you know. Write what you FEEL. Write from a place of emotion, and let the story unfold organically.

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?


An arctic horror novel that is turning more into The Dark Tower than The Thing. Proving to be rather elusive. 

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?


I teach a number of classes that have really helped authors. From Short Story Mechanics to Contemporary Dark Fiction to my Advanced Creative Writing Workshop, I've seen enormous growth. It gives me great pleasure to see my students evolve, get published, land agents, and write fulfilling work. I hope I can help you with your writing as well. https://storyvilleonline.com/



Richard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books: three novels—Disintegration and Breaker (Random House Alibi), and Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications); three short story collections—Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press), Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press), and Tribulations (Cemetery Dance); as well as one novella in The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). With over 100 stories published, his credits include Cemetery Dance, PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2 & 3, and Shivers VI (with Stephen King and Peter Straub). He has won contests at ChiZine and One Buck Horror, and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations to date. He is also the editor of four anthologies: The New Black and Exigencies (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck. He has been nominated for the Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and Thriller awards. In his spare time he is a columnist at LitReactor and Editor-in-Chief at Gamut Magazine. His agent is Paula Munier at Talcott Notch. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com.

Richard, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!