Hi Thomas. Thanks for joining us today. First up, what kind of books do you write?
I write horror, science fiction, “literary fiction”, and nonfiction.
Great. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a quiet recluse, living with my wife and a cat, out in the country. There’s a mountain view through my office window, and I can watch horses graze in the pasture close by.
Why do you write?
I write to convey my ideas to other people, and to entertain them, but mostly I am writing to entertain myself. I love what I do for a living, and I will in all probability continue writing to my dying day.
How long have you been writing, and when was your first book published?
I’ve been writing since before kindergarten. I published my first short stories in 1991, and self-published my first book in 2012.
Tell me about your latest book.
“Spectral Septet: Seven Spine Chilling Compositions” is the latest horror book in a series of them. Readers will find in it six short stories and one poem to scare, entertain, and terrify them on dark, stormy nights.
Folks who have a taste for H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King will find my horror writing is an amalgam of the two authors with a little something extra thrown in for good measure.
In this particular book, one story stands out in my opinion. It’s called “Alien Invasion” and involves a real life pop musician and a fictitious young boy trying to save the world from extraterrestrials with sinister plans. Artie Q is the pop musician’s name, and he has given me special permission to write a story about him and put it in “Spectral Septet.”
Do you have a mission for your writing? If so, what is it?
I am a prolific author, having published fifteen books under my own name and other books and stories under multiple pen names. Everything I have written has been penned with two purposes in mind:
- To teach people moral lessons. (Even in my horror writing, this is what I am doing. The primary message in my horror books is that if you truck with the devil, the devil is what you are going to get.)
- To entertain others in the same fashion that I liked to be entertained.
What I mean by that last statement is that I’m an avid reader as much as I am a prolific writer. I know what I like, and I know what I don’t like. What I want for myself, and what I want to give to my readers, is something that hasn’t been seen before delivered in a way that’s never been encountered. Whether or not I live up to that or fall short, I don’t know.
But that’s my goal.
What aspects of your personality and interests come through in your books?
I have a practical, no-nonsense approach to life. While I like to enjoy myself in my free time, I put my nose to the grindstone when working. A logical and extreme extrapolation of that is immaturity on the one hand, and merciless drive on the other. I cannot be either way in real life, nor would I want to be, but it’s fun to consider the rewards and punishment that come to a person who allows those characteristics in themselves to act out unfettered.
One personal trait that I consider an asset is my moral compass, which I believe points north most of the time. I do tend to glorify any character who demonstrates a will and determination to stick to his or her honorable convictions regardless of circumstances. Similarly, my characters will meet a bitter end if they should decide to deviate from common standards of morality, legality, or ethical decency.
Where do your ideas come from?
Fans who have read other interviews might feel my response is untrue, because I seem to answer this question differently every time I’m asked it. However, at this point in time, I have to say that my imagination tends to carry me away whether I am awake or sleeping, and one way to get the ideas out of my head is to put them onto the page. So, if anyone reads one of my stories and thinks to himself or herself “This story is so horrifying that I’m going to have nightmares about it!”, while they may not know it, they’ve probably just read a real live nightmare I might have had and transcribed.
Newspapers and people watching often provide fodder for stories as well.
What kind of person would like your books best?
As far as the horror books go, these would be the folks who like to curl up in bed and read stories of creeping, building terror. I like to think that when they turn the light out at night, they secretly fear that the world they’re familiar with may be stolen away while they are sleeping, and they will wake up in a surreal place from which it would be hard to escape.
I do know a fan of mine -when she was reading one of my horror books, and, just when the action in the story was reaching a precipitous moment- jumped when the phone rang unexpectedly on her bedside table.
That’s the kind of fan I like best for my horror writing.
My science fiction is more fantasy-oriented than sci-fi, but if a person likes to immerse themselves in other, future worlds, then my writing is for them.
I’d like to think my “literary fiction” is for everybody. My non-fiction is written for anyone to pick up and peruse.
Why did you choose the indie route to publication? Did you ever try the traditional route?
I’m both published and self-published. Although I have achieved some fame and fortune, I am less interested in fame and fortune per se than just getting my writing out there so that others can read it. So if some publisher rejects something I’ve submitted, I don’t sweat it. I either submit it, elsewhere, or else put it out myself.
What’s the hardest part of being an author?
Interestingly enough, for me, the hardest part of being an author has nothing to do with writing. Other authors would probably cite writer’s block as their biggest problem. That really has not been an issue with me. I have no problem finding the words I need for a piece I’m working on, although finding time to write is sometimes hard when life’s other commitments come calling.
But I’ve found the author persona can be problematic. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how you act around certain people, they either think you’re a snob, or that you have a special window into the human psyche. So I find some people will be very reserved and almost protective about talking about themselves, and others will spill their guts to me, as though I can provide insight into problems they may be having in their private lives.
What these people don’t realize is that I’m trying to get through life one step at a time just like they are, and I really don’t have any constructive advice to given them about much at all.
Which is your favourite part of the writing/publishing process?
Getting the finished product in my hand. It gives me the same feeling that winning an award gives me.
Which part of the writing/publishing process do you like the least?
Some writers have beta readers.
Except for my wife, I don’t.
Some writers will modify their material or change it to make the book more appealing to their beta readers and potential audience.
For my own writing, my feeling is that books are like children. When you’ve raised them and nurtured them to the best of your ability, and there’s nothing more you can do with them, you have to send them out into the world, and how they fare from that point onward is something you try not to worry about.
The flip side of this is that any criticism I get on what I’ve written is entirely on me. I can’t say “Well, Joe the Beta-Reader told me to put that bad part in there, so that’s his fault.” Or “I had something in there that would have explained why that happened, but Judy the Beta Reader thought it was unnecessary exposition, so I cut it. I should never have listened to her.”
I do not enjoy criticism. No one does.
Fortunately, I do not get criticism too often, and find if I encounter any, much of it can be attributed to the reader’s personal preferences and less to my writing in most cases.
Anything else you’d like to say to your fans and/or potential readers?
If you’ve read what I’ve written, thanks. If you haven’t read what I’ve written try me. You might like me.