Finally, the goods on Richard Thomas...
The Horror Librarian: Let’s talk diversity. You are an author, editor, mentor, teacher, business man…what else do you juggle? What are your techniques for keeping it all organized and flowing?
Richard Thomas: Well, of course my family, how to get off the computer and remember that they are my number one priority, while at the same time, actually meet my deadlines. It's tough, all of it, some projects needing immediate attention, some projects long, slow processes that I have to get right. I try to stay light, not let anything get me down, and then I do actually get out of the house, go for a hike or bike ride, see movies (It Follows, Spring, Ex Machina, Under the Skin, and Enemy just a few of the recent movies I've seen that blew me away). I try to stay inspired. I try to remember this is a gift, never to get so exhausted that I stop enjoying it. If I find myself getting beat up, stressed out, unhappy, I take a break and get outside, out of my head for a bit.
The Horror Librarian: Already 2016 is an exciting year for you. Your novel, Breaker, was just released and you’re getting ready to launch a Kickstarter for Gamut Online: Neo-noir, speculative, literary fiction. Please give us the deets! What can backers and readers look forward to later this year? And when, officially, do you expect to release the first e-issue?
Richard Thomas: Thanks. I was worried about Breaker, the sophomore slump, but people seem to be enjoying it so far. We're launching the Kickstarter on 2/1/16 with the online magazine going live, if we succeed, on 1/1/17. It'll be that sweet spot between genre and lit, by some of my favorite authors, all of them doing such innovative, powerful, edgy work. We'll publish fiction, original and reprint, non-fiction, columns, poetry and if we reach our stretch goals, Flash Fiction Fridays, a Saturday Night Special serialization of Stripped: A Memoir, and a Best of Gamut annual. We're also setting up a scholarship. The main reward/pledge is $30 for an annual subscription ($2.50 a month) which will never go up in prices as long as you renew. So we're going to need almost 1,700 people to reach our $50,000 goal. A little money from a LOT of people. We'll have new content every week. And the art will be really exciting, too, several different illustrators and photographers.
The Horror Librarian: We will also be granted a few of your own stories in Gamut, I believe. Can you talk a little about your creative process? Are you a pantser or a planner? How do you get from bare blister of an idea to whole festering mess of a killer story?
Richard Thomas: Yes, I will include some of my work as well—original fiction, and reprints. I'm for sure a pantser. I try to sit in an emotion, or philosophy, and just embrace it, chase it down the rabbit hole, that sense of discovery the protagonist has the same as my own. It's an exciting way to write, I feel forced into corners when writing to plot points. For Disintegration, my second novel, I surrounded myself with things that reminded me of disintegrating, falling apart—The Cure album Disintegration, art by Luke Chueh of a teddy bear, self-aware of his own cloth and stuffing falling out, etc. Was very intense. When I finished I cried, thought I might throw up, I'd been that man, so close to it all, for months. Method writing? Is that a thing?
The Horror Librarian: Love The Cure! Your literary aesthetic tends to be dark, potent – the kind of stuff that leaves your readers shaking and jonesing for more. What are your influences and who are your heroes?
Richard Thomas: Oh, man, so many. Always Stephen King. Chuck Palahniuk woke me up and got me to Will Christopher Baer, Dennis Lehane, Stephen Graham Jones, and Craig Clevenger. China Mieville, Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury. Surreal voices like William Burroughs, transgressive voices like Irvine Welsh. Really, every author that is a part of Gamut, they've inspired me and influenced me in one way or another.
The Horror Librarian: What’s your dream project and what won’t you ever write?
Richard Thomas: Gamut is kind of my dream project, but I'd love to get my books in movie theaters, sell film rights, make that happen. I see my books in visual terms, I often "cast" them, and can tell you what all of the sets, the apartments, the streets, look like in my head. I try very hard not to write rape or molestation, although I have once or twice. It's just too brutal. Even when vengeance is exacted, it's still painful. I look at books like The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, even The End of Alice by AM Homes—and I don't know if I could write those books. I took OUT a rape scene in Disintegration.
The Horror Librarian: And finally, list five things that are on your writing/editing/teaching desk right now.
Richard Thomas: A mask I brought back from Transylvania, huge, like three feet tall, that my wife HATES, but it's supposed to scare the spirits away, not bring them to you. A foot tall piece of pink salt that is actually a lamp—the glow calms me down, reminds me to be peaceful. Eight legal tablets filled with notes about stories, novels, Gamut, and my various to-do lists. A large bag of Halls Plus cough drops—honey lemon—with the soothing syrup center. A piece of polished petrified redwood from a trip my family and I took the summer of 2014, driving from Chicago to LA. That was so much fun—get out there and see this country it's amazing—the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, all of it.
The Horror Librarian: Thank you so much, Richard! Readers, be sure to check back each week this month for a new interview featuring a Gamut author. Also, take a look at my sister blog, Inject Creativity, for another conversation with Richard on his creative process.