GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Interview: Author and Editor Richard Thomas + giveaway | I Smell Sheep

Paranormal reviews of books, movies, comics with author interviews and giveaways we love urban fantasy, romance, science fiction, horror, fantasy, mysteries

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Interview: Author and Editor Richard Thomas + giveaway

Today we talk with multi-talented Richard Thomas. He has a story collection, Tribulations, coming out next month as well as running a Kickstarter campaign this February for a neo-noir speculative fiction weekly online magazine called Gamut. Then we talk music and collage and trees...

Welcome to the flock! Take a seat, grab a moon pie and a cup of Kool-Aid. You’ve been a busy little lamb. Let’s talk about your three most recent projects…

Sharon: You have a short story collection called Tribulations (Crystal Lake Publishingcoming out next month. Can you tell us a bit about it and what kind of reader it will appeal to?

Richard: Thanks for having me. Love moon pies, and Kool-Aid, how luxurious! Tribulations is my third collection of short stories. I write dark fiction, what I call neo-noir (which just means “new-black”) that sweet spot between horror and noir, sometimes transgressive, sometimes speculative. I like to put my characters in tough situations and see how they handle it. My stories deal with taboo subjects, but it’s important to see how they survive, how they adapt, how they exact vengeance when needed, and what growth occurs. The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t always a train—sometimes it’s a flashlight, leading you out of the darkness, a way to find hope. I want my readers to be captivated, I put them IN the story, typically first-person, so they can go through it all with the protagonist. I want you to laugh, cry, get aroused, get scared, hold your breath, sweat—to come out the other side saying, “That was intense,” glad to be alive. I grew up reading Stephen King, so you’ll see that influence, but also Mary Gaitskill, Clive Barker, Cormac McCarthy, Dennis Lehane, Denis Johnson, Joyce Carol Oates, even a bit of Haruki Murakami.
Sharon: But, sometimes there is a train, right? Do any of the stories end like that?

Richard: Oh, definitely. Sometimes it’s a train for sure.
Sharon: You also released a novel in January called Breaker: A Windy City Dark Mystery. Fill us in on that one!
Richard: Yes! Thanks for asking about it. It’s my third novel, the second in the Windy City Dark Mystery Series. This is not your typical mystery; it’s more contemporary, leaning toward a dark thriller, really. The thread that ties these together is the backdrop of Chicago—the city is almost it’s own character. The first book, Disintegration, was set in Wicker Park, this one up the road in Logan Square. Where Disintegration was a bit more surreal, a mix of Dexter and Falling Down, Breaker is inspired by a few other books and films—Leon: The Professional, Of Mice and Men, The Green Mile, and To Kill A Mockingbird. Ray is a big man, pale, doughy, trying to break the cycle of abuse. His neighbor, Natalie, is a teenager trying to survive the rough neighborhood, as a man in a white van prowls the streets. Both books are not without hope, but they are dark stories, rollercoaster rides.

Sharon: There is also a Kickstarter for an online magazine called Gamut. This one really caught my attention! What makes Gamut stick out from the crowd?
artist: Luke Spooner

Richard: I’m really excited about Gamut. We’re launching the Kickstarter on 2/1/16 for a month. I’ve wanted to start a magazine for many years, and online seems the best way to go, avoiding print and postage costs, but we still need to raise $51,000. It’ll be new fiction weekly, original and reprint, with columns, non-fiction, serializations, and poetry, too. Depending on how much we raise, if we are successful, and hit a few stretch goals, we could have new content every DAY. It’s the kind of neo-noir, speculative fiction with a literary bent that I’ve published at Dark House Press, and it’s the kind of dark, edgy writing I’d edited and published in The New Black and Exigencies (DHP), Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club) which was a Bram Stoker finalist, and most recently, The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press). The main reward at our Kickstarter will be the $30 annual subscription, which is only $2.50 a month. For over 400,000 words a year, not to mention the art with every story, it’s a great deal. This rate will never be offered again, the regular price going up to $60 (still only $5 a month). AND, by subscribing NOW, your rate will never go up. NEVER. As long as you renew, it will stay that rate. I’ve got a great staff around me, excellent columnists and look at these authors: 

Stephen Graham Jones, Laird Barron, Brian Evenson, Usman T. Malik, Matt Bell, Damien Angelica Walters, Letitia Trent, Mercedes M. Yardley, Alyssa Wong, Benjamin Percy, Lindsay Hunter, Axel Taiari, Amanda Gowin, Laura Benedict, Nathan Ballingrud, Dino Parenti, Ted E. Grau, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Sarah Read, Paula Bomer, Kelly Luce, Livia Llewellyn, Josh Malerman, Carmen Machado, Peter Tieryas, Kevin Catalano, Paul Tremblay, John Langan, Nina McConigley, Nik Korpon, Craig Wallwork, Steve Himmer, Antonia Crane, Steve Rasnic Tem, Kristi DeMeester, Tara Ison, David James Keaton, Cassandra Khaw, Nikki Guerlain, Lucy A. Snyder, JS Breukelaar, Helen Marshall, Amelia Gray, H. L. Nelson, Craig Davidson, Jacklyn Dre Marceau, and Lincoln Michel.
Sharon: O_O what a great incentive, getting the magazine subscription at half price—forever! Are you also offering some of the artwork as an incentive?
Some of the talented illustrators, designers, and photographers whose work will be included.
(L to R: Bob Crum, Daniele Serra, Jennifer Moore, George Cotronis)

Richard: We talked about t-shirt and hat and art prints and all of that, but the advice I got was to NOT be in the t-shirt business. We will definitely sell products after we launch, if we raise the funds, and we have a place set up for that. I’ve seen many Kickstarters fail because the cost of printing, or shipping, sunk their rewards. There will be plenty of excellent art, though, for sure.

Sharon: Running a Kickstarter has got to be insane! What piece of advice do you wish someone would have told you before you started one?
Richard: Well, I did read an excellent book by Jamey Stegmaier on Kickstarters, he’s launched campaigns that have raised over a million dollars, so that has been HUGE in my understanding how complicated it is—not just crunching the numbers, but taxes, social media, videos, what to include, what not to do, etc. I wish I would have done this sooner, but it intimidated me, there’s a good chance I could fall flat on my face, but I’m willing to risk it because I love these authors, they inspire me, so I’m taking the shot. I believe we can do this. We’re also paying ten cents a word—double the current pro rates.

Sharon: Our readers embrace their nerdy side. What is the nerdiest thing you own? (pics always welcomed).
Richard: Well, I’m currently wearing a new Star Wars sweatshirt, does that count?
Sharon: Nice. Did you enjoy The Force Awakens? Are you a Kylo-Ren lover or hater?
Richard: I liked it a lot. Hard to say, I guess since he killed XXXXXXX a hater?

Sharon: Let’s play date/marry/kill with the Disney princesses/princes)…
Richard: Oh lord, I guess I will now let my freak flag fly. HA, too much. We’re assuming they’re all of age, at this point, right? Had to Google their ages, you trying to get me arrested? I’d probably date Merida, she’s got a lot of energy, seems like a lot of fun—redheads, right?; marry Snow White, right, she’s the one you settle down with (and that’s what I call my wife now and then); couldn't kill ANY of them, but maybe Ariel’s singing would get on my nerves? LOL
Sharon: Lol! Well…since you open this door…if your wife is Snow White, which dwarf would you be or are you prince charming all the way?
Richard: LOL, depends on the day? Some days Grumpy, but hopefully she still thinks I’m her Prince Charming, I mean, she did say yes.

Sharon: You were involved in theater and a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity in college. Got a good memory of that time?
Richard: Wow, those both came out of left field, lol. I did theater in high school (Grease) and college (The Sound of Music) and was in the choir. Some of the performances at Bradley University that we did with the Peoria Civic Opera and Orchestra were amazing—Beethoven, Bach, Haydn, it was pretty moving, the sound, the complexity, the beauty. I loved joining DU, we were considered the “boy scouts” of the fraternity system (I’m actually an Eagle Scout, lol) but my freshman year we won the All Sports competition, and had a huge party. It was like the movie Animal House at times—beer on tap 24/7. I eventually outgrew it, preferring to focus on writing and hanging with other artists my last two years, but they were some good guys, had a lot of fun. I loved Bradley. Great education, wonderful teachers. I remember my final exam for my Fantasy and Science Fiction class was drinking beer and watching Blade Runner. (Aced it, of course.) Good times.
Sharon: I was in the co-ed frat Alpha Phi Omega…also considered the boy/girl scouts of the fraternity system. I admit to nothing! (I have teenage daughters so denial, denial, denial <G>)
Richard: Ha.

Sharon: If you can pick a song/album/artist/group that represented your teenaged years, what would it be?
Richard: Tough call, but it’s between The Smiths and The Cure. I remember listening to Meat is Murder, as well as The Head on the Door. I never saw The Smiths, but did catch The Cure here in Chicago at Tinley Park for the Hot, Hot, Hot tour—wow, it was amazing.
*musical interlude while we reminisce*
(side note: I couldn't get close enough to spelling reminisce for spellcheck to find it. Had to go to a thesaurus and find it...took three tries)

Sharon: If you had to live in a forest what kind of trees would you like it filled with?
Richard: There is something to be said about the Weeping Willow. It’s such a weird tree, and it fits in with my dark aesthetic.
Sharon: You do know they don’t live very long? Usually only 30 years…just saying <G>
Richard: Nothing lasts forever, right? 
*Katie swings in on vine*
Katie: Except sexy vampires!
*Katie swings out on vine*
Sharon: Don't ask...

Sharon: Of the 7 deadly sins, which one did you commit most recently?
Richard: Ha, good question. Wow, I run through quite a few of them on a daily basis, probably—lust, envy, pride. I’m a Scorpio, though, so I probably have to say lust. LOL

Rapid Fire:

Sharon: classic or trendy?
Richard: Trendy, I do write neo-noir, right? New is right there.

Sharon: Coke or Pepsi? (you have to pick one, we are at war over here)
Richard: Nothing beats an ice-cold Coke on a hot day. Except maybe an ice-cold Budweiser.
Sharon: Wow, and I thought we were going to be friends… *wipes tear away*
Richard: Well, I like Pepsi, too. Having one right now, actually. You said ONLY ONE!

Sharon: Fly away or sail away?
Richard: Fly away for sure, although I’ve never sailed. Those airplane seats are small, though. I’ll assume first class here.

Sharon: Blonde or brunette?
Richard: Oh, God. You date the blonde and marry the brunette, right?
Sharon: or according to you: date a red head, marry the brunette, then kill a red head…
Richard: It’s complicated, right? You know red heads are trouble. But usually worth it.

Sharon: pizza or taco?
Richard: Man, I’m in Chicago, a great pizza town. I love tacos, but have to say pizza, it’s really the perfect food—for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Sharon: washcloth or showerproof?
Richard: Ha, I just turn the nozzle on full blast, right

Sharon: R2-D2 or BB-8?
Richard: Finally an easy one, has to be R2-D2 (and see how I defy my own classic/trendy choice earlier?)
Sharon: You are an enigma, Richard…
Richard: Wrapped in mystery, shrouded in riddles.

Thanks for playing with us! You’re welcome to explore our dungeon. Remember to ignore the screaming and stay on the path…there is a dragon *Hands Richard a double edged ax and a football helmet*

About the Author:
Richard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books—Disintegration and Breaker (Random House Alibi), Transubstantiate, Staring Into the Abyss, Herniated Roots, Tribulations, and The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). His over 100 stories in print include Cemetery Dance, PANK, story South, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2 & 3, and Shivers VI. 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 the Bram Stoker-nominated Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. In his spare time he writes for LitReactor and is Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. For more information visit or contact Paula Munier at Talcott Notch.


ONE copy of The New Black, USA only
The New Black is a collection of twenty neo-noir stories exemplifying the best authors currently writing in this dark sub-genre. A mixture of horror, crime, fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, and the grotesque—all with a literary bent—these stories are the future of genre-bending fiction.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Fantastic interview, very funny. :-) Nerdiest thing...I have so many trinkets and Tshirts from my adventures, I can't think of the nerdiest, so I will choose something from Mardi Gras since tis the season. I have a stuffed "lizard" with purple dots, big yellow eyes and he's sticking his big red tongue out at me. LOL Nerdy enough?

    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. My husband is the nerdiest thing I own. I mean, I "own" him, right? ;-) Fine. I own a Dalek Yahtzee.

  3. That's a tough question. I'm such a nerd. Let's see...I own several foolish shirts, a few dragons, and several thousand books in print form and several thousand more on my kindle. Is that considered nerdy?

  4. I have a ton of nerdy t-shirts, more books than I can read in my life time, D&D table top games and books dating back to the First Edition, computer games (prefer RPGs), and puzzles that are TSR based images.

    I can stop now before I REALLY start to nerd and geek out!

  5. Man, I loved playing D&D back in the day. Was so much fun. I recently ran across a Monster Guide and DM Guide at a garage sale and bought them. Hoping my son and I can make it happen sometime soon!