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Richard Thomas - KickStarter Interview

Introducing the talented Richard Thomas!

We are ecstatic and honoured to be able to showcase our talented authors committed to the Kickstarter "The Earth Bleeds at Night". in these small and fun interviews.

Richard, Tell us about yourself.

I’ve been writing speculative fiction for about 15 years now—four novels, four collection, over 175 stories in print, and 4 anthologies edited. I ran Gamut and Dark House Press, and have been nominated for the Bram Stoker (twice), Shirley Jackson, and Thriller awards. I write dark maximalist fiction that leans into the new-weird, with elements of hopepunk. Recent sales have been everywhere from Qualia Nous 2 to Cemetery Dance to Lightspeed and beyond.

How and why did you pick up the pen and start writing?

I’ve been a fan of reading and writing since I was a child. I wrote all through school, but didn’t start seriously going after it until I saw Fight Club, went to Chuck Palahniuk’s website, and started taking classes. I was 40 years old. I took classes with Jack Ketchum, Stephen Graham Jones, Monica Drake, Craig Clevenger and then got my MFA. Have you always been drawn to the creative arts or is this something that started later in life? Always and forever—played piano and saxophone, sang in the choir in high school and college, and always enjoyed photography, film, and books (or course).

Tell us about your recent works, where we can find them and all of your social media details. My most recent work is my fourth collection of stories, Spontaneous Human Combustion, which came out in 2022 and was a Bram Stoker finalist. I have a new book—an arctic horror, sin-eater novel, with Podium in 2024.

What inspired you to start writing horror stories? 

I think it was because of something I saw as a young Boy Scout hiking downtown in St. Louis. A man parachuted and tried to land on the St. Louis Arch and plummeted to his death. I’d never seen so much blood. It’s an image and moment I will never be able to unsee. 

How do you balance creating suspense and terror with developing your characters and plot?

Bottom line is that if we don’t care about the characters, if the plot and story isn’t fresh enough, we won’t be invested. It starts with that, for me. Out of that emotion comes suspense and terror—we have to root for (or against), we have to love (or hate) in order to feel any tension at all. So gets us to do that ASAP.

How do you deal with the emotional impact of writing scary scenes or situations?

I think it’s about those moments being more than gore, terror, violence, and something horrible. I’ve started putting love at the center of my stories, started writing more hopepunk, because just being bleak and horrific is not enough, not where I want to sit, for too long. If you think about the end of The Witch, or Saint Maud, I take it as quite hopeful, and inspiring (depending on your interpretation). 

What are some of the influences for your horror stories?

So many—started out with King and Koontz, Barker and Ketchum, and then a lot of other genres got mixed in. These days it is people like Stephen Graham Jones, Brian Evenson, Kelly Robson, AC Wise, so many voices across fantasy, SF, and horror. I lean into the new-weird, the uncanny, and strange, and that makes for some interesting storytelling.

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