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Friday, December 7, 2007

Interview with Jeffrey Thomas

Read Fantasy Book Critic’s REVIEW of “Deadstock
Read SciFiChick.com's INTERVIEW with Jeffrey Thomas

When Solaris Books editor Mark Newton asked me to interview writer Jeffrey Thomas to correspond with the PRESS RELEASE announcing the FREE download of the author’s book “Deadstock” in promotion of his upcoming novel “Blue War”, I didn’t even have to think about it. “Deadstock” (Reviewed HERE) really impressed me, “Blue War” sounds even better, and the interview was the perfect opportunity to find out more about an author that is seriously talented, and seriously underrated. So, if you haven’t heard of Jeffrey Thomas yet or haven’t had the opportunity to read one of his novels, we hope that the following questions & answers will convince you to give him a shot! Remember, it’s a FREE download. You can’t beat that ;) So, much thanks to Jeffrey for participating and a special thanks to Mark who not only helped set everything up, but also contributed some questions :)

Q: You’re the author of several novels, including this year’s “Deadstock” as well as many short stories, which have appeared in various magazines and anthologies. For someone new to your work, how would you describe your writing style and what would be the best place to start reading your stuff?

Jeffrey: To address my writing style I guess you'd have to address the genres I write in, which would be science fiction and horror, but I think what identifies a lot of my work is the combination of elements of these and other genres. My style is often influenced by older writers like H. P. Lovecraft and Thomas Hardy, and Lovecraft's style has been criticized by some as being archaic even in his day, but I love the richness of words, dense palpable atmosphere, prose tinged with poetry. I can appreciate pared down language, cut into bite-sized nuggets for today's reader on the run, but why go the shortest distance between two points when you can take the more scenic route? Seriously, though, so much writing to me reads like summary rather than something that would make you think, "This person is a wordsmith; this requires a certain skill." As for where to start reading in my body of work, on the one hand I'm tempted to say my oldest stuff, so one can see my progression as a writer, but on the other hand I want to say my most recent work, as it may be stronger and better inspire a reader to seek out more. Ultimately, though, I don't think it really much matters as long as people are reading something of mine.

Q: Of all your material, you’re probably best known for the stories set in your ‘Punktown’ universe, which was conceived way back in 1980 and so far has included the collections “Punktown” (2000) & “Punktown: Shades of Grey” (2006) written with your brother Scott Thomas, and the novels “Monstrocity” (2003), “Everybody Scream!” (2005), “Deadstock” (2007) and the forthcoming “Blue War”. What is it about Punktown that keeps drawing you back?

Jeffrey: It's just that Punktown is such a big place, and so fun to explore, it's like I haven't finished wandering its streets and finding new, wondrous and terrifying sights that have eluded me before. Anything can happen in Punktown. Behind every window of every apartment there is someone plotting a murder or mourning a loved one, beginning a romance or contemplating a crime. So many different alien races coexist there with the Earth colonists who established that vast city, and their cultural interactions are a fascinating topic for me. Punktown is ultimately a distorted mirror reflection of our own world, today, and how can one tire of that? I don't want to be constrained to only my Punktown setting, but if I was forced by some ironclad (and lucrative) contract, I could still deal with it easily. I can set any type of story within Punktown's borders.

Q: On Friday, January 25, 2008, Solaris Books is giving away your novel “Deadstock” as a FREE download in support of the upcoming “Blue War”, which is scheduled for a February 26, 2007 release. How did this idea come about and what do you hope the free giveaway will accomplish?

Jeffrey: I'll admit I was initially dubious about the idea of a free download of "Deadstock" when Solaris editor Mark Newton first approached me with the idea, last September, suggesting it would be a great way to promote the release of "Blue War." My concern was that giving the novel away would cut into potential future sales of "Deadstock" by people who encounter "Blue War" first and want to read the earlier adventures of protagonist Jeremy Stake. But Mark showed me a fascinating article by Cory Doctorow in Locus
HERE, that makes the strong argument that -- ironic as it may seem -- free downloads of books seem to help increase the sale of physical books rather than detract from them. The article sold me, as did of course the desire to draw as many readers to "Blue War" as we can. It's still a bit of an experiment for Solaris and they've been so good to me that I'm proud to be their guinea pig. The baboon that goes through the telepod first, so to speak -- ack!

Q: In general you seem to be pretty active when it comes to using the Internet as a tool. How much of an impact has the Internet had on your success as a writer, and do you have any other ideas regarding online promotion?

Jeffrey: I'm not nearly as active online as I would like to be, but I don't have as much time during my day job as a lot of writers do to spend online promoting themselves instead of working! It's hard to gauge how much of a benefit my blog, message board, and web site have been (all of which can be found at
www.jeffreyethomas.com -- don't forget my middle "E"), but you have to be proactive and try to reach people through any means you can, even if you're just drawing in two readers over here, three over there, and so on. But I have seen people frequently discussing my work at message boards like the one for the online bookstore Shocklines.com, and speaking of online stores (Shocklines in particular, but including the big guns like Amazon.com), there's no question that I owe much if not most of the sales of my numerous independent press books to online sales. As for other ideas for online promotion, I try to have my books reviewed online and to obtain the occasional interview -- such as this one.

Q: Focusing on “Blue War”, which once again stars the mutant private investigator Jeremy Stake, the early buzz is that the book is a darker, more epic and overall better effort than “Deadstock”. How do you think the novel compares to your other Punktown stories and what can readers expect?

Jeffrey: "Blue War" is definitely a bigger book than "Deadstock" in length, scope and theme. "Deadstock" is pretty dark -- especially where it takes place entirely in seedy Punktown where "Blue War" does not -- and I'm not sure that "Blue War" is a "better" book. Despite it having the same lead character, it is not really a sequel, and it has a pretty different feel from "Deadstock." More serious, I'd say, but not so grim and grave that it isn't fun, if not quite as slam-bam as "Deadstock" is. For those who wanted more of Stake in "Deadstock" (he actually shares half the book, his chapters alternating with those of the other characters), he is very much the focus of "Blue War," so much so that there are only two scenes -- the prologue and epilogue -- in which he is absent. What will distiniguish "Blue War" most from my other Punktown stories is that it isn't entirely set in Punktown, but also on another world in the Punktown universe. I've only done this twice before, in two short stories that are sequels to my Lovecraftian Punktown short story "The Bones of the Old Ones" (from my collection "Unholy Dimensions"). But there is another kind of Punktown in "Blue War," a doppleganger of the city, gradually and inexplicably forming on another world in another dimension, and this situation sort of stands in for Stake living in his unresolved past and incomplete present simultaneously. As he jaunts back and forth from the "real" to the duplicate Punktown, he not only investigates the current mysteries but confronts his past as a soldier in the so-called "Blue War." By the way, I have to confess here that this idea of worlds in two different dimensions overlapping and influencing each other was inspired a bit by the "Legend of Zelda" video games, which I'm sure themselves went on to inspire the shifting, overlapping worlds in the profoundly eerie "Silent Hill" video games. Maybe not the most literary of inspirations, but hey, I'm a child of my times.

Q: Well, I’m a big fan of both Zelda and the Silent Hill games, so there’s nothing wrong with that :) Now, you’ve never been afraid of drawing from real-world events in your writing and in “Blue War” there are definitely parallels to US military & foreign policy, especially regarding the Vietnam references. What, if any message are you trying to exploit in “Blue War”?

Jeffrey: I'll admit that there are themes in "Blue War" that reflect on the Vietnam War and US involvement in the Middle East; science fiction has always been a great vehicle by which to examine our current state of affairs and to speculate on what our future could be like, the mistakes and trials we might face again if we don't learn from the past. In the broadest sense, "Blue War" reflects on colonialism and the involvement of more "advanced" nations in other lands, no matter what era that has taken place in. The culture clashes that will ensue along with beneficial cultural exchange; the exploitation that will occur, and the challenge to the native culture to retain its identity while it endeavors to keep up with the times and hold its own when confronted by a superior power. I'm not saying here, though, that many cultures haven't benefited from their association with outside nations -- that the US is nothing but villainous spoilers raiding Eden -- but something is gained and something is lost or damaged, and everything is transfigured. I'd almost say that the Vietnam War changed us as Americans, changed our self perception forever, as much as it changed the Vietnamese.

Q: There’s also an alien character called Thi Gonh that appears in both “Deadstock” and “Blue War” who was inspired in part by your wife Hong. Thi was actually a favorite of mine and I was hoping to see more of her, so could you tell us about Thi’s conception, her role in “Blue War”, and if there were any other characters or ideas in the book that you culled from your personal life?

Jeffrey: My wife is Vietnamese, and I've been to Vietnam six times to date, and so my experiences account for a lot of the feel of "Blue War." I'm pleased you liked Thi Gonh in "Deadstock." She primarily appears only in flashbacks in that book, but in "Blue War" she's very much in the here and now. She's Jeremy Stake's love interest, and it's she who embodies the conflict between his past and present, the time of war and time of uneasy peace. Hong is the actress, so to speak, whom I have cast as Thi. As fierce as my little wife can be, she didn't fight in a war as Thi Gonh did. I've read a lot about the female soldiers who fought in Vietnam, and so it was my research that helped flesh her out in my mind. And the experiences of a friend of mine, another Vietnamese woman, got worked into the mix as well, so I'd have to say Thi is a composite who wears my wife's skin. But she also wears my wife's name: Hong's middle name is Thi, and Gonh is Hong spelled sideways, and I liked that because it sounds like "gone," to indicate her elusiveness in Stake's life. There are some other "Blue War" characters who drew their inspiration from people I know, but I don't want to get myself in trouble by discussing that much. Sometimes sneaking a person you know into a story is a tribute, and sometimes it's revenge.

Q: What about Stake? How did he come about and what dimensions does Jeremy’s unique chameleon-like abilities offer in regards to his characterization and the story?

Jeffrey: I was kind of stuck, as I began "Deadstock," about what would make Stake unique as a protagonist and a private eye. I'd begun it as a short story, then called "My Little Deity," intended for an anthology called "Hardboiled Cthulhu," but I didn't see myself completing the story by the deadline and gave them a reprint instead. When Solaris asked me if I could deliver them a Punktown novel, I decided to flesh the story out, and that's when I really put thought into who Stake should be. In fact, Solaris wanted me to give them a little biography about him, some details about his character, before "Deadstock" was green-lighted (at which time they also asked me to write a short story about Stake for the first volume of "The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction" -- hence, "In His Sights," which takes place ten years earlier than the action in "Deadstock"). Stake has a lot of baggage. He saw a lot of action in the so-called Blue War, during which he became smitten with the enemy soldier Thi Gonh, his captive at the time. Before that, Stake was raised in the Punktown slum nicknamed Tin Town, born to a mutant mother and drug-addicted father. Stake's a mutant himself, with the ability to take on the appearance of another person if he looks at them too long, and this often happens even when he doesn't want it to. But he's found his ability useful, as when he penetrated behind enemy lines in the war, and in his work as a private eye -- he can wear any number of disguises. But his gift also gives him a shaky sense of just who he is, at times. He's been a bit lost since childhood, and his restless flesh echoes his restless state of mind. Stake's malleable flesh also ties in with the whole theme of "Deadstock," of flesh being created and sold and shaped as if it were clay, with little regard for what might constitute a soul.

Q: That was very revealing, thanks! So, you have another Punktown novel coming out soon called “Health Agent” (Raw Dog Screaming Press), which was actually written in the late 80s. What is the book about, why did you decide to revisit it after so long, and how much has the story changed?

Jeffrey: "Health Agent" concerns, as the title suggests, an agent of Punktown's health agency, which investigates all kinds of threats to the city, from chemical spills to bioterrorism. The protagonist finds himself up against an unlikely foe: a multi-media performance artist with a very strange and psychotic approach to art, involving mutilation, murder and the spread of a deadly disease. The artist proves very elusive, and in the course of tracking him down, our hero becomes infected with the disease himself. It took me a long while to get it seen by a publisher because the original manuscript was written by hand and needed to be transcribed onto a computer, and my own typing technique is hunt and peck with one finger (coworkers of mine marvel that I type this way, and so quickly). But I look at the keys, not the screen, as I type and retyping something is a massive pain in the ass for me. That's why publisher Raw Dog Screaming retyped my novel "Everybody Scream!" themselves, bless their canine hearts, and I paid my sister-in-law Nancy to retype "Health Agent" for me. I began it in 1987, but left it halfway through to write "Everybody Scream!", then returned to it without, I think, missing a beat -- which surprises me a little now, given that "Health Agent" might be my most tricky story in terms of plotting, from a detective thriller sort of standpoint. The story hasn't changed at all, because I want it to be true to what it is and who I was as a writer at that time (I wouldn't, for instance, go back now and add aliens or people from Punktown stories I've written since), but there are edits from the publisher that I simply haven't been able to address yet because of other projects and distracting personal issues. So I know the novel's long delay is on my own head, and I'm sorry about that, but I hope we get to see it released soon.

Q: What does the future hold for Jeremy Stake, Thi and the Punktown universe in general and how will you know when it’s time to stop returning to that world?

Jeffrey: I have a lot of notes regarding a possible third Jeremy Stake adventure (fourth, if you count the short story "In His Sights"), but it remains to be seen whether that particular plot will see its way through to actual project. I would like to return to Stake from time to time, but we'll see what the future holds, in terms of what publishers want, the readers like, and what strikes my own fancy. I will certainly return to Punktown with or without him, because there are a lot of interesting people to meet there, and our pal Stake is just one of them. I don't see myself ever tiring of visiting Punktown, and I hope the same can be said of my readers.

Q: Your younger brother Scott is also a writer and you’ve actually collaborated together on a few projects including the aforementioned “Punktown: Shades of Grey”. What’s it like working with your brother, what kind of writer is he, and what other projects do you have lined up?

Jeffrey: Scott is a hugely creative person, and our creative play as kids led naturally to our ability to collaborate as writers. We've appeared in a lot of magazines and anthologies side by side, but we actually wrote the short story "Apples and Oranges" together, and that was recently reprinted in my collection "Doomsdays." A shorter version of it appeared in the limited edition hardcover book "Nether," which combined my erotic horror collection "Honey is Sweeter Than Blood" with Scott's erotic horror collection "Shadows of Flesh." We have a book coming out called "The Sea of Flesh and Ash" which consists of two novellas, my "The Sea of Flesh" and Scott's "The Sea of Ash," both inspired by the cover art by Travis Anthony Soumis. It's been due for a number of years now but I saw a review of it recently, so I hope that's a sign of its imminent release. And then of course there's the collection "Punktown: Shades of Grey," again with great cover and illustrations by Travis Anthony Soumis, with half the stories by Scott and half by myself. From Punktown's very inception I invited Scott to set his own stories there, and he's very good at it. (There is also an anthology out there called "Punktown: Third Eye" in which I invited some talented writer friends to pen their own Punktown stories, as well.) But Scott tends more to favor fantasy and eerie ghost and horror stories that fans of M. R. James, E. F. Benson and Lovecraft would savor, usually set in the past and often in Britain. Two collections of this sort of story came out in 2007: "Over the Darkening Fields" and "Midnight in New England," and his collection "Westermead" would be more in the fantasy vein. He and I don't have any further collaborations in the works at this time, because we're always so consumed with our independent projects, but I surely wouldn't rule it out for the future.

Q: Can you tell us about any other writing projects that you’re working on?

Jeffrey: I'm putting together a collection called "Voices From Punktown," for Dark Regions Press, that will collect those Punktown short stories of mine -- reprints and originals -- that haven't appeared in the previous Punktown collections, "Punktown" and "Punktown: Shades of Grey." This book will complement my collection "Voices From Hades," also from Dark Regions, which collects all the short stories I've set in my world of Hades, as seen in the dark fantasy novel "Letters From Hades." (Dark Regions recently released my horror collection "Doomsdays" and they make some damn pretty books.) I'm also pitching a new idea for a SF/horror/action novel, and I've been invited to contribute to a high profile anthology, if I can just come up with an idea for a story! I'm sure it will hit me when I least expect it.

Q: In film, I’ve heard that your novel “Letters From Hades” was optioned, that there was some interest in “Deadstock” and I believe that a couple of your stories have been adapted with you acting in the movies. Can you tell us about these and any other film-related projects?

Jeffrey: Yes, "Letters From Hades" was optioned a couple years ago and the pitch is still making the rounds in Hollywood, via my friend and collaborator, Josh Boone, director of the upcoming movie "Parallel." I've heard a lot of great feedback from it and some really cool people have expressed interest though no takers yet. As soon as "Deadstock" received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, Ridley Scott's production company asked to see a copy, though nothing has come of that I'm afraid. I had a bit of interest in "Everybody Scream!" at one point, too. One of these days something will take off, I hope! In the meantime, yes, a friend of mine named Jason Torrey has released a couple of disturbing, David Lynchian, direct to video/DVD indie movies that I participated in. I wrote the screenplay for his "Into My Sickness," based on his plot framework, and he also coerced me into starring in it as an internet-addicted man with a crumbling sense of reality -- so it was typecasting. I then contributed ideas to his follow up, "God is Alone," and played the smaller but important role of an evil, psychotic father who murders his wife and lusts after his own daughter. That was fun. They're very hard to track down, which given my acting abilities may or may not be for the best, but Torrey is a talented guy and tells me he has a new flick in the works, with a thankfully even smaller role in it for me.

Q: Interesting :) So let’s fantasize. What would be your dream adaptation?

Jeffrey: I'd love to see someone commit to "Letters From Hades." I had Ed Norton in mind when I wrote it (though in the book's many fine illustrations by Erik Wilson, the protagonist tends to look more like a young, haunted John Hurt, and that works great!), I saw Angelina Jolie as the love interest, the demonic warrior Chara, but the tabloids have dampened my enthusiasm a little and now I like to envision Ziyi Zang in that role. She can look cold and tough one minute, absolutely vulnerable the next, and of course she can handle action scenes quite nicely. The demons aren't Asian-looking in "Letters From Hades," though there is an Asian breed of demon in the loose sequel, "Beautiful Hell," a novella that appears in the book "Ugly Heaven/Beautiful Hell" which I collaborated on with fellow writer Carlton Mellick III. As for other mediums, a very talented artist friend of mine, Frank Walls, has been trying to get a Punktown graphic novel going for a while now, and he might be close to it. And I would love to see a computer or video game based on the world of Punktown. Wouldn't it be neat to wander its streets with a virtual assault engine in your hands? How about as Jeremy Stake, able to alter your appearance as you solve mysteries? I know I'd buy it!

Q: Aside from writing, you also founded Necropolitan Press (1993), an “independent publisher in the genres of horror, science fiction, dark fantasy and the unclassifiable”. What’s the status on Necropolitan Press for the present and the future? Also, how much of an effect did working as a publisher/editor have on the way you wrote and in getting your material published by other companies?

Jeffrey: I'm working with Nick Curtis of Seele Brennt Publications to resurrect Necropolitan Press, though for now we just have copies of "A Vampire Bestiary," a chapbook anthology I put out some years ago, for sale. But we've been talking to some very talented authors in regard to potential new projects. (We're open to unsolicited submissions, I'm afraid.) In the past, besides four issues of "The End" magazine, Necropolitan Press released chapbooks by the likes of W. H. Pugmire and Jeff VanderMeer (whose piece, "The Early History of Ambergris," later became part of his acclaimed collection "City of Saints and Madmen"). I'm not sure, consciously, how much being an editor and publisher has affected my work as a writer -- or affected my dealings, as a writer, with other editors and publishers. But I'm sure it's always valuable to have a look at both sides of the writing/publishing relationship. I know that as an editor I'm very respectful of the writer's work; I'm definitely not rabid with the red pen. As far as being an editor/publisher having helped me get my own work published, well, it's always great to make connections, and running Necropolitan Press did help to broaden my contacts. Some years back I quit doing it for financial reasons, and to focus my time on my own work, but again, with a partner it looks like it may just be feasible again. We'll see how it develops!

Q: Speaking of publishers, you’ve been published by a variety of press. How does working with Solaris Books compare to your other experiences and how did you end up with them in the first place?

Jeffrey: Well, Solaris is a mass market publisher, and all my other books to date have been published by indie publishers, sometimes as limited editions, numbered or even lettered print runs to appeal to collectors. The editing process varies from publisher to publisher in the small press, depending on their resources and the personalities of the few people (sometimes, single person) running the show. Some editors make a lot of suggestions, some don't ask me to change a thing, and there's everything else in between. With Solaris, they're a big outfit (by comparison) with a whole editing staff for your manuscript to go through, so I wasn't accustomed to that level of editorial input the first time out. Solaris is an imprint of BL Publishing, as is Black Flame, and I was approached in 2004 to try my hand at pitching them some ideas for novels, since they'd heard of me and were looking for new blood. See, Black Flame was releasing a series of original novels based on some of the movie franchises belonging to New Line Cinema. So I came up with a few pitches, and almost got somewhere with one based on "Jason X," the SF spin off of the "Friday the 13th" movies. Which I hate, by the way; "Jason X" was the only one I thought was any fun. But I think they ended up with more than enough "Jason X" novels, and actually, a little of the plotline I came up with for that carried over into "Deadstock." But they did eventually accept a proposal for an original "A Nightmare on Elm Street" novel, called "The Dream Dealers," which had a little bit of a SF spin to it, true to my habit of blending genres. That came out in 2006. But the editorial process wasn't as extensive for that novel as it was for "Deadstock," so as I say, a learning experience. Anyway, it was exciting having "The Dream Dealers" appear because it was my first mass market novel, and I got to put a cultural icon through his paces, but it was still a bigger kick when they asked me to pitch them a Punktown novel for their new Solaris imprint, and accepted it. That was the fulfillment of a life-long dream. And I tell you, they're great people to deal with. Polite, patient, friendly, helpful; real pros. I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Solarians George Mann and Christian Dunn at the most recent Readercon, and that was a real treat. I hope they can forgive my shyness, though! I'm not much of a convention person; guess I'm unconventional.

Q: In addition to writing, editing and publishing, you’ve also worked as an illustrator. How is that aspect of your life going right now and what do you feel are the positives/negatives between writing and illustrating?

Jeffrey: I used to do quite a lot of illustration and occasionally cover work in the small press, for publications like "Lore," "Strange Days," "Random Realities," etc., but I stopped doing it just because it was taking from my writing time, and I don't enjoy it as much as I do writing. I think I'm a competent artist, but I feel I'm more skillful as a writer. I did do the cover art for my horror collection "Aaaiiieee!!!," though, and the cover photo and design for my horror collection "Thirteen Specimens," in recent years. I don't really see myself returning to illustrating, but I was toying with the idea of doing collages to illustrate one of my collections. I enjoy doing collages from public domain Victorian art, and that's how I created the cover for the Necropolitan Press chapbook of VanderMeer's "Early History of Ambergris," for example. But whatever artistic technique I use, I just don't think I can capture the images in my mind as well as I can with the written word.

Q: As of now, you’re mainly known as a writer of horror, science fiction and ‘weird fiction’. Do you have any interest in trying a different genre? If so, what and why?

Jeffrey: I wouldn't rule it out, because I like to think I'm versatile, and yet I do like an element of the fantastic in what I do. Even when there isn't, and the story's strangeness stems only from the human mind, it still tends toward horror. I can't say for sure whether I'll tackle a mainstream novel down the road, a few years or a decade from now, but given my interests over the past, I don't anticipate it.

Q: Are there any preconceived notions that you’d like to dispel about horror literature?

Jeffrey: That horror is a literary ghetto, peopled by untalented hacks and Stephen King imitators. Sure, there are those fish in the pool, aplenty, but so many more species besides. With respected authors writing horrific novels like "The Ruins" and "The Road," I should hope more people will open their minds to horror as a real literary form.

Q: From reading your book and as mentioned earlier, H.P. Lovecraft is a huge inspiration of yours. Do you happen to have a favorite quote?

Jeffrey: I like his quote that I use to open my collection of Lovecraftian short stories, "Unholy Dimensions" (and it's the source of that book's title). HPL said, "Strange life...may pulsate in the gulfs beyond the stars or press hideously upon our own globe in unholy dimensions which only the dead and the moonstruck can glimpse." Daaamn! Call me one of the moonstruck, then. Some are going to call that purple prose, but I think it sums up so much of the mood of Lovecraft's stories, the cosmic scope of his horror, the horror of being tiny and vulnerable in a vast and unknown universe, as opposed to the fear of the supernatural utilized by most horror writers before him and since. Not that there's anything wrong with strictly supernatural horror, but as archaic as his delivery may be, there's still something more modern, more metaphysical, in Lovecraft's stories of other dimensions existing shoulder to shoulder with our own, and beings passing from another dimension into ours. This idea in particular appealed to me even before I discovered Lovecraft, in 1985, and was what made me so receptive to his work. I just love him; nobody has ever creeped me out or made me say, "wow" inside the way he has. Some of my Punktown stories involve Lovecraftian ideas or, more directly, partake of his Cthulhu Mythos. There's my Punktown novella "The Bones of the Old Ones" that opens "Unholy Dimensions," and there are Lovecraftian-type extradimensional creatures in "Everybody Scream!" (though that's only one of that novel's many interwoven plot threads). "Monstrocity" really revolves around Lovecraftian concepts, as does "Deadstock," which carries over the same unpalatable meat company from "Monstrocity." In fact, one of Lovecraft's most famous god-like entities is a character in "Deadstock" (though I've renamed him), and I hope he's a surprisingly sympathetic character! "Blue War" doesn't follow this Lovecraftian trend, though there are some extradimensional monsters in it -- mysterious dog-like critters called snipes that can pass from one plane into another, and giant floating jellyfish called benders whose poison has surprising properties. Got to slip some crazy monsters in there!

Q: You have a pretty impressive bibliography. After writing as long and as much as you have, what helps you through the dry spells, what still challenges you, what do you think you haven't done yet and what do you want to do?

Jeffrey: Seeing my stories and books come out in print helps encourage and distract me through the dry spells, but those dry spells can be a downer at times. Luckily they don't tend to last long for me. I'm at a loss at the moment to come up with a story for a major anthology I was invited to participate in, but I have faith that the right idea will pop into my head when my subconscious is ready to deliver it. As for challenges; aside from the ever increasing challenge of finding the time to write, I'd say that every story I write is a challenge. I'm always challenged to do better than I've done before. What haven't I done yet? Become a household word. I'd like that. But then, shit is a household word, so I've got to watch that. What I want to do is more and more of what I'm already doing. I don't want this to stop. Despite the occasional headache, it's too damn much fun.

Q: I’m sure you get this question all the time, but what are you currently reading?

Jeffrey: I have the terrible habit of reading a number of books at the same time. As a writer, I would want a reader to focus entirely on my book, so as not to draw out the experience so long that they lose sight of all the workings of the plot and the sometimes intricate and subtle connections I build throughout...but nevertheless, this is what I do. At the moment I am just finishing up Martin Cruz Smith's "Red Square" and working my way through Michael Cisco's collection "Secret Hours," W. H. Pugmire's collection "The Fungal Stain and Other Dreams," my brother Scott's "Over the Darkening Fields," and some others. I'm probably forgetting more! I seldom neglect to return to a book, though in some cases it's taken me years to do so. Sinful!

Q: Same with this question. Any new authors I should be checking out?

Jeffrey: Scott Thomas, Scott Thomas, and Scott Thomas. Okay, and the abovementioned Cisco and Pugmire. They've been around a while, but they're underappreciated, very idiosyncratic, for those wanting to experience a new and unique taste. Something for the discerning and jaded tongue.

Q: In closing, what is the one question that no one ever asks you in an interview, but you wish they did, and how would you respond to it?

Jeffrey: It's the question you just asked me, and I'd respond to it this way: "The question you just asked me." Wow, thanks, I've been wanting to get that off my chest!

2 comments:

David said...

I'm very much looking forward to Blue War. Great cover art there by the way. Thanks for posting the interview. Jeff Thomas is a very entertaining author.

Robert said...

Lovely cover art isn't it :) I'm definitely looking forward to "Blue War" as well and I'm glad you liked the interview! Hopefully more people will discover the author :)

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