If it inspires you, instead of crushes you, then maybe you've got a chance. Richard Thomas
Leodegraunce: Richard, please tell Leodegraunce readers a bit about your background.
Richard Thomas: I started writing seriously about five years ago, when I took a couple of online classes at The Cult. It reawakened my desire to write. Studying with authors like Craig Clevenger, Monica Drake, Max Barry, and Jack Ketchum really got me excited to write again. So I've spent these past five years honing my craft. In that time I've published dozens of stories, online and in print, won a few contests, and started my MFA. I had my first book come out in 2010, Transubstantiate, and have really just been having a lot of fun reading tons of shorts stories and novels, and experimenting with my voice.
Leodegraunce: How long have you written flash fiction and what drew you to the genre?
Richard Thomas: I've been writing flash for a couple of years. I love the idea of every word counting, it's almost like poetry, just whittling it down. Whether it is a 24, 100 or 500 word story, the economy of it, the way it hints at so much more, the tip of the iceberg, is really appealing to me. If 1000 words is the longest that we we allow for flash (according to Duotrope) then I think one of my first great experiences with flash was winning a contest at ChiZine, for their "Enter the World of Filaria contest" in 2009. It showed me that you could write really short fiction, and still have a story, a moment in time, something compelling. Also, in 2010 a good friend of mine Chris Deal put out a slim collection of flash called Cienfuegos, and that really showed me how in 100 words you could create a whole world, show a lifetime, really pack an emotional punch.
Leodegraunce: Your debut novel Transubstantiate was published in 2010. Tell us about it.
Richard Thomas: That was pretty thrilling as well. It's a neo-noir, speculative thriller, which really just means a contemporary dark story with a fast pace that asks a lot of questions. It has a bit of fantasy, SF and horror in it, but then again, what life doesn't? It's kind of a combination of Lost, The Truman Show and The Prisoner. I was a big fan of Lost, and there are certainly aspects of the horrific, the fantastic, and science fiction in that show, but people probably wouldn't label it as any of those genres. It's told in seven first person perspectives, each person given the chance to redeem themselves, after having committed horrible mistakes, crimes against nature and man. I'm also a big fan of Stephen King and his novels with large casts (The Stand, It, Under the Dome) so while this book isn't 1000 pages, it's something I think that may have started when I was a kid, this idea of multiple-perspectives, people coming together for a common causes. You can get all the information at Transubstantiate - read a sample chapter, peep the blurbs, hear a podcast, all kinds of things.
Leodegraunce: What are some of your writing plans for 2011?
Richard Thomas: I'm hoping it'll be the best year yet for me, as I'm always trying to grow and learn and get my work out there. I have a story coming out in the Shivers VI anthology (Cemetery Dance) with Stephen King, Peter Straub and many other talented authors any day now, and other work in Pear Noir! #5, Murky Depths #15 this month, and PANK as well, online in March. I'm putting the finishing touches on my next novel, Disintegration, and am getting that to a prospective agent soon. You can read a sample chapter of that book up at What Does Not Kill Me, as well as any of my other work. And I'm hoping to wrap up my MFA this year, as I enter my thesis semester in a week. So those are my big plans: get an agent, sell my next book, publish more stories, and then hopefully start teaching at a college or university. I'll be at AWP in Washington D.C. as well, next month, and I'm trying to get out to more writer's conferences as well.
Leodegraunce: What is your top writing tip for aspiring authors?
Richard Thomas: Read. Study the masters in every possible genre that you can stomach. Read literary novels and short stories, but also read horror, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, you name it. See what these successful authors are doing right, absorb, and apply it to your own work, to develop your own unique voice. If you pay attention, you'll see how different authors handle the narrative hook, plot, setting, character, conflict, resolution. You'll see how different authors handle subjects like sex, violence, family, love, hope, loss. You'll see how it is done, and what you're up against. If it inspires you, instead of crushes you, then maybe you've got a chance. Go for it, get your work out there, be fearless.