Today, I have the privilage of presenting an interview with writer Thom Reese, author of such books as The Demon Baqash and 13 Bodies: Seven Tales of Murder and Madness:
So, please welcome Thom Reese,
I’m a native of northwest Indiana just outside of Chicago, but have lived in Las Vegas for over a decade now. I’ve got a wonderful wife and three fantastic daughters. As to writing, my supernatural thriller, THE DEMON BAQASH, is my first novel. My short story collection, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, has just been released as well. I also have three additional novels due for release in 2011, so it’s a very busy year for me. Previously, I was the writer and co-producer (along with my wife) of 21st Century Audio Theatre, a weekly audio drama radio program here in Las Vegas. Fourteen of those dramas have since been published by Speaking Volumes.
2. How long have you been writing? Did you always desire to make it your line of work?
Looking back, I suppose I always did want to be a writer. Or, I suppose I should say, I always was a writer at my core. I don’t think I really realized that it was my passion until late into my twenties. But, as early as grade school I wrote my own little comic strips. In middle school I wrote sketches my friends and I would perform on cassette tapes. I also wrote a movie script in middle school. I wrote, and still do write, songs. In high school I made my first attempt at writing a novel. As a young adult I wrote short stories. So, I think the inner drive was always there, but I needed to refine my skills and make it a priority. Now, I can’t imagine going a day without writing; it’s such a part of me.
3. Can you tell us about your latest book.
4. Why did you decide to write in the thriller genre? Specifically supernatural thrillers?
I tend to write the types of stories that I enjoy reading. I’ve always been intrigued by the supernatural. I find it an exciting genre and one wide open to new interpretations and ideas. I also love a fast-paced story, and so, I suppose thrillers fulfill that need. To me, fiction is about telling a story. It doesn’t really matter what genre a writer picks. What really matters is that the author connects with the reader, drawing that reader into the world of the novel, whether it be a haunted house, a depression-era vineyard, or an alien civilization. A good novel connects on both a human level and on the story level, and leaves the reader feeling both satisfied and anxious to read more.
5. Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?
As to a routine, I wake up early every morning – four or five A.M. – sit down with a cup of tea, and start writing. I’m very alert in the morning, my mind is fresh and not cluttered with the issues of the day. Depending on the day, my writing time could be as little as an hour all the way up to six or eight. I really try to get a minimum of two hours of uninterrupted writing done each day. I always begin by going over what I wrote the day before, doing some edits, and getting back into the flow of the story.
As to where my ideas originate, I get asked that a lot and am still not sure I have a solid response. I’m inspired by life and human interaction. I’m inspired by news stories or little incidents that happen in the course of each day. That said, I always seem to find some bizarre twist and take that seed in an entirely different direction than where any actual event may have gone. I keep a spiral-bound notebook for story ideas and am always jotting things down, sometimes just the germ of an idea, other times a full-blown concept. I think part of it is that I’ve gradually trained myself to exist in that mode. Story ideas flit through my mind all day long, some new, some for a current project.
6. What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
Life itself. None of us live in a vacuum. Bills need to be paid, cars break down, groceries don’t buy themselves, families have conflicts. I’ve never actually faced writer’s block – yet – but sometimes daily events can make some days a tougher go than others. My biggest challenge is finding the time to get everything done. As well, as a published author I find a tug between the two sides of the role. One, the writer, the other, the marketer. If it was up to me, I’d spend the majority of my day writing, but being with a small publisher, much of the marketing falls on me. I need to make calls to set up book signings or to get my books placed in stores. I need to actively get the word out. This can be very time consuming and seems like it could be a full time job in itself.
7. How do you research your books?
I do most of it on the internet. Occasionally I’ll check out research material at the library or buy a book for research, but there is so much available online it makes the job much easier. When possible, I’ll talk with an expert in some field, but honestly, most of my research is done online right in the midst of my writing process.
8. What advice would you give beginning writers?
Write every day. Read every day. The best way to hone your skill is to write. And the best way to think like a writer is to read. Don’t just stick to reading your genre, but mix it up some. Maybe read fifty percent in your genre and then expose yourself to good writing from other areas – both contemporary and classic. Allow yourself to absorb the structure and flow of a quality piece.
The next thing is to be persistent. Submit, submit, submit. Don’t let rejection letters get you down. It’s all part of the process. As well, utilize social networking. There’s a fantastic network of writers both published and unpublished on Facebook who will encourage and inspire. Become part of the greater writing community. Learn about the current publishing trends. The industry is in flux right now. Publishing is facing the same shift that the music industry did a decade ago. The digital revolution has hit. Embrace the opportunities it presents.
9. Who has inspired you as an author?
I don’t think any one person inspired me to be an author. I think that came from somewhere inside. But, I think my overall love for reading set me on that course. I am always reading – and listening to audio books. I find those a great means to “read” more books per year than I ever could otherwise. Every time I’m alone in the car, I’m listening to a book. As far as inspiration, some of my favorite authors have been, Ken Follett, John Steinbeck, Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Victor Hugo, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Alexandre Dumas, Clive Barker, Clive Cussler, even Stan Lee. I could go on and on. I’m sure each, along with many more, have inspired me along the way.
10. What’s next for you?
I have a very busy year ahead of me. THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES, have already been released. I’ve just completed the manuscript for the first in my Marc Huntington Adventure series of novels, this one titled DEAD MAN’S FIRE, which is set for a summer release, and have begun work on the sequel, CHASING KELVIN, which is due to the publisher in July. As well, my thriller, THE EMPTY, is set for a fourth quarter release this year.
Thom Reese is the author of the novels, THE EMPTY, THE DEMON BAQASH, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, and CHASING KELVIN, along with the short story collection, 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER & MADNESS. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATRE. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.