Meghan: Hi, Tommy. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thomas R Clark: My writing name, Thomas R Clark, is an homage to both Robert E. Howard and Cormac McCarthy, who doesn’t like using punctuation.
I’m a journalist, podcast engineer & producer, musician, and author. I’ve written entertainment journalism for This Is Infamous & Rue Morgue to name a few.
I love animals, dogs in particular. A trio of Jack Russell Terrorists, er I mean Terriers, cohabitate with my wife and me.
Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?
Thomas R Clark: Since we’re all friends here…
- I like Lima Beans. I don’t care if they’re in butter and bacon.
- My favorite lunch as a boy was potted meat sammiches with yellow mustard, spaghetti oh’s, and strawberry quick milk.
- My nickname as a boy was ‘Toot.’ If you have to ask, then you’re daft…
- I like cottage cheese, too. No. You can’t have any. It’s mine.
- I stopped watching baseball for 10 years after Thurman Munson died.
Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?
Thomas R Clark: Back to the Stone Age by Edgar Rice Burroughs when I was in second grade.
Meghan: What are you reading now?
Thomas R Clark: I’m revisiting Glen Cook’s The Black Company.
Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?
Thomas R Clark: Watership Down
Meghan: What made you decide you want to write & when did you begin writing?
Thomas R Clark: I read an anthology called More Science Fiction Tales when I was in third grade. It led to me writing my own stories down. The first story I remember writing was about alien crab creatures attacking an underwater city.
Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?
Thomas R Clark: Yes. My office nook in my bedroom. The dogs can sit on my bed and watch me.
Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
Thomas R Clark: I make soundtracks and fake covers for every piece I write.
Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Thomas R Clark: I have ADHD, so sitting in one space and focusing on the work at hand is difficult.
Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?
Thomas R Clark: Bella’s Boys, my cosmic horror novella. It was fun to write.
Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?
Thomas R Clark: This is fairly direct, and each line answers both:
Sunglasses After Dark – Nancy A. Collins
The Lottery – Shirley Jackson
More Science Fiction Tales – Tom Monteleone (under various pen names)
Red Nails – Robert E. Howard
The Dreaming City – Michael Moorcock
The Scream – John Skipp & Craig Spector
I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
The Stand – Stephen King
Watership Down – Richard Adams
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?
Thomas R Clark: Memorable characters.
Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?
Thomas R Clark: I have to be able to bond with them in some manner. In my own characters, I try to place common traits that might be shared by a large demographic.
Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
Thomas R Clark: None of them are… yet.
Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?
Thomas R Clark: Yes. I hate bad book covers. Thus far in my career, I’ve had complete creative control over my cover art.
Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?
Thomas R Clark: This is too broad. I am under mentoring and in workshops constantly. So I’m always learning. So… what I can say is this: I learn every day. And this is the advice I give to my peers. We can always learn more.
Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?
Thomas R Clark: A reimagining of when I was nearly abducted by a bad person.
Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
Thomas R Clark: I think outside of the boxes we have pigeonholed cliche tropes into. I blend genres, which makes me difficult to pin down and typecast. With the exception of Good Boy, most of my fiction is related in some manner, yet the subject matter of each is vastly different. Bella’s Boys is a cosmic horror story. Its follow up, Epic Fail is a slasher killer piece. Whirlwind, my current WIP, is a monsters on a rampage eating people book…
Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?
Thomas R Clark: Book titles grab a person’s attention as much as the cover art. I take a cue from King and look for simplicity. Good Boy is pretty forthwith. Bella’s Boys uses alliteration. Epic Fail is a vernacular of the modern era. All are memorable, each tells you something about the story.
Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?
Thomas R Clark: Although I love writing short stories, I’m finding the more I write longer pieces, the more comfortable I am becoming with them. So, I’ll go with novel/novella for my answer here.
Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.
Thomas R Clark: I’ve already answered a bit of this, regarding my books. My target audience is horror and dark fantasy fans. And I’d like my readers to learn a moral lesson or two in my narratives.
Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?
Thomas R Clark: Much of my “deleted scenes” go into a file for me to pilfer from when needed. I believe in recycling.
Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?
Thomas R Clark: My trunk is overflowing with bits and pieces of fiction from over 30 years of writing. Actually, the piece I’m working on now is a trunk piece I keep shelving. And I kept doing it because the book was getting too long and I was losing track of where I was and what to do. The last year I’ve learned a few new tricks to help me get over this hump, regarding note-taking on index cards and in a handwritten notebook.
Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?
Thomas R Clark: After Good Boy and Bella’s Boys, I have Epic Fail and Imaginos: The Eternal Light Anthology, a collection of short stories based on the music of Blue Oyster Cult, coming in 2020. It features some pretty big names in horror and the music industry. I’m also finishing a novel, Whirlwind, and two other novellas: a dark fantasy period piece called The Witch of November, and Falls Brook, a 70s grindhouse homage.
Meghan: Where can we find you?
Thomas R Clark: On Twitter and Facebook. You can also listen to my weekly podcast dedicated to horror and heavy metal, The Necrocasticon, at Project Entertainment Network.
Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?
Thomas R Clark: Nope. Read my stuff.
Thomas R Clark is a musician, writer and podcast producer & engineer. His podcasts, including the popular Necrocasticon, can be heard on the Project Entertainment Network. He is the author of the novellas Bella’s Boys and Good Boy, published through Stitched Smile Publications. You can find Tom’s short story collection, A Book of Light & Shadow, on Amazon through his personal imprint, Nightswan Press. Tom lives in Central New York with his wife and a trio of Jack Russell terrier companions.