Well, it’s almost the end of 2012 and I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around what an incredible year it’s been. I may post this early. I will just post it today. Frees up the rest of my year to just read, write and spend time with family. I’ll add any big developments before New Years. There are probably a bunch of things I’m forgetting.
Last summer/fall, when my first novel (Nursery Rhymes 4 Dead Children) and first novella (Iron Butterflies Rust) came out, was a very surreal time. I had been striving to learn how to write well enough to sell my work for almost a decade. It was a relief to sign the contracts, to get my author copies in the mail and see them, to mail copies to my readers, to dedicate the books, to get some feedback and strive to learn more.
This year has been even better. I had a ton of work come out.
But it’s funny how we can roar but still feel like we aren’t doing enough. When I was talking to my buddy Shaun Ryan, which I do so much you’d think we were married, I remembered that I always feared dying young. Like I’d never make it to forty. I think it’s been in my subconscious, spurring me on to write every story taking up space in my heart as quickly as I can before the worms claim me, before the cold, damp earth is my pillow. I do want to leave something behind whether I die prematurely or whether I live as long as Ray Bradbury did. Something of substance, that has meaning for somebody other than myself. I don’t think it’s a lofty goal. I think all true artists, whether they’re successful or not, want to connect with other people and share the beautiful things they’ve seen, and the tragic times that have scarred them, and how the world has shaped them. As writers, or painters, or musicians we hold a mirror up to ourselves and the time we live in, and it’s not easy. We’re a very quiet voice that can easily be lost in a lot of white noise. But I see how important it is to try and keep trying. I’ve gained some wonderful fans. They might not know it but they know me through my work.
Narrator Matthew Stevens recorded my first audio bookNURSERY RHYMES 4 DEAD CHILDREN. We’ll also be working on the audio for the sequel THE DAMPNESS OF MOURNING after New Years.
I also had a local paper interview me, which was neat. Thanks to reporter Bill Petzold! That was a lot of fun and I found I enjoy being interviewed much more than I ever thought I would.
Some other highlights this year were meeting John Connolly, Lee Child, Michael Sears, Stanley Trollip, Les Edgerton, Michael Connelly, Michael Koryta and Sabrina Callahan at Bouchercon (The World Mystery Convention.) I don’t know that I would be the writer, or even person, I am, if not for the books my heroes have written.
Me and my hero John Connolly
Me and the awesome Lee Child
Some of my heroes (Tom Piccirilli, Jack Ketchum, Brian Hodge, Robert Dunbar) read my work in 2012 and gave me blurbs. Having your heroes read something of yours is one of the greatest feelings there is. It’s fireworks in your head and a sudden jolt to your heart. It’s quite dreamy.
Reviews, which I never get very many of, have really taken off this year. Especially on Goodreads, which is one of my favorite sites. I get to talk to fans on there, too, which has been wonderful. And one of the groups (Horror Aficionados) has invited me to be the guest author for January 2013. They’ll be reading my brutal novella WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL and we’ll all discuss it. Very neat, yeah? Thanks to Jason and Tressa for the opportunity!
Sales grow as my audience grows. Thanks so much to everybody who has been buying the work and spreading the word about it! Word of mouth is vital. It helps me when I feel like I can’t write worth shit and then I find a stranger who enjoyed something I wrote, which leads to me finding my balance again. To remember that, yes, I’m writing for me, but I’m also writing to connect with other people. It’s weird, but it’s good.
New novels… I wrote three novels this year (The Collected Songs of Sonnelion, The Lesser People, and The Wolverine) and got halfway through a fourth (Gossamer). I have ideas for the next ten books that will range between 70-90,000 words. All I have to do is write them. Easy. My goal is to write four novels a year. I tell myself to take it easy, don’t work so much, but it’s part of my nature. I am an obsessive and the work gives me purpose that life would be too depressing without sometimes.
I signed a three-book deal with Darkfuse/Delirium Books in December. I’m very excited about it since Shane Staley has been awesome to work with and he publishes what he believes in. I’m writing and turning in a standalone novel every March, which works out great too because I have a ton of novel ideas and nothing for novellas or short stories lately.
Since I am quite prolific when it comes to novels, and I write more than just Dark Fantasy, I’ve decided to use several pseudonyms. I’ll keep the Dark Fantasy under my name. Have the name Thomas Morgan for Heartbreaking Coming of Age tales with a Historical Thriller slant; James Logan for suspense fiction that is very tightly plotted but has more hopeful endings than all my other work; Julian Vaughn for novels that are more big-concept with a lot of heart/more touching than horrific.
I had a writer I met at the World Mystery Convention (Les Edgerton) refer me to his agent for the pen-named work after he read WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL. That was really nice of him and whether it works out or not, him trying to help me counts for a lot. I’m really not worried about it since all of my worry is that the books are what I want them to be.
I got to interview a bunch of my favorite writers here. They are amazing.
I sold a couple of short stories. The River to my favorite mag Shock Totem. It will be in issue #6 along with Jack Ketchum and interview with me! And The Most Mysterious Silence sold to Nameless Magazine, owned by Jason V. Brock who made a great documentary about Charles Beaumont.
Not the Final Cover
Tuesday’s Training, my weekly writing advice essays for novice writers, has been a lot of fun. I know it’s helped a few people. That’s nice. I had help too: from things I’ve read, questions I asked answered by people far busier and far more experienced than I am, and help just through the encouragement that comes in something as simple as a smile.
Thanks to the publishers who have put their faith in me, the writers who encourage me, the pre-readers who help so much by offering feedback I can’t come up with on my own, the fans who help pay my bills and continue to come back for more of my work. 2013 is going to be an even more incredible year, which is really hard to fathom. But it will be. What a life. Thanks for helping me live my dream! Now go buy all my books for your friends for Christmas!
Bill Petzold, a reporter for The Tuscola County Advertiser, interviewed me recently. It was a lot of fun because we had music and writing in common, plus it was my first time being interviewed for the paper so that made it special. Here’s a little pic of part of it!
In the last year and a couple months I’ve sold five books to Delirium/Darkfuse, and it still blows my mind. Dave Thomas just interviewed me on their website, which was a lot of fun, and I reveal some secrets. Have a gander.
Also neat to see that Goodreads has a feature that lets me list the Division mythos on my author page. It’s going to be pretty amazing to watch that fill up with all 13 books in the next few years.
Glad I stumbled across that. I learn something new every day.
Just received word the interview with me went live on Darkfuse. It was a lot of fun. Here’s a snippet:
What was your inspiration for writing DOWN HERE IN THE DARK?
Well, it’s a small part of a large story, and I knew that Frank Gunn was as close as you can get to shattered by the end of IRON BUTTERFLIES RUST, so I explored that and the trip, the adventure really, as scary as it can be at times, that brings him to the crazy little town of Division. I see things very clearly when it comes to my character and how his story ties into others, the big picture and the small beats, which made it easy to write about him in this book. I enjoy subtext too and there is a lot of that, and a lot of links to other Division books, and I like the forward propulsion of the narrative, the searching Frank does inside himself and trying to relate to all the odd things going on around him, which really is out of his reach like it is anybody’s.
What themes do you enjoy exploring?
Oh, a lot of themes. Lol. Recurring ones are about betrayal and how we deal with it; the necessity of returning violence when somebody will be nothing but violent to you or those you love; growing up on the inside instead of faking it simply for the sake of others; how weak and strong and reliable and unreliable we can all be, how human that makes us; that if anything in the world is a monster, it’s man; if anything in the world is a hero, it’s man; connections that may not appear to be connections at first until we dig deeper and figure out people’s motives; how frail love makes us, and how incredibly driven; how hate doesn’t eat us alive, our allowing it to rule over us for an extended period of time does, because hate is as necessary as love; how there’s magic in childhood and adults train it out of us; how desperate some people are to find an identity and others will sacrifice everything just to fit in, which I and most of my characters feel is very, very sad; I like to explore the results of tragedy, and show how different people cope or accept it; I deal in self-loathing because I’ve done it most of my life, and the work it takes to break those negative thought processes; bad habits and good habits, regrets and pride, extremes and everywhere between; the mystery of life and our fear of death; our egotism one moment and self-doubt the next; most of my characters feel like Holden Caulfield, that they’re surrounded by phonies, that they themselves might be phonies, and it whittles at their souls because if nothing is true or fair or genuine then what’s the fucking point when you don’t want to play the game to begin with?
Tons of things going on here and all of them rocking. I’ve got the signature sheets for DOWN HERE IN THE DARK in front of me. The digital is out now, the signed/limited hardcover coming mid-April. It’s a hell of a story and picks up right after the end of IRON BUTTERFLIES RUST. It’s dark, twisted, cryptic and stunning. Alfred Hitchcock (my pet monkey) said it’s a tour de force.
Like everything else, I think it stands alone, but it’s a sliver of the Division mythos and I think it’s going to be badass when every book and short story is complete so everybody (including me) can read them in order and experience the full effects of these character’ trials and successes.
It also ties in directly to THE DAMPNESS OF MOURNING which is out early as a Kindle Exclusive. The signed/limited hardcovers are coming out on Valentine’s Day!
I did an interview on Literary Mayhem. Also just turned one in for Darkfuse that was a lot of fun and should be live soon. Working with Dave Thomas on some promotional stuff that should be a blast for everybody! I think I’ll be playing guitar and reading some opening chapters.
NURSERY RHYMES 4 DEAD CHILDREN is in production as an audio book and so far I’ve heard the first 13 chapters (my lucky number!) and it is so cool to hear somebody else read my work.
I’ve also been interviewing some of my heroes lately. So far I’ve sat down and sipped absinthe with Robert Dunbar, Tom Piccirilli, and Lee Thomas. All amazingly talented bad boys. Up next I’ll be interviewing Greg Gifune. Working on his questions now. It’s been a lot of fun talking to those guys and picking their brains. They’ve been surprisingly candid and I love ‘em for it.
I finished the rewrite on the second Red Piccirilli book WITHIN THIS GARDEN WEEPING. I’d submitted it to Chizine but since I’ve written one novel and three novellas while waiting to hear back from them I figured it a good idea to use what I’d learned while waiting to make the book stronger. It’s the sequel to the first book BEFORE LEONORA WAKES, a simple but interesting YA story. I’m very proud of both of them since they set the foundation in what comes in the adult novels and novellas. You can read the opening of the second book on the lovely Book Den.
Another Division story, THE RIVER, is under consideration with Apex’s Dark Faith 2 antho. It’s the only short story I have unpublished right now and I love it.
Two short stories (Daddy Screamed With Us and Crooked Stick Figures) will be in the anthology American Horror Stories, vol. 1 from Delirium Books later this year, too.
I’m working out the threads of the third Red Piccirill novel COLLECTED SONGS OF SONNELION. So not ready to write this one yet. It’s going to be incredibly dark for Red. It’s going to break my heart to write. But I know I have to get to it at some point because this is the book that mostly shapes who Red is in the Division novels Nursery Rhymes 4 Dead Children, The Dampness of Mourning, and The Patron Saint of Infinite Sorrow.
Also working on the threads of a very touching, yet very disturbing, YA novel called A Monster of Many Faces. It’s going to tackle issues that have bothered me my whole life and people are going to die (one of them is already dead.)
I’m anxious (somewhat) for when reviews start coming in for all four books coming out this year. I enjoy feedback, and especially enjoy it when people tackle the challenge each story presents. I know not everybody will get them, and not everybody is going to like my work, but I’m grateful some do (some who I have a ton of respect for.)
I’ve heard news that my Thunderstorm novella is on the fast track and look forward to seeing the finished product. It’s going to be a beauty.
I’m very excited that some people are loving the Division story line and characters. I see it all so clearly and its such a massive story it takes my breath away knowing that it came out of my wee little imagination. Crazy.
Feeling very relaxed. No pressure here. But expect some great things.
Very proud of this book. Like everything I write, my advice is pay attention. There’s a lot of sub-text. And a hell of a lot going on that connects to other pieces.
I’ll be giving away three e-copies of Down Here in the Dark in the next two weeks since I have a couple of interviews lined up to do next. All you have to do for a chance to win one of the three copies is help me spread the word by sharing it and leaving a link to where you shared it in the comments of this post.
Feel free to spread the word so I can give a few of these badass little stories away! Thanks!
#1: Have a look at the wraparound cover to my second Frank Gunn novella DOWN HERE IN THE DARK. I dig it.
#2: A wonderful lass named Jennifer at Book Den was the first to review THE DAMPNESS OF MOURNING (the second Division novel). It’s available as a Kindle Exclusive right now and the signed/limited hardcovers are up for pre-order. Other digital formats coming out in early March. And she’s right, if you read Beneath the Weeping Willow, Nursery Rhymes 4 Dead Children, Crooked Stick Figures, and Before Leonora Wakes you’ll have a richer experience since they tie directly into this novel.
“Gossamer” is a mythical, almost philosophical book that strips the reader naked and forces us to challenge our assumptions about love with passages that will touch you in places inside yourself you forgot exist. - Anita Siraki/HellNotes
Lee takes the unlovely parts of real life and sets it in a setting so deliciously bizarre that you think you’re simply reading a story, when in fact you’re listening to a man sitting across from you and telling you all about pain. - Mercedes Yardley/Shock Totem
"10 out of 10 Stars... GOSSAMER: A STORY OF LOVE AND TRAGEDY will blow you away my friends. It is that good." -- Peter Schwotzer/Famous Monsters of Filmland.
"WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL is as crazy as its tormented protagonist. Hard as nails." -- Jack Ketchum, author of The Woman.
"Lee Thompson knows his horror-noir. He fuses both genres together in the turmoil of terror, tragedy, blood, guilt, and lost chances at redemption."--Tom Piccirilli, author of THE LAST KIND WORDS
"The Dampness Of Mourning is taut, tough, and terrifying..." -- Brian Hodge, author of Picking The Bones
“The Dampness of Mourning is a riveting thriller." --Midwest Book Review
"Thompson’s voice is his own — strong, hypnotic, and unsettling--grabs you by the balls and rips them right off, breaking your heart and your psyche in the process.” -- Brian Keene, author of Ghoul, Dark Hollow and The Rising
"Brooding, soulful, haunted." -- Robert Dunbar, author of Willy and Martyrs & Monsters