(Note: I’ve been up since yesterday so this might not come across very coherent…)
In a couple weeks it will be two years since Darkfuse released my first novel Nursery Rhymes 4 Dead Children. A lot has happened since then: I’ve learned a lot, written and sold a ton of other novels and novellas and short stories, started writing under other names, and it’s all gone by in what feels like the blink of an eye. I have a lot going on here at the moment, digging deep into this second novel I’m writing as Thomas Morgan, getting another novel ready for Darkfuse Publications, dreaming of how wonderful it’s going to be to hit The World Mystery Convention in New York again later this year and get to talk to some of my literary heroes and hang out with my best buddy Shaun Ryan.
Pausing for a second to look back, I still think that the honesty in a writer’s work, the honesty of their characters, and the pivotal moments in those characters’ lives are what resonate with us as readers.
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!
I’ve been invited by Jason and Tressa asJanuary’s Featured Author for the Horror Aficionados Goodread’s group. The group will be reading and discussing my novella WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL. I’m very much looking forward to interacting with those passionate cats and answering questions anyone might have! Thanks to Jason and Tressa for the invite! If you’re on Goodreads join the group. I’m hardly ever there because I’m a workaholic but I’ll be checking in everyday in January!
Also saw the covers forShock Totem #6, which is my favorite speculative magazine! I have a Division story (The River) in this one that takes place betweenNURSERY RHYMES 4 DEAD CHILDRENandTHE DAMPNESS OF MOURNING. I like it and they bought it and you can read it! Everybody wins! Looks like a fun group of authors (plus one of my heroes, Jack Kethcum!) in this issue and I can’t wait to read it.
Ken Wood from Shock Totem will also be interviewing me, too, in issue #6! I’m very much looking forward to that because I’ve had so many exciting things happen, and have learned so much, in the past year.
I signed a three-book deal with Darkfuse/Delirium Books. I’ll be handing in a standalone novel every March for the next three years. Fun! I’m working on the first now (Gossamer) and think it’s going to be a freaky novel. Gotta get back to work on it so I bid you adieu.
Hard to believe we’re already up to chapter 17 of my Division serial novel, which you can read for FREE on Darkfuse’s website and Issuu. Thanks to everybody who has followed along, given feedback and helped spread the word! It’ll take another 11 chapters to finish the story and what a wild, sad, and sometimes brutal ride it’s been for my little protagonist Red Piccirilli. Already mapping out the next Division book (a Michael Johnston novel) that is going to be a ton of fun as well. Thanks again to those who have taken the time to read and share!
Soon I’ll be announcing a very fun competition that will be part of a Division Mythos website thingie that the very cool Peter Schwotzer is helping me build. Stay tuned, my pretties.
And it looks like I’ll have to reinstate my Twitter account, which I’m not fond of, but there’s a neat thing that Dave Thomas sent my way about Kindlegraph that will allow me to sign inscriptions to readers for Kindle editions of my work.
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!
That’s right, we’re approaching the one year anniversary since Delirium Book’s released NURSERY RHYMES 4 DEAD CHILDREN. The official date is May 17th.
To be honest, it feels like five years have gone by since last summer.
So much has happened in the last twelve months (from the release of NR4DC to selling 7 other books and now working on this serial novel THE COLLECTED SONGS OF SONNELION.) Those close to me know how often I’ve talked about how surreal it is to toil away for nearly a decade without any validation, and then for the scales to tip in my favor where everything I’m writing is selling within a matter of months. I’m guessing it’s somewhat like parents who want to birth a child so bad and they try for years, and they lose some along the way, and a lot of their hope and pride with it, until one day the miracle happens. Totally unexpected. Sometimes when they’re at their lowest point because they’ve already convinced themselves they’re not worthy or not good enough or it’s not meant to be. Like them, secretly I felt like a failure and every little quip from family just burned the hell out of me. Partly because I didn’t want to admit they might be right, partly because I knew from other ventures that if you want something bad enough you do whatever it takes to improve. And before you know it you start growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s only once you pause to look back at the tracks you’ve left in the sand that you truly see how far you’ve come.
The good news for a fiction writer is that there is no finish line. We do this until we die and if we’re fortunate enough maybe the work will live on a while after us. Maybe someone who read a novel of ours rereads it decades later and they get that glow of nostalgia in their eyes as they remember what was going on in their life the first time they read said book. If we’re going to dream, why not dream big?
It’s still surreal, especially since things have been snowballing since the summer of 2011. And I know I’m very fortunate that Shane Ryan Staley saw something special in my work and he has been so willing to help me and my career. I owe him a lot for that even though he’s the one cutting the checks. And I’ve had tons of others support me and make this dream work–editors, readers, heroes, writers, reviewers–who have helped give my career legs and taught it to walk. I thank a lot of them in the acknowledgements of books, some in dedications.
Sometimes it’s difficult to slow down when you feel like you’re building steam. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush when you have news to share every week or every other. And sometimes I felt as if I’d burn out because the stories were burning up inside me, my past and every decision I’ve ever made, every thing I’ve ever seen, howled and sought release.
After we write and sell eight or ten books we think, Hey, time is really flying by. I wish there was a way to slow it and appreciate each little success fully, but the wind that carries us keeps roaring and the drive and hunger hurt if we don’t tend them.
I’m guessing it’ll burn me up one day. I’ve always had an all-or-nothing personality.
Five years from now I’ll probably have thirty books sold and released and hopefully entertaining some and making others feel and others dream all kinds of dreams. We’ll see.
All I know is I have a lot to learn yet, but learning gets easier when we enjoy most of the process.
What are your dreams? How are you going to go about making them come true?
Here is the cover for a book coming out from Delirium Book’s later this year. It’s a savage and heartbreaking story and a nod to my hero Tom Piccirilli (who was also kind enough to read it pre-publication!) Wonderful artwork again by the super talented Dani Serra.
Also a new post on Darkfuse about my Live Event and the serial novel COLLECTED SONGS OF SONNELION. I’d mentioned in an interview with Blu Gilliand on October Country recently that I write toward pivotal moments and we just hit one in the fifth chapter of the serial. Feel free to give it a read and spread the word.
My buddy K. E. Bergdoll just did a review of THE STEEL SERAGLIO by Mike Carey, Linda Carey & Louise Carey from ChiZine Publications, and it’s live on The Crow’s Caw now. Check it out.
Sometime this week I’ll be finalizing the narrator’s audio tracks for the audio book version of Nursery Rhymes 4 Dead Children (my first novel that was released last year.) Exciting.
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.
"10 out of 10 Stars... GOSSAMER: A TALE 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