Hey, guys. I can’t believe there’s only eight more days until Christmas. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my kids seem to be foaming at the mouths to open their gifts. To tell the truth, I don’t know whose more excited, me or them. Speaking of anticipation, without further ado, here is my interview with author Thomas R. Clark. We discussed his newest release, The Death List, among other things.
Thomas R. Clark is a musician, writer, and podcast producer from Central New York. His podcasts, including the popular Necrocasticon, can be heard on the Project Entertainment Network. He is the author of the books A Book of Light and Shadow, Good Boy, and Bella’s Boys. Tom lives with his wife and a trio of Jack Russell terrier companions.
EB: Welcome to the blog, Tom. Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us more about The Death List and what inspired you to write it?
Tom: I came up with the concept for The Death List back in 2013 on a bus ride to NYCC. It’s directly influenced by a Burt Reynolds movie from the 70s, The End. In it, Burt’s some rich guy who learns he has cancer. He doesn’t want to die from cancer, so he hires a hitman (Dom DeLuise) to kill him. In the meantime, Burt learns he doesn’t have cancer… but the hitman won’t call off the hit. Luckily for Burt, Dom is inept. So, it’s a comedy of errors as Dom fails in his hits. I also love John Carpenter’s Halloween. My mind blended them together, and I came up with this idea, which I called Epic Fail. In it, a person is trying to kill themself, but a slasher killer is also trying to kill them. Every time the protagonist tries to commit suicide, the slasher thwarts it by accident and messes himself up in the process.
Eventually, I fleshed the story out, added the Spinal Tap and Home Alone aspects to it, and finally, after some deliberation, changed the title from Epic Fail to The Death List.
The book is available for sale on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle: (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08P3JTPVH) and in hardcover at Barnes & Noble: (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-death-list-thomas-r-clark/1138379894?ean=9781663571670). An audio adaption is coming in 2021.
EB: What was the hardest scene for you to write?
Tom: Building to the climax of the third act, as the characters converge on the property where the crazy stuff is going down. I wanted to try and pull the same trick Thomas Harris pulled at the climax of Silence of the Lambs. I don’t think I succeeded in that aspect, but it is rather tense.
EB: Some of your stories lean more toward extreme horror. What’s the best way to market them?
Tom: I’m not just an extreme horror author. I like to call myself a “speculative fiction author.” My books aren’t exactly extreme horror, even though I market them as so. I like to blend genres as I write. Because I have an affinity for writing acts of violence, my work tends to lean to the extreme. The problem with horror and extreme horror is it often scares Middle America away. Horror is a niche interest, and extreme horror is even more niche. And that’s my way to market horror. I don’t call it horror. I let the people who read it define it.
EB: How many books have you written, and which was your favorite?
Tom: The Death List is my first completed novel-length book. My other releases, Bella’s Boys and Good Boy are novellas. I also have a short story collection, A Book of Light and Shadow. Good Boy has a special place in my heart as it’s the book that got me noticed, and I wrote it for my late father.
EB: How long does it usually take you to write a story?
Tom: Forever. What I have out now was written as much as three years ago. I currently have five novellas and two novels in my pipeline that I work on at various times.
EB: What’s your next project, and where can readers learn more about you?
Tom: The last few years, I’ve taken workshops with Garrett Cook, a renowned editor in bizarro and extreme fiction. As a result, I’ve amassed quite a trunk of short and long form fiction. I’ll be collecting the best of these in a new short story collection, Immortal Dilemmas, coming out in winter 2021. Lisa Vasquez, CEO of my publisher, is writing the foreword. This is another extreme horror and fiction book and will be more focused on that than my previous collection.
Readers can find my books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and my website:
EB: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Tom: I leave with advice for those who wish to be a creative: You can never have enough training. Apply yourself to your craft and challenge yourself to think outside the box of normal conventions. But most of all, be a nice person.
EB: Thank you for being here. I will definitely be checking out more of your work. It’s been a pleasure.
That’s I have for you guys today. Make sure to come back tomorrow to check out the last interview of the week. It’s sure to be a good one. Thanks for stopping by. -E.B.