Today I am interviewing Richard Thomas, author of the new science-fiction, fantasy, and horror short-story collection, Spontaneous Human Combustion.
◊ ◊ ◊
DJ: Hi Richard! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Richard Thomas: Sure! Thanks for having me. I’ve been writing for about 14 years now, with three novels, three collection, over 170 stories published (including alongside Stephen King four times now). I also have edited four anthologies, and ran Gamut magazine and Dark House Press. So, I’m not just an author, but an editor, teacher, and past publisher. I write dark fiction, but more and more these days, with some hope, not entirely bleak. I write hybrid fiction, often maximalist, with heavy setting, across quite a few genres—fantasy, science fiction, and horror, as you mentioned— as as well as neo-noir, thrillers, Southern gothic, new-weird, magical realism, transgressive, and literary fiction.
DJ: What is Spontaneous Human Combustion about?
Richard: Great question. It’s my fourth collection of stories, covering that last five years or so, and I think some of my best work to date. It’s not so much about spontaneous human COMBUSTION (bursting into flames) although there are some of those elements in the collection. It’s about spontaneous HUMAN combustion—the combustion of human elements, exploring the duality in human nature, the secrets and monsters we hold inside ourselves, and the potential to either lean into the darkness (“Yes, I WOULD like to live deliciously!”) or to push back against evil, and do the right thing. The image on the cover of the book shows a woman’s face, a mask really, breaking apart to reveal a ravenous wolf underneath. So, these are dark stories, but not without hope. Most story either has a “hopepunk” vibe or there is justice/vengeance at the end. And sometimes, yeah, the darkness wins. There is that, too. But I’ve been working hard the last few years to put LOVE at the center of my dark stories, and not DEATH. So that had gotten me to some different places, more optimistic. Continue reading