Saturday, July 20, 2013

Interview with Lee Thompson

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

Lee Thompson: I’m a dreamer, constant observer, and thinker, and my biggest writing influences are Clive Barker (read Galilee), William Faulkner (read The Sound and The Fury), and John Gardner (read Grendel). Plus a couple dozen other writers from Bradbury and Rod Serling to Stephen King and John Connolly. What inspired me to write in the realm of dark fiction was my own, and everyone else’s darkness, though some people are experts at hiding, or repressing, their own darker longings. Being human is to suffer and learn and grow, and to dream of what lies beyond the veil of our own understanding and perceptions, and I find that fascinating.

What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?

Lee Thompson: Life beyond death! And of course, our own gluttony. In great fiction, I think, we see we are usually far worse than the ‘monsters’. For example, read Clive Barker’s novel Cabal. Hell, read anything that is more than mere entertainment. Humans strive to be the dominant species and we destroy and suck dry all that stands in our way. It’s in our natures, much like it was in the natures of the Greek gods. 

What inspired you to write this book?

Lee Thompson: I wanted to write a story about the beautiful and sometimes tragic relationships between mothers-and-daughter figures, as well as a woman’s sexual awakening. And having been friends with a lot of mothers and daughters, I wanted to address the anger they sometimes felt at themselves for being oppressed by men, and the shame they felt in themselves for letting other people have so much power over them. I think women are the most loving and ferocious creatures; they’re sensual and intelligent and beautiful, but many times they’re also fragile and doubtful and feel overburdened by responsibilities and tired of the endless tasks they face (especially if the men in their lives contribute little). Vampires themselves are merely metaphors, and so is the main character, Dorothy, who lets her own hunger for dominance go too far from one extreme to the other, her behavior causing an innocent family an undue amount of heartache. 

Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?

Lee Thompson: There is significance in the names, especially for my secondary protagonists, Brooke Pistil, and her daughter Natalie. Pistil being, of course, the female reproductive part of a flower. Brooke means ‘lives by the stream’ and the stream in this instance is one of metaphorical terms, in that she is always striving to be/find herself, and has only recently felt that she’s done so when she’s introduced in the story. And Natalie means ‘born at Christmas’ which, to me, is symbolic of a messiah-like figure, and she serves that role in the story, but will it be enough? You have to read Gossamer: A Story of Love and Tragedy to discover the answer.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

Lee Thompson: Not really. I do a lot of brainstorming to figure out who my characters are before writing. I also like to find their ‘pivotal moments’ (what shaped them into who they are, both before the story and during the story) so creating the characters is a natural, organic process that I love!

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

Lee Thompson: Natalie is my favorite character in the novel. But I really enjoyed writing about Dorothy’s hardships and how they shape her into a monster, one she never thought she’d become, much like the men who had taken her mother’s life when she was a little girl.

Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?

Lee Thompson: Yes. I definitely want to know them before I start writing. But they still surprise you as you’re writing, which I love!

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

Lee Thompson: The climax, when everything has built up to this massive crescendo and Natalie and Dorothy, both in somewhat opposing ways, have everything on the line. It’s a sad and beautiful moment. 

Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?

Lee Thompson: I find the depth of the characters to be interesting, more than that, fascinating. I wish I knew real people so well. 

What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?

Lee Thompson: I performed a Satanic ritual and lost my soul to dark forces. But I bought a flashlight and found my essence; it was just hiding in the corner, weeping, scared out of its mind. 

Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?

Lee Thompson: The main character, Dorothy, watches her mother die in Salem. Her aunt takes her out west and they found their own small town, Gossamer, where her aunt teaches her the dark arts and slowly, over the next couple centuries, travelers settle in. When her aunt dies of a broken heart, Dorothy follows through with her aunt’s plans and builds a carousel that will keep the town young forever, only she has no idea that she herself will fall in love with a creature who blows in on the hot desert wind, or that she’ll forfeit everything she and her aunt have worked so hard to build and protect. But love does that. It makes fools of us sometimes. 

Natalie Pistil, the young protag, and her mother Brooke, bring a real world element to it, but she might not be strong enough to face such rabid forces.

Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?

Lee Thompson: All of my characters end up having some aspects of myself, whether it’s that frustration that stems from wanting to know everything and having to accept I never will, or wanting someone to love me for me without having to change myself to fit their ideal, or the shame that stems from a moment of crisis when we know we should be strong but we cower instead, or we simply stand up to fight too late. 

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

Lee Thompson: I haven’t suffered from writer’s block, but I recently felt burned out. I wrote four novels in eight months and though it’s against my nature to take a break, I had to. I didn’t write much for a month and a half and it felt wonderful to get outside and spend time with people I care about and just read a bunch of fiction, watch cartoons, etc. I think we can work too much and when we do so we miss out not only on living, but on the authenticity living brings to our fiction. So the break was great, yeah.

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

Lee Thompson: I like to have a couple beers before I write when creating—it helps me write more truthfully. And when I’m editing I like to drink a lot of coffee and eat a bunch of fruit because it seems to sharpen my focus.

Do you write in different genres? 

Lee Thompson: Yes, I’m not a big fan of genres. I see murder and mayhem in Horror, Dark Fantasy, Thrillers, Suspense, Mystery, and Crime Fiction. And I also see Romance in those genres; a book without some type of love or longing is a shallow and heartless book. When dealing with any type of folklore or magic you’re also touching on science fiction, because even if you don’t know the ‘science’ behind the magic, there is a science to it, there are laws, rules, and physics.  Honestly, I want to transcend genres. I want to write great stories that are dark and lovely and bright and hopeful and tragic all at the same time. 

Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?

Lee Thompson: No, I think it’s natural. Look at life. It’s not one genre. It’s not even three genres. It’s everything. 

When did you consider yourself a writer?

Lee Thompson: Probably not until I sold that first novel to Delirium Books and it came out in 2011. I wrote for eight years before that without making a cent, and mostly I was writing for me, and mostly I knew that I wasn’t a real writer yet because real writers entertain and enlighten people and I hadn’t learned how until I was ready.

What are your guilty pleasures in life?

Lee Thompson: Alcohol, coffee, music, books, and intelligent conversation. 

Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?

Lee Thompson: I have played guitar and been a songwriter for years. It was what led me to writing. I’ve since took up painting with acrylics and I find it very much like meditation. I love it actually, although I’m not very good and have no talent for it. But sometimes we have to do something that is just for us, just for our own souls, our own peace. 

What was the last amazing book you read?

Lee Thompson: Non-fiction: Clive Barker’s Shadows in Eden. Fiction: James Lee Burke’s Creole Belle.

Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?

Lee Thompson: I love to read in bed while I’m drinking chocolate milk. 

What can readers expect next from you?

Lee Thompson: I have two pen-named novels with an agent and I just submitted another Lee Thompson novel to my publisher. But what will be out next is the end of a first trilogy in my Dark Fantasy series The Division Mythos. It’s a novel called The Collected Songs of Sonnelion. I’m excited about that! 

Where can readers find you on the web?

Lee Thompson: They can visit my website:

Or friend me on Goodreads: 

Or at a number of other sources like iTunes, Smashwords, Sony, Kobo, etc.

I’m on other social media sites but don’t use them often because I’m a workaholic. 

Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

Lee Thompson: Sure! Here is the opening of Gossamer: A Story of Love and Tragedy…

There once was a beautiful girl who held sway over the people of a nowhere desert town. They admired her beauty, the incantations she whispered in the light of the full moon, and the treasures she gave them in exchange for their loyalty. She kept them eternally young, this goddess, this seer of exquisite nighttime mystery. They loved her so deeply they would do awful things to protect her, and to protect the gift given. 

It went on for centuries, until a cool October night when a strange young man walked in from the cold desert. His face shown white beneath the stars, these same stars reflected in his black orb eyes, moonlight and building mating, spewing shadows about his shoulders like a cape. He wore a shirt of chainmail like a knight of old. His boots were dusty. The cross around his neck was silver and a blue eye grew from the center of it. He moved with precision. 

He seduced the young beauty who the town worshipped, his hands gentle, his lips warm and tickling her neck. He rarely smiled but he was so gorgeous to her that he didn’t have to. 
His touch said it all, aggressive, obsessive, insatiable, as he nipped at her neck, his teeth drawing blood, him filling her, ramming, panting, licking the sweat from the hollow of her throat. 
He loved her like they never could. He loved her without being gifted anything, though it would be much later, after much blood was spilled, that she discovered the pleasure and security she’d blessed Gossamer with, he had possessed before he came in dusty of cloth and gleaming of eye, into their lives. 

He slept during the days and left their bed after dusk to be, she first suspected, alone with the stars and the open night. She worked her charms, weaving hair and polishing the bones she’d inherited from her mother. She’d yet to see the Devil, though she had been a studious child, a passionate teen, an angelic and stalwart adult, for centuries. She drifted daily, her mind not on her task, or her duties to her people, as he went about his lone midnight wanderings. Then the first time her lover returned with blood on his lips, she thought, The Devil has come at last…

Part One

I wish I could tell you that this story didn’t have any blood in it, that it is simply a love story, but then I would mislead you. Instead, let me be up front because that will build trust between us… 

Love and Tragedy are the only soul mates I’ve ever seen, and I will show you two situations that intersect, meld, and become one. Love’s allure on one side of a dark carousel, arms outstretched, trusting, hoping, believing; Tragedy’s hunger on the other side, many-limbed, voracious, and insatiable. 

There is never a more deadly or more honest embrace than Love aching over Tragedy’s grief, and Tragedy admiring Love’s hope. 

The webbing that traps them is of a unique substance that is anchored upon several lives running through the course of time, and the creator of the web, the unseen forces of order and chaos, grow fat on the husks of withering love and forlorn sorrow.

None of us have to share our stories with anyone else, but we must, because we want to see the reflection of our existence in the recognition of other people’s joy and other people’s pain. We want to be remembered, for something, whether grand or miniscule, by someone. 

And so starts the first strand of my story…
My mother, Sarah Good, died before my eyes on July 19th, 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. I, Dorothy Good, had just turned five years old. A week prior to her death, a policeman, assisted by another man I had never seen before and wished to never see again, knocked on our door while Mother was away at the grocery. My father opened the door to them and ushered them inside the darkened foyer. Our house was always dark and the policeman made a comment on it, to which my father only shook his head, exasperated, sighing, saying, “It’s the way she likes it.” 

Meaning, of course, my mother. 

My father nervously checked his waistcoat watch, a faded and worn golden instrument that dully reflected the nervousness of his eyes. I stood near the coat rack, five feet from them, but they paid me no heed for I was only a child, not to mention the daughter of the accused. 
The policeman’s name was O’Connor, and in true Irish fashion he smelled of rotten things, secrets and fanaticism. He was short and wide. His officer’s cap was smudged with street grime. He looked like one of us, one of the poor, but surely, he wasn’t. He was a man of power, though to a limited degree, working for and answering to men much more influential than he could ever be, much like Father was and did. 

The stranger with Officer O’Connor was tall and lean and wore the garb of a priest. His eyes were soft and his face pale, slightly doughy. He had about him the manner of a demon in the set of his mouth, a cruelty reserved normally only for the most debased. He noticed me first. He smiled a horrific smile, extended his arm, and that dry, cool hand settled on the top of my head as if he wished to hold me in place. He whispered, while Father and the policeman spoke quietly, “There is a great darkness here. Have you known about it for a time?”

My father had told me there would be questions like this. 

I nodded, which took great effort due to the weight of his hand on my skull. 

O’Connor turned, raising a hand to silence my father. He straightened his back and rested both hands on the thick black belt about his waist. His smile was warmer than the priest’s, but just barely. He said, “Aye, the little one.” Then he knelt in front of me and I was afraid that he would touch me like the Priest was touching me, and I was angry with my father for letting either treat me as they saw fit. But my father was powerless, and he was a coward. 
O’Connor stroked my cheek. He said to the priest, “Do you think she’s troubled?”

The priest, who had not had the courtesy to introduce himself, said, “Very.”

My father had told me they would say things like this. I opened my mouth to speak but words failed me because the game we were playing was tiring. It wasn’t fun like Father said it would be, and even as a small child, I knew that the game, as he called it, that we were running on my mother was no game at all. It would have dire consequences, only, at the time, I had no idea what they might be other than her arrest, given the presence of the policeman who walked our street, and others like it, his bulbous belly only slightly ahead of his bulbous nose, his feet always aching as they hauled him from one troubling encounter to the next. 

But, as I’ve said, it was really the priest who troubled me. He was a scale for souls, weighed the common man’s shortcomings, sought out vileness he saw squirming about in the shadows where sunlight could not reach. His hand continued to cup my head and hold me in place. He leaned forward slightly and my eyes ached from looking up into his dusty and stricken and judgmental face.


Lee Thompson said...

Thanks so much, Rhonda! I'm going to be gone most of the day but will share this everywhere tonight! Hope you're well!

Lee Thompson/Thomas Morgan/James Logan/Julian Vaughn said...

Eek, Roxanne! Sorry for changing your name. I was drunk at the time.