The Horror Tree Presents….An Interview with Tade Thompson

The Horror Tree Presents….An Interview with Tade Thompson

By Ruschelle Dillon 


Ruschelle: Welcome to Horror Tree, Tade. Grab a sturdy branch and let’s dish on your upcoming novel: The Legacy of Molly Southbourne, the film deal for the Molly Southbourne series, your prestigious Arthur C Clark award for Rosewater, and your career as a hospital psychiatrist! I’m certain there’s so much more going on in your life so, how do you balance all the pieces of Tade? 

Tade: Hi Ruschelle! I’m glad to be here. 

Balance is not a problem. 

I think anything I am (doctor, psychiarist, writer, anthropologist) is a part of my identity, and that’s just because I don’t see identity as being composed of removable parts. Atomised me would still contain all those parts in tiny amounts.

Ruschelle: When did your love of science fiction begin? Was it sparked from a book, a movie? 

Tade: When I was five years old and saw Jack Kirby’s art in Fantastic Four King-size special #4.

Yes, that was super-specific.  I had to look up the exact issue because as a kid I read a reprint of it.


Ruschelle: Movies and television have created many different types of aliens. Do you have a favorite alien character? 

Tade:  I think it’s hard to beat Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett’s xenomorphs (shout out to freakishly tall Bolaji Badejo who first put on the suit).


 Ruschelle: The Molly Southbourne character from your soon-to-be-released finale in the chronicle is warned by her parents to never bleed. That’s one hell of a thing to try NOT to do, especially for a woman! Blood is painted and splattered across the horror and sci-fi genres (although in Sci-Fi it’s usually green or burns like acid). So, when you initially penned the first book, why did you choose blood instead of a flake of skin, a follicle of hair, or a drop of sweat?

Tade: Blood is more difficult to clean up and we bleed all the time (even though we usually are unaware of it). I feel the uncertainty of blood adds to the creeping dread. You can’t just vacuum up blood.

Ruschelle: Vacuuming would make quite a mess. So what inspired you to write the Molly Chronicles? 

Tade: An argument that suggested I was my own worst enemy. I wondered what it would be like if the metaphor was made flesh.


Ruschelle: When you first created Molly, did you plan on extending her story through three fantastic books? Or was it something that evolved organically as you extended her story page by page?

Tade: I knew the whole story from the start. They’re different perspectives of essentially the same problem. They just couldn’t be told in one book without it turning into something episodic. Nothing wrong with episodic; it just wasn’t what I wanted.

Ruschelle: Being a psychiatrist, what are some of the ways you weave what you’ve learned and experienced from your profession into your characters and their behaviors?

Tade: That’s a question about the nature of humanity and writing. That’s a philosophy text book. Too much to answer here.

Ruschelle: Because of your profession, do you ever read a book or watch movie and think yourself, that would NEVER happen?

Tade: ALWAYS. They almost always get the medicine wrong. They almost always get the psychiatry wrong.


Ruschelle: Have you ever used a case study from your work, and with a lot of tweaking and creative license, turned fact into fiction? While still respecting confidentiality, of course.

Tade: No.

Ruschelle: You are the 2019 Arthur C. Clark-Best Book Winner for Rosewater, the first book in the Wormwood trilogy. That is truly a prestigious award. Let’s make this question fun. How do you think Kaaro would react to an award being bestowed because of his story?

Tade: Kaaro wouldn’t care on account of being a slight misanthrope. Aminat’s a SF fan and would be delighted. She’d probably print T-shirts.

Ruschelle: Let’s go back to the beginning of creating the Wormwood Trilogy. What is something about Rosewater that even if a publisher asked you to rework or change, you would refuse because of its importance to you? And in retrospect, is there something you wish you could change or hadn’t dreamed up? 

Tade: I tend to like a book to speak for itself. 

Generally, I listen to the publisher (or editor because they represent the reader). I consider it. The publisher is putting up the money to shove the work in front of a reader and as such it’s my opinion that they should be heard (though not necessarily obeyed). But that’s just me. Other views exist 🙂


Ruschelle: As a creator, how do you choose what to keep and flesh out in a story and what is considered fat and needs to be trimmed? Authors love to chew on the fat! It’s tough to let those delicious fatty bits go.

Tade: If you read the Molly books, you can see that I’m a minimalist. No unnecessary words. No fat. I tend to get bored when things don’t move along. It can be a problem, depending on what genre you’re writing for.

I just wrote a space novel called Far from the Light of Heaven. I worked out all the empire stuff, but left it on the cutting room floor because I was more interested in the people and their interactions. 

I tell a story until it’s done. If that means 100 pages, so be it. If it means 100,000, that’s okay too. But no fat. 

Ruschelle: From stalking you properly for this interview, I noticed you have a soft spot for Frankenstein. Or should I say, Adam? I read your quote on Frankeinstein (giggle) and I agree. You wrote a story for the anthology, Creatures-The Legacy of Frankenstein. Most horror lovers have a monster that first seduced them into the genre. Mine was the Werewolf. Was Frankenstein’s monster yours? What drew you to him? 

Tade: Frankenstein’s creature was the first monster of my intellect, by which I mean the book was the first time that I intellectualized monsters and horror and science fiction. The creature as a neglected child made sense to me.

The first monsters that horrified and seduced me were sentient trees in a film called The Blue Rose (I don’t know the year, but it was some melodramatic swashbuckling thing) and these ghost-like creatures in Jack the Giant Killer (1962).

Ruschelle: I heard somewhere that when you were younger you used to write Hungry, Hungry Hippo fan fiction. I really need to hear about this. Would you share some with us? We were all young, budding writers who wrote young budding stories. LOL

Tade: Yes, I did. No, I won’t. 

It will never see the light of day. NEVER!

Ruschelle: Well, I had to try. Lol. A little birdy sat next to me on one of the Horror Tree limbs and mentioned a motion picture for Molly Southbourne may be in the works. Are you able to confirm or deny this? Are there any details you can share if it’s true? Or is it one of those deals where you might have to ‘off me’ if anything is revealed?

Tade: Molly has been optioned by Complete Fiction. The direction is a show rather than a feature. That’s all I can say right now.


Ruschelle: What project or projects are you working on that we all can look forward to reading, listening, or watching?

Tade: Wow. Okay, I have to be careful. The next thing you’re likely to see from me is a book called Jackdaw which might be a hard swallow for a lot of readers because it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever written. I have a few short stories coming out and I’m writing a show for TV, an adaptation of someone else’s work.

Ruschelle: Thank you so much for hanging out with me here at the Horror Tree! It’s been a pleasure. So, will you please tell your newfound fans how they might find you on the www?

Tade: Alas, I don’t do social media anymore. I’m hunkered down in a dank basement, writing new stuff.

Thanks for having me!


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