Stacey – Welcome to The Horror Tree, Thomas. It’s great to have you. Tell us a little about yourself?
Thomas – I was born and raised in California, where I lived all but 5 of my 46 years of life. I am a Union electrician in addition to being a trained Dairy manager for Grocery stores, a MANPADS military crewmember, certifiably insane (if the doctors are to be believed) while surviving PTSD from childhood and adult abuses and dealing with the depression that comes with them. Happily married to wife 2.0 and currently living in New Mexico (fewer people, more rain).
Stacey – What is your favourite holiday spot?
Thomas – I was going to say the beach, but wife 2.0 has family in Minnesota/Wisconsin with beachfront property on a small lake that is heaven any time of the year. I will always be a ocean beach bum at heart though.
Stacey – What’s one place real or imagined that you’d love to travel to?
Thomas – Heaven. They have some explaining to do. Right after I visit Hell.
Stacey – Which author living or dead inspires you?
Thomas – There are so many. Jonathan Maberry immediately comes to mind. He has done so much for me and with me. Early on: J.R.R. Tolkien, Piers Anthony, David and Leigh Eddings, Gary Gygax and the rest of the D&D world. Today: Jim Butcher, Dana Fredsti, Raymond E. Feist, Christopher Moore, Hal Bodner, Del Howlison, Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire, Janny Wurtz, to name a few.
Stacey – Do you draw inspiration from real life experiences?
Thomas – When I do, things get scary, but, yes, many of my life experiences come out in the terror that my characters feel and the ruthlessness of my villains.
Stacey – Do you find anything particularly challenging about writing? Do you write daily?
Thomas – Doing it daily. Since I am not able to be a full-time writer, and having moved 4 times in the last 2 years, I have not devoted to the time writing that I should. Additionally, I am “splurge” writer in that I can sit and type out 5,000 words and actually have half of them be useable. I can do this for a few days at a time, then the well dries up and I don’t type again for several days. The story is still going in my mind however and it usually gets weirder before the next splurge.
Stacey – Do you need music or complete silence to write?
Thomas – I have used both and it depends on if it is on when I start. I don’t have set playlists or anything and the silence is usually broken up by mad laughter or arguments with my characters.
Stacey – What’s the best writing advice you could give someone just starting out?
Thomas – Write every chance you get. Take notes when you are not typing. Keep a notebook and pen/pencil handy to write down conversations your characters are having. NEVER GIVE UP.
Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish reading? Which book and why?
Thomas – Lord of the Flies…it bored me, even in high school. All Quiet on the Western Front… I knew more about war than the teacher did. I don’t usually pick up a book unless I like the author or the content, so I can’t think of any others off the top of my head right now. I will admit to not reading much non-fiction however.
Stacey – What’s the last horror movie you watched?
Thomas – Get Out. Probably one of the best movies I have seen in the last few years.
Stacey – What scares you?
Thomas – Failure. It is my hardest thing to fight against and not give up hope on. There are many days where I fight to get out of bed and many more where I fight to go to sleep because of the sense of failure that stalks me.
Stacey – Do you believe in writers’ block?
Thomas – All blocks are either made to be broken or built upon.
Stacey – What are you working on at the moment?
Thomas – A vampire novel where the vampires are actually evil and not driven by human desires. Additionally, they don’t die easily… if at all.
Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?
Thomas – “One thing about being around dead bodies in dark woods, alone, at night, with just a flashlight: your senses are on overdrive. My sense of smell had given up over the stench of death so close to me and the garlic on my neck, while my eyes were trying to look in a million different directions at once. Touch was consumed with being used as little as possible and there wasn’t ANYTHING I wanted to taste there. But my ears were free and not really being consciously used because there wasn’t anything to hear in woods at night except for insects. The problem was, I didn’t hear ANY insects. That was the only warning I got before I was hit by a wrecking ball across my back and shoulders. I fell flat on my face and started rolling to my left to try and see what the hell had hit me.
One good thing about learning a little bit from every fighter I could when I was a kid: I didn’t fight with any one style, I fought to win and I was more than willing to fight dirty to do so. As soon as I felt the ground solid under my back, I hunched myself up like an upside down turtle. Sure enough, the next thing I felt was something on top of me and so I clawed at the area where a face should be. I was rewarded with a grunt of pain that told me two things: there was a person there and I still had my gloves on. Still, it was a start and when I felt the pressure of the body on top of me shift from being flat against me to a more sitting position, I flexed my back, bucked out with my legs and twisted my hips to dump this guy off of me. This allowed me to grab my first toy.
The next time I felt something grab me, I quickly placed the stun gun against it and reveled as it screamed and let go. This time I was able to get to my feet and grab a smaller flashlight off the other side of my belt. Turning it on, I finally saw my attacker and knew I had been lucky so far. It was the same male creature I had seen last night. Its hair was dirty and matted, not just unwashed, but with clumps of dirt and leaves sticking to it. His hands were long with broken nails at the ends. He wasn’t wearing shoes, socks or much of anything else for clothing. I noticed he was starting to move and so I reached down and hit him with the stunner again; he screamed, twitched and then became very still. For some reason, this worried me more than anything so far and so I scanned around for my backpack and quickly ran to it once spotted.
By the time I had grabbed a stake and the hatchet, I could literally feel the vampire stalking me. I looked back at where I had left him and saw nothing other than the disturbed earth from our scuffle. I placed my back against a tree and tried to quiet my breathing like last night so I could get an idea of where he might be. As I stood there listening, I tried to figure out why he had been able to attack me when I had been wearing my garlic! That was when I noticed the weight of the necklace was gone and a quick look down proved that the garlic was missing and my clothes were ripped to shreds! The bastard had clawed my necklace off of me and ripped my shirt! If not for the stunner, I would probably be vampire food right now.
That thought brought back the memory of that poor girl: torn, broken, being fed upon, asking “why?” over and over. I REFUSED to end up like her and with that thought foremost in my mind, I crouched lower against the tree, grabbed my pack and started circling around the tree. I felt foolish for grabbing the stake now when my vampire was not yet in a position to be killed.
My flashlight was useless to me as it was busy lighting up the area near their bodies. This meant I needed light and quickly! Keeping a tree at my back and listening for the approach of my enemy, I dropped the stake and grabbed out a road flare. To light it I had to drop the hatchet as well, but then I lit three of them in rapid order; tossing one to my left and one to my right. I didn’t see any menacing shadows coming towards me and so I prepared to light the third one when my inner street smarts finally broke through and I snapped my head around to look above me.
There, not more than 20 feet away and already crouched to hurl himself towards me was my vampire (geesh, “my vampire”). I could see the redness of his eyes and the redness of the flare light on his fangs and nails. He hissed something as he flew towards me and so I dropped the flare and pulled out a new toy for his nastiness: my crucifix!
He dropped down in front of me even as I brought the crucifix up and out towards his face, while moving towards my left. Imagine my surprise when he didn’t recoil from me in horror, but actually LAUGHED at me.
“You are no hunter! You are just food pretending it can hunt. I will enjoy eating you for the little pain you have caused me….”
I am sure he said other things but there is a funny thing about creatures that “know” they are stronger than you, they like to talk and they like to threaten you; I think it is a testosterone thing. Whatever it is, it allowed me time to dig around at my feet for my backpack and pull out of a side pocket something I prayed would make an impact, my holy water!
By the time it was in my hand though, he had finished whatever he had been saying and I found myself with vampire on my chest and my back on the ground. Now, mind you, having your crucifix laughed at can be disheartening; but when you hit a vampire in the head with a mason jar of holy water, there is a VERY satisfying moment when just the IMPACT of the jar hitting his dead flesh and his gasp of surprise at the suddenness of the attack makes him flinch, giving your left hand time to bring up the hatchet it found next to your prone body and bash the OTHER side of his head. Unfortunately, that had the same impact as if I had hit him with a nerf bat instead: no blood, no cracked skull, and no dead vampire.
It did help rattle his brains more though and instead of pushing his attack, he staggered back and away from me. With that brief opening, I used the hatchet to break the mason jar and fling the broken glass and water onto him. For once, something worked! I was rewarded with his screech of pain as he started clawing at the remains of his clothing to remove the holy water that had splashed onto his chest. My hand, almost of its own volition, dropped to my belt and snatched the pepper spray out of its pouch; I shook the can as I brought it up, pointed it at my vampire and sprayed.
If I thought he was hurt, I was wrong. He dodged the spray easily and even as I tried to get ahead of him with the spray, there was soon a tree blocking my line of sight and I lost him. That didn’t last long though as he appeared from the other side of the tree and sucker punched me so hard I was certain he had broken my jaw.
I was knew I was going to die at this point.”
Thank you so much for your time Thomas! If you would like to find out more about Thomas and his writing endeavours, check out the links below.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ThomasRaymondAuthor/
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