Saturday, May 29, 2021

Interview With Author Tom Deady

 Today we've got another treat, an interview with author Tom Deady

Tom was born and raised in Massachusetts, and has endured a career as an IT professional. He has a Masters Degree in English and Creative Writing from SNHU, and is a member of both the Horror Writers Association and the New England Horror Writers. His first novel, HAVEN, won the 2016 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. He has a number of other titles, including his new one, Of Men and Monsters--

Let's find out more...

Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A. Like many kids growing up in the seventies, I read a lot of comic books. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I leaned toward stuff like Unexpected and Tales from the Crypt. But what fascinated me as much as the stories and the artwork were those ads in the back. Charles Atlas (yes, I was the kid that got sand kicked in his face), X-Ray Glasses, and, of course, Sea Monkeys. I always wondered, what if they just kept growing?

Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

A. I very rarely outline. I start, as you said, with the germ of an idea, and let it grow. Sometimes that’s a single scene or even just a character. Of Men and Monsters started out being just a fun “creature feature” story. Kind of a throwback to something you might have found in an old comic book. Then, as often happens with my writing, the characters took over and told a very different story.

Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

A. There is a very strong coming-of-age vibe in the story, and of course the creature plays a role. In the end, I guess the theme is that humans are the real monsters. 

Q. Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?

A. I think it’s important for people to see they aren’t alone in their struggle. Domestic abuse is a real problem, and its victims are harmed emotionally and psychologically in addition to the physical abuse. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a kid to go through this, wondering why they’re going through it, thinking they did something wrong. Maybe someone reading this will be helped, even in some small way.

Q. What makes a good book or engaging story?

A. For me, it’s all about the characters and creating empathy. If I don’t care about the fate of a character, the best plot in the world isn’t going to keep me reading. That goes for both the good guys and the bad guys. Sometimes, it’s just as much fun to root against the villain as it is to root for the protagonist. What I really like is the gray area in a character’s make-up. The hero who’s done bad things to survive or the serial killer who donates all his money to an orphanage. It’s the complexity of these characters that really intrigues me.

Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you? 

A, The coming-of-age theme is prevalent in horror. The “big three” in that category, for me, are:
It by Stephen King
Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
Summer of Night by Dan Simmons

Q. Each of these classics has had a major influence on my writing. There’s something about the magic of childhood and the importance of friendships that draws me to read these stories and to want to write them. Like King said in “The Body”: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, did you?“

A. Regarding the “people are the real monsters” I don’t think you have to look very hard to prove that one, just watch the news. But it’s also been examined quite a bit in the horror genre. Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a great example. The cruelty exhibited by the townspeople is what ultimately drives the story to its sad conclusion. Revisiting It, Bev’s father, Eddie’s mother, Bill’s parents, and numerous other adult characters represent evil in a different form than Pennywise, but evil nonetheless. I hope I’ve captured some of that in Of Men and Monsters.

Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions?

A. I hate to answer any question like this, but it can be both. There are stories that retell or modernize fables that include a “moral of the story” or a lesson to be learned. There are cautionary tales and stories with strong themes that really make the reader think. But, as Stephen King said in 11/22/63, “Sometimes a cigar is just a smoke and a story's just a story.”

Q. Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A. It really depends on the story. I always start out just trying to tell a good story. Sometimes, certain themes come into play based on a character’s behavior and I decide to use that, to focus on it throughout the story. In Haven, for example, the concept of redemption was evident with Paul Greymore from the start. As the story progressed, I was able to weave that theme into the arc of other characters. Usually, when I write short stories I tend to focus mainly on plot and the recurring themes or morals don’t develop within that word count restraint.

Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?
A. I feel like I started this journey so late in life that I have a lot to catch up on. I have no shortage of story ideas, and plenty of goals to achieve. I think every writer would like to see their work made into a film or television series, that’s a reach goal of mine. Winning the Bram Stoker Award for Haven was such a surreal and overwhelming experience, I’d love to be in the running again. Mostly, I just want to keep writing, and help other writers or aspiring writers in any way I can. I had a small writers retreat organized in 2020 but the pandemic put an end to that. I plan to revisit that as (hopefully) an annual event that people look forward to. I don’t know, I have a lot of things I want to accomplish!

Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise?

A. I wouldn’t say I write fast, but I don’t do a lot of rewrites. I like to get the story out of my head for the first draft as quickly as I can. I’m constantly taking notes throughout the process, and when I do the second draft, that’s when I layer in any recurring themes or add foreshadowing. The second draft is also where I try to create a specific atmosphere for each scene. I bring the five senses into play, add description to the setting or characters, and tailor dialogue to match the mood I’m trying to create. Then I do one more read and fix anything I find wrong. After that, it’s off to the editors for a red ink bath!

Q. When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

A. Most of the time, I’m very happy with it. I’m always excited to be “done” with a story and eager to hear how it’s received once it’s out in the wild. There was only one instance where I was getting tired of a story because I’d done so many rewrites. But, it was all worth it – the story was better for all the extra work. Editors know their stuff!

Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?

A. I have a couple of go-to editors I use regularly, Ben Eads and Linda Nagle. In addition to the fundamental tasks of grammar, word use, and punctuation, Ben and Linda challenge me to dig deeper into a plot or take bigger chances with my characters. I can honestly say that there are very few changes they suggest that I don’t accept. Both really know their stuff and are exceptional to work with.

Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. I had a lot of help when I was starting out. The horror community is an amazing group of like-minded people who will do anything they can to help an aspiring writer. I’d like to do that as well. As far as advice goes, I think the worst advice for a new writer is the old “write every day” saw. It’s an intimidating and overwhelming concept for someone who is probably working a full-time job and raising a family. I like to modify it to say write as much as you can. Set a reasonable word-count goal and try to achieve it. It’s amazing how quickly those words pile up!

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?

A. Many of my books are available in audio form. I think it’s a great medium, especially for folks who have long commutes. My dream is to have a film or television adaptation done. I think Haven would make a great one-season series on Netflix or Shudder. Of Men and Monsters, on the other hand, would be a great episode of Creepshow. A guy can dream, right?

Q. What's the next step in your writing world?

A. I have my first YA horror novel coming out this summer. The Clearing will be published by Vesuvian Media Group on August 10th. I’m really excited about this one and I’m already working on book two in the series. Next up is the sequel to Eternal Darkness. I ended that book on a pretty big cliffhanger and there are a few fans that may show up with torches and pitchforks if I don’t get the sequel out. I’m hoping to get that one published by the end of the year, early 2022 at the latest. I’ve also got a ghost story novel and a zombie-type novel almost ready to go, and a creature feature novel underway. I just need more hours in the day!

Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

A. I was an extra on the first season of Hulu’s Castle Rock. I was a proud member of the Castle Rock Sheriff’s Dept. Unfortunately, there aren’t any scenes where you can actually tell it’s me. Oh, and the rules during filming were pretty strict (they made us give up our phones) so I don’t even have a picture of myself in uniform. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Q. Any other information you'd like to impart?

A. I’d just like to thank everyone who’s supported me over the years. Far too many people to name and I’d surely forget a few. As I mentioned, the horror community is amazing and I’m thrilled to be a part of the family. Also, thank you, Dale, for giving me the chance to ramble on about myself and my work.


Web page: My web site is where you can purchase signed copies of my books and sign up for my newsletter.

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