Interview with G. W. Thomas

Published 2014-05-10.
What are you working on next?
I am currently revising my mammoth Fantasy novel The Stealer of Names. This is really the main work about the Six Cities that "Dragontongue" and all those short stories float around. New things I am working on include a series of novellas about Torel the Gelt as well as some new Book Collector tales. After that, I'll be editing Jack Mackenzie's next SF novel (out this summer!)
Who are your favorite authors?
That's an awfully long list, but to pick some key writers in different genres: horror - H. P. Lovecraft, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, William Hope Hodgson. In Fantasy - Robert E. Howard, J. R. R. Tolkien, Clark Ashton Smith, Jack Vance. In Adventure - Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. R. Haggard. In Western - Louis L'Amour, Chad Oliver. In Hard-boiled Mystery - Fredric Brown, Cornell Woolrich, Dash Hammett, Raymond Chandler. In other forms of Mystery - John Dickson Carr, Leslie Charteris, Rex Stout. In Historical - Michael Curtis Ford, Howard Fast, Harold Lamb. In ..... you get the idea.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Coffee. What inspires me to write after I get out of bed... more coffee.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a golden retriever/cocker spaniel cross named Arrow who keeps me pretty busy.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I have to admit I don't read a lot of new books. I am still trying to read all the old books that I really like first. I am more likely to read Arthur Conan Doyle than James Patterson. I recall Michael Moorcock saying he likes to read the first books in a genre when things were trying to figure themselves out. I'm like that too.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. Do i still have it. yes. It was called "The Night Runner". It was about a future society where people were allowed to kill people with their cars so there were special force fields around the sidewalks. The main character is one of a select few who liked the challenge of avoiding cars outside the protection of the sidewalks. It was pretty bad and I haven't done anything with it. I followed it with "The Suit" and "The Man Who Would Be King", both of which are in The Book of the Black Sun. I got better.
What is your writing process?
I don't recommend anyone following what I do. Do the opposite. I just get an idea and run with it. No outline, nada. Big surprise, I have several unfinished stories. This was the same method Leigh Brackett used. I find it gives the story a sparkle that planned writing doesn't. It's not a very efficient way to write though.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I can't remember the very first, but I can remember the very first that made me want to be a writer. This was the book The Jungle Tales of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I read it on summer vacation when I was 12. It was the black Ballantine edition with the Neal Adams artwork. I was doomed to a life of writing from that moment on.
How do you approach cover design?
I am very lucky in that I don't have to worry about this. I let my partner M. D. Jackson do that. When he isn't busy rocking new covers into existence, he throws on a disguise and writes as Jack Mackenzie. M. D. and G. W. both started as artists so we don't really struggle with this. I like an impact cover like the old Frazettas of the 1970s.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Desert island stuff, eh? I think the five most important books for me as a writer (not necessarily those I'd want on an island or my "favorites") are: Downward to the Earth by Robert Silverberg, because it showed me when I was young that books could be more than Jungle adventures; The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham and I am Legend by Richard Matheson because they taught me a lot about monsters, and The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett because it taught me to be more natural in my style. There are others but these will do.
What do you read for pleasure?
This is a hard one for a working writer. I read many books for research for non-fiction articles. I read manuscripts for editing. But when I just want to relax and enjoy a book I usually gravitate toward books that are not SF/F/H because they might influence my writing in a way I don't want. I read a lot of Mystery, Western and Adventure because of this. I especially enjoy Erle Stanley Gardner, Leslie Charteris and Rex Stout when I just want a fun read.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use a Sony e-Reader. I'm not married to it but I like it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Trade secrets, eh? I will admit recommend the following: create a website with lots of free stuff on it. Readers want to get to know you. Give them a place to do that. Share your passions with them. This is really want we want most out of being a writer (money is good too). We want to share with others what's floating around inside us. Do that. Start a blog, build a website. Don't use it like a hammer to pimp books. Just be cool....
Describe your desk
Laptop on one side, pile of stuff I try to ignore on the other (like my cell phone). Nothing fancy. I do try to limit my toys and knick-knacks because I'd just play with Daleks and dinosaurs all day instead of working.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Born and raised in Canada. The Canadian mind is an odd thing in that when a fan sent me an email that said "I thought you were British." I was pleased. That's the old legacy of Canada, looking back to the UK. I should have waved a maple leaf or something but again, being Canadian, that would be very un-Canadian.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing poetry in Grade 4 or 5. I was very lucky to have accommodating teachers who encouraged me (or suffered me in silence, you decide.) I owe them a lot. My first published work was "City in the Sea" in Chaosium's Cthulhu Now! Role-playing games gave me a place to exercise my story-telling before I took the plunge into prose.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Stealer of Names is a 120,000 wrd Fantasy novel that features two main characters: Alkali, a founding raised by seal-hunters who seeks her lost heritage, and Nex, a wizard who has had his name stolen from him. Both go on a journey to find and destroy the Stealer of Names, a towering figure of evil and possess of millions of names. It's an epic Fantasy with plenty of sword & soul (to borrow a phrase from Charles Saunders).
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've been involved with ebooks from the early days, say 1999 and on. I've always been intrigued with niche publishing. The large companies, though producing nice books, often over-looked the more interesting tales in favorite of profits.(I understand this as a business model. I'm not slagging anyone.) I've always been interested in those small-run books that people find and never give up as opposed to a quick read from the airport bookshop, read and abandoned. I've watched ebooks struggle through the days of rejection and disbelief to today when they are the majority venue. Back then, we always said, "We just need an e-reader that can present books as well as paper." That day has arrived.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
We like Smashwords. I suppose that sounds obvious or insincere. Here's why: other vendors (and we like them too) are still novel or large book oriented. This is an old paradigm. Smashwords is more open to smaller works. That's what we have chosen to do with Smashwords, use it to sell individual stories as well as the larger books. This flexibility will one day be the norm.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
To re-read something i wrote a long time ago and see that it holds up. Or even better surprises me with a flourish of wordly magic.
What do your fans mean to you?
Again, I could be insincere and go on about how they are the most important, etc. etc. but I think that would be a bit of a lie. I like my fans, don't get me wrong. But I always write for myself first. That's how you stay true. I will say this for my fans though: I like to think of them as regular people, someone I could sit in a coffee shop and chat with. I'm not at home wearing a cape and contemplating skulls Hamlet style. I'm just a dude who plays with ideas and words and love a good cup of coffee.
Will you ever retire from writing?
Never. Even if the Internet Gods decide I can't sell a single book, I'll still be writing away. Until I can create a single moment as perfect as that Neal Adams cover on The Jungle Tales of Tarzan back when i was 12, until then I have work to do.
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Latest books by This Author

Ghoultide Greetings: Horror Stories For Christmas
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 40,730. Language: English. Published: May 11, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Ghost
Eighteen tales for your yuletide pleasure. From vampires and Frankenstein's monster to alien invaders and Lovecraftian squidgies, G. W. Thomas offers up a treeful of presents, each decorated in terror. Features an afterword on Christmas ghosts by the author.
The Book of the Black Sun II: The Book Collector
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 67,200. Language: English. Published: May 11, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Crime
In 2002 G. W. Thomas published the first volume in this series, featuring Cthulhu Mythos tales that hinted at a world filled with spinning gateways that lead to terror. Finally, he has returned with the sequel collection that fans have begged for: the Book Collector. Set in the same world as the previous book, the tales of the Book Collector are fast-paced Noir Mysteries as well as horror stories.
The Book of the Black Sun
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 59,410. Language: English. Published: May 11, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
The Book of the Black Sun is thirty-two Lovecraftian tales of terror arranged in eight sections, each containing a micro, a flash, shorter story and a longer story. Motifs of strange books, evil creatures and spinning disks that form doorways to other realms are woven throughout the tales, making the final product a creepy, self-referential mandala in itself.
The Children of Cain
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,760. Language: English. Published: May 6, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
He survived a great battle with the Saxons only to find himself in an impossible world of wind-swept plains and strange rivers. He discovers an eerie city and encounters its only inhabitants .. the Children of Cain.
Dragontongue
Series: The Six Cities, Book 9. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,500. Language: English. Published: May 5, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The trows have taken Tantri's young children and it is up to Torel the Gelt to get them back or to kill them for anything is better than being a captive of the trows. Taking the terrible job he follows their trail but it ends in a mystery. The trows are dead! And something even worse has the young girls...Dragontongue.
In Their Pleasant Palaces
Series: The Six Cities, Book 8. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,900. Language: English. Published: May 5, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Princess Luantishee wanted only to find the Kalduun crossroads but the people of the little village had other ideas. They wanted her to slay their dragon. But the dragon was no longer a threat, having grown old and weary. So why was she there? The village burgher's evil plans made a pawn of her and that would never do for the Silver Princess of Sadavol, bearer of the magical sword Ensate!
Skeleton Tor
Series: The Six Cities, Book 7. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,030. Language: English. Published: May 5, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Torel warned the strangers to stay away from Skeleton Tor, home of the evil race known as the trows. But the trio have other ideas, ideas that include Sri Lan, the beautiful healer. Their plans will take them to very heart of Skeleton Tor, to its very secret beginnings.
Wekka`s Gold
Series: The Six Cities, Book 6. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,230. Language: English. Published: May 3, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Liaro is on a desperate hunt for his wife and child. Foolish Wekka has taken their baby and gone in search of the legendary treasure in the temple. Only death and worse wait there. Can Liaro find them in time before the terrible guardian reveals the secret of Wekka`s gold.
A Claymore For Dragon
Series: The Six Cities, Book 5. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,130. Language: English. Published: May 3, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Murder in the dragons' den! Vrashkor has been framed for the murder of Grimbolt and his time is running out. Someone has killed the other dragon with a human sword and if the dragon detective can't find out which of his fellows is the culprit he will die by tooth and claw.
The Godsend
Series: The Gods Have Left Us, Book 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,110. Language: English. Published: April 30, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Teric the Bane-Blood is back. After his terrifying adventures in "Black God's Burden", the warrior seeks shelter from his curse. Unfortunately he falls into the hands of the unscrupulous Brother Jardin who exploits his curse for his own profit. Only by better understanding his curse can Teric win his freedom.
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