AN INTERVIEW WITH JEFFREY THOMAS

Published October 31, 2014 by MommaCat

JeffThomas2013

 

1) What’s your earliest memory about storytelling?

I was in the hospital for a hernia operation at a very young age, sharing a room with my Dad, who was in for a double hernia. While he was in surgery, I started working on a comic book, its cover portraying a lot of battling stick figures. I was simply going to title the comic WAR, and forego any other text, but I got weepy because I wasn’t sure how to spell it. (I think I might have been missing my Dad, too.) Since those days my stories have gone on to have many more thousands of words than just a title.

2) If you could live during any era in any land, real or imaginary, where would it be and why?

It would be here and now. I am the sum of all the years I’ve accumulated, all the relationships and experiences and achievements those years have contained, so I need to stay on the temporal trajectory that has defined my existence. Though I would like to visit other time periods, it would only be briefly. Imaginary lands, though…hm…that’s another story. I know I’d like to visit my far-future setting of Punktown, but again…only briefly. Too dangerous to remain there for long. Having said all this, I would very much love to live half of every year in Vietnam, a country I’ve visited nine times to date, and dearly love. My daughter is half Vietnamese.

3) Do you write every day? Would you still write if you didn’t need to make money?

God how I wish I wrote every day — and in the past, I pretty much did — but today my day job and parenting consume most of my time and energy (not that I begrudge the latter). As for money…ha, I make so little money at writing (as is the case for most writers, I’m afraid) that if I was doing it with monetary gain as my main motivation, rather than artistic gratification, I’d have given up in despair decades ago.

4) How much research do you do?

I am crazy obsessive about research. If I’m writing a story set in modern day Viet Nam, for instance, and I say so-and-so got into a car, suddenly I’m Googling what make of cars are on the streets in Viet Nam. Though I do enjoy doing research, it can really slow down the writing process, but the risk comes in potentially slowing down the reading process with an excess of researched material. It has to be balanced, and you often discard more of the fruits of research than you use. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I like to work so much in Punktown; I’m inventing that world, so I don’t have to research it, unless it’s only to look at my earlier Punktown stories for the sake of consistency.

5) What’s your comfort food?

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I could eat them every day. For long stretches, I do! My comfort beverage is coffee; I’m a coffee addict, as anyone who knows me could attest.

6) What if you could trade bodies with one person for one day? Who would that be?

My daughter Jade, I guess, so I could see the world through the eyes of a five-year-old girl. I don’t remember being five. Or a girl.

7) Who are the authors that influenced your life the most?

That’s hard to answer, because it’s difficult to pick only a few names. Different writers have affected me in different ways, and even after all these years I’m still learning more about the craft, and receiving new inspiration, every time I delve into a new book of merit. But if I have to give just a few names, I might mention Ray Bradbury and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Both men transported me to their own marvelous rendition of Mars, and taught me how exciting it is to create a fantastical setting for your characters to inhabit. Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, being an unrelated series of stories taking place within a single otherworldly setting, has definitely been a big influence on my ongoing series of novels and short stories set in Punktown.

Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre
The Cipher – Kathe Koja
House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski

Oh wait, I can’t stop! I’m a glutton for punishment…

The collected poems of Anne Sexton
1984 – George Orwell
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
The Godfather – Mario Puzo
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
A Princess of Mars – Edgar Rice Burroughs
Gorky Park – Martin Cruz Smith
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
The Books of Blood – Clive Barker (cheating, I know!)
Daybreak – 2250 A. D. – Andre Norton

8) Who would you like to co-author a book with?

Living or dead? Assuming it’s someone alive, and thus nbomeone with whom I might conceivably collaborate, I’ll say Clive Barker. We both have pretty out-there imaginations and that might make us compatible. In the past I’ve collaborated with two other favorite authors of mine: W. H. Pugmire (ENCOUNTERS WITH ENOCH COFFIN) and my brother Scott Thomas (PUNKTOWN: SHADES OF GREY).

9) What five people – living or dead- would you invite to a dinner party? (Universal translators will be provided)

I have to say Jesus…I’d like to know what he was really about. Yukio Mishima would be fascinating, as would Marlon Brando. Elvis Costello and Norah Jones could sing to us, and Norah is so damn cute.

10) How do you want the world to remember you?

As a writer who created his own universe to immerse himself in, while making it accessible and alive for others. And yet, a writer who was also versatile in his storytelling, up to any challenge. A person who extolled creativity above all else, and embraced imagination to the fullest. And I’d like it said I was a good Dad. That’s the most important thing, isn’t it?

 

You certainly brought Punktown to life for me Jeffrey. And your versatility is amazing.  If you’re as good a dad as you are a storyteller, you are in great shape. I hope you’ll visit Cat After Dark again.   cảm ơn bạn đã ghé thăm

 

Jeffrey Thomas can be found at punktalk.punktowner.com/

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