Reviews – Two Books & A Movie

According to my Blog Calendar, this is the weekend I should be posting some sort of review, be it a book or a movie. This time around, being as I’ve been so intent on finishing up the first draft of my next Barnesville Chronicle novel this past month, reading anything too long and deep just hasn’t happened.

I haven’t watched any movies worth reviewing. Unless stating that The Adventures of Baron Munchausen isn’t my cup of tea, counts as a review. Technically it’s not a Monty Python movie, but Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle were both involved in its creation, as was Robin Williams! You’d think with that sort of line-up, it’d be something more amazing than I found it to be. It just left me confused and wondering what sort of drug Gilliam was on when he came up with all this. About halfway through, I decided I had more interesting things to do, like sort through my dresser for old clothes worthy of being donated somewhere.

Moving along, I did do a bit of reading.

Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn is a collection of short stories of the horror variety. There’s always a touch of envy in me for people who can pull off a successful short story. In a mere 112 pages, Israel managed to keep me fully engaged and amused for about ten days. As with any collection or anthology, by even the most famous of writers, there are going to be stories that readers will enjoy more than others. I have to be honest and say that there were a few in this collection I didn’t quite ‘get’ or felt like they were lacking somehow. However, the majority of them I thoroughly enjoyed and enough so that I’d easily consider picking up more work from this up-and-coming author. My biggest complaint about this book is that it was far, far too short.

Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea was another quick read for me, coming in at 141 pages. Hunter is a pro at sucking the reader in and half-chewing them before spitting them back out covered in blood, goo, and whatever other sorts of partially digested stomach contents may have been in there at the time. And I mean that in nicest way possible. If you enjoy monster killing mayhem and madness, you really should check out not just Loch Ness Revenge, but all his other cryptid tales. I have the same complaint with this as I did Israel’s book – too short. I wanted more details about the characters and their lives, but with these shorter books, Hunter’s skills and talents as a story teller aren’t being put to their full potential. I really do prefer his novel length works. For me, a story is only as good as how well I get to know the players.

Short and sweet this time around, folks. I have some thicker works reaching the top of my TBR pile now and with first draft of my latest Barnesville Chronicle, The Witch’s Backbone finally done, maybe I’ll find some breathing room to do more reading.

Author Interview – Thomas S. Gunther

As part of my New Year’s Resolution to reach out to more of my fellow authors and stop being such a hermit, I will be presenting you with a monthly author interview. The majority are of the horror genre, but I’ll slip in at least one YA and one Sci-Fi author just to mix it up a little bit.

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Let’s get the ball rolling with horror author, Thomas S. Gunther who specializes in short stories.

Pamela – Every writer has a story on how it began for them. When did you first begin to realize you had a knack for storytelling? Was there someone who influenced/encouraged you down the path of being a writer?
Thomas – Storytelling usually got me in trouble as a kid! But, seriously, I think it was an admiration for other storytellers that inspired me. My parents are both avid readers, and were diligent in reading to me as a kid. They introduced me to various classics. The adventurous pictures writers like Kipling and London painted engendered new stories in my own imagination. I started out as more of an artist than a writer, though, and my parents originally tried to discourage my writing–they wanted me to be a commercial artist. I wanted to draw dragons and talking animals, and hash out ideas stewing in my brain. If I had gotten serious earlier I’d have been more likely writing fantasy stuff now, which I might someday, anyway.

Pamela – It’s been said that in order to be a writer, you must be a reader.  What genre(s) do you enjoy reading and what was the last book you read that you really enjoyed?
Thomas – Because of my folks I learned to read at an early age, and read quite a bit, myself. I’ve read all kinds of stuff: the classics, science-fiction and fantasy,  horror, etc. If it hooks me from the start, I’ll usually read it all the way through, though sometimes I’ll lose interest and move on to something else. I am currently reading James Clavell’s, King Rat, and it’s fairly intriguing. But the last book I read that truly had an impact on me was Nabokov’s Lolita which was the driving inspiration behind my short story, Deviant. It’s such a taboo subject, and while it’s not one of my better stories, it was a lot of fun writing it. I’ll admit I rushed the ending, a fault I’m eternally working on, but it was an experiment of sorts, as I want to know just how far I can push the most disturbing subjects.

Pamela – Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. In general, what aspect of a story comes to you first? Do you have a powerful image of a setting, or maybe just a title?
Thomas – Titles are tricky for me. Sometimes I like the ones I come up with, and sometimes I struggle. But, I doubt I’ve ever written a story around a title, though I tried that when I was younger. My story ideas typically come to me as abstract thoughts. They might come to me at any time, regardless of what I’m reading, watching, or doing, and they will be incredibly vivid, but without form or shape. It’s like something I just know in my gut, but can’t quite put my finger on it. I think trying to do so is what I love most about writing, especially writing horror and anything macabre. Maybe it’s a way of pinning down specific fears. I don’t know. That’s a tough question.

Pamela – I’m often asked which of my novels is my best or favorite. Which of your own stories are you most proud of, and why?
Thomas – I dream of being able to say that. I can’t imagine what it’s like to actually complete a novel. But, to answer your question, I would have to say To Catch the Tears of Darkness. It still feels very different to me then my other work, and it wasn’t an easy story to write. I hate predators that prey on children. I tried to imagine what it was like for Chloe, and I had to put myself in a dark place. How awful. People seemed to really like that story, though, and I got a 5 star review from another writer. I liked that because it was non-biased, from someone I don’t really know. That encouraged me to keep going. That story began years ago as something completely different, and it’s undergone several phases. But, I think what I am proud of, and what I think other people like, is that I think I touched on that awesome element that makes a story great.

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Pamela – I know one of your short stories was recently accepted by Jason Nugent’s blog page, (Almost) Average. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? Where and when will we be able to find it?
Thomas – Yeah, that was pretty cool. He just asked me out of the blue. He said he was going to start featuring unknowns like myself on his page, and asked me if I wanted to contribute something. I thought my story, Icarus Ascending was the best fit, the best way of introducing my work. If I recall what Jason told me, it should be featured late this month, within the last week I believe.

Pamela – Where can readers find out more about you and where can your work be found?
Thomas – I have a Facebook and Twitter account. The curious are often afforded some insight into what drives me there. As far as my actual work goes, you won’t find me on Amazon at the moment, though I hem and haw about publishing there, simply because Amazon is so dominant. But I’m far more comfortable publishing on #Smashwords–I feel I have more control of my work. But, I am relegated to the adult section, and that sort of makes my stuff difficult to find. However my stuff is available on several different eReader platforms like NOOK, Kobo, and I’ve even found myself listed on iTunes. Once I found one of my stories translated into German. I never did find out if it was anyone authorized to sell my work. I figured, right now, it’s more important for me to get my name out there then worry about making any money. But, on second thought, I need money. Give me money.

Thanks a lot, Thomas. I really enjoyed learning more about you and your work and I hope 2017 proves to be a super successful year of writing for you.

Folks, if you’d like to know more about Thomas and his work, I’m sure he’d love for you to visit and like him on Facebook, give him a Follow on Twitter, and check out his books over at Smashwords. Be sure and read his short story that will be appearing over at Jason Nugent’s website later this month. If you like what you read, look into his other short stories and post a review!

Thomas Gunther on FACEBOOK
Thomas Gunther on TWITTER
Thomas Gunther on SMASHWORDS
Jason Nugent’s – (Almost) Average