Richard Thomas

C&C: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I remember playing cowboys and indians. I loved watching Speed Racer. And I also loved baseball, so I think I had a lot of big dreams, most of which fell by the wayside as I grew older. I always loved writing and reading though, even in grade school, so as boring as it sounds, being a writer, an author, is something I’ve thought about for a long time. Although, if I had to change my occupation, and be something other than an author, I’d love to be a professional athlete. I only play softball now, or maybe a round of golf or some tennis. I try not to get hurt. I’ve seen people have their heads split open, tendons snap while running around second base, wrists broken diving for a ball in the outfield. I used to pitch, but stopped, because the ball comes back at you so fast. I took a shot off my left knee, thought it shattered my knee-cap, as it flew over the chain-link fence, but it was okay. Violent sport.

C&C: Did you wear superhero underoos?
I do believe that I did. I remember Superman of course, Batman, and I believe, Aquaman, of all things. Gave you special powers at night, yeah? Putting that big “S” on your shirt, you feel like you can do anything. I have given my son a couple of those blue t-shirts, even stopped by the Superman museum in Metropolis, Illinois, no joke. It’s on the way down to Kentucky, where I studied for my MFA program. Cool place.

C&C: Have you ever broken into a pool/hot tub area in the middle of the night in Los Angeles?
Can I plead the fifth on that? Why yes, that does sound familiar. Some foreign women with accents, I believe. Shocked we didn’t get caught. When I looked at the photos from the recent trip to LA that I didn’t make, it made me a little sad. I had so much fun in LA, was great to finally meet so many wonderful people, yourself included. I still can’t believe we didn’t get busted. It was so surreal at the reading and party to hang with Craig Clevenger. I still feel like an idiot for LITERALLY unloading a suitcase of books for him to sign. And I’m using the word “literally” correct here. Literally.

C&C: Is Halloween your favorite holiday? If not, what is and why?
As much as I love all of the candy, and I’ve got a sweet tooth, I think it has to be Christmas. The mystery of it all, the gift or gifts that you asked for all year, the kind of big ticket items that would keep you awake at night, lego sets or maybe that GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip, Eve Knievil, Stretch Armstrong. It was magic. But Halloween is a special night, it definitely gets me thinking about ghosts and the unexplainable. I’ve often gone as a vampire to costume parties. My wife and I went as the side tables with lampshades on our heads—a couple of “one-night stands.” It’s kind of an inside joke because nobody thought that we would become a couple, we’re very different people (on the outside). She’s much more conservative, and I was a drunken whore back then. But it turned out we have a lot in common, similar values. Worked out. She went as a “Golden Ticket” one Halloween party (Willy Wonka theme) and I woke up with glitter all over me, that’s all I’m saying about it. Golden ticket, indeed.

C&C: What do you have in your pockets?
Man, I wish it was more exciting. A handful of credit cards, my Murray State University student ID, my library card, some cash ($24), and a Honey Lemon cough drop, as I have a bit of a sore throat. Oh, also, a shrunken head, some gaudy tiger lighter, and a handful of magic beans. Damn, I forgot to plant those. Those are going to go bad. Total waste of a cow.

C&C: Have you ever been bitten by an animal? 
When I was a young Boy Scout I went hiking in New Mexico at the Philmont Scout Ranch. I was the youngest age you could be and still go. Maybe 14? We hiked 110 miles in 10 days, with everything we needed on our back, including dried food, tents, sleeping bags, etc. It was intense. We saw a mama bear and her cub, maybe twenty feet off the trail, and I even went running after them because I didn’t have my camera ready. Later in camp I heard a rattling noise and looked over to see a rattlesnake maybe three feet from me. I yelled for yelp and my scoutmaster came over with a long stick and flung it away. A few days later we came to this little camp up in the mountains, where we drank root beer until we threw up. We had a relay race, and as I was running behind a mule, it kicked out, and caught me in the upper thigh. Mere inches from probably crushing my testicles and most likely making me sterile for life. I was okay, but it was very close.

C&C: How do you feel about Bono? He’s loathsome, I think. Agree or disagree and support your answer 🙂
I loved U2 when I was in college, loved listening to BOY and WAR. Great albums. I think he means well, has the time and money to try and change things. I see no reason that an artist can’t make significant changes in the world, but yeah, the politics, it’s hard at times to take anybody serious. All of politics makes me kind of sick. I don’t feel like a cog in the machine, I feel like a ghost in the machine.

C&C:  What’s the most difficult/interesting question your kids have thrown at you so far?
We haven’t had the sex talk yet, the twins are only 8, but it’s gotten close. Probably explaining the whole tooth fairy thing, that she isn’t real. My daughter was crying, asking why we lied to her, and for awhile there, we didn’t know what to say, my wife and I. Why DID we lie to them about these things? We told her that we loved her and her brother, and at a time when they were in pain (losing a tooth) and scared, the tradition of the tooth fairy was something that all parents told their children about in order to comfort them and get their minds off the pain and blood and shock of it all. But it did make me think for a second about traditions. Sometimes we pass these things on without really stopping to think about why we’re doing it.

C&C: At what point did you realize “I’d rather be writing than -whatever else you had been doing-“?
Somewhere between that first class I took with Craig Clevenger, deciding to get my MFA, and my story “Stillness” coming out in Shivers VI with Stephen King and Peter Straub. I mean, those guys are my idols, I NEVER thought in a million years that I’d be published alongside them. Craig’s telling me I had ability, that really meant a lot. My wife willing to let me spend money and time to go after my MFA, that made it serious. Selling my first book, recently acquiring an agent, it all validated what I was doing. But it’s really the pleasure I get from telling stories, from creating a unique point of view. When somebody on the other side of the world tells me on Facebook that they loved my book, that means so much to me. When somebody like Paul Tremblay, an award-winning author, says that Transubstantiate was one of his favorite debut novels of the year? That makes me feel great. I do read reviews that people put up on Amazon or Goodreads, and the ones that are from total strangers saying how much the book blew them away, that’s pretty cool. But I also pay attention to the ones that give me one-star review, that hated it, and I try to learn, to get better. Writing really is the one of the most fulfilling things I do.

C&C: What’s your most embarassing favorite movie and why?
I don’t know if this is embarrassing or not, but probably Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. I love that movie. I quote it all the time to my wife and kids. I do the whole voice. “I know you are but what am I,” and “I’m a loner, Dottie, a rebel,” and “Brush brush brush…brush brush brush,” and “Fruit, please.” If you recognize those quotes then you’re as big a fan as I am. I do the laugh for the kids, I like doing voices for them. I’ve watched it with them now, at least half of it, and we were cracking up, the movie is so funny. Bu the whole desert scene and the Large Marge part freaked my boy out. Someday we’ll finish it. “I love that story.”

2 responses to “Richard Thomas

  1. LOVE that Pee Wee picture. Thanks for your curiosity and passion, Amanda.

  2. Pingback: At Curiouser and Curiouser, the Time Flies…. « Miss Ohio

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