“Ring of Fire” Makes Preliminary Bram Stoker Award Ballot!

 

I’m thrilled to announce my novelette, “Ring of Fire,” has made the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Award in the Long Fiction category.

This was one of the most difficult stories I’ve ever written. I knew going in that pairing horror and lust was going to be difficult—not echoing Hellraiser, avoiding anything that came across as misogynistic, as I didn’t want to alienate the reader. I was inspired by Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, as well as The Warren, by Brian Evenson, and a few movies at A24 I don’t want to mention, to avoid spoiling it. I also knew that I wanted the ending to be optimistic, but the entire epilogue was a surprise.

Here are a few kind words that reviewers had to say about the work:

“’Ring of Fire’ by Richard Thomas—which tackles ‘lust’—is by far my favorite story in this collection and, in my opinion, the most skillfully rendered. First of all, like all the other stories, Thomas doesn’t give us a clichéd horror story about someone’s sexual urges leading them to a grisly death. However, this is Richard Thomas we’re talking about. I knew he wouldn’t lean on cliches going in. Instead, he tackles the intersection of loneliness, guilt, shame, grief, the desire for companionship, and, yes—sexuality. But sexuality through the lens of longing for companionship, for physical comfort and belonging, for intimate connection. I’m not going to say anything else about this story, except that lots of folks claim to write “science fiction/horror” blends, but few get it right. Thomas gets it extremely right in this.”
Cemetery Dance

“‘Ring of Fire’ is undoubtedly the most ‘horror’ of all the stories in this anthology, an unsettling pot-boiler that seethes with atmosphere and dread. Following a lone researcher at a facility in some unknown snowy location, Richard Thomas is the master of withholding information and creating mystery. It is always as much about what we do not know than what we know; what he refuses to say, as what he says. Our narrator for this story is straight-up unreliable, and the world around them is unreliable too. As we progress, however, and notice these disturbing deja vu moments, these chimes of coincidence, we begin to piece together the deeper narrative of what is happening…Richard Thomas plays with us, and our expectations, capturing the kind of paranoia of Blade Runner and mixing it with the existential dread of 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are sci-fi elements here, but they are subtle; our narrator seems to barely grasp them, describing his processes and encounters with unease and uncertainty, the vocabulary of a man at his wit’s end. This story is about lust, yet Richard makes sex conspicuous by absence, all the while amping up the pressure-cooker of sexual tension until we are, like our protagonist isolated in a lone facility, about to implode.
STORGY

Wish me luck! Fingers crossed!

2019 Year in Review

 

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW:

  • “Golden Sun” (novelette) with Michael Wehunt, Damien Angelica Walters, and Kristi DeMeester in Best Horror of the Year, Volume Eleven (reprint)
  • “Undone” in Gorgon: Stories of Emergence (Pantheon Magazine)
  • “The Caged Bird Sings in a Darkness of Its Own Creation” in Shallow Creek (STORGY) currently recommended for a Bram Stoker Award
  • “Ring of Fire” (novelette) in The Seven Deadliest (Cutting Block Books) currently recommended for a Bram Stoker Award
  • “In the Shadows” in The Field Guide to Evil (MONDO / Alamo Drafthouse)
  • “The H Word: How The Witch and Get Out Helped Usher in the New Wave of Elevated Horror” Nightmare (non-fiction) currently recommended for a Bram Stoker Award
  • “Clown Face” in Grease Paint and 45s (Down & Out Books)
  • “Open Waters” in When the Clock Strikes 13 (In Your Face Books)
  • “Love Letters” in Shallow Waters: A Flash Fiction Anthology (Crystal Lake) (reprint)
  • Three flash fiction stories for Gotham Ghostwriters, on Twitter.

Not a bad year!

COMING IN 2020:

  • “Battle Not With Monsters” in Cemetery Dance
  • “Saudade” in PRISMS (PS Publishing)
  • “Kindred Spirits” TBA anthology (Lycan Valley Press Publications)
  • “How Not to Come Undone” XVIII (Underland Press) (reprint)
  • “Chrysalis” in Christmas Horror, Volume Three (Dark Regions Press) (reprint)
  • “Little Red Wagon” at Cossmass Infinities (reprint)
  • “In His House” in TBA anthology

The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Eleven

Some very kind words about BEST HORROR 11, including my co-written story, “Golden Sun.”

THE DES LEWIS GESTALT REAL-TIME REVIEWS (2008 to date)

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NIGHT SHADE BOOKS 2019

Edited by Ellen Datlow (my previous reviews of this editor: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/ellen-datlow/)

Stories by Anne Billson, Ralph Robert Moore, Ray Cluley, Michael Marshall Smith, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Sam Hicks, Peter Sutton, Dale Bailey, Krist DeMeester, John Langan, Gemma Files, Eloise C. C. Shepherd, Amelia Mangan, Steve Toase, Bill Davidson, Damien Angelica Walters, Richard Thomas, Michael Wehunt, Thana Niveau, Laird Barron, Robert Shearman, Joe Hill, Adam-Troy Castro, Orrin Grey, Siobhan Carroll, Carly Holmes.

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

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Storyville Studio is NOW LIVE!

My newly expanded teaching “empire” is now LIVE! Head on over to Storyville Studio to see what we’ve done, especially the reboot of Day of Reckoning (signing up now for 2020). Lots of classes, something for everyone. This is basically just a dedicated website for all of the previous classes I’ve taught, plus some new ventures:

  • Short Story Mechanics—still at LitReactor.com, the essentials of storytelling
  • Short Story Mechanics (At Your Own Pace)—a NEW version of this popular class at your own pace
  • Keep It Brief—still at LitReactor.com, a class on flash fiction
  • Contemporary Dark Fiction—still being taught online, sold out for Jan 2020, a few spots left for Sept 2020
  • Advanced Creative Writing Workshop—still being taught online, sold out for Jan and May 2020, a few spots left for Sept 2020
  • Novel in a Year—still being taught online, only one session for 2020, sold out
  • NEW: Day of Reckoning—one day, monthly, with seven teachers, a wide range of topics, as well as feedback, a great class
  • NEW: Guest Authors—a range of authors will be teaching stand-alone classes, monthly, as well

Feel free to share, retweet, invite your friends, etc. Thank you for the continued support. Means a lot.

PS: Look at the amazing authors that will be a part of Day of Reckoning—Carina Bissett, S. L. Coney, Brian Evenson, Brian Hodge, Sarah Gailey, Lindsay Hunter, Gabino Iglesias, John Langan, Livia Llewellyn, Jacklyn Dre Marceau, Sarah Read, Kelly Robson, Eden Royce, Karen Runge, Priya Sharma, Angela Slatter, Lucy A. Snyder, A.C. Wise, Mercedes M. Yardley, Richard Wood, Richard Thomas—Moderator.

Award Eligible Work

I have a few stories that are eligible for various award nominations—Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, etc.

“Ring of Fire” is a sf/fantasy/horror hybrid, set in an isolated arctic location. It’s novelette length, inspired by Annihilation, The Warren, and various A24 films. This was a real challenge to write, but I think it’s some of my best work to date. There are a number of threads that run through this story, and an ending that genuinely surprised me. It’s dark, but not without optimism.

PRAISE:

“’Ring of Fire’ by Richard Thomas—which tackles ‘lust’—is by far my favorite story in this collection and, in my opinion, the most skillfully rendered. First of all, like all the other stories, Thomas doesn’t give us a clichéd horror story about someone’s sexual urges leading them to a grisly death. However, this is Richard Thomas we’re talking about. I knew he wouldn’t lean on cliches going in. Instead, he tackles the intersection of loneliness, guilt, shame, grief, the desire for companionship, and, yes—sexuality. But sexuality through the lens of longing for companionship, for physical comfort and belonging, for intimate connection. I’m not going to say anything else about this story, except that lots of folks claim to write “science fiction/horror” blends, but few get it right. Thomas gets it extremely right in this.”
Cemetery Dance

“‘Ring of Fire’ is undoubtedly the most ‘horror’ of all the stories in this anthology, an unsettling pot-boiler that seethes with atmosphere and dread. Following a lone researcher at a facility in some unknown snowy location, Richard Thomas is the master of withholding information and creating mystery. It is always as much about what we do not know than what we know; what he refuses to say, as what he says. Our narrator for this story is straight-up unreliable, and the world around them is unreliable too. As we progress, however, and notice these disturbing deja vu moments, these chimes of coincidence, we begin to piece together the deeper narrative of what is happening…Richard Thomas plays with us, and our expectations, capturing the kind of paranoia of Blade Runner and mixing it with the existential dread of 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are sci-fi elements here, but they are subtle; our narrator seems to barely grasp them, describing his processes and encounters with unease and uncertainty, the vocabulary of a man at his wit’s end. This story is about lust, yet Richard makes sex conspicuous by absence, all the while amping up the pressure-cooker of sexual tension until we are, like our protagonist isolated in a lone facility, about to implode.
STORGY

“The Caged Bird Sings in a Darkness of Its Own Creation” is a clown story, in four acts, and is a similar blend of sf/fantasy/horror, but much shorter, with an open-ended finish, influenced by Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone. I experimented with some POV shifts and timeline leaps (backwards and forwards) as well as an ending that is up to interpretation.

PRAISE:

“The final story, The Caged Bird Sings in a Darkness of Its Own Creation, by Richard Thomas, feels like the culmination of the entire collection. I am biased as a huge fan of Richard’s work, but he genuinely pulls out all the stops in this Lovecraftian tale. It is a dark creation story, delving into the origin of all myths. Richard peels back the layers, gives us an almost glacial sequence of images that lead to revelation, like the atom-bomb episode of the third season of Twin Peaks, yet he condenses that extended form into something comparatively microscopic—the prose is so controlledAt the end, we are left with a sense of the entirety of what has happened, something bargained, something lost, something dark and terrible learned. Richard may not be as prolific as Stephen King, but his work is just as memorable.

The Mindflayer

If you would like a PDF of either story, please PM me, or drop me a note to richardgthomasiii@gmail.com. Thanks!

How The Witch and Get Out Helped Usher in the New Wave of Elevated Horror

Did I ever tell you about this article I wrote for Nightmare? “The H Word: How The Witch and Get Out Helped Usher in the New Wave of Elevated Horror“. ENJOY!

“If you haven’t seen The Witch (2015) and Get Out (2017), you must have been living under a rock. The former was a breakout title for A24 Films, becoming the fifth highest grossing movie they’ve put out to date (with over $25 million dollars in earnings). And the latter was nominated for several Golden Globe and Academy Awards, winning the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Two very different films, they both took chances at the box office—with their stories, images, themes, settings, and overall experiences. By garnering financial and critical success, they opened the door for a slew of experimental, edgy, divisive horror films.”