Release the Kraken! My short story collection, Staring Into the Abyss, will be out later this year.

That’s right, my second short story collection, Staring Into the Abyss, will be out later this year from Kraken Press. It’s a collection of 20 dark stories, neo-noir leaning towards horror, and some of my best work to date. Want to know more? Head over to their website or just keep reading. We’re targeting March, but definitely the first half of 2013. And it looks like it will be a book club selection over at LitReactor as well, probably July or August. More information to come.

FROM THE  JACKET: As Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you.” In this collection of short stories Richard Thomas shows us in dark, layered prose the human condition in all of its beauty and dysfunction. A man sits in a high tower making tiny, mechanical birds, longing for the day when he might see the sky again. A couple spends an evening in an underground sex club where jealousy and possession are the means of barter. A woman is victimized as a child, and turns that rage and vengeance into a lifelong mission, only to self-destruct, and become exactly what she battled against. A couple hears the echo of the many reasons they’ve stayed together, and the one reason the finally have to part. And a boy deals with a beast that visits him on a nightly basis, not so much a shadow, as a fixture in his home. These 20 stories will take you into the darkness, and sometimes bring you back. But now and then there is no getting out, the lights have faded, the pitch black wrapping around you like a festering blanket of lies. What will you do now? It’s eat or be eaten—so bring a strong stomach and a hearty appetite.

It includes my contest winning “Maker of Flight,” my longest short story to date, “Victimized,” a Pushcart nominee in “Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave,” and much more. Full TOC below. I hope you’ll pick it up when it comes out. It’s a little over 130 pages, about 32,000 words.

Special thanks have to go out George Cotronis for his amazing cover design. That’s part of the reason I signed up with him, he’s a globally recognized illustrator and artist, and his work is just fantastic.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Maker of Flight 14
Steel-Toed Boots 18
Freedom 22
Committed 30
Splintered 34
Fallible 40
Stillness 42
Fringe 48
Underground Wonder Bound 52
Amazement 58
Victimized 62
Twenty-Dollar Bill 80
Interview 86
Paying Up 94
Ten Steps 98
Honor 106
Stephen King Ate My Brain 112
Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave 116
Transmogrify 120
Rudy Jenkins Buries His Fears 130

My debut short story collection, Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press) is now OUT.

OUT NOW.

Table of Contents
Unzipped
Your Enemies Will Devour You
A Bird in the Hand
Released
Herniated Roots
Seeing Red
Gateway
Say Yes to Pleasure
Terrapin Station
Daybreak
Three Mistakes
Descent
The Jenny Store
Tinkering With the Moon
Kiss Off
Dyer

PRAISE:

“Richard Thomas’s stories are filled with a kind of dark magic shot through with danger. These are beautiful roses loaded with thorns. Take hold of them at your own risk and reward—be prepared for the most exquisite, ecstatic kind of pain.”
—Amber Sparks, MAY WE SHED THESE HUMAN BODIES

“Richard Thomas writes from the inglorious depths of human experience. Each sentence, blooming like a bruise, articulates the unspeakable truth of our own disappointment. In Herniated Roots, an aggressive collection of modern fables and cautionary tales, Thomas delivers the kind of prose that leaves you bloody on the inside. This is the kind of book that demands a second reading long before your ribs begin to heal.”
—Daniel Casebeer, PEAR NOIR

“Richard Thomas writes seductively mordant prose. His powerful short stories are noir fables for the twenty-first century—gracefully controlled yet executed with a lethal precision. Precious few writers can provide a vital anatomy of the inner self. Thomas does so masterfully, presenting the darkest slices of the human soul.”
—Darren Richard Carlaw, STEPAWAY MAGAZINE

“Richard Thomas can make his readers feel what he wants them to feel. He distills life into the moments that charge us, and he works them into honest and gripping prose, with visuals that invariably leave a mark.”
—Pela Via, WARMED AND BOUND

“An outstanding short story writer who consistently nails the bull’s-eye.”
—David Cranmer, BEAT TO A PULP

“Herniated Roots by Richard Thomas demonstrates a masterly use of tension. Real page-turning fiction that never resorts to cliché or stereotype.”
—Doug Johnstone, HIT AND RUN

My story “Dyer” is now live up at Beat to a Pulp

Several years ago, in the middle of my MFA program, I decided to experiment with form. I’d just seen the movie Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa, and thought to myself that you could write one hell of a good story if you told four perspectives on a lost evening out in the Indiana dunes. “Dyer” is the result. Special thanks for David Cranmer and Beat to a Pulp for taking this story. I’m honored to be up on the site and in such good company, alongside authors like David James Keaton, Frank Bill, Matthew C. Funk, Cameron Ashley, Hilary Davidson, Chris F. Holm, Dave Zeltserman, and John Hornor Jacobs.

My story “Kiss Off” is now live at Emprise Review.

My story “Kiss Off” is now live at Emprise Review.

How do these things happen, I often wonder. Maybe I was issued a challenge, maybe I was just listening to Pandora one day and an old Violent Femmes song came on and I thought “Damn, this is a good song.” As I nodded my head and started to recite the lyrics, these classic alternative indie lyrics from many years ago, I also thought, “This would make a good story.” Here are the original lyrics, in their entirety with the part that I stole from in bold:

I need someone a person to talk to
Someone who’d care to love
Could it be you could it be you
Situation gets rough then I start to panic
It’s not enough it’s just a habit
Hey kid you’re sick well darling this is it
You can all just kiss off into the air
Behind my back I can see them stare
They’ll hurt me bad but I won’t mind
They’ll hurt me bad they do it all the time
Yeah yeah they do it all the time
Yeah yeah they do it all the time
Yeah yeah they do it all the time
Yeah yeah they do it all the time
I hope you know this will go down
On your permanent record
Oh yeah well don’t get so distressed
Did I happen to mention that I’m impressed
I take one one one cause you left me and
Two two two for my family and
3 3 3 for my heartache and
4 4 4 for my headaches and
5 5 5 for my lonely and
6 6 6 for my sorrow and
7 7 for no tomorrow and
8 8 I forget what 8 was for and
9 9 9 for a lost god and
10 10 10 10 for everything everything everything everything
You can all just kiss off into the air
Behind my back I can see them stare
They’ll hurt me bad but I won’t mind
They’ll hurt me bad they do it all the time
Yeah yeah,yeah they do it all the time
Yeah yeah,yeah they do it all the time
Do it all the time
Do it all the time
Do it all the time time time
Yeah yeah they do it all the time

This whole song resonates with me, it always has. It’s a story of angst, of the world not being fair, of the bullshit and violence and randomness that not only shadows our youth, but the adult world as well. The opening lines of this song, they haunt me to this day. “I need someone, a person to talk to, someone who’d care to love. Could it be you?” Isn’t that what we all say, we all want? Sure it is.

So, I took the ten parts and tried to imagine a scene where a man who is falling apart, he says these things to himself, he is talking to himself. He’s talking to the world. He has talked himself into ending it all, but maybe, at the end of it, when the lights are fading and he feels that maybe there is something left to cling to, he tries to change his situation. He won’t be the victim yet once again. But, as it often is in life, maybe it’s too late. I hope you enjoy “Kiss Off.”

Thank you, Amber Sparks for always supporting my work and for taking this story at Emprise Review. If you didn’t know it, I’ll tell you now that not only is Amber a great editor, but one hell of an author as well. Also, thanks to Patrick McAllaster for his excellent editing too, he caught some things that got by me.

There is more excellent fiction in this issue by Amye Archer, Joe Kapitan, Jon Morgan Davies, Marko Fong, Steven R. Gowin, Todd McKie, Brian Mihok, Garrett Socol, and Angela Woodward. Check it out when you get a second.

My story “Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave” is now live at Metazen

My story “Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave” is now LIVE at Metazen. I really like what these guys are doing. They publish one new story a day, and on Friday, August 5th, I was up. Great group of writers publishing here, honored to be a part of it. This story was a bit different than what I usually do, built on on idea, one phrase that starts off “Because…” which in my head, was the voice of the protagonist answering the accusations towards him: “Why do you stay with her?” or “Why don’t you leave?” or “Why is she so screwed up?” or “Why do you still help her?”

My flash fiction story “Love Letters” is up at Cannoli Pie, edited by Caleb J. Ross.

Included in this issue is:

• Richard Thomas
• Nik Korpon
• Craig Wallwork
• Brandon Tietz
• Pablo D’Stair

This is part of the Caleb J. Ross blog tour.
He edited this collection for Cannoli Pie.
Honored to be in here.

DIRECT PDF DOWNLOAD, CLICK HERE.