NaNoWriMo Consultant: Richard Thomas

ThomascwWelcome to National Novel Writing Month, 2015! We’re celebrating all month long with a sale on some of our favorite novels, daily discussions with Black Lawrence Press novelists on craft and writing habits, and this–a consultation program for those of you with in-progress novels that could use an expert eye.

Today, we’d like to introduce to you one of our NaNoWriMo consultants: Richard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books—Disintegration and The Breaker (Random House Alibi), Transubstantiate, Staring Into the Abyss, Herniated Roots, Tribulations, and The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). His over 100 stories in print include Cemetery Dance, PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2, and Shivers VI. He is also the editor of three anthologies: The New Black and Exigencies (Dark House Press), The Lineup (Black Lawrence Press) and the Bram Stoker-nominated Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. In his spare time he writes for LitReactor and is Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press.

Finally, we’d like Richard to introduce himself. If you feel that Richard would be the right reader for your novel, you can sign up here. The price for a full read and critique is $500 and Richard is able to take up to five manuscripts. All critiques will be completed by December 31, 2015.

Richard Thomas’ Statement of Purpose

Richard_138_B&W_highWith writing, it’s always a combination of what came before me, and what’s current. It’s just as important to me to study the masters of creative writing, and to read the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, and novels by these authors, as it is to stay up to date with what is appearing in the Best American Short Stories and Best American Mystery Stories anthologies, The New Yorker and titles on the New York Times bestseller lists. It is equally important that authors embrace their own history, and the voices they grew up reading, in order to have a place to start, a frame of reference. Whether the author grew up reading Stephen King and John Grisham, Toni Morrison and John Cheever, or Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, those experiences matter, they lay the groundwork for your vision as an author. There needs to be a way to build on that previous knowledge, and embrace reading, writing and a love of literature in all of its many forms and voices.

When it comes to writing and editing I look at the big picture, as well as the nuts and bolts of crafting short stories and novels. I focus on the mechanics—narrative hook, conflict and resolution, setting, plot, tension, theme and mood. But I also try to view the work from the POV of the audience—am I interested, do I care, is this compelling, am I eager to turn the page, does this have impact, do I feel emotion?

The bottom line is that I want to find a way to connect with each author. I edit a wide range of talent and experience, and it’s important for me to find a way to help the individual grow, learn, and get exposure to new voices as well as the classic authors that are heavily anthologized and recognized by academia. I expect my authors to leave me excited and confident, with the tools they need to write, and edit, their stories and manuscripts. I’m just here to help, to point out weaknesses (and strengths) so the work can improve. I don’t want authors to sound like me, I want them to sound like their best self, to write the stories they want to write, in a manner that is in alignment with their own passions, interests, history, and vision. I am a facilitator, a catalyst, not the one true path or method, simply trying to share my own experiences in ways that can help the author to do their best work.