Thank you for the questions, Nicky! Early on it involved lots of crying; these last few years it’s been more joyous. I wrote for eight years without selling anything because I sucked. Then a few things happened that changed everything.
First, agent Ethan Ellenberg (who I dedicated my forthcoming Suspense novel A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS to) looked at some of my work and gave me valuable feedback and showed me where I needed to improve.
Second, my hero Tom Piccirilli was super helpful (I also dedicated A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS to him). I think he’s one of the nicest and most talented writers around.
Third, I met a couple other writers on Zoetrope who were as serious as I was and we learned from each other.
Then things these last couple years get hazy because so much has happened. After I started hand copying some of my favorite novels, I really started learning my craft. I started selling short stories professionally to places I love like Shock Totem. I started getting blurbs from heroes like Tom Piccirilli, Jack Ketchum, Brian Hodge and Robert Dunbar. My publisher DarkFuse has been incredibly supportive of my work and Shane Staley is an inspiration in a lot of ways.
I ended up finding out what themes really mattered to me and ran with them and that helped. I have successful friends who have given me advice, listened to me whine, pimped me, and helped me in a number of other ways. I met writer Les Edgerton at Bouchercon (The World Mystery Convention) and we had a great time talking and drinking. He read my novella WHEN WE JOIN JESUS IN HELL and referred me to his agent. I write so quickly that I’ve decided I better use some pen names, but so far I haven’t. I’ve had enthusiastic book reviewers like Peter Schwotzer at Famous Monsters of Filmland, Anita Siraki at Hell Notes, Mercedes Yardley at Shock Totem, Jennifer at BookDen, etc., all help spread the word about my work. I’m pretty fortunate. Most of all I think a writer has to be persistent. And I’m very persistent.
What do you love about being an author?
Drinking mostly. Creating worlds populated by strong but severely flawed characters. Interacting with readers since I’m a reader first and an author second.
If you could have dinner with any literary character, who would it be and what would you eat?
John Gardner’s version of Grendel. I’d eat pizza while he tormented and ate the Danish warriors.
For my forthcoming Suspense novel A BEAUTIFUL MADNESS I’d have Robert Duvall play the anti-hero’s cracked father Eddie Wood, and have Leonardo DiCaprio play the protagonist Sammy. I can’t imagine better actors for those roles.
As a horror writer you are looking to scare readers – what scares you?
I’ve never considered myself a Horror writer, just got plugged in that box for some reason. As to my fears: I’m scared of not reaching my potential, and not loving the good people in my life deeply enough because I’m selfish. Other than those things, a lobotomy scares the hell out of me. Not only is the process terrifying, the end result is mind-numbing.
If you had a time machine, which era would you go back to and why?
I’d sell the time machine and buy a beach house in San Diego and a mountain retreat in Colorado Springs. I like the present.
What life advice do you wish you’d been given sooner?
Don’t piss your life away. I didn’t start writing until my late twenties and I was shitty and miserable without some kind of purpose in my life. When my mom had a stroke and went into a coma I needed some way to express and analyze my fears, my anger, and my uncertainty. Writing fit the bill and I can’t imagine doing anything else for a living.
If you were a supernatural creature, what would you be and why?
A genie. It’d be fun to watch people wish for things they’d wished they hadn’t?
Where do you write best?
On my keyboard.
What was the last book you read, and what were your thoughts on it?
NAMELESS: THE DARKNESS COMES by Mercedes M. Yardley. I thought it was terrific, sad, edgy, and beautiful, just like the author. Go read it!
If you didn’t write in your genre, which other would you prefer and why?
Overall, I like the Suspense label best. Everything I write is Suspense, whether it’s realistic or supernatural, so I can kind of cover a lot of ground that way.
“Lee Thompson knows his horror-noir. He fuses both genres together in the turmoil of terror, tragedy, blood, guilt, and lost chances at redemption.”–Tom Piccirilli, author of THE LAST KIND WORDS