In conjunction with our wise friends at greydogtales (lurchers are people too), across the Atlantic sea, the editorial we have been publishing short interviews with a group of weird fiction purveyors — writers, editors, publishers of such fictions, and it in this newly-minted tradition that we present to you ten questions with the mighty Sean M. Thompson, whose work I have had the great good fortune to view in my inbox several times.
I could tell you about Sean and his deeds and humors, but I am strictly forbidden to do so under penalty of law. Therefore we shall let that worthy speak for himself.
His several works can be obtained via his Amazon author page. I dislike shilling for Bezos, but that’s where the stuff is.
His words are below:
Where should a reader that is new to your work start?
Hmm. An interesting conundrum, to be sure. I would say a reader brand new to my work, if they are into short stories, should seek out my story from VASTARIEN volume 1, issue 3, known as THE BLIND OPERA. I say this, as the story seems to be well liked. I hesitate to lead new readers to my chapbook and ultra short collection TOO LATE, as it is, and has always been a collection of early works, which frankly would be better appreciated AFTER reading my newer output.
If a reader were so inclined toward novels, I’d say read TH3 D3M0N, my first book. If they were inclined to short novels, aka novellas and or novelettes, I’d steer them to FARMINGTON CORRECTIONAL, or if they were more into surrealism, my bizarro novella HATE FROM THE SKY.
And since I’m such a nice man, I can even link to a story featured on the Conqueror Weird website they can read for free. I realize not everyone has the money to drop, or the proclivity to do as such, without first sampling of my work.
Is there a piece that you are particularly proud of?
I’m very proud of most of my output. That’s such a difficult question, as I try to not get hung up on any one piece of work I’ve done. I’m always looking forward to the new projects and challenges, the experimentation and hard work required to continue to push myself to be the best I can be.
But, this. This is objectively the best thing I’ve done.
Whose work do you read, yourself?
I only read my own work. I lock myself in a room full of mirrors, and read my own work aloud, while fondling my body, slicked with olive oil. Then at the moment of climax, I scream I HAVE THE POWER!
No, uh… let’s see here. I do read myself, though it’ll usually consist of picking up one of my older books, and turning to a page at random, and seeing how it reads. It’s an exercise in seeing if any one page in random sequence can hold up. It doesn’t always, but it’s usually good enough I remember why I decided to spend so much time at this.
As for others, of course I read them. You have to. I try to read widely, but I tend to branch out more with audiobooks. Some of my biggest influences are writers like Barker, King, Ketchum, Matheson, Oates (JCO ftw), Ligotti, Gaiman, Lovecraft, Palahniuk, and if I’m being honest, Crichton. SPHERE fucked me up as a kid.
In terms of my peers, people writing similar things, yeah, I also read them. Matthew M. Bartlett, Gwendolyn Kiste, Sleddy, Jeremy Robert Johnson, Jonathan Raab, Tom Breen, Stephen Graham Jones, Brian Evenson, Paul Tremblay, Farah Rose Smith, Jon Padgett, Nicole Cushing, Laird Barron (early works), John Langan, John Claude Smith, Gemma Files, Livia Llewellyn, Leza Cantoral, Autumn Christian. I hate doing these lists though, as there’s perpetually someone who has a new story or book that lights me up, where I haven’t read enough of their work to really say if it’s going to have a lasting influence. Just this week I read a book by Scott Cole TRIPLE AXE that was so much god damn fun.
And of course I read a lot of other pop lit, and or horror adjacent stuff, people like Gillian Flynn, Dan Chaon, Stewart O’ Nan, those kind of writers.
What kind of beer goes with your pizza? And what’s on the pizza?
I have a bad stomach, so I tend to like lighter beers, though I also like fruity beers. I just had one this weekend, a local one (I live in Santa Fe, NM) called… hold on, let me see here… *Googles brand… AH! Yes, it was called SOCIAL HOUR, from the SANTA FE BREWING COMPANY. Light, with hints of citrus. I also like CORONA LIGHT, or HEINIKIN LIGHT, maybe a LONE STAR.
As for pizza toppings, Hawaiian is probably my favorite, ham and pineapple. I prefer Canadian bacon to ham with the Hawaiian, and or ham and bacon. And before anyone starts with that week bloodline shit, I’m descended from Grace o’ Malley the pirate queen, who stole British naval vessels and robbed motherfuckers. Just because y’all don’t recognize that the taste combo of salty and tangy and sweet is no different than say, most Chinese food, or BBQ ribs, or any number of sweet sauces put onto salty meats, does not mean we of the pineapple have to bow down and accept your cowardly ways. I would like to add that I think a lot of places don’t do Hawaiian pizza right. You ABSOLUTELY need to make sure the pineapple is drained, because if there’s any excess liquid it’ll soak into the dough and mess with the baking process. When done correctly, pineapple on pizza should be no wetter than tomatoes on pizza. And for real, you need good ham or Canadian bacon, or good bacon. Any sub par version of these meats will mess with the flavor profile, and then it’s just a mess.
Do you consider your work weird, or horror? Or do you leave that to the marketing department?
I consider my work to be horror. But I don’t give a shit what you call it as long as you buy it.
You’ve been convicted of crimes against the empire. What would be your last meal? Include something big to hide the explosives in.
I’m going to refrain from the original answer I had in mind, which was fairly perverse. I’m like a pregnant woman, I tend to go for bites of this and that. So, Tuna melt, quesadillas, lobster roll (best are in Maine, I like the ones from THE ROCKLAND CAFÉ, but there’s a ton of good places), clam chowder, Boston cream pie, Skittles and Starburst, and chicken strips from WILLIE’S in NOLA, but you better bring me the fucking honey sauce, and some sort of mustard sauce. And yeah, probably a slice of two of Hawaiian pizza.
And Adderall. If I’m about to die, I’m taking a LOT of fucking Adderall. Sobriety be damned.
Are you involved in any arts besides writing? Any odd hobbies we should know about?
Yeah. I like to try many different art forms. I think experimenting in different mediums gives you a unique perspective into prose. I’m a hobby editor of audio and video, and I’m not half bad. I’ve performed and recorded stories, and at one point I played around with a radio play type of thing, with sound effects, all dialogue and no prose. I admittedly don’t really paint yet. Not that I’m against trying it out, I just haven’t had the money, or inclination to try yet. I did a few collages, and I wouldn’t mind going back into that. They were fun. I doodle sometimes, though I’m not very good at it.
As for other hobbies, I can juggle, but only 3 objects at a time. And I like to skateboard, or rather used to skateboard. I’m a little too old and fat, and lacking good insurance to really go hard in the streets.
Cats or dogs?
Both. I prefer cats because I’ve never owned a dog. But someday, once my current cat goes over the Rainbow Bridge, my girlfriend and I plan to get a pup. We have a specific breed in mind, the great American brown dog (a shelter mutt).
Tell us about a work-in-progress.
There are two, which will ideally be out within the next year. One is an extreme horror novella, and the other is my first full-length short story collection, about 13 or so stories. I don’t want to say any more, as I’m not supposed to. And I’m about 20 pages into my next novel, which is the one I plan to find an agent with, or, ideally to find an agent with.
Thanks for being so kind. Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
Yes. I’m assuming many of you reading this are writers. Writing is hard. When trying to make writing into any sort of career, you need to realize that the hardest part of the job has nothing to do with the writing itself. Who takes off and who doesn’t is, more or less, arbitrary. Who is popular usually has less to do with skill and much more to do with hard work, and luck. It’s important to stay positive, and to try to keep the faith. There’s a high probability you’ll stay in relative obscurity for most of if not your entire writing career. You need to be able to enjoy the writing for what it is: self-expression, and artistic achievement. You need to be able to accept you might only ever have a handful of readers, and that’s okay. Even having one story published, you’ve still accomplished a feat that the majority of the population can not, nor will ever do. Go easy on yourself. No one else will. Ignore the haters, always take the comment section and reviews with a grain of salt, and above all, try to keep having fun with it. If you aren’t having at least a little fun writing, why bother? You only get one go around on this crazy planet, so do what makes you happy, as long as it doesn’t actively hurt anyone else. Even if that is reading your own work in a room full of mirrors covered in olive oil.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of Occult Detective Quarterly at your earliest convenience. Also please help us to ensure that The Death of an Author takes place in the reasonably near future. And stay tuned for more interviews and other madness.