Welcome back to my author interview series! For the first spotlight of 2016, I’m pleased to present Thomas Kleaton. Thomas is an accomplished writer of short fiction, and his work has appeared at The Horror Zine, Riding Light Review, and Sanitarium Magazine among other outlets.
Recently, he and I discussed his influences and his long-term plans in the publishing world, along with his recommendations on how to write a great drabble.
A couple of icebreakers to start: When did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
I started writing two years ago. I could say that it’s something I just started on a whim, but that wouldn’t be the case. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but thinking about it doesn’t work and it all comes down to sitting in a chair and typing words on the screen. It’s important to write on a daily basis, but I have no Bad Thoughts (sorry, I can’t help referencing “It’s a Good Life,” one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes) for someone who doesn’t write every day. Writers need a break now and then as well.
As for my favorite authors? I won’t deny it; I was heavily influenced by Stephen King, and am definitely a Constant Reader. Dean Koontz is another; his Sole Survivor and Intensity really bowled me over. Peter Straub’s Ghost Story is a personal favorite. I also have newer favorites, writers like Rose Blackthorn, Richard Schiver, and Aaron Gudmunson.
As a writer, do you have a particular genre that’s your favorite?
Horror, horror, and more horror. Actually, although I like horror best and it seems to be the most flexible genre, I do enjoy a good science fiction story here and there. Stories like Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.”
In addition to short stories, you’re a prolific drabble writer. Because the medium permits only 100 words, is your approach to crafting a drabble different than crafting a short story? Do you have any pointers for other drabble writers out there?
A drabble is all about the core idea. For instance, in my drabble, “Whistling Past the Graveyard,” found in Spooky Halloween Drabbles 2015, I kept seeing this little girl playing Patty Cake with her mother. Then playing Patty Cake with her dead mother. The situation came next, which was of a father bringing his little girl to visit her mother’s grave. Only her father is a killer, and his mother is buried in a shallow grave. Shallow enough for hands to stick out and…
But I think you get the picture. It’s all in the details. Once you have the story worked out, it’s time to condense it down to 100 words. Easy, right? I’ve spent hours on one drabble! But it’s worth it when you see the final product.
Out of your published pieces, do you have a personal favorite?
I do. A short story titled “Birds and the Bees,” found in Sanitarium Magazine issue #31. I saw a photo in a magazine in which a woman’s seed-filled hands were outstretched near a bird feeder. Chickadees sat on her palms eating the seed, and I imagined a little girl seeing her grandmother doing this, and wanting to impress her grandmother by imitating her. Only she can’t find any birdseed in her grandmother’s garden shed. Not one to give up, the little girl finds a substitute. That puts a sting into things.
Where would you like your writing career to be in five years?
To a point where I can write full-time. This may not happen, but I will not give up on it, and at the very least I’d like to have a good following by then. After all, the first reason a writer should be writing is because he or she enjoys telling yarns to entertain others. Being told by someone that his/her story really resonated with them can put a writer on the moon.
Big thanks to Thomas Kleaton for being part of this week’s author interview series. Find him online at his website and his Amazon Author Page.