Welcome back to this week’s author interview! Today, I’m excited to spotlight Sean Thompson. Sean is the co-host of Miskatonic Musings as well as an up-and-coming horror author in his own right.
Recently, Sean and I discussed the genesis of his writing career, his life as a podcaster, and his upcoming collection, Too Late, scheduled for release this summer from Mcmanbeast Books.
A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?
I wasn’t one of those kids who knew as soon as he hit speaking age that he wanted to be a novelist. I loved watching cartoons, and television shows, and watched too many films to name, but initially, I just had this nebulous desire to be creative. And poetry always came easy to me, but I guess I rather blithely assumed it came easy to everyone. I was actually really shocked when I discovered that these poems for my middle school class I’d crank out in five minutes the other kids would struggle to produce.
In the years from high school to college, I’d fluctuate from wanting to be a skateboard videographer (I’ve skateboarded since the age of twelve) or a just plain regular filmmaker, to wanting to be a lead singer or a rapper, as I’d write lyrics in my notebooks during class (depending on the year, either hip hop lyrics, or rock lyrics).
In college I took a few screenwriting courses, so initially the first long form things I wrote were screenplays. I went to the University of Massachusetts, and studied English, but my minor was in film. I did write a few short stories in college, egged on by a story I read [that] my ex-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend wrote for her. I read this thing, and told her “I can do better than that piece of shit.”
It wasn’t until I started dating my current life partner Emily (what do you say if you’re not married, and have a cat child together?) that I started writing again. There was a gap from about 2002 when I graduated from college, until roughly 2007 when I didn’t really write anything. Anyway, somehow Emily got a hold of one of my old stories, and read one of my screenplays, and she encouraged me to keep writing. So, all credit where credit is due, I didn’t decide to become a prose writer until my current girlfriend Emily told me I should.
As for favorite authors: Stephen King, Clive Barker, Chuck Palahniuk, Jack Ketchum, Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas Ligotti, Laird Barron, Michael Crichton, Richard Matheson, Bentley Little, Shirley Jackson, Irvine Welsh.
Along with Charles Meyer, you host Miskatonic Musings, a podcast that focuses broadly on horror entertainment. What was the inspiration behind the show, and what do you and Charles have on tap for listeners in the upcoming weeks and months?
Since my last answer was so goddamn long, I’ll keep this one svelte. I joined a book group run by one Mallory O’ Meara known as the “Arkham Horror Book Club.” Mallory asked if anyone wanted to cohost a horror podcast with her and her friend Charles. Being a secret attention whore (not so secret) I agreed, and the rest was merely a series of trials and tribulations.
The inspiration behind the show was always to cover horror, but to slant towards the weird. To summarize Miskatonic Musings, it’s a horror podcast which has a penchant for the weird, but we also have a sense of humor, and don’t take ourselves, or the show, all that serious.
And if you want to know what we have lined up, you’ll just have to listen.
You’ve got an awesome forthcoming collection of short fiction! I’ve already had a sneak peek, and I can say it’s a lot of ghoulish fun! What was your process when compiling the collection, and what can readers expect from the stories?
I’m quite neurotic, and I take a while debating over my fiction; where I want to send it, or if I want to try to shop it at all. I started in 2014 compiling stories from a stockpile of roughly 5 years. There were roughly thirty stories I’d written and shopped, and either had published in small presses or web magazines, or just wrote and forgot about. I paid one editor who will remain nameless to look at the stories, and wasn’t very thrilled with his work. And as projects do, this one got put aside while I focused on other stories that were wandering around in my head.
After a year of shopping stories with very little sales, I got frustrated a few months back and decided “what the hell, why don’t I just self publish some of these dirty little bastards?” Any story I was iffy on I took out of Too Late, so it’s a very short collection now, and went from ten stories to five. I split the fucker in half!
Here’s the thing about my horror fiction… I don’t sugar coat it. This isn’t “dark fantasy.” These stories are violent, morbid, and do not care about you. They represent a universe of chaos, where bad things happen to good people, and evil creatures giggle with glee in the moonlight, be they human or otherwise. That said, these babies are kinetic, seizuring across the pages. So, strangely enough, I’ve often heard these little devils I set to paper in an attempt to scare the piss out of people are often “fun.”
Your work often delves boldly into themes involving mental illness and drug use. Do you ever find it challenging to explore such difficult topics, and in your experience, is it harder to find markets for these stories?
Well, as stated, I’ve had a lot of trouble selling stories in the past year, which was part of the kick in the pants to finally just self publish Too Late. Absolutely it’s harder to find markets for the stories I write.
In all honesty, I’m a firm believer in writing what scares you the most. And you want to know what scares me the most? Relapsing, and losing my fucking mind. Sure, demons, ghosts, aliens, squamous elder things, these are all entertaining. But these things, if I use them, are only for their aesthetic properties. At the heart of all my stories, I’m dealing with pain, addiction, and death.
Where would you like to see your writing career in five years?
I’d like to fucking have one, haha!
No, I have simple aspirations. To sell a few collections, and a few novellas, maybe a novel. I don’t expect to get all that done in five years though. As for an audience, I’ll be happy with what I can get.
Any other projects of yours we should be looking for?
You’ll be the first to know.