Last year, I wrote a review of Disintegration, a new novel by Richard Thomas. It was dark, gritty and wholly gripping—imagine if Stephen King and Bret Easton Ellis got together to write a revenge story set on the mean streets of Chicago. Tasty, right? A second Windy City Dark Mystery, Breaker, has already hit the virtual shelves, garnering positive reviews from all quarters and proving that Richard Thomas is very much the man of the moment when it comes this whole neo-noir thing.
Earlier this month, Richard launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new literary magazine named Gamut. Once again, I offered my assistance in helping out. Why? Well, as a fan of literature that sits on the edge, the prospect of an outlet for authors of dark fiction in all its guises is an exciting one: Gamut is set to showcase works by a whole slew of great writers, and, in time, open up to submissions from the likes of you and me…
I asked Richard a few questions about Gamut, his favourite books, and one or two other extremely important things…
MP: How’s the Kickstarter campaign going?
RT: So far, pretty good. Over $22,000 in eleven days, with some 355 backers from 77 countries. But we have a way to go still to get to $52,000. But the support has been great.
MP: What made you want to start a literary magazine?
RT: It’s always something I wanted to do. After writing for eight years, running Dark House Press for three, and editing four anthologies, it seemed like the next logical step. Plus, it was important to me to pay authors ten cents a word for original fiction [instead of the usual five cents].
MP: What are you hoping to achieve with Gamut?
RT: I want to be a part of the landscape, to complement the magazines and websites that have inspired me for so many years. There are so many voices that I want to support.
MP: How wide is the appeal of dark/transgressive fiction nowadays?
RT: I feel like we’re in a bit of a golden age. I see it in the dark fiction that seeps into the Best American Short Stories anthologies, in television, such as The Walking Dead and True Detective, and in film—such as Spring, It Follows, Ex Machina, Under the Skin, Enemy and the upcoming The Witch.
MP: Are you hoping to attract readers from beyond the world of what I call the WNWs?* And if so, how?
RT: I am. We’re creating original artwork for every story, and we’re also publishing poetry, non-fiction, and other work.
MP: In what format will the stories be available? Will be people be able to read them offline?
RT: It will be online only, for now. You subscribe for $30/year ($2.50 a month) and that gets you a login/password. We’ll publish new fiction every Monday, with reprints every week, poetry, columns, etc. We’re looking into apps/eBooks and even a print anthology, a Best of Gamut. Depends on how much money we raise.
MP: If you could only take five books with you into the afterlife, which ones would you choose?
RT: Tough question. The Stand by Stephen King; Perdido Street Station by China Mieville; Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy; Kiss Me, Judas by Will Christopher Baer; and Bad Behaviour by Mary Gaitskill.
MP: What was the last film you watched?
RT: Gravity. Not bad, but I think it works better on the big screen. Last film I saw in a theatre was The Revenant, which was amazing.
MP: Who’s your favourite Scooby Doo character?
RT: I kind of have a thing for Velma.
MP: Are you a straight-to-digital writer, or do you still do the pen to paper thing?
RT: I type away on my computer, up to 70 wpm. Wrote a 6,000-word story in one day, 40,000-words of Disintegration in a week, with the last day of Breaker still my record at 12,000 words. It’s the only way I can keep up with the voices in my head.
MP: Assuming that the Kickstarter campaign will be successful, how are you going to divide your time between writing and running the magazine once it’s all up and running?
RT: I have staff, so they’ll help. I’m counting on Mercedes M. Yardley, Dino Parenti, Heather Foster and Casey Frechette to help. I will probably have to make some tough decisions on other things that I just can’t do any longer, but I’m definitely going to keep writing—short fiction, and novels.
MP: Finally, I ran a piece last year in which I asked teachers to share their favourite children’s books—what’s yours, and how influential were school teachers in inspiring you to write?
RT: I loved reading as a child. Voracious reader. I’d say maybe Where the Wild Things Are. It’s so weird and dark and yet, not threatening. I think that mix is really appealing—confronting your monsters, literally, but also, all of the other ways the darkness creeps in, though emotion, and thought, and desire.
*Word Nerd Weirdos
Check out Richard’s kickstarter campaign here. He’s already surpassed the $22,000 mark but there’s still a way to go. I’ll be pledging my support this week, joining the ranks of heavyweights like Chuck Palahniuk and Irvine Welsh in doing my bit to make this thing happen. Pledges start at just $1. Go on, it might just change your life, and, if nothing else, you’ll have helped out a guy who’s just publicly admitted to having a crush on Velma…