Zombie Author Interview: R Thomas Riley

R Thomas Riley

BricksOfTheDead.com – How did you and John Grover come about teaming up to write If God Doesn’t Show?
R Thomas Riley – I originally wrote the book as a 30,000 word piece on spec for Permuted Press. They liked the story, but felt there was too much going on and they passed. I let the piece sit for a few months. John and I had already collaborated on other projects, but nothing novel length. I sent him the piece and asked if he wanted to help expand it. A few months later we turned in a 70,000 word novel to Permuted and the rest is history.

Why did you write it as a Cthulhu Mythos novel?
I’m a huge fan of Lovecraft’s work and I’d been looking for a unique way to present a zombie-ish apocalyptic scenario. Having Permuted approach me with the idea of doing something with Cthulhu just sealed the deal.

Looking at your bibliography you’ve certainly been busy lately. Do you ever find yourself struggling to focus on one story at a time?
Focus isn’t that hard, surprisingly, because I tend to structure projects so if I get “stuck” on one, there’s something else to work on and use a different part of my ‘writing brain’ so to speak. I tend to work better on a deadline, as it forces to keep my butt in a chair and produce content, even if I don’t feel like it, and if anyone writes long enough, yes, there will be days when you want to do anything else, except write. Yes, I’m also one of those crazy people that reads 4 or 5 books at a time!

Do you have any routine to your writing? And by that I mean schedule you try to follow, ambiance, word count goal …etc
I try to write at least 500 words a day, but that sometimes doesn’t happen because life tends to get in the way. If I don’t get my words, I’ll double up at the end of the week and marathon write. If I don’t get to write during the week, it doesn’t mean I’m not composing in my head, and by the time I sit down to write, I know pretty much where I’m going and what I want to say. I write to music, the heavier the better.

What is your long term goal as a writer?
To be able to write full time and possibly write for TV.

What lesson on writing do you wish you had learned earlier than later?
Be honest, put a piece of yourself into every story. The reader won’t connect if you, as the writer, doesn’t connect. I spent years “writing” stories and not “telling” stories.

Do you have a circle of friends or peers that you seek out to critique your work before you submit it to a publisher?
Absolutely. Every writer should have a select circle of beta readers, but you want to make sure it’s well rounded. By that, I mean, you don’t want just other writers looking at your work and heaping nothing but praise. I have some writers take a look, I have a few readers, and I have a few editors (it’s what they do for their full time job) and I get a nice, well-rounded idea if the piece is working (or not working) on a number of levels.

And finally, are zombies evil?
Nah, zombies aren’t evil. They’re just doing what’s in their nature 🙂

Want more? Check our R Thomas Riley’s blog.

15 Comments

Greg

lol, when I was still at school (yeah, that’s a few years back) I used to believe that I could study better with the music on, I think I even used to switch MTV on as a “background” presence… hem, it took me a couple of epic fails to realize that the technique did not work so well.

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Evan

Yeah. I once fell for the studying with classical music theory which is a complete myth. Factually incorrect idea. Classical music doesn’t make you better at anything academically.

Bo

I tried that. The only time it remotely worked was when the music was less distracting than the other background noise. Other than that, I prefer a completely quiet room to study. In fact, I had a carol at the college library that I spent so much time glued in I should’ve either paid or collected rent (I’m not sure which).

Evan

Hah. Man I know. I have walked dozens of miles at my campus to find *the spot*…still haven’t found it.

Bo

The second story of the college library was all quiet study, except for the group study rooms; and I spent hours in those, too.

There were quiet places off the beaten path, too. Up inside the clock tower was supposed to be a favorite quiet spot; but I never tried it.

Evan

It’s nice knowing I’m not the only one who does this! Just yesterday I was looking at an aerial map of that campus marking off levels and sections I haven’t explored yet for my solitude.

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R. Thomas Riley

@Greg
the thing about writing is there really is no “one” method that works for everyone. That’s the beauty of the process, really. It took me quite a few years to find my “stride and method”, but when I hit on it, it just “clicked”. Working on multiple projects (for me) ensures I’m always working on something. If I hit the wall on one project, I just switch.

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