Illustrious Peep for a Saturday night: R. Thomas Riley!
RTR, I have to say I’m psyched to interview you. From what I can tell, you’re having a good bit of success with Permuted, your own independent publishing, and other efforts. How does it feel? Any advice for us newbies?
Like pushing an extremely large boulder up a never-ending hill.
Writing a book can be a trying experience, sure, but I think the hardest thing about writing is actually after the publication of a project. There’s so much out there vying for a reader’s attention that it’s very easy to get lost in the “noise”, best you can hope for, after you’ve done what you can personally, and what your publisher can, is hope that someone reads your book, likes it, and then tells their friends. Hopefully, they have a lot of friends.
Best advice I can give, know the odds, don’t expect to not put in the “real work” after your project is published and live in the wild.
Sex and death. They seem to go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Why do you think this is?
Because they’re still two things that seem to be taboo in many cultures. As a rule, we don’t talk about sex or death, too much, in American culture. But you can’t have one, without the other. Adrenaline happens when we have a brush with death, it happens when we have sex. That’s the connection, I think, but I’m no scientist.
When did the writing muse rap you on the skull?
I’m a reader first, always have been, but around the age of 15, I started to drift while reading, thinking, “What if the character did this, or did that?” and the story would veer off in a different direction in my head. That started to happen more and more, until I eventually sat down and tried to write my first story.
Do you think print books will die, retire to the world of collectibles, or experience a resurgence in the coming years?
No, print books are here to stay, maybe less of them, but they’re always going to be here.
How do you approach the writing process?
Much of what I write has already been percolating in my head for months. By the time I actually sit down to write out a first draft, I’m pretty confident on what I want to put on paper. Of course, every project morphs as it progresses. I rarely use an outline, but occasionally, I do, entirely dependent on the type of project.
Is there anything you’d like to tell new writers that they don’t usually hear?
Put in the work to perfect your craft, never stop striving to better your skills. Use beta readers, and for christ’s sake, use an editor…a real one. Google a publisher, before you ever submit. There is never a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the business, what works for one author, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Build your audience with readers, not other writers. Google is your best friend.
Have you read anything recently that impressed the hell out of you?
I’ve been reading a lot of stuff outside the horror genre lately, namely, Rio Youers’ Westlake Soul, Tom Piccirilli (anything he writes), and Lauren Beukes’ The Shinning Girls and Gillian Flynn. On the horror front, Bill Braddock’s Brew was a blast, and D.L. Snell and Thom Brannan’s Pavlov’s Dogs series is great.
Where do you go from here? What’s the dream you have for the next ten years?
Of course, I’d love to do this full time, but I’ve already been at this for a decade, so we’ll see. At this point, my main goal is to continue to perfect my craft and improve on every contract, I’ve been at this for too long to start taking steps backward.
You can find R. Thomas Riley in these lovely locations on an internet near you: