Monday 7 December 2015

INTERVIEW: Thomas S Flowers: Part Two

Welcome to Part Two of Confessions of a Reviewers’ interview with Thomas S Flowers.

In tonight’s section, Thomas starts by answering some specific questions on his newest book Dwelling (Subdue Book 1), continues to talk about his writing and life in general and tackles The Ten Confessions.

I think you will agree that this part of the interview is some of the most “from the heart” speaking you are ever likely to see.

It’s only Tuesday but go grab something nice like a pizza and a beer, sit back and relax, but mostly……enjoy!

COAR - Moving on to Dwelling, what was your intention with this one? What did you want to achieve with this?

TSF - At bottom, I want Dwelling to be an entertaining story. I want people to read and to be able to put themselves in the shoes of the characters and the situations they each face or endure. And if Dwelling can do that, I’d hope it could perhaps do a little more. To give a difficult perspective many have never experienced. The twenty two a day statistic for veteran suicide is shocking, yet also distanced. What does that number even mean? My hope is that Dwelling can give my audience an insider peek at the reality, not necessarily the standard, of living with traumatic memory.

And maybe, just maybe, if I could be so bold, raise awareness for the issues discussed in the book.

COAR - One of the things that really sticks out for me in Dwelling is the strength of your characters. Is this something you need to work really hard at or does it just flow for you?

TSF - Characters are my thing. I’m not saying I’m especially good at characterization, it’s just my jive. I believe you can write about almost anything, so long as the people in your story are believable. I like to write with a focus on situation development aimed at characters. Everything else is just kinda a filler, isn’t it?

COAR - It has an old school horror story feel about it. It reminded me a bit of It but was there anything in particular that inspired this story?

TSF - King, of course, is phenomenal at creating and writing about people. I think when I first started Dwelling, I was reading It, and so the childhood aspect influenced me a lot and jived well with my goals for creating this “you can never go back,” loss of innocence reality about life. I typically read older books. I rarely read anything new. And whatever we read, ultimately inspires what we write. I’ve also been getting into more of Lovecraft’s collected works and experimenting with notions of cosmic horror. I’m not trying to replicate Lovecraft, but rather capture that sense of dread and fear of not really knowing what is “out there.”

COAR - The scenes dealing with the PTSD were fantastic. Is this something you had to research or was this all from personal experiences?

TSF - I’m terrified of group therapy. I find it fantastic and it works for some. But I needed to find something for myself, something that worked. Focusing on something other, be it school or writing, helped me cope with post war life. I hate to put a label on what I’ve gone through, and am still, and will forever live with.

Acceptance, they say, is the first step and maybe I’ve failed in that regard. Many of the scenes are from my own feelings. I did research because who knows if what one experiences to be truly genuine, and because every perspective or experience is different, as are the characters in my book. In Dwelling, I think I relate more with Johnathan. Struggling with guilt and the dread of wearing a mask just to blend in with everyday life. Much like Karen is for Johnathan, my wife has been extremely important in my own recovery and day to day existence.

Without her or my daughter, I could never had written the book(s). To have the courage to show the world my ugliness. I truly hope it comes across as honest and transparent and not sensationalized.

COAR - I loved the scenes where you go back in time to 1879. You got the language and the atmosphere just right. Was this putting your history degree to good use or was it always going to be an integral part of the story?

TSF - The 1879 scenes were my way of showing the house on Oak Lee with roots. It didn’t just appear in 1995, it was always there. When Augustus rides to see his recently purchased land for the first time, the house is already there, waiting for him, giving the “home” a sense (I hope) of mystery. And I wanted to give the house and the town of Jotham a dualistic shared history. You’ll see more of that in Book Two, Emerging. History is a fun way of giving a story depth. I certainly used some of my degree, though I also did a considerable amount of research.

COAR - I can’t imagine where this is going to end. Is it just one more book or is there potential for more?

TSF - There will be an end, though the story continues on. Or I should say, some of the characters continue on. I’m currently working on Book Three at the moment. Not every question will be answered. I believe some of the fun in reading is discovering the answer by working it out. And everyone has their own perspective on what that answer can be.

COAR - Who would be the authors you would give the credit of being your influences and who do you just not “get”?

TSF - Stephen King and Erich Maria Remarque are my two biggest influences. King for his characters and talent for showing the impossible. Remarque for his honesty and courage to reveal truths about himself to the world.

There are a few authors that I “don’t get.” While to each their own, I do not have much respect for Stephenie Meyer or E. L. James. Yes, writing and stories need to have a certain amount of fun to them, but likewise, I take my writing, obviously, very seriously. I don’t think what they write is very serious or entertaining, nor does it have any depth of meaning.

COAR - What would your ultimate wish be with your writing?

TSF - While glamor would be sensational. I think at this point in the game, I’m more interested in producing a collection of work that is transparent, meaningful, and horrifying.

COAR - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

TSF - Watch movies. A lot of movies. I reserve those moments for late night, after the girls have gone to bed. Family time is important to me, and I try my best to keep myself available for my wife and daughter to hang out, be it going to a restaurant, shopping, the park, or whatever we want to do together.

COAR - What’s coming in the future from Thomas S Flowers?

TSF - As I said earlier, I’m currently working on Book Three of the Subdue Series. I’m also putting together a collection of shorts and novellas that I’ve been penning between books. I’m actually really excited about the collection. It’ll be my first and I’ve focused my attention on resurrecting certain Universal mythologies and experimenting on bringing those old monsters into a new generation. I’m hoping to have the collection turned in to my publisher sometime in December, after Dwelling releases.  


1 Who would you view as your main competitor in the writing world?

Competitor is such strong language! Honestly, I’m nowhere near King level or any of the other “greats,” so I guess I should pick among my own peers. I’m not going to cop out and say “myself,” because every writer battles themselves. But I’m not just going to name one! For me, the three authors that are keeping me on my game are, Alex Kimmell, Duncan Ralston, and Kit Power. Kit and Duncan are excellent writers of horror realism, and while I tend to lean towards realism, what they write keeps me on my toes. Alex for his mythology creation, creating new worlds inside old ones. His use of metaphor and prose, I greatly respect.

2 What book or author have you read that you think should never have been published?

This goes back to my comments on Stephenie Meyer or E. L. James…yuck!

3 Are any of the things your characters have experienced in your books based on something that has actually happened to you? What was it?

Most of everything is born from experience. Parts of the Battle of Al-Harrah that are pulled from memory. One particular scene, though, in Dwelling comes to mind. Johnathan is getting ready to go on stage and is remembering a certain episode during his time in Iraq. He’s in a convoy. A car accelerates toward his squad. He opens fire, disabling the threat, but the convoy continues on, they never stop. He can see just enough in the windshield, there was a family in that car. Did he kill them? Where they hurt…? Johnathan will never know and neither will I. I wanted to inject real events inside the fiction. I guess, making the story a bit autobiographic.

4 Have you ever blatantly stolen an idea or scene and adapted it for one of your own books? If so, care to share?

Stolen? Again, such harsh terminology! The scenes with Ricky back from the dead were greatly influenced by Jack in American Werewolf in London. Ghosts are fine, but I wanted mine to have flesh and rot and stink and bugs and puss. I thought those scenes in the movie made that film great and I wanted to incorporate them in my own story, whilst also making it my own.

5 Have you ever anonymously left a bad review for someone else’s book? If so, care to share?

Never anonymously. I don’t typically like to give bad reviews. I did once though, I made an exception for this one particular writer. This guy writes these writer self-help books and phrase books, which I think is hideous. He’s created these “easy-to-use” cheats for would-be writers who, like him, cannot come up with their own scene descriptions. Instead of just writing and working hard and putting in the time, he offers these books to work around that. I might be overacting, but I find it all demeaning and a scam. And to boot, this guy isn’t even a well-established writer, he’s an indie. I don’t know. I just think its bad form. To talk about your own method with someone is one thing, to sell bad advice is something else altogether. I reviewed his work as such.

6 What’s the one thing you are least proud of doing in your life and why?

There’s guilt that I’m still struggling with. Moments during my first deployment when we, I, were not especially kind to civilians. I’m not going to go into any kind of detail about it, needless-to-say, if I could go back, I’d treat people differently. Ghosts are not just spiritual, they are psychological.

7 What’s the one thing you are MOST proud of doing in your life and why?

Being a dad. I love my little girl. She is everything her mother and she is everything me. We share common interests in nerdy stuff, including TMNT and scary stories. I love reading to her at night, it’s my favourite part of the day.

8 What’s your biggest fault?

Paranoia. I read a lot into things and am often paranoid…not psychotic though…I don’t think…

9 What is your biggest fear?

Heights. I bloody hate heights. And bugs. Bugs freak me out.

10 If you had to go to confession now, what would be the one thing you would need to get off your chest?

A lot. Mostly, I’d want to know if I killed or hurt that family in the yellow car. I remember them every day. I guess, you can say Dwelling is part of my confession. I don’t think I’m a hero. I did some bad things.

Well that, unfortunately, is the end of the interview. You should, by now, know nearly all you need to know about Thomas S Flowers.

If you want to know more then come back tomorrow night when I will be posting my review of Dwelling (Subdue Book 1) and will provide you with all the links to buy it and all the links you need in case you want to get in touch with Thomas or just follow what he’s doing.

I want to say a personal thanks to Thomas for giving up his precious time to take part in this interview and for being so open and honest about every single aspect of his life. I think we just had a lesson in morality and for that, you have my utmost respect, Thomas.

Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer!


  1. Thank you for having me, Nev. And thank you, also for taking the time to talk to me and being respectful with your questions.