Interview with Thomas S. Flowers

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Thomas S. Flowers is a writer who resides in Houston, Texas. His work primarily lurks within the darker regions of fiction. A lover of both film and fiction, Thomas has a very busy blog over at machineman.org. His latest fiction release is ‘Conceiving’, the third book in a series of finely crafted dark fiction tales that follow a group of friends brought together by the trauma of war, finding themselves drawn towards a mysterious house in Jotham, Texas where malevolent forces stir…

Sounds cool, right?!

Anyway, I thought it about time I had Mr Flowers over for a yarn about books, movies and also to find out what the ‘S’ stands for in his name…

Read on, dear follower, read on…

TGR: G’Day there, Thomas. We know you’re a writer, but tell us something about who Thomas S. Flowers is outside of his writing.

TSF: Well, besides writing really awesome books, I’m a father and a husband. My family has been my biggest support base, both in my career and living a life outside of the Army. Our weeks are typically filled with various activities, but on the weekends we spend as much time together as we can. Taking trips to the Houston Zoo or the Natural History Museum. And as my wife and I are both bibliophiles, we hop around different bookstores around town, adding to our already impressive collection.

TGR: What does the “S” stand for in your name?

TSF: Sanford…I know, don’t say it…

TGR: Where does your love of fiction and film come from? Is it something that is passed down from your parents?

TSF: I’m not sure if it was passed down, though my dad and I share a love for action and science fiction movies, one of the few things we have in common. It’s hard to say when my love for horror came about. I like to say that my older sister helped. We used to have Friday night movie nights at the house growing up, just the two of us. We’d get popcorn, candy, pizza, soda, the works. One time she rented Night of the Living Dead and it blew my mind. I wasn’t huge into horror or movies at the time, but I certainly started to lean towards the dark after that. There was another time I had watched Child’s Play without permission. Well, my sister found out and began tormenting me by moving around this My Buddy doll my parents gave me and leaving notes beside it, “You wanna play?” Freaked me out. No one knows what happened to My Buddy, but I’m fairly certain it’s buried out somewhere in the yard.

TGR: When did you decide, you wanted to become a writer? And why?

TSF: It didn’t start with the notion of “hey, I’m going to be a writer now.” This writing business started more or less as a desire to tell a story. I’ve always enjoyed writing, even stuff most people find utterly boring, like history papers for school. I did some poetry during my deployments to Iraq, but never thought about publishing. When I got out and did the night school thing, finishing my Bachelor’s in History, I had this massive pocket of mental space that I was no longer using. I’ve been able to cope with a lot of the baggage from serving during war by keeping my head busy. I knew I needed to do something. My largest focus during school was on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, taking survey classes and propaganda classes, and straight up Holocaust classes, around the same time of the immigration issues going on here in Texas. Children were coming up from South America needing medical attention. Immigration has always been a hot topic here in the States since the 1880s. But these were kids for fuck sake. You wouldn’t believe the paranoia coming out of people’s mouths around here, all the xenophobia, the fear of “the other.” Thinking back to what I’d just studied and devoted years learning, I felt compelled to tell a story. Reinheit, my first novel, came from this want, this need to say something. And the rest, as they say, is history.

TGR: Somebody asks me where to start with your fiction. What do I tell them?

TSF: I always like to guide people to my first novel, Reinheit. It’s not tiresomely long, or is it overtly preachy. But there is a message there, and it’s the first, which makes the rest that much better as I’ve developed (hopefully) as a writer.

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TGR: Since your first published story, how do you think you have improved as a writer?

TSF: With each story, novel or short or novella, is a chance to practice, to hone my craft. I like to think each book is an improvement from the last. Each book that’s published is my new favourite because I feel it shows my current progress as a writer.

TGR: Do you plan when you’re writing or is it more free-flowing than that?

TSF: I don’t really outline, so much. Reinheit was basically just an idea and then I started writing, allowing the characters to take control. The same with Dwelling and Emerging and Conceiving. All born from just an idea or notion I’d like to move towards. The characters more or less wrote the story. While I do not outline, sometimes I’ll stop in the middle of a work and try and write a brief synopsis, basically just to see where I’m going, if I’m still moving towards the original idea or if the idea has changed in some way. This is the way I write and everyone has their own method.

TGR: Do you edit your work as you go or wait until you have completed a few chapters?

TSF: 98% of everything I write starts out as longhand in a one subject notebook. This way, I can keep my stream of consciousness flowing without being tempted to edit as I go. When I transfer what I’ve penned into MS Word, I consider that stage to be my major edit. After everything has been typed up, I typically go through the story again, ensuring everything flows and makes sense. After that, it’s off to the publisher. When I story is accepted, the publisher will send the story to their editors for thus another round of edits. And still, after all this, the story then goes through a proof-reader. Even here, with all this, there will still be mistakes and readers are never shy to tell you about them.

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TGR: Your most recent release, Conceiving, is the third book in the subdue series. Can you tell us about it and did you always plan on this being a trilogy or has it just turned into a sort of runaway train?

TSF: Originally, there was only one book called Subdue. But it was rather long and my publisher suggested we turn it into a series. So we ended up with Dwelling and Emerging. Conceiving came about a few months after the release of Emerging, thinking to myself, “there’s more here, isn’t there? Am I ready to give up on these characters?” And the answer obviously was no. but I do not think this is a runaway train. There’s a bigger game being played here. Conceiving focuses more on just a few select characters instead of a swarm (insider joke if you’d read the books). We got a real good look at these otherworldly beings in the end of Emerging and with the way things ended, it didn’t feel right to me that they’d be so easily defeated. The Nashirimah are not from this world, or dimension for that matter, but I’m divulging perhaps too much. Conceiving follows that next step in the evolution of Subdue. In Dwelling and Emerging we witnessed what they normally do, their modus operandi, how they feed. But when that didn’t work, now we have to wonder, can they adapt to intervention? If there’s one thing we can say about insects, from Earth or not, is their keen ability at overcoming obstacles.

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TGR: I know you are an Army veteran. How did your time served impact on the creation and writing of the Subdue series?

TSF: My experiences in war directly influenced the structure and characters in both Dwelling and Emerging. And in way, will always have an effect on everything that I write. My experiences are a part of who I am. I can’t just cut it out of me. However, as Subdue continues, those themes are playing less centre stage. While Bobby, one of the original five characters, still struggles with PTSD and living with traumatic memory, the focus has shifted to other themes I find important, themes such as parenthood and the importance of family.

TGR: What can readers expect from the ‘Subdue’ series?

TSF: Expect rich characterizations. I pride myself, good or bad, on developing realistic characters with real motivations. In the first two books (Dwelling & Emerging), expect a heavy focus on veteran issues, but told, hopefully, in an entertainingly horrifying way. Conceiving drifts away from that, able to stand on its own really. There is also dribbles of history in my writing, so you can expect some foundation.

TGR: I can see from your blog that you’re a big movie fan too. What is your favourite movie, and how have movies influenced your writing?

TSF: My favourite movie of all time is John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982). I’m a fan of nihilism, especially in storytelling. Sometimes, there are no bad or happy (good) endings. Sometimes things just end with a whole lot of questions still left unanswered. A lot of really good horror ends that way, unanswered questions. But that’s not horror’s job, is it? Horror doesn’t give the answers, it forces the questions we don’t want to ask. As far as influences, just about everything plays an influence for me. For Conceiving, “Rosemary’s Baby” was a huge influence, as was H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos, and “Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.”

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TGR: This is just a personal opinion, but a lot of horror movies these days seem to be leaning towards a more art-style horror. They look great, have killer soundtracks and tend to go for mood rather than out-and-out, in-your-face horror, I’m thinking of movies like The Neon Demon and even It Follows to a certain extent. For me, I always want to go back to the days of body horror movies like “The Fly” and “The Thing.” Simple movies, 90 minutes in length, plenty of blood and gore. What do you think of the current crop of horror movies invading our cinemas?

TSF: I remember when “It Follows” was coming out to only select theatres. It was a “big deal.” They had a showing not far from where I live so I went late one night and screened the movie. The beginning was pretty great and as you said the soundtrack was very Carpenter synthwave type stuff. And the message was very…obvious. But as far as storytelling goes, it was…okay. I liked it, but I wasn’t blown away, “It Follows” was far from anything ground-breaking as some trolls would make you believe. I think we’ll always have those art-horror films, they are in themselves a sub-genre almost. The cool thing about older horror movies, as you mentioned “The Fly,” body-horror, was very in your face, great practical effects, but those movies also had a message too, some far deeper than these art-horror flicks coming out nowadays. There are literally philosophical articles written on the existential meaning behind “The Fly” that could have been tackled in “It Follows,” if the director and story writers hadn’t been so crude with their delivery. Thankfully, that’s not all that’s being offered. In 2016, there were a few rather good horror flicks, including “Don’t Breathe,” “The Conjuring 2,” “10 Cloverfield Lane,” “Hush,” and “The Wailing,” among others.

TGR: Back to writing and the publishing industry is constantly challenging and changing. How has it changed for you since your first release? Is it getting more and more difficult to get noticed and what do you think the future has in store for small presses and Indie authors?

TSF: I’ve been doing this publishing stuff since 2014, just coming on 3 years now. That’s not a long time to really notice any changes. What I has happened in that short space, is how much I’ve been able to learn and experiment with. I started as a self-publisher, without much of a clue. Soon after, I got with Booktrope, which was a hybrid-publisher. They went under a year later, but while with them I was able to gain several contacts. I’m fortunate to have this really tight circle of peers since almost the beginning. And we’ve all adapted in different ways. Some taking similar paths, others different paths. I don’t think it’s getting harder to get noticed, I think it just takes a little longer for some. And I can talk all day on different marketing strategies and theories. There is no one formula, or one way to go about things. Each writer will need to experiment for themselves. Personally, I’ve got my thumb in more than one pot. I still self-pub, but I do so through my team with Shadow Work Publishing. I also have stuff with small press varying in different sizes, Limitless Publishing is the biggest of the small presses that I’m with. I do novels, novellas, and submit short stories with anthologies. And as you stated here, I run Machine Mean, reviewing horror movies and books, brining on other writers, all in an attempt to not only gain more exposure, but to have fun doing it, to be a content provider. If anything new writers or even old writers need to consider, it’s being versatile. Think outside the box.

TGR: What three books would you recommend to somebody who has never read a horror book before but wants to know of a good place to start?

Salem’s Lot is my favourite book and I will recommend this one any day of the week. Next, All Quiet on the Western Front, not technically horror, but filled with plenty of horrific imagery. Clive Barker’s Books of Blood collection. Short story collections are a great place to get a feel without having to commit a ton of time reading to see if you like the genre or not.

TGR: What three movies would you recommend to a horror newbie?

“Alien” (1979) is a pretty good place to start. Not overtly graphic. Just filled with fantastic scenery and characters and mood. “Dawn of the Dead” (1978) would be my second pick, as I would be amiss not to mention at least one George A. Romero film. While “The Thing” is my all-time favourite horror flick, for newbies, I’d have to go with “The Exorcist” (1973). If they can get through this classic and still want more, they’re as good as gold. Or as good as flies, projectile vomit, you get the picture.

TGR: What are you currently working on now and what does the rest of 2017 have in store for Thomas S. Flowers?

TSF: I’m really excited about 2017. I’m aiming at stepping up my publishing game this year. I should have a collection, my first, releasing sometime here soon, February I hope. In March, I plan on pushing out Dark Designs with Shadow Work Publishing, which will be my first anthology that I’ve taken lead on. The next Subdue book comes out in the spring. A short novel for a summer release, I hope. A few other anthologies, and that’s just within the first 6 months of this year.

TGR: Where can folk find you?

TSF: Come on by the blog, machinemean.org, we’ve got a brand new series going on this year, Creature Features in Review, and loads of other content, totally free. You can find me on Twitter @MachineMeanNow and on Facebook as Thomas S. Flowers. And if you want to take a look at my books directly, visit the great altar of Amazon under the name Thomas S. Flowers.

TGR: Thomas, you’re a gent. Thanks for your time and all the best.

TSF: Thanks for having me.

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Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #Conceiving #SubdueSeries #paranormal #HookofaBook

Conceiving, Synopsis

  • Print Length: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Dark things are dwelling in Jotham, Texas. Malicious forces are seen emerging from the sinister house on Oak Lee Road…

With little memory of the events that took the lives of his friends, Bobby Weeks tries to move on with his life, and finds a job at a warehouse on Galveston Island. The evil in Jotham won’t leave him behind, though. Strangers from the cursed town find him, offering information about what happened to his friends. It all leads back to Baelo University…back to Jotham.

Luna Blanche has always been gifted, but now she must use those gifts to save Bobby…

Luna goes to the Mississippi Delta to take care of her dying grandmother. She misses Bobby, and when she attempts to see Bobby through her mind, all she finds is a deadly future. Fearing his life is in danger, she leaves the Delta and searches for him in Jotham.

Neville and Boris Petry want nothing more than the picturesque American Dream…

After Boris accepts a new job teaching at Baelo University, the Petrys move to Jotham to finally live out their dream. Following a drunken faculty party, Neville discovers she is pregnant. She should be ecstatic, but dreadful dreams lead her to feel as if something is wrong with the baby, her husband…and the school.

Four destinies bound on a collision course, a plot conceived in the shadows of Jotham…and an evil biding its time…waiting for them all.

Dwelling, Book One in the Subdue Series

A group of inseparable childhood friends are now adults, physically and psychologically devastated by war…

A horrifying creature emerges from a sandstorm just before Ricky Smith dies in battle. Forced to leave base housing, his widow Maggie buys a home on Oak Lee Road in the town of Jotham. Maggie is isolated in the historic house…and disconcerted by strange clicking sounds inside the walls.

Jonathan Steele attempts to drink the painful past away…

Jonathan was wounded in that fateful battle and now suffers from PTSD. He wants to put the nightmare behind him, but when Ricky’s ghost appears with cryptic warnings about Maggie’s house, he begins to question his sanity.

Bobby Weeks is a homeless veteran struggling with a lycanthropic curse…

Afraid of bringing harm, Bobby stays far away from those he loves. But after a full moon, a mysterious woman approaches him and reveals a vision about a house with a sinister presence, and he realizes staying away might no longer be an option.

Minister Jake Williams lost his faith on the battlefield…

While Jake will do anything to reconnect with God, he turns to vices to fill the religious void. But a church elder urges him to take a sabbatical, and a ghost tells him to quit the ministry, and his life is more out of control than ever.

When Maggie wakes in a strange subterranean cavern, she can’t deny her home harbors dark secrets. Desperate, she sends letters to her old friends to reunite in Jotham, and events conspire to draw them all to the house…unaware of the danger awaiting them.

The friends have already been through hell, but can any of them survive the evil dwelling beneath the House on Oak Lee?

Emerging, Book Two in the Subdue Series

Traumatized by war, friends gather for a reluctant reunion…

A historic house in Jotham, Texas harbors a malevolent force, and as her fear grows, widow Maggie Smith pleads with three lifelong friends to gather in her home. But will their presence combat the darkness…or feed it?

Minister Jake Williams fears Maggie has had a breakdown…

Feeling he has no choice, Jake locates the other intended guest, Bobby Weeks, who agrees to go with him but struggles with keeping his lycanthropic curse hidden.

Jonathan Steele, a wounded veteran battling PTSD, arrives with his disgruntled wife. After drinking too much at dinner, Jonathan insults the homeless Bobby, and Bobby is missing from the house the next morning.

The dark past of Maggie’s home awakens in the present…

Jake, whose faith is in doubt, confides in a local priest while he and Jonathan search for Bobby, and Ricky’s ghost makes another visit to Jonathan, causing him to become fixated on saving Maggie from the evil that surrounds her.

As the danger intensifies, trust is elusive, and betrayal is certain…

Maggie might be lost, Bobby confronts a terrible choice, and Jake and Jonathan fight to save them all—before they become more victims of the horror emerging beneath the deadly house in Jotham.

Thomas Flowers, Biography

Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character driven stories of dark fiction. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter.

He is published with The Sinister Horror Company’s horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. His debut novel, Reinheit, is published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein and Apocalypse Meow. His military/paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Books, Dwelling, Emerging and Conceiving, are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC.

In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston Clear Lake with a BA in History.

He blogs at machinemean.org, where he does author interviews and reviews on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can learn more about Thomas and all his strange writings by joining his mailing list at http://goo.gl/2CozdE.

Praise for Thomas S Flowers III

“Thomas S Flowers is a fantastic writer. There is no other way of putting it. He writes a single book but has so many different writing styles within that single book that all come together beautifully to present you with a story that totally engrosses you.” – Confessions of a Reviewer

“Thomas S. Flowers has allowed this story to brew slowly, allowing the mystery and horror of the house on Oak Lee Road to reveal itself bit by bit. The author is a master of taking an everyday, normal object and twisting it into a horrific monstrosity—Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews

“A page-turning, emotional book with shades of Stephen King’s IT and the best parts of Peter Straub’s KOKO. Thomas Flowers has written an extremely personal book of friendship, loss, and trauma that deserves praise not just for its sharp characterization but also its brutal honesty.” – Duncan Ralston, author of Salvage, on Dwelling

Purchase Links

Conceiving – Book Three

Amazon

Dwelling – Book One

Amazon

Emerging – Book Two

Amazon

Limitless Publishing offers all three books in one digital boxed set for a low price as well or read with Kindle Unlimited!

Get it here!

Want to Feature?

If you’re a media site, blogger, or radio/podcast host, and you’d like to feature Thomas S Flowers or review Conceiving please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

 

 

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