Tell us a little bit about yourself, anything you’d like your readers to know:
I’m a writer and teacher living in the Hudson Valley of New York, where my stories so far take place. I deal with the strange things people are conditioned to ignore in their daily lives, delving into the esoterica of history to back up what is happening to my characters. I just got engaged to my artist girlfriend, Amber, to whom my last book was dedicated. We are sure to have a distinctly geeky wedding, since she just ordered Tardis blue envelopes.
What made you do decide to become an author?
There was an air of inevitability about it in the least arrogant way possible. If I didn’t become an author, it would be akin to not becoming an adult and about as much of a decision.
I wrote frantically from a very young age. My parents and teachers recognized that this was where my talents lay and encouraged me. I’m not sure I would progressed this far without capturing the attentions of adults during the right moments in my formation.
This isn’t to say that I decided to be a very successful author, mind you. The stories I tell, mixing humor and horror, along with as much factually accurate fantasy as I can cram in, are possibly still a niche taste. Most people who read one of my book (at least after We Shadows) tend to become fans, but it is difficult to get in front of eyes in this market unless one is with the five (and shrinking) big publishers.
Who are your favorite authors, and how have they influenced your writing?
Neil Gaiman has been a strong influence. His are among the first books I wished I had written, particularly Good Omens, his collaboration with Terry Pratchett. He writes the sort of fantasy that embraces the differences of his characters. Few are mocked or wholly evil. Rather, evil occurs when characters do what they think it best.
Also, Neil has given me occasional morsels of advice when I contact him privately, for which I am continually grateful.
I appreciate he audacity of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I think those who read one or two of the books in seclusion are cheating themselves, because this is a vibrant and interconnected universe of forty books. I am finishing up the fourth in my series and plotting out the sixths and I already wish that I had an entire blank room on whose walls I could chart interrelations and coming events for my characters. I cannot fathom the feat that Pratchett has accomplished so far and preemptively mourn what Alzheimer’s disease is going to take from the world.
Where can we find you online?
My site: http://xenex.org
Amazon Author’s Page: http://www.amazon.com/mn/landing/B004ZQYE5W/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&cr…
Double Dragon Publishing Author’s Page: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/eAuthor.php?Name=Thomm%20Quackenbush
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/ThommQuackenbush
Goodreads Author’s Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4890612.Thomm_Quackenbush
Shelfari Author’s Page: http://www.shelfari.com/authors/a3539729/Thomm-Quackenbush/
Tell us about your book:
My most recently book, Artificial Gods, is about two sisters, Jasmine and Chrys, who are harassed by UFOs one summer and come to realize that these phenomena have been with them for their entire lives. It confronts a lot of the UFO mythology by touching upon the improbability of visitors from the stars and the occult connections between a self-proclaimed Anti-Christ’s honeymoon, the inventing of rocket fuel, and the crash at Roswell.
This was a book I needed to write possibly more than any before. Since I was a small boy, I had a curious fascination with the paranormal and filled my head with a staggering amount about it. In second grade, I could tell you all the synonyms for Bigfoot by culture, but I could not manage to learn my times tables.
Artificial Gods takes place in Pine Bush, New York, a real town that was beset by UFOs and those people out to catch a glimpse. In my early twenties, my friends and I took it upon ourselves to investigate, by which I mean “drive around the streets after dark and hope to see something.” We did not, in fact, see anything more compelling than airplanes from the local air force base, but it was enough.
When I decided to write the book in earnest, I knew I couldn’t just observe the town at a distance. I attended several meeting of the United Friends Observer Society and went on a few sky watches to get a flavor for the people and their shared beliefs. It helped to reaffirm in me that most people dealing with paranormal experiences are very normal and are just seeking answers to something beyond our sober reckoning.
Everyone has their idiosyncrasies, what’s yours?
If we are pushing aside the desire to infiltrated UFO support groups to ensure authenticity, it might be that, to bash through writer’s block, I engage in long conversation with my characters when writing that, occasionally going so far as to dress up in loose approximations in order to get a feel for what they would do in a given situation (so far, this game of make-believe has only involved male or male-presenting characters; I’m grateful that my main female characters has been more forthcoming with me, since I don’t know how inspired I would feel in a sundress or bodice).
What’s your favorite book turned movie and why?
Hogfather, based on the book of the same name by Terry Pratchett. It is easy to do whimsy and holiday movies wrong and especially easy to do Pratchett wrong – the animated versions of his books prove that – but Hogfather manages to be a holiday movie with heart, a few scares, and an unsettling amount of logic behind it. When one of your main characters in Death and his daughter Susan being stalked by an assassin, one needs to tread a fine line to make it feel Christmas-y.
What’s your favorite genre to read?
Nonfiction, primarily focused on psychology, neurology, and the natural sciences, though I understand how tedious that must seem. Bill Bryson, Malcolm Gladwell, and Oliver Sacks are lifesavers when it comes to writing about often dry subjects with humor.
Which do you do more, read or write, and why?
At the moment, I’ve been writing much more than I’ve been reading, time-wise, because I am trying to finish up a beta reader draft of Flies to Wanton Boys. After I get this out, I am gorging myself on novels before NaNoWriMo.
What is your writing process like, and what’s your favorite part of it?
My favorite part of writing is having written.
My best ideas come when I am driving or in the shower and, despite owning a top of the line laptop specifically designed for writing, I need to scratch my first drafts out in an old spiral notebook in pen. Then, I type it in using WriteMonkey, which blacks out most of my screen and makes clicks as though it were a typewriter. I need this level of sensory deprivation in order to work my best. In my last apartment, and despite there being ample room, I worked in a walk in closet with the door shut and earplugs in, since my muse likes to whisper in the dark.