InterviewsIf you can't talk with Thomm Quackenbush, read questions from those who have.
All Things Book: Interview with Thomm Quackenbush (December 2013)
Iíve always seen the world a bit differently. It started from simply wondering what my life would have been like growing up in a different house or with different parents. It evolved into wondering if everyone I saw was truly human. There are some strange people out there and it was almost comforting to create stories where they were not simply having trouble adjusting to society, but were seven hundred year old satyrs or the embarrassed children of the gods. I want badly for there to be a magic in the world, deep within human souls but just out of reach.
Nano Spotlight: Fantasy author Thomm Quackenbush (November 2013)
Iíve done NaNoWriMo since 2006 or so and Iíve "won" it six times, though some of these wins only occurred by the skin of my teeth, by typing slightly related gibberish (character bios, set descriptions, rules for the world) in the last few days before December 1st hit. Some of my better experiences with NaNoWriMo occurred in Panera Breads, hyped on diet soda, doing write-offs with other WriMos while barely speaking. I still have a pink seal eraser I won for writing 6,000 words of Artificial Gods in one sitting. Mr. Sealkins believes in me.
Into the Mind of an Author: Thomm Quackenbush (November 2013)
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-Christís honeymoon, the inventing of rocket fuel, and the crash at Roswell.
Yes. I find comfort in Drakeís Equation, these nested fractions of probability that, though they reduce exponentially at each step, result in a statistical near certainty that intelligent life would have evolved somewhere in the vastness of the universe. It does not imply they would be within the distance where we could ever meaningfully communicate, but it is enough for me to know we are not alone. It would be much too lonely to look up at the empty stars, but I am glad I can back the sentiment up with math and science.
Artificial Gods By Thomm Quackenbush (October 2013)
The most fascinating fact of all might not be from the members of the United Friends Observer Society, but rather from my background reading. Jack Whiteside Parsons, a literal rocket scientist who undoubtedly is owed some credit for the United States "winning" the space race, was a fervent occultist. He was an acolyte of Aleister Crowley, who referred to himself as the Great Beast and the Anti-Christ, though even Crowley thought Parsons went a little too far with some of his ritual work. Before each rocket launch, Parsons would recite the Hymn to Pan. Parson and L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, lived and did spells together for years. All of this is mentioned in Artificial Gods, because how could I possibly leave it out?
Interview with Author - Thomm Quackenbush (October 2013)
I tend to be inspired by the strangeness of history and the natural world, to say nothing of a childhood filled with seeking out ghosts and UFOs. From the moment I could read, the content of those books tended to be classed as strange. By second grade, I could tell you the best way to attract and keep a unicorn and at least three synonymous names for Bigfoot. I could not manage to learn the times tables, though, until my reading time was threatened.
Interview with Thomm Quackenbush by Kristin Mazzola (September 2013)
...I knew I was a novelist in my heart and it seemed necessary to do more than blog and wait for a story to find me. I had a sketch of the world I would like to write, our world as far as most people could tell, but only because humans are conditioned against acknowledging the magical or supernatural. However, it wouldnít gel into a story. My sophomore year of college, one of my friends killed himself after a party. I wrote a fictionalized version of this, half as a coping mechanism and half to enter a local paperís short story competition. I did not place, which was no real surprise in retrospect. They were looking for drawling cowboys learning life lessons or condensed chicken soup for the teenís soul, not a story about suicide and recovery that doesnít name-drop Jesus. I just couldnít let go to the protagonist, Shane, and (to a lesser extent) her departed boyfriend. I slotted them into this universe I had been creating and it suddenly sprang to life.
As unsatisfying as this may sounds, I think I partially write simply because I was built to do it. Ever since first grade, when the Writing grade on my report card went from my chicken scratch penmanship to the content of the scrawls, it was understood by my parents and teachers that I was probably a writer. Other interests could be indulged-I had delusions of acting and filmmaking-but it was all just to get me back to writing.
This doesnít mean that I did not work very hard to become good enough to go from proclaimed writer to legitimate author. There is that Malcolm Gladwell factoid that an expert in any field is simply someone who has done it for ten thousand hours. I would not be surprised if I hadnít doubled or tripled that by now, via blogs and essays I undertook prior to feeling competent to write a full length novel. Rare is the time I am not at some stage writing, even if it is no more than elevated daydreaming. I still feel that I am just beginning, that I hardly know anything at all. I gleaned more on honing my voice while grumbling about the edits on my third novel than I did in all the years prior.
The greatest challenge with this book was not the research - that was rather fun - but wrangling my skeptical main character, Jasmine. I had some ideas for what happened to her and she bucked against me time and again. Iíve had characters be difficult before, but Iíd never encountered one who resisted me so strongly. In the end, it turned out that her obstinance was crucial to the plot. When I went back to revise, I was unsurprised to see how well foreshadowed her refusal was and how much stronger it made the story. Without her, this is a book about the mythology of UFOs. With her, it became a book about sisterhood triumphing trauma.
When I first submitted We Shadows to publishers, I received so many rejection letters that I started putting them on the refrigerator. The woman I lived with at the time found this morbid, but I figured each letter was one step closer to my fated acceptance letter.
Interview with Thomm Quackenbush by Lily Sawyer (April 2013)
I have always imagined writing a comic novel with my family as its foundation - somewhere between the movie The Royal Tennebaums and the work of David Sedaris - but I have yet to happen upon a way I can manage it without being disowned.
Interview with Thomm Quackenbush by R.M. Kelly (March 2013)
Continuing with I Citizen Mag's series of Indie Author Interviews we've got a great Q&A with Thomm Quackenbush. It's always a delight for us to get to know authors a little better through this series, the online community may seem large at times but it's a small world if share our love for indie writing and support exciting, new or unique authors.
Author Interview by Scarberryfields (February 2013)
My girlfriend is the only family member affected right now and she does not seem to mind too much. She is also a creative type, an artist who runs a successful Etsy shop and who is involved in the local artistic community, so we have come up with our "work hour". I retire to a tiny closet with my notebook computer and she makes an absolute mess of our living room floor as she makes her crafts.
Itís a good system, except for when guests drop by before we can clean up.
Author Interview by Red Haircrow (November 2012)
The foundations for what I intend to write were often poured twenty-five years ago, when I needed to stand on a stool to access the UFO and ghost books my elementary school library possessed. I don't know why this topic interested me. Now, I find the research process to be one of pleasant rediscovery, as I happen upon references to things I half-remember from childhood and then dive in with vigor. In Artificial Gods, I had the plot more or less fleshed out before I stumbled upon a picture of one of the antagonists, a figure I was fairly sure I had made up. Perhaps I had brushed up against a book on Thelema in my childhood searching - I rather doubt it - but I think there is sometimes just a sort of unconscious repository of these ideas waiting for a blithe artist to trip into.
I think the audience I am trying to reach is me as a teenager to early twenty-something. Fortunately, a lot of people are like me: hungry for something to read that respects our intelligence, but still willing to be playful. So often growing up, I read books that made me feel knowledgeable, but were needlessly dry and serious. Or I would read books that were "fun", but were written as though I were a sixth grader who suffered from multiple head injuries.
I think it simply comes down to fantasy being the language I speak. While I cannot get into epic sword and sorcery, I see the world as having the potential to be slightly off-kilter. I have run into people who do not quite seem human - though of course they are - and have been privy to coincidences that almost make me believe in magic. Fantasy is sometimes just asking yourself, "Well, what if you are wrong? What if the world doesn't work the way you think? What would that mean?"
Only once I write "The End" do I get to go back and edit. I end up changing so much through my revisions that it does not make much sense to proceed otherwise.
Thomm Quackenbush is the author of the Night's Dream series - We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods - published by Double Dragon Publishing. He has previously written for Cave Drawing Ink, Broken City Magazine, Paragon Press, and The Journal of Cartoon Overanalyzations.