Thacher E. Cleveland has been a comic shop owner, a podcaster, and a writer for Panels on Pages.com. Now he can add one more thing to his résumé; he’s a published author. Earlier this April, Cleveland released his first novel, Shadow of the Past, by self-publishing it online. Shadow of the Past (which can be bought here: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/51315) is a horror novel with a bit of mystery. I recently spoke with Cleveland about the book.
Kelly Harrass: You’ve been talking about this book for as long as I’ve known you online. How’s it feel to finally release it?
Thacher E. Cleveland: It’s a great feeling. I’ve had the idea for this book and have been working on it in some way or another since I was in high school (almost…wow, about 15 years now), so to get to a point where I can say “It’s done, I’m ready for everyone to see it, buy it and (hopefully) enjoy it” is the culmination of a lot of hard work and dreams.
KH: Could you describe the story a bit?
TEC: The story is about a teenager named Mark Watson who has a generally crappy and unhappy life. Just as he meets a girl that’s interested in him he begins having strange dreams about a young boy in the 50’s that was kidnapped and forced to watch a series of murders. As the dreams become more intense the few people Mark cares about start getting murdered by a supernatural force. Mark has to discover the connection between himself and the murders that took place in the past while trying to keep his life together.
KH: Where did the idea for this book come from?
TEC: The thing with having an idea for a story for so long is that it begins to take on a life of its own. I remember coming up with the initial idea while mowing the lawn and all of the other pieces fell into place over the years. I remember going for a late night walk my first semester of college and finding the outdoor sculpture studio, complete with kiln and various other bits of industrial art materials and that became the basement and furnace of the house on Briarcliff Avenue that killer draws his power from. As little bits came to me here and there it led to re-write after re-write, and in the end I don’t think the final product looks anything like the idea I had mowing the lawn that day. Frankly, we’re better off.
KH: What writers have influenced your own writing style?
TEC: I’ve always been a huge Stephen King fan and that’s informed a lot of my ideas on what and how to write. Elmore Leonard is also a big influence, as he uses exactly as many words as you need to paint and picture. In a lot of ways he’s King’s opposite, so it’s nice to see both ends of the spectrum. More recently the novels of Charlie Huston have made an impact on me as well. His style is very unique as he doesn’t use any descriptors for his dialogue at all, and that forces you to put a lot more thought into what people are saying instead of just how they said it.
KH: This is a horror novel, but what genre of horror does it fall into?
TEC: It would probably be considered “slasher,” as you’ve got one big villain and a fair amount of high profile elaborate kills, although I think the gore is just under Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th levels. Then again, I’m a horrible judge of these things. One of my proofreaders wasn’t into horror much at all and found herself in for a surprise.
KH: You self-published this book in an exclusively ebook format, do you think that this is the future of publishing?
TEC: It’s the future but I don’t know when in the future. 5 years? 10? The entire publishing industry is going through a bit of an upheaval and the Internet’s ability to publish content instantaneously worldwide is the number one reason for that. Now that eCommerce has become a viable industry of its own it was only a matter of time before folks found a way to distribute content in a matter beneficial to artists and the distributors. The real key will be seeing how current print book publishers and stores adapt to these changes. Right now anyone can write, package and put a book up for sale and keep up to 70% of what that book makes. For some that’s just a couple bucks, but for some writers like JA Konrath and Amanda Hocking it’s close to the millions, and they are doing it without a “real” publisher.
Ultimately, content is king and the Internet is the ultimate proof of that.
KH: What can we expect from you next?
TEC: I have a couple of short stories about a pair of New York City private detectives that specialize in the supernatural that I’m going to be releasing for free in the next couple of months. I’m still working on some scripts and getting people together to work on some webcomics, and sitting in the background I have a second novel about a third of the way finished. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get it done and in people’s hands by Christmas. This Christmas, even. After taking 15 years to put out my first novel I’d like to cut that time in half. At least.
If you’re interested in checking out Shadow of the Past you can read a two chapter sample here: http://www.demonweasel.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/ShadowofthePastsample.pdf
Once you’re done with the preview you can buy the book in a wide variety of formats here: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/51315
Shadow of the Past is available from Amazon.com as well: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004VF69RS
More info on the book can be found at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11038325-shadow-of-the-past