Monday, October 26, 2015

Where Are They Now? Interview with Tom Lucas

by Anthony Trevino 

My first interaction with Tom Lucas was through the Bizarro 101 course that Rose O’Keefe taught over at LitReactor last April, but it wasn’t until Bizarrocon 2014 that I had the chance to hang out with the guy in the real world. Tom’s a great dude with impeccable world-building skills, sense of humor that echoes Warren Ellis, and a strong love for storytelling. His work is like Douglas Adams and Issac Asimov if they had loved industrial metal and punk rock as much as they did science-fiction. He’s the author of the novel Leather to the Corinthians and the novella Pax Titanus and I was thrilled to chat with him for a while.

AT: First thing’s first. How’s your back doing?

TL: Thanks, man. It’s doing great. Getting surgery over the summer sucked major ass. Time caught up with me. Back in ’96 I fell off a roof. Kids, don’t fall off a roof.

AT: Wise words. How’d you discover Bizarro fiction and Eraserhead Press?

TL: The Interwebs. I had written and self-published my first book and I simply couldn’t categorize it. A friend of mine, suspense writer Sidney Williams, suggested I look into bizarro. I found and went from there.

AT: We took the Bizarro 101 workshop together last year over at LitReactor where you were laying down some killer stuff. Was that your first try at writing bizarro or were you a seasoned vet by then?

TL: It was really my first attempt at bizarro. I’ve been a writer in various shapes and forms over the years, but mainly in the areas of journalism and copy writing. Fiction is something fairly recent, and bizarro even more so. However, I’d like to stay with bizarro. It’s so much fun to write.

AT: I hope you stick around, man. Pax Titanus was awesome and I’m looking forward to what you do next. Speaking of Pax, how did you get into the NBAS?

TL: Ah, you know already! But for the benefit of those who don’t – in April of 2014 the fabulous Rose O’Keefe held a bizarro writing workshop on LitReactor. I was there, as were you and a few other of the class of 2015 (looks like a great year for NBAS, by the way).

I knew that this was a great chance to get my work in front of a publisher as well as a bunch of fellow writers, so I wrote my ass off. I wanted to make a good impression and I did. At the end of the month, the class was invited to pitch to Eraserhead. I pitched three novellas, each based off of the stories I wrote in the workshop. Pax got over the wall and I immediately went to work. 

AT: How has your experience promoting the novella been?

TL: It’s work, man. It’s work. I put a lot of time in knocking on digital doors, doing conventions, podcasts, interviews, and special promotions. It was on my mind nearly every day. It’s not easy selling books. Rarely is there a sense of immediacy on the part of the reader and that’s completely understandable. I’m the same way. In the last year, there were at least 15 books released that are must-reads for me. At some point, I’ll actually get to read them.

Beyond the work, what was most rewarding for me – the new friends I have made by getting Pax out there. I have made friends that I suspect will be around for a lifetime, and that’s the true wealth of life. I am a rich man for it.

AT: What advice do you have for this year’s gang of new bizarro authors?

TL: You all have something that Scott and I didn’t have. Numbers. You have a solid group of writers, books, and based on what I am seeing online, a lot of enthusiasm. I am excited for the class of 2015, and perhaps just a bit envious!

Use the size of your group to your advantage. Cross-promote, interview each other, blog, network, but most of all, share your resources and opportunities with one another. This isn’t a competition. It isn’t about who sells more books. The NBAS is an annual literary gift to the world. It’s a celebration. The NBAS is a family, and a special one at that. Now there are what, 40 of us total?

AT: Yeah, that sounds about right.

TL: And with that, there is some responsibility. Be kind, cool, and professional whenever you are out there representing. Don’t get caught up in any personal bullshit, online wars—none of that. Steer clear of any drama. I’ve seen some shit online this year. People posting personal and damaging things…just ugliness. Don’t be one of those people. Don’t be an asshole. Take care of your personal shit behind the scenes if you absolutely have to.

I want you and all the other members of the new class to know that I have your back. I am here to support you in any way possible. My door is always open and I hope you all are crazy successful this year.

Lastly, find new readers outside of the scene and promote bizarro! This is going to be an amazing year. Embrace it.

AT: Thanks, man. I think I speak for all of us when I say your backing and support means a lot. That’s one of the things about the NBAS (and the bizarro community in general) that really stands out to me. There’s no every one for themselves mentality. We’re all doing what we can to help each other out. It’s a beautiful thing.

All right, just one last question before we're ejected out of the air lock: Got any more awesome non-fiction tales for the Ultimate Bizarro Showdown this year?

TL: I do. It’s called Navajo Death Race and it’s as dark as last year’s was funny. The Bizarro Showdown roster is filled with talented, capable performers. I do not think of myself as a performer. I can’t match them and it’s a competition. And, unless I’m just talking, I have a tendency to get nervous when I’m on stage. So last year, my strategy was simple—just talk, tell a story.

I got through it and they even created an award for me! The Creative Non-Fiction Award, which was a collapsing stage knife. A spectacular result. I never intended to be the “Non-Fiction” guy, but clearly when it comes to the Showdown, it’s where I need to be. I have no idea how many showdowns I will appear at, but if you see me there, count on it being a real, bizarro story from my life.

AT: That makes me so happy! I don’t have the stones to get up there yet, which now means I owe Michael Allen Rose a lot of booze, but I’ll get there someday.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!

TL: It was my pleasure. I appreciate the opportunity. You have a book out and for the next year, you will be given attention from many. So for your first move to be talking to an out-going NBAS author…very classy. A true gentleman you are. May your book delight a ton of readers and I hope it flies off the shelf.

AT: If it doesn’t then all these monkey paws were for naught.

TL: Wouldn’t it be great if we became a part of the next wave of Eraserhead Press flagship authors? How cool would that be? The coolest.

AT: That would be a level of face-melting awesomeness.

TL: The next fountain I see, I will flip it a silver dollar with a wish on our behalf.

No comments:

Post a Comment