Today’s special guest on my page is author William Thatch, whose short story, “For Science!,” was just published in the anthology A Contract of Words, which features 28 authors from all over the world, including my new short story, "Two Gunslingers." Here is what he had to say about life, writing, and his story:
1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn't live without?
Air. You know how hard it is to live without air? Fish can’t do it. They like to pretend like they can, but they can’t.
2. What was your inspiration for your story?
Fear of failure. That’s not a theme within the story. It was just the inspiration to get it done well enough to make it into the anthology. As for inspiration of the story, couldn’t say that I remember. Probably riffing in a conversation with my editor and it sparked there.
3. If a genie could grant you 3 wishes, what would you wish for?
I’d start with world peace. Make things a nice place for people for a little while. Then I’d use the second wish for someone to come along and fuck up the world peace. Lull everyone into a false sense of everything being alright, then spark a debate that descends the world into hellfire and chaos again. Probably something like what color is that squirrel and one side insists brown and another side insists gay marriage is wrong somehow, and then everyone is killing each other with fire. Third wish I’d wish for money so I could watch everything burn from far enough away that I’m unaffected by it all because I’m an asshole.
4. Has reading influenced your decision to be a writer? What book(s) made you want to write?
Mein Kampf. That’s a joke, but only people that have read my story in A Haunting of Words will truly appreciate it. I was writing at such an early age I don’t know that I can say that reading influenced my decision to start writing. But I can say that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series certainly influenced my confidence in being able to write. She makes it look so effortless even though she is one of the masters.
5. Would you describe your writing process? For example, do you write in a specific place, have music playing or is that a no-no, lean toward outlining specifics, or are you a pantser?
I don’t have a particular place I write—I’m usually in my bedroom, but that’s because that is where my computer is. Music is a must—sometimes it’s a specific song related to the scene I’m writing, other times it’s just finding hours long videos on Youtube for jazz instrumentals. I’ve done both pantsing and outlining, I think I prefer a mix of the two. Normally I like to at least know what the scene is and then I’ll wing a lot of the details. “The Highway” in A Journey of Words was that way. “A Wacky, Fantastical Misadventure in New Haven” in A Haunting of Words, and “For Science!” in A Contract of Words were both pantsing. I went into those with a couple of ideas that I wanted to get to and just went at it. I didn’t even know how For Science! would end until I got there.
6. When faced with the dreaded “writers block”, how do you push through and find inspiration? Is there a ritual or process you have to get yourself back on track?
I find that my writer’s block is typically a result of instinctually knowing something is off with what I’m writing—a character acting out of character, a plot hole, something just not being entertaining—and I need to fix it before I can continue.
7. Did you know how your story would end when you started writing it? If not, did plans change while writing or did you improvise when you arrived?
I did not know how For Science! would end. Hadn’t a clue. I genuinely got to, I’d say, about five hundred words away from when the beginning of the end began before I had the idea.
8. If a movie were to be made of your story and you were in charge of casting, who would play your characters? Who would direct?
I’m unfamiliar with directors. Maybe Kevin Smith, and I only say that because I think he’d play God well. As for the main character, who I don’t think I ever named, I’m not sure. I feel like you’d want someone with a lot of good will to power through the protagonist being a real dick. Ryan Reynolds, perhaps? I’m sure Betty White would have a role as well, but who she’d play I’m not sure.
9. How close did your story end up being to the original concept you had in your mind? What were the biggest changes? Why did you make them?
Concept is exactly what I designed it to be. Man signs a contract to be killed by scientists and revived, while dead he explores afterlife to report on it. There was no planning beyond that.
10. What book were you reading when you thought, This stuff sells??? Oh, hell, I can do that…
I actually started reading a book specifically to prepare for this. I forget which one of John Swartzwelder’s books it was—Double Wonderful or The Time Machine Did It. I’d read them before, but like I did for A Wacky Fantastical Misadventure in New Haven, I began reading one of his absurdist comedy novels for inspiration.
11. Did you have to do any odd research for your story? How did you conduct that research, and then how was it used in your story?
No research was required. The less accurate the better in this case. Though I did have to look up the director of one of the Batman films, just to make fun of some poor decisions in Batman & Robin. I forget if I even used his name in the end.
12. If you could pick one place to sit and write, where would it be?
A semi-busy room where other people are talking and watching TV. I find the noise, so as long as it isn’t too loud, forces me to block it all out to focus on what I’m writing.
13. How closely do you relate to/identify with your characters? What inspired them? Did they take over your story or did you direct them?
I only relate insofar as similar humor. I didn’t direct the character much, only when moving from set piece to set piece, otherwise the character took over the story and ran with it.
14. What do you consider your all-time favorite novel? One that you would read again and again.
I’m going to cheat and say the Harry Potter series as a whole. I’ve been meaning to go through it again, but I have such a backlog of things I haven’t read.
15. How much of your writing is outlined from the beginning and how much of it is ‘pantsed’ or written on the fly?
The most I ever do is one-line outlines for each scene / chapter. I don’t want to bog myself down with too much pre-determined details, it bores me. I like to feel the moment, I feel whatever I’ve written feels more genuine that way.
16. What are your favorite snack-as-you-write or eat-as-you write foods? How do they help your creative flow or process?
I don’t think I’ve ever eaten while eating. I drink plenty of tea, but I don’t eat. The task of writing is for my hands, I don’t wanna distract them. They’ll get confused, forget what they’re doing, next thing I know they’ve wandered outside and are tipping cows, and that’s why I haven’t written anything in the last week. I can’t convince them to come back.
17. How is your ACOW story typical or atypical of your writing in general?
It’s atypical in that it is absurdist comedy and I don’t feel that’s necessarily the genre I go for most of the time. It is typical in that this is the second absurdist comedy story I’ve published in Of Words anthologies and I’ve already submitted to the next Of Words anthology and that one is also an absurdist comedy.
You can order on Amazon (worldwide), Barnes & Nobles, Books-A-Million, or get a FREE companion soundtrack CD if you order through Scout Media’s online store here: A Contract of Words