Scott Thomas’ debut novel Kill Creek is currently my favourite book of the year, you can read why in my 5* review. It’s incredibly exciting to welcome Scott to Kendall Reviews to discuss writing, influences and hanging out with Dave Grohl.
The kettle’s boiled…
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I’m originally from a small town in Kansas called Coffeyville. I moved to Los Angeles after college and I’ve been working as a writer/executive producer, mostly in kid’s TV, creating and running shows for Disney Channel and Netflix. But my favorite genre has always been horror. I’ve been writing horror stories since I was a little kid, and I always have a horror project of my own going on the side. I wrote KILL CREEK over ten years ago, but it wasn’t until I entered it in the Launch Pad Manuscript Competition and it caught the eye of the folks at Inkshares that I was able to finally get it out into the world.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
What little time I have not writing, I like to spend with my family—watching movies, hiking, going to concerts. And then I feel guilty about not writing, so I start doing that again.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
When I was really little, I loved a book called Grandpa’s Ghost Stories, and the series of Scary Stories To Tell In the Dark books. They were just a little too messed up for kids, which is why I loved them. When I got older, I found Stephen King and read everything he wrote.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
My favorite band of all time is The Replacements, and my favorite of their albums is Let It Be. Music doesn’t necessarily play a role in my writing unless the story is about a specific era or the character has a love for a certain band or type of music. I like to listen to music while I write, though. Sometimes it’s just great horror movie scores. But I grew up in the ‘80s, so I also listen to a lot of post punk and hair metal bands from that era while I write.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
Picking a favorite horror movie is kind of like picking a favorite child—I love them all for different reasons. Evil Dead II was incredibly influential, as were the works of John Carpenter, especially The Thing and Prince of Darkness. I love horror movies that have a very confident style, that pull me in and then make me afraid to be in the hands of the storyteller. Recent movies that did that are Martyrs, High Tension, Ils, The Witch and The Blackcoat’s Daughter. I like movies that make me slightly uncomfortable. Good horror should make you feel unsafe even in your own living room.
KR: What are you reading now?
I’m reading Bird Box by Josh Malerman, which is such a fantastic, minimalist horror story. I also just read A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay and was blown away. Sometimes you read books that are great right down to the very last line, like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. A Head Full of Ghosts was like that for me.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
Stephen King is one of my biggest influences. I grew up in a small town, so I loved the way King showed evil slowly, methodically infecting even the most (seemingly) innocent places. I also read a lot of short stories by Poe, Lovecraft and Clive Barker’s Books of Blood.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I do a little bit of both. I hate the process of writing outlines, but I understand the value of them. Usually I’ll write a barebones outline, just the major beats of the story, then see what fun, unexpected things pop up once I’m writing.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It depends what I’m writing. I like to have a solid sense of the history of my location, even if I’m embellishing on those facts to create my own setting. For me, research is an ongoing thing, all the way to the end of the book.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
Because I also work in television, I usually don’t have time to work on a horror novel until last at night, so my writing “day” starts around 10PM and goes until I fall asleep at the keyboard.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
I have a short story called “Sweetie” that I would love to shoot as a short film sometime. It hasn’t been published (yet). Hopefully it’ll see the light of day soon.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
I do read reviews. Obviously you can’t please everyone all the time, but when many people have the same reaction—good or bad—I think that’s worth listening to and taking into consideration the next time I’m writing something. It’s good to learn from your successes and failures.
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
Keep writing, because you’ll only get better. Believe in yourself, but also be your harshest critic. Share your work with as many people as possible, and listen to notes from people you trust. Nothing is ever perfect; you can always make a story stronger.
KR: What scares you?
I like things that really get under my skin. I’m not really scared by monsters or gore or anything too fantastic. I like a story that starts in the real world, in a place that I find relatable, someplace that is supposed to be safe, and then I like to see the horror invade that place. When the horror comes to you and threatens the things you hold dear, that’s scary.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
Paperback. I still like to physically hold a book when I read it.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
KILL CREEK is a haunted house novel that was released last fall. It’s about four horror authors who spend the night in a notorious haunted house as a publicity stunt. It’s very much a “ode to horror”, a love letter to my favorite genre.
KR: What are you working on now?
I’m finishing up the first draft of a horror novel that I hope to have out later this year. It’s on a much smaller scale than KILL CREEK, with a smaller collection of characters, but like KILL CREEK, it’s a slow-burn supernatural story that builds to a gut-wrenching climax. In many ways, I think it’s much more disturbing than KILL CREEK.
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
You can choose…
a) One fictional character from your writing.
Sebastian Cole (from Kill Creek) because he has an elegant, paternal quality that would keep everyone calm—plus he would tell some killer campfire stories.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
Lisbeth Salander because she’s a badass and would be the one to figure out how we can get off the island.
c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.
Dave Grohl because who doesn’t want to hang out with Dave Grohl? Also for the tunes.
KR: Thank you very much Scott.
Originally from Coffeyville, Kansas, Scott Thomas attended the University of Kansas where he earned degrees in English and Film. He is the Co-Creator and Executive Producer of Disney Channel’s Best Friends Whenever and Disney XD’s Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja. Thomas has written TV movies and teleplays for various networks including MTV, VH1, the CW, CMT, Nickelodeon and ABC Family. Recently, he co-wrote the MTV horror trilogy My Super Psycho Sweet 16 and was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for his work on R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour. He lives in Sherman Oaks, California, with his wife and two daughters. Kill Creek is his first novel.
You can follow Scott on Twitter @ninjawhenever
At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, is the Finch House. For years it has remained empty, overgrown, abandoned. Soon the door will be opened for the first time in decades. But something is waiting, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests…
When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt will become a fight for survival. The entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them a part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.