Thomas E. Staples is a University student currently studying Creative Writing. With a love of both horror and comedy, they often smash the genres together very irresponsibly to see what happens. They have published multiple short stories since 2015, started writing books, too, apparently, and find talking about themselves in the third-person incredibly awkward.
The Case of the Giant Carnivorous Worm is their debut novel.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I am 20 years old, working part-time and currently studying Creative Writing at University before moving onto, well, studying a higher level of Creative Writing at University, as well as working on my own writing projects. I’ve published a handful of short stories since 2015, all of which fit nicely into the horror genre with a smattering of humour thrown in, or, more recently, a bucket-load. I write because it’s what I’ve always loved to do, it’s what I’ve always wanted to, and it feels incredibly surreal to finally be doing it with people wanting to read my work.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
Reading! When I’m not writing, I love to see what other people have been writing, although I’m trying to broaden my horizons a tad so my life isn’t purely books by getting back into video games somewhat.
‘Apex Legends’ has been sucking away my time a lot recently, which is surprising considering that I am utterly terrible at it.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
This might be telling, but ‘The Shining’ by Stephen King was one of the first books I read — it’s certainly the first book I remember — and that made me went to write books from a very young age. It’s certainly not the kind of book someone my age should have been reading, but I’m very glad that I was able to, and I think that says something about age ratings.
If anything, due to the themes, that book has only gotten scarier for me the older I get.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
‘Always Ascending’ by Franz Ferdinand is my uncontested favourite right now, every track is just so unique and, at times, incredibly high energy that I can always go back to it and listen from start to finish. The opening track is something I can wholeheartedly recommend; listen to the whole thing, actually, it’s great.
In terms of music playing a role in my writing, I think my love of songs with that kind of high energy leads me to want to write with the same feeling. I don’t listen to music whilst writing, but occasionally I’ll throw something on in-between my breaks, and if I want to switch things up or I’m going to apply the brakes a little to a scene I’ll listen to something that replicates that.
Music is awesome.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
‘10 Cloverfield Lane’! It’s so unbelievably tense and, at times, downright horrific, whilst never forgetting to be fun, too, and somehow squeezing all of that into a PG-13 rating. I’ve always wanted to write an article or something about it, as there’s just so much to unpack there. The director, Dan Trachtenberg, has also contributed to Black Mirror with an episode that conveys that same feeling.
He’s one to keep an eye on.
KR: What are you reading now?
I’m currently blasting through ‘Vicious’ by V.E. Schwab, and absolutely loving it.
KR: What was the last great book you read?
‘Kill All Angels’ by Robert Brockway; the fantastic conclusion to a series that had already done so much for me up to that point. It’s the kind of horror I adore, wherein you can go from a dark, haunting segment of our leads being stalked by monsters, right to a chase scene on a rollercoaster that ends with a demon having their face kicked off.
Like, c’mon. How can you not love that? If I were to recommend a great series in general, it’d be his ‘Vicious Circuit.’
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
I think I love both E-Book and Paperback for very different reasons, although I’ve drifted massively towards E-Book recently as it gets books to me fast and efficiently, plus, I’m always moving. Hardback has never really done it for me, though, but I can appreciate their weightiness.
In other words: E-Book for the convenience, Paperback for the feel, and Hardback for self-defence.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
Stephen King was the first big inspiration for me; my desire to write horror most definitely stems from him. But, I have to also give a big mention to Chuck Wendig (his Miriam Black series, especially) and the previously mentioned Robert Brockway, as they not only inspired me to write horror but to make it funny, too.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
Seeing where the idea takes me has always been my go-to method. I’ll sometimes have characters and a couple of story beats in mind as well as a rough idea of where I’m going with it, but aside from that, anything could happen! That’s what I love about it. If I use an outline I tend to get find that the story feels both intimidating and, well, a little boring to me. I don’t like to know exactly what’s coming, even when I’m writing it, and my characters seem to decide what they want to be doing, anyway.
Besides, the second draft is a blessing.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
My research comes on a need-to-know basis, so I’ll rarely start delving into research until I find a good reason to. But, when it comes to research, I’m a big fan of getting information from people directly so that it has a more personal spin on it, and then making the necessary changes to incorporate it as subtlety as possible, as to not look like a total idiot when dealing with something I might not understand.
More recently, finding out about how to analyse blood spatter patterns was a little bit life-changing.
KR: How would you describe your writing style?
Fast, and rather aggressive! Personally, for me, speed is key. I want the readers time to be as well spent as possible; it is valuable, after all. It also allows me to weave a tonne of elements into the text depending on the scene I’m writing, whilst still being easy to follow. I’m also a big fan of having quite a snarky, almost judgemental tone to my third-person narration, as it gives something as straightforward as a description of a room some real punch and personality.
I’m essentially screaming my book at you, but in a fun way.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
If I ever get the chance to have a full day writing, I tend to start at about midday and go until I’ve reached my daily limit of 2,000 words, although sometimes I’ll keep going, usually forgetting to eat. This doesn’t usually happen, though, due to working part-time and also studying, so I wedge my 2,000 words in throughout the day. Ever since using the “Pomodoro Technique” I’ve managed to massively increase my output and productivity on a writing day, too. For those unfamiliar, it’s where you spend 25 uninterrupted minutes writing, followed by a 5-minute break, and then back to the 25 minutes; rinse and repeat a couple of times until you take a longer 10, 15, 20-minute break. I’d seriously recommend anyone try it if they haven’t already, it’s been insanely helpful for me.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
My forthcoming novel — The Case of the Giant Carnivorous Worm — is my absolute favourite story thus far, although that feels like a very cheeky answer to give, so I’ll say that the close second to that would be my — currently unpublished — short horror story about a man partaking in some alien cocaine that gives him superpowers.
I’m yet to find a publisher for that one, strangely…
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
At the moment, I don’t have much in the way of book reviews to read, although I am equal parts terrified and excited to see what I get when my book launches. Plus, I have enjoyed reading the reviews/comments on my short stories, and seeing feedback — as long as it’s not super mean — is very rewarding, although that may be because I’m yet to have someone absolutely blast me.
KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?
My style and the type of stories I actually want to be writing has developed quite a bit over the last few years. I went from being strictly horror based with some of my earlier stories to a more humorous, over-the-top, just absolutely crazy style of horror now. This shift was quite gradual, to begin with, but when I realised what was happening I knew that THIS was what I wanted to write.
I wanted to write horror and I wanted to write fun, so I smashed them both together and, The Case of the Giant Carnivorous Worm is the result; something I could not be happier about.
KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?
“You are always going to think there’s more on the page than there is – you’re the writer, this story lives in your head, you know what you’re trying to do, so you will see things the reader doesn’t.”
That quote is courtesy of the absolutely wonderful Kat Howard, the editor I sent the very first draft of my novel to.
This piece of advice has bounced around my head ever since I heard it. Finding the perfect balance between being subtle and being distinct is such a key part of any story that I don’t know how I could look at any piece of writing without thinking about it now.
Be obvious, but be subtle, but don’t be too subtle otherwise it’ll be obvious you’re not being obvious enough.
I think she worded it a lot better.
KR: What scares you?
Everything! Honestly, the world is absolutely terrifying. I haven’t left my house in weeks. Please send help.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
The Case of the Giant Carnivorous Worm is a comedy-horror novel with mystery elements about a terrible detective and a giant worm. With rent to pay and a job that won’t pay it, Anna Pendleton searches desperately for the one case that will set her up properly, and when the ground starts to eat people, she just might have found it.
Alongside her one and only friend, Madelaine Sandford, her “skills” will be tested in the hopes that she can prevent her town from collapsing right beneath her feet, and if she’s lucky, she might even get paid for her trouble.
The book is fast, gory, full of humour and, most importantly, a really big worm. There’s also a bunch of surprises in store, too, and I cannot wait to hear what people think when they read it.
I’ve been working on The Case of the Giant Carnivorous Worm for quite some time now, and whenever I see the Goodreads or Amazon page dedicated to it, I fall in love with it all over again. Seeing all of the kindness and support that has been thrown at my book has blown my mind tenfold, as this is something I never expected to happen.
To whoever is picking up a copy when it releases March 22nd, I sincerely hope you enjoy it.
It’s the first book in a series, deemed ‘A Pendleton Case’ after the protagonist Anna, who I’m so excited for everyone to meet.
KR: What are you working on now?
The second one!
The next Pendleton Case is the project that most of my attention is currently on — in between University projects, that is — and I can’t say too much about it at the moment for obvious reasons, but I’m going straight into it with the most motivation I’ve ever had to write anything.
It’s all very exciting.
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.
I’d choose Madelaine Sandford from my upcoming novel! She’s just such a supportive person to be around, and if I were having a panic attack — which I definitely would be, constantly, if I were stuck on a desert island — she’d be the one character from my writing that would not only help me deal with that, but probably find a way off the damn island, too. I would’ve chosen Anna, but, to be honest, she’s almost certainly the reason I’m stuck there.
If anything, it’d be interesting to see what the two of them would do in that situation… In fact…
*writes that down*
b) One fictional character from any other book.
Roland Deschain from The Dark Tower would be a solid choice, I think. He’d be used to that kind of environment, and when the lobstrosities come swarming out of the ocean — which they very well might — nobody is better equipped to deal with them than him.
He also might let me borrow his hat, too.
c) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.
Chuck Wendig. His daily inspirational tweets are the stuff of legend, and when he’s not busy eating all of the bees I imagine he’d be an absolute blast to hang out with regardless of the circumstances.
KR: Thank you very much Thomas.
Thomas E. Staples
You can find out more about Thomas by visiting his official website www.wrybrain.com
Please follow Thomas on Twitter @MrTEStaples
The Case Of The Giant Carnivorous Worm
Anna Pendleton is terrible at what she does. With a keen eye and a not-so-keen everything else, her skills as a private investigator aren’t given much time to shine, until buildings begin to vanish and the ground starts eating people. Alongside her only actual friend, Madeleine, she will run face first into danger, mystery and a giant carnivorous worm, all to help the residents of her isolated British town.
Especially if they have money.
Fast-paced, gory, and immensely entertaining, The Case of the Giant Carnivorous Worm blends fantasy horror and mystery with plenty of humour in an exhilarating debut.
You can buy The Case Of The Giant Carnivorous Worm from Amazon UK & Amazon US
Thanks for the fun interview. How can I resist the fun title and awesome cover!