Shells Chats with author Tommy B. Smith

What do you find most appealing about writing in the dark fiction genre?

The intensity of what I’m capturing in time. In creating, that’s really what we’re doing, isn’t it? We’re capturing an emotion, an area of the imagination, or something we see inside or outside ourselves, and displaying it through our chosen form. Dark fiction is the form I gravitate toward. I doubt Chicken Soup for the Soul would have me...

I find dark fiction to be a suitable term because it’s one open to encompass multiple specific genres of fiction(i.e. horror, fantasy, even dark literary fiction). This lends me plenty of room to write what I intend without being overly restricted.

If you could change anything about the dark fiction genre today, what would it be?

I might initially say a greater willingness to probe boundaries, to explore possibilities and experiment in fiction, but then again, it’s out there, for anyone willing to look for it. The bizarro genre, which has blossomed over the years, is an example.

I’m fairly satisfied with the writing that exists in the underground and the small press, because that seems to be where the freshest material is coming from.

What is the one thing that you have not written about yet, but would love to someday?

Usually, anything I want to write about, I do, barring time constraints, but the music scene in the heavy metal underground, both past and present, is one topic I’ve considered. I’ve actually already addressed that in a short story called “Bottled Rituals,” which appeared in the anthology Heavy Metal Horror from Rymfire E-Books, but I still wouldn’t mind writing a longer work in that setting.

What makes you want to write? Some say it is because they dream the story, others have said it was because of an urge, what is your reason or reasons?

The inspiration and reason for the story varies, but writing is something I’ve been interested in since I was very young. There seem to be worlds inside of me, and that’s probably the quickest way to describe it, so rather than squandering that quality, I thought I would make use of it, share it with others in some way. I’ve abandoned my writing a number of times throughout the years only to return to it later, and one day, the time and decision came to push ahead and pursue it, because, just like everyone else, I’m not getting any younger.

You have written some micro short stories. What do you find most challenging about writing those types of stories?

Length. It’s easy to become so involved in a piece that any thought of word length flies out the window until it’s done, and then it becomes unsuitable for any flash-fiction or micro-fiction market without the application of an editorial scalpel.

What is the one thing that is present in each of your stories?

I couldn’t accurately say that all of my stories share a common element. There are several of them that do, however. Much of my horror-flavored material contains a sprinkling of fantasy, and much of my fantasy-flavored material contains a sprinkling of horror. I’ve been told that my more straightforward horror material tends toward a noirish quality.

What do you hope readers will get out of your stories?

I’m not sure I’m looking for anything specific. For a reaction, anything other than apathy will do. If they dislike something I’ve written for whatever reason, that’s a reaction. If a person appreciates it, that’s terrific, and that’s also a reaction. A blank stare is hardly a reaction at all.

Can you tell us a bit about your story called Mr. Philpot?

Every Day Fiction published a story of mine called “The Eric Jones Show” in 2008. “Mr. Philpot” was a follow up to this. Television trends were the primary inspiration. For some time, modern television seemed to be teaching us that if you develop a drug addiction, act like a complete mental case in public, hurt others in the process, and immerse yourself in public drama, you’ll land your five minutes in the spotlight. Scandal sells. Viewers love it.

How has working as an editor helped with your own writing and how was it to work with Morpheus Tales Magazine?

Taking a seat on the other side of the desk adds depth to one’s perception of the writing game, I think. That’s what I expected and hoped for, and I don’t feel the experience disappointed in that. There are qualities that distinguish works of professional caliber from those otherwise, and these became much more apparent during this editorial stint, which involved both the Dark Sorcery Special Issue and the Urban Horror Special Issue.

Any upcoming projects you wish to share with us?

The Urban Horror Special Issue from Morpheus Tales Magazine is forthcoming as we speak. As for my own writing, I’ve completed a dark fantasy novel and am working on another. I also continue to write shorter works, some of which have already been sold, and if all proceeds as it should, those will be out within the year.

Where can people find out more about you?

At On the writing front, that’s where you’ll see the official news first. I also use Facebook from time to time, for those who are able to find me there.

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