Today we welcome Jamie Thomas, author of Free Range Doodles.
Book ‘Em: Tell us about you and your life outside of writing
Jamie Thomas: When I’m not writing, I’m up to my neck in some kind of art project. Every sheet of paper and scrap of cardboard I can lay hands on or dig up becomes a cartoon. Drawings, standees and sculptures, puppets…It’s all fair game. When I’m not tinkering, I’m usually hiking, pondering speculative physics, watching cartoons and old monster movies, and ravenously collecting comic books and plastic dinosaurs.
Book ‘Em: Which books have you written? What are they about and why did you choose to write them? Do your books have a message? Are they fiction or nonfiction?
Jamie Thomas: My first (and so far only) book is called Free-Range Doodles. FRD was the result of an audited class in publishing, a surplus of cartoon photography, a life-long dream, and some snappy verbiage a la Far Side. I don’t have much of a message to FRD outside of “get out there, explore, and have some fun!”.
Book ‘Em: Do you have a work in progress?
Jamie Thomas: I don’t exactly have a long form work in the pipe, but I do have a few dozen piles of flash fiction,one liners, and cartoon still life I’ve worked up over the past few years. Now, if only I could hire a reliable hunchback to help me stitch it all together…
Book ‘Em: What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it difficult?
Jamie Thomas: I think the hardest piece I’ve written to date was a short story called “Coffin Hinge”. I wrote it for an anthology called Honeycomb USA in cooperation with my long time friend and mentor Dave Noe. In the story, a young author named Dirk is at his wits’ end trying to create a story worthy of not only his approval, but that of (Hang on. Read for this?)his long time friend and mentor. Yeah, yeah. Say what you will, but that story taught me the importance of keeping yourself, your achievements, and your abilities in perspective when you work.
Book ‘Em: What sort of research do you do for your work?
Jamie Thomas: Whether it’s writing or visual art, I’m always doing some kind of research. Everything from “When did so and so come up with such and such theory about the universe?” to “What sound do beanie weenies make when they drop out a second story window onto concrete?” I may be a man of fiction, but authenticity is everything. It is the rope that keeps our collective disbelief suspended you know.
Book ‘Em: Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?
Jamie Thomas: My favorite authors have always been Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allan Poe, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Jasper Fforde, Sergio Argones, Bill Watterson, Gary Larsen, Shel Silverstein, Michael Allred, and Dr. Seuss. I’m also digging on the works of Walter Moers, John Connolly, and Meredith Gran at present. As for my greatest inspiration? I have three guiding lights in everything I do: The film Who Made Roger Rabbit, the story of Frankenstein, and Larsen’s The Far Side.
Book ‘Em: Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Jamie Thomas: Oh man, where do I start? Family, friends, teachers, other authors…I’ve had the good fortune to be encouraged left, right, and center.
Book ‘Em: What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Jamie Thomas: If I had to choose, I’d say dialogue and characterization. Those seem to be what my readers respond to most.
Book ‘Em: How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Jamie Thomas: I write as often as I draw and build…So, pretty much every day. I don’t usually hold myself to any set, strict routine outside of the standard “Sit down. Put on some tunes. Aaaaand Go!” Oddly enough,it just kinda works.
Book ‘Em: Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Jamie Thomas: Way to get heavy (laughs). Honest answer? I’m not entirely sure. I’ll still be writing, no doubt there, but I’m not sure in what format. Prose? Comics? One-liners on the bathroom wall down at the ol’ pub? I haven’t a clue, and that suits me fine. I like surprises.
Book ‘Em: If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Jamie Thomas: I think the three best pieces of advice I’ve received and love passing along are pretty simple and straight forward. “Do what you love”, “Never be afraid to grow and change”, and (the most important) “Get something done!”
Book ‘Em: What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?
Jamie Thomas: The best compliment I’ve ever received came from an old friend who had read Free-Range Doodles. “Jamie Thomas’s art comes to life, eats small children, and hides under race car beds!” Sniff! Gets me every time!
Book ‘Em: Provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with our members.
“The author, waking up three hours before his alarm and with no desire to write anything for the tenth consecutive day this month: rose, stretched, scratched himself, and opened his bedroom window to find that his house was, in fact, still floating aimlessly through the void of space. Instead of sighing and shutting the window, he just stuck his head out, letting himself lean into the situation. Between his banishment from the earth, being pin-balled through one temporal anomaly after another, and running out of beer, he’d decided to try to look at his situation in a more positive light. Perhaps today would be different, more exciting, predictability tossed aside in favor of the robust flavor of adventure.
And there it was, right on schedule. The toothy, slobbering maw of the god-like Sumerian Lamprey of Eternity. Gripped with apathy, the author sighed dejectedly, shut the window, and staggered off to the bathroom to wait out parallel digestive processes.”- Thoughts on Apathy, Boredom, and The Desire to Be Impressed.