Thomas Scopel, author of 'Twitch' [thomasscopel]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
You know, I've tried, to no avail, and can't remember my first book. Although, Ribsy by Beverly Cleary rings a bell. But, then again, so does The Beast With the Red Hands by Sidney Stuart. I have read so many that itís quite hard to pinpoint. I was also an avid horror comic book collector and have read many graphic stories that were based on actual novels.
Writing seemed to come natural to me and all my life I have written here and there. However, I never really considered myself a writer and chose the engineering route. Getting laid-off in 2008 was when I seriously dove into it and, I guess I became one.
Only a choice few family and friends had read me prior to becoming published. And, since I typically write horror, most weren't all that interested. Not because the writing was bad mind you, but because it scared them.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
That's easy, horror. Although, I do have a tendency to write humorous little pieces about virtually anything that strikes my fancy. For example, i just recently wrote a piece entitled "Don't forget the fingers, A guide to the perfect zombie family picnic." Occasionally, I put down an opinion piece too. But, the macabre is where my heart lies.
I have both a website, as well as a blog and I post to both. You can find them at
I also promote on Facebook too. And, I do have a Twitter account. But, I can't say that I like it all that much though. It just seems to me that the character limitation is too hampering and limiting. Especially to a writer. By the time I get started, I have to quit and usually, I have much more to say than a simple "hi, I'm doing this or that."
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
It's not like I sit and think about a piece for hours or days ahead of time. A lot of my ideas come at the least opportune moment in places like the shower. My significant other, Paula, is a professional trooper at these whims and when I call her while I'm showering, she usually comes in with pen and paper in hand. I'll give her a couple of keywords that will remind me and she'll jot them down and put the sheet on my computer. But, usually, there is really no defined place where these ideas strike, and I chronically keep a little notebook in my back pocket. So, with the idea at hand, by the time I sit down and begin to write a story or whatever, I typically already have a general idea of the piece's basics and need only to detail it out. Of course, and it happens more often than not, during the writing of the piece, I seem to always have "extra ideas" that are incorporated too.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
When it comes to reading, I'm open to most genres. Normally, and I absolutely dispise this, I never can find enough time to just sit down and enjoy a good book. Although, I do seem to leaf through plenty of magazines. If I had to choose specifics, i would choose a horror anthology.
Usually my ideas don't come from what I've read. My stories are ones that I've never read. For example, I had never read a horror based Easter story. So, I wrote my own. It was called "The Horrors of Easter," and it ended up in Suspense Magazine.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
A catching beginning that grips the reader and never gives up. Readers can be fickle. And, if you lose their attention, they are gone. Characters that are believable and that the reader can relate to and care about are the best. Plot twists that keep them guessing can also hold their attention. When I read, a writer had better latch hold of me quick. In my case, it's hard to do. But, if they do that, I'm a fan for life.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
When it comes to my fiction, I typically write third person. Occasionally, especially with the little humor or opinion pieces, I write in first, but not always. It depends how I view the subject and how well it works for the piece.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Without a doubt, Stephen King is definitely one of my favorites. Occasionally though, I do find him to be a bit long winded. But, when it comes to characters and descriptions, he is arguably the best. Joe Hill is a fav too. Ray Bradbury and Rod Serling are and were writers that had the original ideas I like to think I'm closer too. Jackie Collins I enjoy when I'm in the gossipy mood, and I especially enjoy reading the new up and coming horror anthology unknowns. Both Stephen Jones and Ellen Datlow are the experts and simply superb at finding the best of those.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Believablity is key. My characters come from inside and to me are actual characters. I try to become the character, sort of like playing Dungeons and Dragons, and feel what they would feel; do what they do. It's a complete fantasy and a wonderful way to step into another's shoes without literally doing so. I would never want to be one of my characters but, I'll play the part while I'm writing them. In fantasyland, anything can happen with no reprocussions. For example, I can murder someone in a story without the worry of commiting an actual crime. A good writing friend, Cassidy Webb says it best; "I kill people so you don't have to!" And, to me, that says it all.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Not really. I'm too long winded and usually will get sidetracked; and end up telling it through a back story and losing the descriptive intensity. It's much easier for me to write it than to tell it.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
I'm probably like most writers' and do it out of pure selfish enjoyment. However, there is a gratifying feeling knowing a reader enjoyed the journey you wrote. And so, I would have to say that on the other hand, I write for them too.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Personal therapy? Not really. It's not like I have to write. I want to write with the ultimite goal of someday being able to afford to do only it full time.
I think that internal conflicts have always been a writer's creative force. And, every writer will probably tell you that although their story may be about something completely different than the actual personal conflict, there is always just a little piece of it in the story somewhere.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Yes. I always want to know whether the reader liked and appreciated the ride. Whether it be good or bad, feedback is always positive and can make a writer better.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I've been involved with the House of Horror UK Duels where two writer's are given a subject and must write a five hundred or less word story within three days. Currently, it's still continuing.
Contests are fine and I would consider entering if they didn't require entry or reading fees. But, that's only due to affordability. As far as awards are concerned, I have yet to experience that.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
No, although I would. I'm kind of...how do you say it, untrusting.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I like to think that I'm basically settled with my overall voice. Although, I have, and still do experiment from time to time.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I am an absolute workaholic. Besides working the nine to five, which happens to usually be ten to seven on most days, I can typically and chronically be found working on a variety of projects, and not all are necessarily writing based. And, since I am a multi-tasker from hell, they typically get accomplished quite efficiently.
When I am in the throes of writing, generally I can't rest until it's completed. Other than work, I have no set schedule. But, that typically doesn't mean that I'll lax. Most of my off time is consumed by writing and it's normal to be working on something well into the witching hour, and ending up tired the next day, only to do it again. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment because week after week, it continues to happen. I see it as a driving motivation. I certainly don't have to do this, I choose to do it. I suppose I'll get plenty of sleep when I'm dead.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Most of the time, I'm key banging from our living room recliner. It seems to be where Iím most comfortable. However, someday I would like to change this and write from a room all my own.
In a small place, writing can sometimes be tough. Usually, the television is on but muted, our parrot Kenni is occasionally squawking, the telephone will ring from time to time, and Iím constantly glancing at the clock, hoping that I inadvertently didnít ďover-writeĒ and thus, am ending up potentially late for work. I've learned to block it out and believe it or not, it works.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I fully write on the computer and only print when it's finished. Occasionally, I will read through a print out that I had thought was finished, or maybe that I have an additional idea for, and make some changes. Otherwise, I'm happy writing and editing on the computer. Usually I'll change the viewing format in order to look at the overall project and then bounce back to my normal viewing. I'm very proficient with most word processing programs and set them up specifically for my style. I also took the time to create a pre-formatted file which I use for each story. It has the standard professional submitting requirements formatted in and I will only need to fill in the blanks such as the title, wrod count, genre, etc...
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
Facebook, Twitter, my website and blog, search engines, various followed blogs, and a variety of writing and writers' and genre sites.
What has been your experience with publishers?
Quite well actually. I'm under contracts at both Hellfire Publishing, as well as Macabro Xtreme Publishing. So, I have to say, so far so good.
What are you working on now?
About ten stories in varying stages, a novel, another novella, and heavily promoting.
Thomas Scopel, author of 'Twitch'
Ormond Beach - USA