It’s my last scary interview of the year, and I’m pleased to chat with Thomas Pluck just before the holiday season takes over. I met Thomas at a Noir @ the Bar event many years ago, and I was impressed by his no-holds-barred style of writing, very noirish and gritty and real, but also writing with a heart and soul and a great sense of humor. This combination is hard to do, and it’s stuck with me over the years.
I’m excited for Thomas’s newest book in the Jay Desmarteaux Crime Thriller series, The Boy From County Hell. Read more about it and buy it from Down and Out Books. And check out that fantastic ’70s-vibe cool-as-hell cover, kids.
Now, what scares him, you ask? I just happen to know…
Is there any fear you’ve overcome in your life? How has that changed you?
I was afraid of fighting. I don’t like conflict in general. I want everyone to get along. So I never learned to fight until I was in my thirties, and I went all out. My best friend was training to fight mixed martial arts, and I joined him. It was a hardcore school run by a guy who fought bare knuckle in Myanmar. I lost any fear of someone throwing a punch at me after that. I’ve been hit so hard I couldn’t see, and I kept fighting. I don’t train there anymore—I like my brains unscrambled.
Do you believe in ghosts?
I don’t believe in the supernatural. But as I like to say, that doesn’t mean it’s not real. I don’t believe in God, either. But I was raised Catholic, so my attitude is, I may not believe in him, but he can still punish me. That’s how I feel about ghosts.
Do you have a recurring nightmare?
I used to have this awesome recurring dream about a Tyrannosaurus Rex chasing me down my grandmother’s street. I loved that dream. So, needless to say, I was a big fan of Jurassic Park when it came out.
What is your favorite monster/villain?
I like the Wolf Man. The old one, with “even a man who is pure of heart…” but I also love An American Werewolf in London. I like that it’s a curse, they are doomed. Because we all are. And I’m afraid of hurting the people I love. Not worried about eating them, but you know, emotionally. The werewolf legend ties into that well, for men. We’re the real monsters.
“I’m afraid of hurting the people I love. Not worried about eating them, but you know, emotionally. The werewolf legend ties into that well, for men. We’re the real monsters.”
If you HAD to live through or experience one of Stephen King’s novels or stories, which one would you pick and why?
He’s really good at the scary. I’ve been a fan since I was twelve or so and read my mom’s copies of his short story collections. I’ve always loved “Mrs Todd’s Shortcut,” and I want to find out where she went.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever written?
According to first readers, it’s the middle grade contemporary fantasy I’m querying now. But as for what people could go read today? “The Summer of Blind Joe Death,” which is in my story collection, Life During Wartime.
How do you deal with fear?
When you’re scared to do something, you do it anyway.
Thomas Pluck has slung hash, worked on the docks, trained in martial arts in Japan, and even swept the Guggenheim museum (but not as part of a clever heist). He is the author of several other Joey Cucuzza stories, which you can find via his website. His latest novel is The Boy from County Hell, which Joe R. Lansdale called “as wild as a night in a cage with an amorous monkey.” He’s also written Blade of Dishonor, which MysteryPeople called “the Raiders of the Lost Ark of pulp paperbacks,” and the Anthony-nominated crime thriller, Bad Boy Boogie. Joyce Carol Oates calls him a “lovely kitty man.”