Richard Thomas’ new story collection, Spontaneous Human Combustion, looks terrifying and wonderful. A blend of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, the collection has been praised as “simultaneously lush and terrifying” by A.C. Wise and got a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.
On another note, I’ve been doing these Q&As now for almost three years now. I feel like I learn a lot about each person from their answers, and their experiences and emotions fascinate me. But no interview has given me chills the way this one has. Read on, my friends. You are in for a treat!
What is the scariest thing you remember from childhood?
I was hiking in downtown St. Louis with my Boy Scout troop, and we saw a man parachute out of a small plane, land briefly on the St. Louis Arch, and then plummet to his death right in front of us. We tried to run up the stairs, as one of our leaders was saying, “We can save him, we can catch him!” He bounced, like ten feet in the air. I’d never seen so much blood—a sheen of it as wide as a leg of the arch. I often wonder if that’s why I started writing horror stories.
“I’d never seen so much blood—a sheen of it as wide as a leg of the arch.”
Do you believe in ghosts?
I do, because I’ve seen a ghost. My friend Martin passed away at an early age. He was only 52. Before he died, he told me he had been dating this woman who was a witch. If anything happened to him, he said, it was her. And then he died. It was quite unsettling. What shocked me was that one day he appeared to me in shadow, dark, and translucent. And he was angry. I wasn’t expecting that. I told him I loved him, and that he had to move on, that he was freaking me out. I blinked, and he was gone.
Have you ever had any paranormal experiences or premonitions?
In addition to the Martin story, my son once did a photography project with candles and a pentagram he drew. I didn’t know this. When he was done, he asked what to do with the drawing. I was obviously not happy with this. We tore it into four sections and then drowned it (flushed it down the toilet), thew away part of it in the trash, buried part of it, and burned part of it. That night I woke up to a shadow standing over my bed. That happened a few times. My son didn’t think it was funny after that. We eventually smudged the house, and it seems to have moved on. Did not enjoy that, no.