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Thomas F. Monteleone

answers the Usual Questions

Thomas F. Monteleone is an American author, anthologist, scriptwriter and playwright.

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

Not sure I understand this question, but I'll take a shot at it.

I have been interacting with fans at conventions for a very long time. In the early years of my career, it was sf fans and cons, and things were different back then. For one, I was a new writer and the sf fans not only didn't know me or my work, but also lacking many basic social skills, they effectively treated me as if I were invisible and inaudible. I wasn't all that enamored with them, either, and never really enjoyed what you might call a good rapport with sf fans.

photo, Thomas F. Monteleone, courtesy of the author; 220x293

Thomas F. Monteleone

We were very different animals and were jungle-wary of each other. I was a good looking guy who spoke well and they were largely over-weight, very bright, and not terribly concerned with hygiene. They were proud of their high nerd quotient. We were largely ships passing the night.

When I began writing horror and dark fantasy and going to conventions of that stripe, I found my niche with hdf fans, who proved very different than their sf counterparts. They enjoyed my contributions on panels, my sense of humor, and they attended my readings in big numbers. They sent me feedback on my stories and columns and I felt a true interaction with hdf fans. We understood each other, and it was and remains a good and comfortable relationship.

All that said, I don't think my interfacing with fans has had much effect on my work. I don't think I've written to please any audience other than me. Most writers will tell you they write the stuff they feel they need to write and then hope like hell an editor or two agrees with your choices.

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

Early on, I met and became friends with Roger Zelazny, who gave me insight and encouragement when I was just beginning to write saleable fiction. He was a fan favorite and he handled it with grace and style. Later, I met my first agent, Kirby McCauley at a convention, and my best pal in the business, F. Paul Wilson. So, yes, conventions can present you with the chance to have life-altering experiences.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

Not as much now because over time I've acquired my own voice and my own style and narrative structure. But during the first couple decades, I knew it was a good idea to immerse myself in the works of writers I really admired and who spoke to me in ways other writers did not. Teen-age and early twenties faves were Poe, Lovecraft, and Bradbury. Then I began studying Sturgeon, Heinlein, Zelazny, Ellison, Spinrad, and Silverberg, who all displayed a variety of narrative strengths ranging from style to plot to sheer experimental bravado. When I shifted into hdf, I went back to my English M.A. days and re-read Melville and Kafka and even Borges to get a feel for the weird and the surreal. I tried to get up to speed with acknowledged masters of horror and dark fantasy by revisiting Lovecraft with a more critical eye, as well as reading people like Bloch, Brennan, Blackwood, Bierce, (John) Collier, and (Frank) Long.

Later into the eighties and nineties, I tried to keep with what my contemporaries were doing: Etchison, Wagner, Gorman, Grant, King, Straub, Lansdale, (Paul) Wilson, and McCammon all kept me reading for various reasons.

No real favorite author . . . but lots of influences over the years.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

There is only one person -- my lovely wife, Elizabeth.

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

Because of this thing called "politics," I'm going to pass on this one. I have no desire to piss off half of my audience.

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

Well, I really like steak, bourbon, and red wine . . . When I want to read a good one, I simply write one.

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

Above all, I want be a successful storyteller. I want my audience to get sucked into the premise and the situation and identify with the characters I've employed to work things out.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

Tough question. But I guess I'd have to say the most satisfying thing about my work is that I've been able to tackle something that was magical and endlessly fascinating as a kid and manage to hold onto it. By that I mean, I was able to harness the energy of childhood dreams and aspirations, and make it all real. Somehow, I tapped into that volcanic source of discipline that allows any of us to create anything, and once I harnessed it, I never let it escape.

Some evenings, when I'm sitting in our library, enjoying the warmth of a good manhattan, I look across the room at a wall of bookshelves, and I feel a bit of amazement. Because what I'm looking at is an entire wall of my writings. Hundreds of magazines and anthologies, novels, collections, screenplays, non-fiction, and special editions. I ask myself how in hell did I find the time and energy to write it all?

That's the special satisfaction: being able to ask myself that question and not need to really know the answer.

submitted by Thomas F. Monteleone

8 October 2014

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: Baltimore. April 14, 1946
Resides: Small town in northeast Maryland. Previously, small town in New Hampshire.
click here for Bibliography


2005 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement - Collection

2005 Guest of Honor - World Horror Convention, New York, NY

2004 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement - Anthology

2004 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement - Non-Fiction

1993 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement - Novel

1992 New York Times Notable Book of the Year

1991 Individual Artist Award - Fiction, Maryland State Arts Council

1984 Bronze Award for Best Teleplay; International Film and Television Festival
        of New York.

1984 Gabriel Award for Best Teleplay, Public TV

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