Haunted Houses and Vampires go to terrifying depths in Thomas A. Bradley’s fiction. Reading along the line of Dean Koontz, his words are meant to take you so far into the story, you’ll forget you’re even reading. Follow along to learn about the Sci-Fi/Horror novelist and his accomplishments.
With all the creative outlets available to you, why write?
“Well, there’s always the likelihood of becoming rich. Haha.
“I suppose I write because I love the process and the challenge. I’d been writing stories since I was little, though nothing ever came of any of that. It wasn’t really serious writing. I’ve always had a very good and vivid imagination – an excellent asset. Writing allows me to create adventures, albeit dark ones in my particular genre, which take the readers to places and spaces they can’t find on maps (though I often do use real locations as either a main setting or as background periphery).
“I mentioned a challenge. To do my job correctly, I need to use, not just the right words and phrases, but the best, words and phrases in the best order so that the reader no longer realizes she’s reading. Another challenge, one faced by all writers of fiction, particularly science fiction and horror fiction, is to make the incredulous as acceptable as finding a bottle of milk in the fridge. Not an inconsiderable task. When I meet these challenges and succeed, I can draw the reader out of his chair and into a dimension of the surreal that I’ve created. I will open the box in her brain that hides the fear and set it loose to run rampant for 300 or more pages before safely returning it and him back to his normal world. To be able to do that is an awesome power.
“So…What could be more fun than that?
“A reader once told me that while reading one of my novels: “I was in the cemetery fighting with them.” That’s why I write. There isn’t a better compliment to be had about a story you’ve written or a better feeling about what you’ve accomplished.”
“Why Horror is a difficult question to answer. It is something that I’ve just been drawn to all my life. Starting way back when with the advent of the first B-movies with Vincent Price and Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee, I fell in love with the idea of the supernatural. Those themes and movies provided an outlet for allowing yourself to be scared, if only temporarily, by things you knew could never really exist or ever really hurt you.
“Understand, I grew up in the era of civil unrest, race riots, and Vietnam. Those were real things to be afraid of. So, for whatever reason, I latched onto the horror that only existed in the novelist’s or screenwriter’s mind. And eventually, I wanted to keep that outlet going for everyone else who enjoyed the same. The bottom line is – it’s what’s inside me, so that’s what I write.”
Tell us about your writing process.
“The physical process is pretty straight forward. I’m in my office and at my computer by 7:30 every morning and work until lunchtime – usually between 11 and 12. By 1 P.M. I’m back to work until 4:30 or 5:00, depending on how the work is flowing. The mental and creative processes are a lot more convoluted.
“As a story unfolds, I allow the characters and action to drive it. I begin with a premise and set everything in motion. One action or scene usually dictates what’s necessary or wanted in the following scenes. When I reach a certain point, usually somewhere at or just beyond what I would consider the middle of the work, I’ll stop and outline the ending so I know where I’m going to ensure I have no plot holes and/or discrepancies in what has come before. In effect, I fire my characters and remove the “control” I’d given them to begin with. (Note: They can be stubborn buggers, and do not always accept being let go, and sometimes continue to give me trouble).
“This method works well for me but is certainly not without its headaches and drawbacks. There have been multiple occasions in which my characters (I’ll blame them) have written me into corners, necessitating going back and re-writing major parts while trying to keep the timeline intact. (Keeping the timeline intact is one of the hardest things to do during re-writes, especially if the story is being told strictly chronologically – meaning one day follows the next without jumps in weeks or months). It is not unusual for me to have 20 – 30 drafts before a novel is completed and ready to begin the real editing. As an example, my novel The Covenant of Wickersham Hollow had 46 drafts before it finally reached the final edit and publication stage. It began with the title: Witch Hill, which had a single draft and eventually morphed into: The Taking of Annabel’s Soul. That iteration had 23 drafts before being reworked and finally renamed The Covenant of Wickersham Hollow, which had 22 drafts before reaching final edit and eventual publication under that title.”
Which piece are you most proud of, and why?
“There are actually two of my five published novels of which I’m most proud, each for different reasons. The first is The Shadow Demon. This novel is very loosely based on the Native American Lenape Lenni culture. The research that went into it was extremely interesting and informative. Being a bit of an introvert, I mustered my courage and reached out to Chief Bob Ruth, who, to my surprise, as I am virtually an unknown author, graciously and patiently answered all my questions throughout a series of interviews. It was a fantastic experience and journey, and I believe it’s one of my best novels. The other novel I’m proud of is the aforementioned The Covenant of Wickersham Hollow. I think this is my best-constructed novel. It moves seamlessly back and forth between past and present as each twist and turn and mystery is revealed. It challenged me on a number of levels and was without a doubt the most complicated novel, in terms of timing and storyline, that I’ve ever written.
“There are actually two of my five published novels of which I’m most proud, each for different reasons. The first is The Shadow Demon. This novel is very loosely based on the Native American Lenape Lenni culture. The research that went into it was extremely interesting and informative. Being a bit of an introvert, I mustered my courage and reached out to Chief Bob Ruth, who, to my surprise, as I am virtually an unknown author, graciously and patiently answered all my questions throughout a series of interviews. It was a fantastic experience and journey, and I believe it’s one of my best novels. The other novel I’m proud of is the aforementioned The Covenant of Wickersham Hollow. I think this is my best-constructed novel. It moves seamlessly back and forth between past and present as each twist and turn and mystery is revealed. It challenged me on a number of levels and was without a doubt the most complicated novel, in terms of timing and storyline, that I’ve ever written.”
How Does a story start? An Idea, thought, scenario, etc.?
“A lot of times, a phrase will pop into my mind that I think would make a good title. Then I’ll take some time and ask myself, “What can I do with that? Where could I go with that? That method held true for three of my five novels. Blood Tracks, Primordia, and The Shadow Demon all grew out of the title coming to me first. Blood Tracks, a vampire novel, was a kind of two-for-one. The title not only popped into my little noggin, but so did the opening paragraph, virtually at the same time. It was a consequence of using a character from a previous novel. Because I knew what he had gone through, and where it had led him, the opening paragraph just fell into place. The character in question was Father Gabriel Jacobs from my first novel, Relic of the Damned. He is a priest escaping from himself and the horrible experience of his past. The paragraph ran: He told himself it was the booze. But that was a lie. It was the nightmares – six years of them. It was the goddamned nightmares that had walked him to the bottle – that had held his hand and told him a little nip here and there would make all the demons go away. It was the goddamned nightmares. But he told himself it was the booze.
“The truth is that each novel stems from something different, usually a title, but not exclusively. The title Primordia popped into my head first, and after some thought, the scenario was developed out of my personal experience of having a pacemaker implanted. I asked myself, What would happen if the pacemaker was too good, and resurrected a murder victim?“
List some of your favorite writers or pieces and tell how your work has been influenced by them.
“Gosh, that’s a very difficult question. I’m an avid reader and my tastes run from Shakespeare, through Daniel Keys and Poe and Isaac Asimov all the way up to Robert McCammon, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King.
“Some of my favorite works, in no particular order are: Flowers for Algernon, Swan Song, Stinger, The Shining, ‘Salem’s Lot and The Stand. As far as writing horror goes, I would have to admit that I’ve learned the most from reading King. His character development and the way he weaves a tale have really influenced my writing. So much so, in fact, that if I find myself struggling with a difficult section or new chapter, I’ll grab a King book (any will do) and read for an hour or two before returning to writing. And it almost always helps.
Where can we find your work?
In final notes, “I was born in Pennsylvania and now live in Drexel Hill with my wife and our German shepherd. I served with the Army Medical Corps during Vietnam. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and did my Master’s work in Virology. I have worked for a number of biotech companies as a virologist, some with biodefense contracts with the government.
“My short stories have appeared in magazines, both print and online. Relic of the Damned: The Coming, Part 1 of a two-part novel, achieved finalist status in the 2014 Kindle Review’s Kindle Best Book Awards for horror.
“I am currently at work on a new novella series called The Cleaners. Book 1, The Bones of Sarah Golescu is nearing completion at the time I’m writing this. Think of this series as a kind of Supernatural meets The Man from U.N.C.L.E.“
What do you think of our interview? Who should we interview next? Check out some of our other interviews with Horror Artist John Clayton, or Horror Comic Author Jesse James Baer. Drop us a hint in the comments below or find us at the following places: