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Welcome to the “Behind the Shadows” series of blog posts, where every week we will share a peek inside the minds of our authors and learn about the stories behind the stories. This week, Richard Thomas gives some insight into the mindspace he had to get into for his story, “White Picket Fences.”

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I know very little about H.P. Lovecraft, but who hasn’t seen pictures of Cthulhu? In doing research for my story, what appealed to me most were the ideas of the unknown, the use of viscous materials, the feeling of detachment, even misanthropy, helplessness and hopelessness, unanswered questions, and the fragility of sanity—the prospect of the surreal washing over you, and rendering you incapable of coping.

When you add in the extra challenge of setting it in the 1950s/1960s, I thought I might not be able to get it right. I struggled to find my own way to interpret the setting back in those days. I looked at several authors and stories that resonated with me, that showed me the surreal, the horrific in atypical ways. I re-read “The Swimmer” by John Cheever to get a sense of the mundane pushed up against the strange. I re-read “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” by Joyce Carol Oates, which is a really tense story, the horror and violence of the unhinged neighbor, the dark friend, coming home to roost. I re-read T.C. Boyle’s “Greasy Lake” and I tried to pick up on the language, the clothes, and the habits.

In the end, I tried my best to write a story that was still my own voice, something my fans and friends would still recognize, and then superimpose the world of Lovecraft over the top of it all, weave it in, tapping into those elements the best I could, to pay my respects to a master storyteller. The ending is a strange one, and I think it’s the kind of emotion and revelation that will hopefully thrill fans of Lovecraft’s vision, horror, and language.

– Richard

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Richard Thomas is the author of six books—Disintegration, The Breaker, Transubstantiate, Herniated Roots, Staring Into the Abyss and The Soul Standard. His over 100 stories in print include Cemetery Dance, PANK, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2, and Shivers VI. He is also the editor of three anthologies out in 2014: The New Black (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 25 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. In his spare time he writes for The Nervous Breakdown, LitReactor, and is Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com or contact Paula Munier at Talcott Notch.

Richard’s story appears in Shadows Over Main Street from Hazardous Press, available now: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Over-Main-Street-Lovecraftian-ebook/dp/B00SXHSYUK/ref=zg_bs_tab_pd_bsnr_3

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