Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With Thaddeus Thomas


Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…

Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?

Thank you, Hamish, for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all of your hard work.

Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.

TGG: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

TT: My name is Thaddeus Thomas, and if you know me, you’ll likely know I’ve lost my identity and my world. I was an evangelical leader, but over the course of recent events, I saw my church become a haven of racism, sexism, and homophobia. Finally, I could take no more and left. The resulting wounds have become what haunts my writing. 

During the day, I run group homes for the developmentally disabled, but at night, I write historical fantasies with three books currently available. Haints is a collection of short stories that is available for free through my email list. My two novels are Detective 26AD, a New Testament thriller, and Steampunk Cleopatra, an lgbtq+ fantasy set during Cleopatra’s youth. My work-in-progress is about Renaissance Florentines who, after death, find neither Heaven nor Hell waiting for them… but Hades.

TGG: Could you tell us about “Steampunk Cleopatra” in particular? 

TT: My desire to write Steampunk Cleopatra came from a need to write about the Library of Alexandria. Our mythology tells us that the Library was accidentally destroyed by Caesar when he was trapped in Alexandria during the civil war between a 21 year-old Cleopatra and her brother, but of course that’s not true. The Library was destroyed, piece by piece, by those who only honor knowledge that supports what they already believe.

As I realized the story was about the suppression and theft of a people’s history and science, I knew the main character wouldn’t be Greek like Cleopatra. She’d be a native Egyptian or, rather, a Nubian. If I told her story, though, I would be filtering it through my eyes, and so I gave the book’s point-of-view to Philostratus, Cleopatra’s tutor.

Philostratus was a eunuch, and the history I was taught assumed eunuchs were sexless. They weren’t. An uncensored history is a gay history.

TGG: What was the biggest thing you learned while writing your latest book?

TT: Every book is an act of self discovery. I had the confidence to write Detective, 26AD because I thought I had the knowledge required to tackle it. I didn’t, but I learned I could handle the research. I also learned that I didn’t want to stick with writing crime fiction as audience expectations were too limiting. That book had a fantasy flourish that I decided to expand upon in Steampunk Cleopatra, a historical novel which veers into a fantastic alternative history. It’s a very ambitious novel, though, and covers roughly ten years. It helped inspire me to allow my current project to be a series, giving me room to explore decades over several books, but all that is speaking to what I learned as a writer. What did Cleopatra teach me as a person?

The way history can be used to deceive, that’s become a theme of my work. We create a mythology that has nothing to do with understanding the past and everything to do with crafting citizens who will believe as they’re told to believe. It’s become increasingly obvious in recent years with politicians censoring our uncomfortable past. We make ourselves the hero and edit out everything that proves otherwise.

TGG: What’s next on the horizon for you?

TT: I have an editor who understands me as a writer, and that’s hard to come by. Before, I’ve had what could have been a poor experience, but fortunately that editor realized he would try to squeeze me into an orthodox fantasy box. My current editor isn’t frightened by my efforts to play with the literary form, and that’s something I’m desperate not to lose. The last couple of years have really been hard on her, however, and she’s physically not been available for the work. I’ve decided to wait. That means I’ve been able to explore several different story options. I’ve written a novella that repurposes sections of Moby Dick to tell a fantasy story about a ship that collects the souls of drowned sailors. For years, I’ve imagined a biblical tale where all the characters are from Winnie-the-Pooh, and I’ve written that. I’ve half-written three other novellas, as well, and will come back to them at some point. My current focus, though, is the dark-fantasy series about Renaissance Florence and the Greek underworld. When I will again be able to start releasing books will depend on the situation with my editor.

TGG: A good editor is very hard to find. How can we best support you {where can we buy your book and follow you on social media)?

TT: For the sake of simplicity, my books are only available on Amazon. To stay up to date, you can find my website at thaddeusthomas.com and join my email list. I’m very active on Twitter and hope to sustain that through its current trials and tribulations. If you find me at @Thaddeusbooks, I hope you’ll say hello.

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