Friday 5 August 2011

Dancing With Myself: R THOMAS BROWN interviews R THOMAS BROWN

If you've been out in them there woods in the last while, you'll no doubt have bumped into the most excellent blog, Criminal Thoughts.  It's one of those sites dedicated to crime fiction and short work where you'll be able to find comment on the hottest fiction around. 

The man behind it, accomplished author in his own right, is R Thomas Brown and he's here today to tell us a little more.

Go RT.

So, why are you here?

I’m not really sure. Now that I’m here, I’m surrounded by some really good writers. I feel a bit out of place.

You a writer?

Yeah. I guess. I had a story accepted over at The Flash Fiction Offensive. First time I submitted anything in years. Oh, and another coming out at The Molotov Cocktail. But that’s not what I’m doing here.

So, again, why are you here?

To promote my blog. Criminal Thoughts over at

What’s to promote?

Reviews of crime fiction. Mostly short stories and collections. Not detailed descriptions or anything, just what I thought about or felt when I was reading.

And why would someone care about that?

I think that’s why short fiction works. It’s a direct channel to get to a feeling or reaction in the reader. You may be looking for fear, or dark comedy or mystery. Whichever your taste or that day’s inclination, there’s a story out there for you.

Why shorts? You got something against novels?

Easy with the tone, we’re friend here, right? Anyway, I like novels. I’ve reviewed a few on the site, and I read about one a week. I just like the short form better. I think most people do, really. We’ve just migrated to huge novels in books. But its short stories that really appeal.

What the hell are you talking about? I’ve been to bookstores. I don’t see any short stories.

Well, there are anthologies out there, but that’s not the point. Look at movies and television. They’re really just short stories. Even ones adapted from novels end up being some short fiction version of a longer book. TV shows are shorts. They may have an arc, but that’s more like a collection of encapsulated stories. Really, you’d have to look at saga shows (like Lost) or miniseries to see the equivalent of a novel. They can work, but I think most prefer the short form.

Assuming you’re right, which I am not willing to accept yet, why would that be?

Short fiction is about a single thing. A mood, or a character, or a relationship. Everything moves to that one thing. Only the needed settings, only the needed characters. They’re tight and focused on touching the reader (or viewer) in a very specific way. There’s no burden of complexity to hold attention through long stories. And, obviously, they’re shorter. Want a whole story in about half an hour or less? I don’t think picking up the latest five hundred page opus is gonna hook you up.

That sounds like a bunch of crap spewed out by someone who spends too much time thinking about what a story means.

I did say I was promoting a blog about reviews of crime fiction, remember?

Oh, yeah. I forgot. Short attention span.

Another reason to focus on short fiction.

Very funny. Why crime fiction?

Because it gets at the motives we all carry. We all want revenge sometimes. Sure, we don’t go out and kill people because they glanced at us cross ways when we jaywalked, but anger, fear, regret, it’s all in there for all of us. So, I think in general the crime stories resonate. They do with me anyway.

Well, looks like we’re out of time. Any last words?

Yeah, there are really great markets for short fiction. Most are run simple because somebody loves doing it enough to keep going. Give them a look and make some comments. Let the editors and authors know you’re reading it, cause that’s why the stories are out there.

I've also got a few final words of my own.  You can find RT's collection Mayhem at Amazon and it's another of those 'cheap as chips' not to miss bargains. 


  1. Ron's good people. Short fiction online is often the work of young, struggling writers. There are never enough people to promote it.

  2. If you think about it (and you're old as I am -- which nobody is)you cut your mental teeth on short fiction. Black Mask, Weird Tales (okay even I don't go back to WT), Astounding SF (yep Astounding not that watered down Analog crap), Ellery Queen, you know all the old pulps. Glad to see shorties getting popular again -- even if it's a flight from all those never ending, novel series. Gee,RT,I think you rang my bell. Cool.
    PS: And it looks real good on my Kindle too.

  3. Mayhem, that is.

  4. Thanks guys. I loved Weird Tales and Ellery Queen. Great stuff. And yeah, even if the rise in story anthologies is at the expense of novel series, I'll take it.

  5. Your blog rocks, Ron. And I love your take on the importance of short fiction. That collection is headed for the TBR pile.