Friday, March 9, 2012

R. THOMAS BROWN and the Fake Town

So have you read HILL COUNTRY yet? If not, you need to get on that right away. It's the new one from R. THOMAS BROWN, and it's pure dynamite. Stylish, suspenseful, sharp as a whip crack. I'd been looking forward to it for a while, after reading Brown's horror novella MERCILESS PACT, and it did not disappoint.

One of the many strengths of Brown's work is the strong sense of place. His Comal Creek, a little redneck noir slice of Texas, feels as authentic as Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County or "Justified"'s Harlan.

Here's R. Thomas Brown on bringing his fully formed setting to life...

Where is Comal Creek, TX?

The easy answer is nowhere. I made it up. It’s a small town that exists only in my head. It’s also true that the place and people living in Comal Creek are very real. Not with those name or those exact personalities, but they all exist. Or at least did once.

When I was in middle school, some of my family had property in Bulverde, TX. At the time it wasn’t much of a town, and they lived out among the cedars and skinny oak trees that dot that area of Texas. We’d spend our days playing the woods, tossing 2X4s to the pit bulls and making the long walk down to the local grocer / hamburger place.

It was a simple place and I’ve always had fond memories of it. Likely remember a far more idyllic time than actually existed. Today, it’s much different. New development and new money have moved in. The overwhelming sameness of new Texas suburbs is slowly taking over. It’s something that is both welcome and troubling.

Sure, I like new stores and new restaurants. They’re nice. But, perhaps even more so as I get older, I miss the way I imagine it used to be. I tried to put that internal tension in the book by having the divide between The Gates and The Range. There’s not a ton of that in Hill Country, but it’s something I’ll probably continue to explore.

Before you get the wrong idea, the really bad people, the killers and such, just live in my head.

I really felt at home in this little fake town I made up. It’s a nice place to visit and daydream. Merciless Pact, a horror novella I self-published takes place in the same town. I’m currently working on another novel that takes place there also.

This summer, I might go back through Bulverde. Just to see what it’s like. See if the old burger joint is still there. If it is, I’ll hop in and remember the past and the imagined present. If not, it’ll hurt a little.


  1. Reading it now and really enjoying HILL COUNTRY! Tip-top interview, Heath.

  2. Very nice interview. Memories of the placeswhere we grew up are very special and forever. Someday I will write about my childhood town... that is when I am done writing about tough clowns.


  3. I agree. Childhood memories are powerful and remain with us always. And it's not just us or "our" generation. Kids today are one day going to look at each other with downcast faces and say, "Remember that mall where we used to play video games? There's a lake there now."

  4. I enjoyed learning a little more about Mr. Brown.