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Lucas, Tim 1956–

Lucas, Tim 1956–

(Timothy Lucas, Timothy Ray Lucas)

PERSONAL: Born May 30, 1956, in Cincinnati, OH; son of Marion Frank (a typesetter and musician) and Juanita Grace (a telephone operator) Lucas; married Donna Goldschmidt, December 23, 1974. Ethnicity: "English-Scottish-Cherokee." Education: Attended high school. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, listening to music, collecting books and movie posters, playing bass guitar and baritone ukelele.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—P.O. Box 5283, Cincinnati, OH 45205. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Cincinnati (magazine), Cincinnati, OH, worked as film critic, beginning c. 1973; freelance writer and editor until 1990; Video Watchdog (periodical), Cincinnati, OH, founder, copublisher, and editor, 1990–.

AWARDS, HONORS: Citation for "best semi-prozine," Fanex, 1991, for Video Watchdog; citation among year's best books, Washington Post, 1995, for Throat Sprockets; Rondo Awards, best magazine, annually, 2002–05, for Video Watchdog; named "One of Fifty Essential Alternative Horror Books," Rue Morgue magazine, 2006, for Throat Sprockets.

WRITINGS:

Your Movie Guide to Horror on Tape and Disc, Signet Books (New York, NY), 1985.

Your Movie Guide to Science Fiction & Fantasy on Tape and Disc, Signet Books (New York, NY), 1985.

Your Movie Guide to Mystery & Suspense on Tape and Disc, Signet Books (New York, NY), 1985.

Your Movie Guide to Movie Classics on Tape and Disc, Signet Books (New York, NY), 1985.

The Video Watchdog Book (collected columns), Video Watchdog (Cincinnati, OH), 1992.

Throat Sprockets (fiction), Delta (New York, NY), 1994.

The Book of Renfield: A Gospel of Dracula (fiction), Touchstone (New York, NY), 2005.

Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark (nonfiction), introduction by Martin Scorsese, Video Watchdog (Cincinnati, OH), 2006.

Editor and author of introduction for eight additional titles in the "Your Movie Guide to Tape and Disc" series, Signet Books (New York, NY), 1985. Contributor to books, including The Shape of Rage: The Films of David Cronenberg, edited by Piers Handling, Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983; Modern Critical Views: Anthony Burgess, edited by Harold Bloom, Chelsea House (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1987; Fangoria's Best Horror Films, edited by Anthony Timpone, Gramercy Press, 1994; The Eyeball Compendium, edited by Stephen Thrower, FAB Press (London, England), 2003; and Horror: Another 100 Best Books, edited by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2005. Author of the blog Video WatchBlog. Columnist for Video Times, Film Comment, and Fangoria, between 1985 and 1991; author of "No Zone," a monthly column in Sight and Sound. Contributor to periodicals, including Cinefantastique, American Cinematographer, Spin, Taboo, Cinefex, Gorezone, Star-fix, and Heavy Metal. Author of liner notes and audio commentary for DVD releases of films.

Throat Sprockets was translated into French.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Two novels, The Only Criminal and The Art World (also known as The Color of Tears).

SIDELIGHTS: In Throat Sprockets, wrote Tom Win-stead in the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers, Tim Lucas "has drawn on his extensive knowledge of film and pop culture to construct a disturbing, haunting world of a man taken over by a film and its fetish." The fetish in this case is a partly erotic, partly vampire-inspired focus on the female throat. It is, explained Winstead, "an act of gentle submission both augmenting and replacing sexual intercourse." "A chance viewing of an 'adult' film called Throat Sprockets," a Publishers Weekly reviewer commented, "transforms his notion of sexuality and, thereby, his identity." The narrator eventually encounters a young woman who has undergone a similar epiphany after seeing the same film, and the two of them begin a relationship. "But the cost of the obsession … slowly and permanently drains the life from the man," Winstead wrote, "taking him beyond the limits of reason, to a bleak, disturbing conclusion."

In some ways, Winstead suggested, the film behaves as a kind of drug for the man, changing his life along with his outlook. The narrator of the story sees his marriage destroyed while at the same time his professional life expands. "At his work at an advertising agency, his stock begins to rise," Winstead noted, "each campaign under his charge uniquely energized by his newfound 'insights,' and each product married to the periphery of his newfound fetish." As the protagonist's life is slowly absorbed by his obsession with the film, he becomes more and more aware that the changes in his life have been made deliberately by the maker of the film. "In Throat Sprockets, the protagonist asks, 'Who did this to me?'" explained Winstead. "The reader is taken on the same quest, to answer that question."

In its original incarnation, Throat Sprockets was a graphic novel, published in chapter-form in various issues of the comic book Taboo, and the pictorial quality of Lucas's work has been noted by several reviewers. The author's experience working with films as editor of the magazine Video Watchdog, Winstead suggested, also "allows him to accomplish the almost impossible feat of bringing an imaginary film to life on the page." "Lucas's implicit proposition—that a director could willfully manipulate his audience to a dire degree—is successfully and somewhat frighteningly supported by the unfolding drama of this novel," observed the Publishers Weekly contributor. "Rare slips aside, Lucas has created a grippingly twisted tale of a mind and soul ensnared." The author's "goal," Winstead concluded, "is to seduce his readers into believing that they have also seen the movie, that they have also succumbed to the obsession. In this, a nigh-impossible thing to achieve, he has done remarkably well."

Lucas once told CA: "My career as a novelist has its roots in something John Cheever once wrote about his intentions in writing the best-selling novel Falconer: 'I wanted to produce a dark novel with radiance.' Reading those words, my own imperatives came into fuller focus.

"All of my novels, thus far, are about the core experience of a single protagonist, yet they also chart events that escalate to a level of global impact. It could be said that they are sociological fantasies, cautionary tales about the danger of relating to things, rather than to other people (who, in my stories, are always weirdly refracted through the hero's perceptions, as altered by the main catalyst/event/'thing'). My novels also share in common an 'absent' character or element, which might be traceable to the fact that my father died (of complications from open heart surgery) before I was born.

"Although my first novel, Throat Sprockets, had tremendous critical success here in America (where it launched Dell's short-lived 'Cutting Edge' imprint with Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy), it was not supported by its publisher, perhaps because it was perceived to fall somewhere between horror and literary fiction. It was ultimately sold here in America as 'dark literary fiction,' a label obscure enough that Throat Sprockets—which a The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror contributor praised as 'the year's best first novel'—was overlooked for consideration by any of the horror-based literary awards of that year.

"Since 1988, I have continued to moonlight as a novelist while supporting myself as editor and copublisher of Video Watchdog, a monthly magazine for which I also review new video releases. My unpublished novels include The Only Criminal, a Kafkaesque comic novel about original sin, and my own personal favorite of my works. The Color of Tears is a science fiction novel about the disastrous effects of a new emotion triggered in Earthlings by an alien work of art downloaded from distant space. I don't feel that either of these books fall into the legendary 'sophomore slump;' however, while countless 'sophomore slump' books are published each year, I haven't yet found a publisher interested in adopting either of these works or in grooming me as a well-reviewed novelist with a unique point-of-view.

"Since founding Video Watchdog, I have not pursued writing nonfiction books for major publishers because, frankly, there is more money to be earned by publishing such books myself—and more satisfaction in being responsible for their editing and design. After the publication of a deluxe limited edition of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, a biography of the Italian director and cinematographer (1914–80) which I have began researching in 1975, I plan to pursue my work as a novelist with a refreshed sense of attack. Unless I can find an editor capable of restoring my faith in New York publishing in the meantime, self-publishing is definitely an option."

More recently Lucas added: "I started writing professionally at the age of fifteen, when I sold my first film reviews to Cinefantastique. Unhappy circumstances forced me to leave home at age sixteen, and writing was the only iron I had in the fire. I managed to get by professionally, basically by lying about my age and feigning more experience than I actually had.

"My formal education ended with my sophomore year of high school, but this is when my true education began. I had always been a poor student, when I was expected to learn things in which I had no interest, but once I got out of school and began to follow my own interests, I became a scholar. In 1981 I used some of what I had learned to write an essay about the British novelist Anthony Burgess; when my essay appeared in print, I was the only contributor who was not on staff at a college.

"I married at the age of eighteen and, while my wife worked in the real world for our daily needs, I stayed at home and taught myself how to write fiction. We never had any doubt that this was the way things would be, and I was very diligent about it. I wrote seven or eight novel-length manuscripts that, more or less, went straight into a drawer. The rejection letter I received for the most ambitious of these manuscripts broke my heart, and I abandoned fiction for the next several years, focusing on my sideline as a film critic.

"Some years later, my friend Steve Bissette launched a new horror comic book anthology, Taboo, and invited stories from me that could be illustrated by artists he knew. For a couple of years I was excited by what we were creating together, but my working relationships with the assigned artists were turbulent and unsustainable, and the magazine itself came to a premature end. My 'Throat Sprockets' comics had received critical praise, however, and Steve encouraged me to finish them as a literary novel. I didn't want to do this at first, but as I toyed with rewriting my comic scripts in fictional form, I found that I had finally discovered my own literary voice.

"I had the idea for my second novel, The Book of Ren-field: A Gospel of Dracula fairly soon after the publication of Throat Sprockets, but it took nearly ten years to find an interested editor. The book is intended as an accessory text to Bram Stoker's Dracula, in the manner of Theodore Roszak's The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein and Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly, deliberately written in Stoker's own Victorian literary style. It is also partially autobiographical, incorporating some twisted reinventions of some episodes (twisted in their own way) that I personally experienced as a child raised by various foster families.

"It was never my intention to become a 'vampire novelist,' and I now feel I'm finished with that genre after having approached it from traditional and revisionist directions. My literary influences are diverse, ranging from magic realists like Vladimir Nabokov, Franz Kafka, Flann O'Brien, John Cheever, and Italo Calvino, to comic novelists like Anthony Burgess, Evelyn Waugh, and John Collier, to literary experimentalists like André Gide, Henry Green, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and Alexander Theroux. I am also a great devotee of pulp fiction, from the Fantômas and Arsène Lupin novels of the 1920s to the Doc Savage and Shadow novels of the 1930s and 1940s. I've read my share of Poe and Love-craft, which I love, but horror fiction generally doesn't interest me. I find the visual frissons of horror cinema, particularly European and Asian horror cinema, much more useful to me as a writer.

"I'm attracted to dark subjects, but I'm only interested in delving into haunted forests as a means of reaching the clearing—the redemption, the nirvana—beyond. I also take glee in guiding unsuspecting readers where they aren't expecting to go, which may forever consign me to left-field status, but which can't be helped.

"On thing I derived from reading Robbe-Grillet was my admiration for a novel that is, simply and perfectly, about itself. If I have any unique stance as a novelist, it's that I write novels that feature prominent characters, but whose protagonists are the objects of their fascination—objects that become more real and compelling for the reader as they become the focus of my characters' spiraling obsessions. Throat Sprockets is about a film; The Book of Renfield is about a journal and the transcripts of analysis; and The Only Criminal is about … well, The Only Criminal. In an age as materialistic and increasingly rooted in recreational distraction as our own, I consider this ground well worth mining."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost and Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.

PERIODICALS

Publishers Weekly, October 10, 1994, review of Throat Sprockets, p. 66.

Weird Tales, April, 2006, Douglas E. Winter, review of The Book of Renfield: A Gospel of Dracula, p. 13.

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