No one knows where he came from. No one knows what he wants. No one dares ask about his strange physical abnormalities. For a quiet suburban neighborhood, things are about to change. And it starts with a knock at the door.
Follow his rules. Don't call the police. Listen to his lessons. That's what Jack and his family were told. Held captive in their own house, they must face a growing storm of mental and physical trauma as they try to just stay alive.
But even if Jack can survive the horror of his childhood, will his tormentor ever leave him alone? And who is he really?
Who is Tommy Taffy?
The Third Parent by Elias Witherow is not the same story featured at Thought Catalog. As a matter of fact, there is a point in this story that refers to the first Tommy Taffy tale in past tense, so it's established that this Tommy nightmare takes place after the first one. Unfortunately, that means Tommy has been terrorizing more than one family for decades. I was well aware of Tommy's perversions and brutality before I began this story, but readers who are not familiar with the monster Tommy Taffy need to mentally prepare themselves...it's not so much the level of violence, as much as the sick logic Tommy applies to his "lessons." If you think the horror genre has lost it's edge, I dare you to read this.
I wrote about Elias Witherow back in May of this year, but I thought this time I would invite him into the Lair for an interview...
Q. How did you end up writing for the Thought Catalog?
A. They actually reached out to me a while ago and asked for permission to post some of my NoSleep stories. I agreed and I kept in touch with their editors. When the time came to publish my first book, I approached them to see if they were willing to do that. They agreed and I’ve been publishing with them ever since.
Q. Have you written for any other websites or magazines, etc.?
A. I mostly stick to T.C. and the NoSleep reddit. I’ve submitted things in the past to a couple magazines, but nothing really came of it. I write a lot for the NoSleep Podcast though, and I’ve worked on the Darkest Night Podcast as well.
Q. What is the first story you ever published?
A. The first short story I ever published was this little piece of flash fiction called “horse/8min”. It wasn’t much, but it made it into the final cut of my short story collection that I published about a year later.
Q. Do you consider yourself a horror author or do you just write stories that happen to scare the crap out of other people?
A. I think I do consider myself a horror author. But there are many aspects of horror besides the clichés we are used to. I like to write about horrible things. What shape or form they come it can vary drastically. Like the book I’m working on now wouldn’t be considered by the genre as “horror”, but there are some truly awful things that happen in it.
Q. Where did the idea for Tommy come from?
A. I’m honestly not sure where Tommy Taffy came from. I remember I was driving one day, not really thinking about anything, and he was suddenly there. Everything from his laugh, to his personality, to how he looked…it all was just…there. And I knew I had to write a story about him.
Q. Have readers seen the last of Tommy or is there a chance he will be terrorizing another generation on a different street?
A. I’ll never say “never”, but for now I think Tommy has to go away for a while.
Q. Do you have plans to turn any of your other short story series into a full-length novel?
A. Well, I did that with my short story “Feed the Pig”. I turned it into a full length novel called “The Black Farm”. As for the other short stories? Yeah, I’d love to. I don’t know if it’ll ever happen, but I’ve been kicking around some ideas. The hard part is picking one.
Q. Do you have any career plans/goals as an author?
A. The dream is to write full time and support myself purely from that. If I could do that, I think I’d be the happiest guy in the world.
Q. Who or what influences your writing?
A. King was a huge influence, from a literal standpoint. As he is with most of us. Other influences stem from personal experiences I’ve had or things I’ve witnessed growing up.
Q. Do you have any writing rituals, such as playing specific music or anything else to set the mood?
A. Yeah for sure. I always put on some dark ambient music before I sit down to write. I can’t do anything with lyrics and prefer some kind of groaning undertone while I work.
Q. What would you like your fans to know about you? What do you want to tell new readers discovering you for the first time?
A. I want my fans to know that if they have any questions or comments or just want to say hi, then feel free to message me on my author page. I’m a pretty friendly guy, I promise haha. I love talking with readers and hearing about their experiences. It’s great fun and I like feeling connected to my base. As for the new readers? Just finish the book/story before casting your stones haha.
Thank you for stopping by, Elias!
As a matter of fact, The Black Farm is on my personal reading list, so we will definitely be seeing more of Witherow in the near future.