This interview is with someone I hope to hang out with in his neck of the woods. It’s been a while since I’ve been across the pond. He’s also got a wicked sense of humor, as you’ll see.
Interview: Tim C. Taylor
What is your quest?
My quest is to fill my backpack with many coins of gold and electrum. I shall win magical treasures, attain level 31, poke my doubters in the belly with a 10-foot pole, and sell a million books.
A million seller, eh? True, it’s just a number, but I love to think that long after I’m gone there will be someone to proudly say, “My great grandfather was an author. He was a million seller.” It’s an achievement that won’t need a word of explanation to be amazing a century hence, unlike for example the Nebula award for Best Novella (not that I’d dismiss such an award, but even today you have to explain what a Nebula award is, who SFWA are, possibly what a novella is, and undoubtedly why anyone not an industry insider should care).
And though it’s just a number, the implications are just as important. You don’t get to sell a million books unless you have an audience who loves what you do, and in that special form of love that means you get paid.
And like all good quests, even if I never catch up with my friends who have already finished this one, the journey itself is awesome.
What is your favorite color?
Bilious orc green.
I like to keep a rough working outline of the entire story before I start crafting scenes. I don’t require much detail; I don’t want it. What I will have is an understanding of the key twists and developments. I update the list as I write and discover more about the characters and the story, but I’ll have enough that I’m always sneaking in foreshadowing, clues, and early signs of big shifts to come. That way, when I throw a surprise twist it doesn’t feel contrived because it hasn’t come out of nowhere. That’s the theory, anyway.
What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?
Fast enough to hurt, but not to kill. Stippling brushes can maim, though. Always wear protection.
Imagine the scene. You’ve a great idea for a novel series. It’s commercial. It’s part of a hot new subgenre, and every author you know is already earning thousands from this subgenre every month. But your idea is better. You have the logo. You’ve crafted the killer tagline. Your coffee is freshly brewed, and you’ve even cleared your desk of all clutter.
It’s time to get your fingers dirty and write.
Two months later, you still have the great idea, except that’s not what you actually wrote. Maybe, in retrospect, you wrote a spin-off or a prequel, but it’s no longer matching that awesome tagline.
I’ve had a few like that. My hard disk is littered with the dismembered corpses of good books – and they would have been good books – but they weren’t the commercial idea I set out with. The bodies will lay slowly festering for decades because I’ve already cut out the juiciest morsels and used them in work that did get published.
These days I’m much better at being my own editor and ask myself ‘how I will sell this book’ all the way through the writing process.
What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?
My holy hand grenade has the power of light. Dark, ruddy, dappled, strobing, actinic, artificial and primeval: if I can’t get a vivid sense of how the light works in a scene that I’m about to write, then I know I haven’t imagined it well enough to craft it as viscerally as I would like.
I might skim through a rough outline of the scene and come back to it later, or go somewhere else away from my desk, shut my eyes (not advisable while driving or operating heavy machinery) and imagine harder.
- Favorite Muppet? James Corden.
- Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy. Especially satisfying if it’s the bones of my enemies.
- Favorite Sports Team? Colchester United Football Club.
- Cake or Pie? Pie. Obviously.
- Lime or Lemon? Both. With plenty of ice.
- Favorite Chip Dip? Thick gravy. Maybe with melted cheese. Oh, you mean crisps. Something with garlic, then.
- Wet or Dry? Dry and then wet for a smooth finish.
- Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Rick Derringer. Maybe he’s better known by American mercs, but he draws a blank when I mention him to Brits. Favourite slab of Derringer vinyl: Sweet Evil (1977). Here’s the official Sony upload of Drivin’ Sideways on YouTube. Rick gets such a rich tone in the solos, not only from his axe but also the Coke bottle accompaniment. https://youtu.be/Qqp1xW8MmjA.
- Whisky or Whiskey? Yes. Speyside whisky mostly, though also Islay malts. I do enjoy a Bourbon or Connemara occasionally. One day, I’ll try an English whiskey; they’re just starting to get bottled after a hundred-year break.
- Favorite Superhero? SLAINE MacRoth https://youtu.be/2S-yzQONzTM
- Favorite 1970s TV show? Blake’s 7.
- Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Winter. Strong ales, an open fire in the lounge, and plenty of writing.
- Favorite Pet? Gandalf the Grey and his late brother, Saruman the White. Here’s a pic of them watching their favorite guinea pig movie series: https://youtu.be/xy2RpVmAQPI
- Best Game Ever? Best game with clothes on would have to be the Four Horsemen: Omega War Game. Since that’s not available yet, I’ll run with Kevin Zucker’s Napoleonic games with OSG. Pick of the bunch is Bonaparte in Italy (1979).
- Coffee or Tea? Coffee. Strong. Black.
- Sci-Fi or Fantasy? When I was a kid, it was an even mix, but for some reason – maybe I overdosed on epic fantasy during adolescence – I spent several decades reading almost exclusively science fiction over fantasy. A few years ago, I became curious about Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files because the novel Skin Game placed below No Award in the Hugo Awards. This means that a majority of voters felt the book was so bad that the opinions of the voters who did like Skin Game were invalid. I had no er… skin in the game, because I’d never read Mr. Butcher, but that curiosity led me to pick up a copy from my library where I used to do most of my writing. Did I like this return to reading fantasy? Did I! Within a year, I’d read all sixteen books in the series. Jim Butcher is a superb writer. In fact, he’s so good that I suspect assistance by demons… or maybe that alien octopus beastie, Nemo, who works for Winged Hussars. I reckon Wroguls make fine fantasy editors.
What question(s) would you like to ask me?
Here’s what we need to know, Rob. How many times have you thrown a critical hit against innocent passersby on your D20 of Doom? (Or were they so innocent…?)
Rob’s Answer: I would say that, in the context of a show, a critical hit is one where someone buys a book solely because of the D20 of Doom. I get at least one critical a show. It’s important enough for my sales that I bought 2 more that sit on my shelf to replace the original when needed.
I also get at least one fumble where I drop the D20 and it bounces across the aisle. I’m klutzy enough that I bought 2 more that sit on my shelf to replace the original when needed.
Tell me again where we can find your stuff?
- You can find out what I’m up to at humanlegion.com where you can join the Legion and download a starter library of eBooks for series written by myself and by fellow horseman scribe, JR Handley.
- Other than my novelette in Tales of the Lyon’s Den, my latest release is my first ever horror story, which is in the Lovecroftian pulp adventure anthology: Adventures in the Arcane: Cthulhu Edition.
- And my Amazon page is here: https://www.amazon.com/Tim-C-Taylor/e/B004QBGOZO/
Do you have a creator biography?
Tim C. Taylor lives with his family in an ancient village in England. When he was at an imprintable age, between 1977 and 1978, several mind-altering things happened to him all at once: 2000AD, Star Wars, Blake’s 7, and Dungeons & Dragons. Consequently, he now writes science fiction novels for a living, and has been doing so full time since 2011. For a free eBook starter library, join the Legion at humanlegion.com.
Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?
You should have asked if I think there’s a future for serialized science fiction?
It’s funny you asked me that, Rob. Yes. Yes, I do. In fact, I can even put a name on that future: Chimera Company.
My current project is a weekly serial for fans of classic Star Wars. Each episode will be about the length of a story in one of the 4HU anthologies and I’ll run around seven episodes per series. Why not join the Legion and check out some of the Chimera Company prequels?
Thanks to Tim for taking the time to answer my questions.
If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.
Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.
Have a great day.
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels
Shijuren Wiki: http://www.shijuren.org/World+ of+Shijuren+Home
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