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Everlace Author Tim Reed – An Interview
I reached out to author Tim Reid to ask some questions for my fantasy newsletter. He graciously agreed to be interviewed and share it here. Tim is from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom. He self-published his fantasy novel Everless: Knives of the Night, which was released on July 20, 2006.
Mary: What is your writing background and when did you consider yourself a writer?
Tim: I grew up with creative writing at school and university. I have read a lot of fiction, the importance of which I cannot repeat. Thinking of yourself as a writer is a matter of confidence, ability, and manuscript. I think I’ve always thought of myself as a writer since I studied A-level English and then university, but when I finished my novel I knew I could call myself a writer.
Mary: Who or what influenced your writing and how?
Tim: My father has been the greatest influence on my writing, as he instilled my love for literature and language from an early age. Being a school teacher helped me develop a wide vocabulary. Although the influence of mass media is terrible, I have to admit that it has helped me a lot with imagination; Be it books, movies, television, computers and board games. If you learn to focus on one area, you will gain a lot of influence and information.
Mary: Has your environment and/or upbringing influenced your writing?
Tim: Again, as I answered earlier, my father influenced my writing, and I never let anyone interfere with my imagination in my teenage years. It helped to visit my grandparents in the country. There is nothing more inspiring than a country for writing and fiction writing.
Mary: Do you use an outline?
Tim: When I started my novel, I was young and naïve and started writing with at least an outline. Then I realized it was stupid and confusing. Everyone should have some sort of outline, but it varies from person to person as to how detailed it should be; And of course you don’t have to stick with courage. You should still write fluently. Personally, I’ll look at my plan at the beginning of each chapter, and then usually write without it until the next chapter, unless I need to refer to it.
Mary: What conditions do you need to write?
Tim: Although I’ve learned to adapt in the different homes I’ve lived in, being quiet has always been comfortable. I used to write classical music in the background, but that’s less and less these days.
Mary: I know you are currently writing the second Everless book. Do you have any other projects you are working on?
Tim: I am taking a proofreading course to qualify as a proofreader and then to find work. There’s also a potential film project with a collaborator around the corner. I also have a prequel book in the works, and I’m working with my housemate on some spoken word CDs for my first book.
Mary: Do you believe in the “muse”?
Tim: I think the idea of music is based on romance rather than reality. Personally the closest thing I have to music is nature and the effect it has on me. I would never blame the writers for its absence.
Mary: What do you think about “writer’s block”?
Tim: I think it does, although writers sometimes use it as an excuse when they’re lazy or apathetic about their work. I think the more stuff you have on your mind and the more busy you are with other things, the more likely it is to happen. Focus and delegation are the keys.
Mary: Do you have a favorite quote about writing?
Tim: ‘Salve to Two Sources: Sharp words have the power to strike
Tumors of restless mind,
And there are ointments for burns. – John Milton (1671)
Mary: What is the target audience for Everless?
Tim: It is geared towards young adults. So accessible to older readers, though 11-16 year olds.
Mary: You have a very complex magic system with wizards, enchanters, necromancers, warlocks, sorcerers, hags and more, all with their own unique magic styles. How do you keep it all straight?
Tim: I once read that in fantasy and magical systems, every spell must have a flaw or fall, because if it’s perfect magic, anything can be done and the story loses all tension and interest. Taking that on board I think every magic user has a flaw or limitation to what their magic can do. For example, sorcerers can tap into a small percentage of God’s magic, but they have driven them insane with their use. Wizards can only use grimoire (book) magic, wizards are at risk of zombification if they summon monsters beyond their abilities. You can have a lot of magic in a book, but as long as you don’t let the magic become the book, you’re fine.
Mary: Does the protagonist, Rydal, share any characteristics with you?
Tim: Indeed, he did it unconsciously until I found myself re-reading the book and a friend commented on it. A calm nature and naivety in some situations would be a credit to me.
Mary: Is there a message in your novel?
Tim: Of course. Each monster and race has its own background, its own motives. How the Asylum deals with the world around them and with their own gifts, weaknesses and threats and immense powers.
Mary: Why did you choose to self-publish your book?
Tim: It was almost made for me. I was nearing the end of writing it, and my dad sat me down and said that instead of running around like a normal publisher, he found a self-publishing group. I asked to forget it because I didn’t have the money to pay, but he said he was going to take out a loan to pay, because he believed in my ability. I checked them out and they were reputable. Instead of waiting years to get answers from mainstream publishers, take the opportunity as it is. Thus I entered the industry at a young age.
Mary: Do you envision self-publishing?
Tim: almost. I’m lucky that my publisher still does a lot for me contractually, but you get out what you put in. It’s so much more and you get a big say in everything. The production side was also generally good.
Mary: How was the process?
Tim: After the contract was signed by both the publisher and myself it was a year of editing and production. Then designs, marketing plans, consultations, contacts, etc. in a big crowd. I won’t lie, it’s a little overwhelming, but it’s natural. Writers are vulnerable, humble people, and self-publishing pushes you out of your comfort zone, which is great for your growth.
Mary: Would you recommend this method to other writers?
Tim: It depends. Self-publishing is becoming more and more viable thanks to the elimination of vanity publishers that are overwhelming people. If you have the money, yes, mainstream publishers are increasingly using self-publishing companies as a tool to source talent. That’s the case in England though, I can’t speak for America.
Mary: Will you publish your second book in the same way?
Tim: It also depends. If a major publisher came up with an offer for a book deal, I’d be a fool to refuse, and my publishers wouldn’t stop me anyway, but if not, and I’m making enough money or can take out debt, then yes.
Mary: What steps have you taken to promote your book?
Tim: You use the umbrella effect. The most effective way to promote your book is, surprisingly, not advertising, although that helps. I have sent press releases and books to local newspapers, radio, schools, arranged book signings at Ottakar, Waterstones and Borders. Received business cards, posters and flyers to place in relevant businesses. Contacted published authors for reviews (with little success yet), and generally my book was made and my mouth opened. Getting contacts is not as hard as I thought.
Mary: What other hobbies do you have?
Tim: I am a good sportsman, I play football and cricket. Interested in mythology, religion, poetry, walking, theatre, art, computer games and movies. I go to church and visit my family when I can.
Mary: Does it affect your writing?
Tim: Mythology and religion certainly do. Greek, Egyptian, Aztec, Norse, and Arthurian myths are perfect for ideas on characters, monsters, and settings as read in the Bible. Also do computer games and movies. Final Fantasy and Spirited Away are prime examples.
Mary: What are you reading now?
Tim: I am reading ‘Dusk’ by Tim Leban
Mary: What does your family think of your writing?
Tim: He is fully supportive and wants my every ambition to come true. My father is particularly interested in my work and has helped me edit it in the past. They are duly mentioned in my acknowledgements.
Mary: Are you a member of any writing groups or websites?
Tim: I have a MySpace account and have joined its various fictional groups. I have also recently joined the British Fantasy Society.
Mary: I asked my newsletter readers if they had any questions for self-published fantasy writers.
strange_wulf: What would you suggest as a good ‘frequency’ for writers? That is, how often should I write? Once a week? everyday? What is a good starting speed for beginners?
Tim: I think this is a personal approach, although I will try to write every day, even if it’s just a few words. And if you can’t write, read back some of your work instead. If you leave something for too long, it’s hard to come back to it. Good novel writing requires rhythm.
breezy-e: Do you think self-publishing will be better than traditional publishing if you live abroad from the country you’re trying to?
Tim: No, I don’t think so. Self-publishing usually tries locally first and then expands. It is difficult, though not impossible, to immediately try and sell to a different company. It depends on the country rights buyers.
crazyjbyrd: Which do you like better Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
Tim: Not a Lord of the Rings question. Harry Potter is a cleverly marketed book, but Lord of the Rings is a masterpiece of literature.
Mary: What advice do you have for other writers?
Tim: Old cliché, but don’t give up. It’s hard to get established, but that doesn’t stop less talented people from getting into sports or movies. Always know what your message is and quickly try and create your own style, but don’t be afraid to use it to inspire other writers. There is no such thing as an original work these days. Everything has been done in one form or another, it’s just that you put your own spin on your work and empower your characters, because they can communicate for you when not much is happening and keep the book alive.
Mary: Do you have anything else to say?
Tim: In modern society, many people are out of the public imagination. Don’t let cynics and culture do that to you. If possible, get some sort of business background, so you’re not walking in blind when trying to make your book viable.
Mary: Take the opportunity to plug your book.
Tim: Everless is a teenage fantasy quadrilogy set in a fantasy world, based around 17-year-old Rydal’s quest for revenge. The world mixes dreams and reality, and Rydal’s visit means that he can navigate through the world of dreams and affect events in the real world. It has elements of horror and mythology and is an energetic and challenging novel, influenced by The Lord of the Rings.
Thanks for the question and the interview, I’m sure it helped me as much.
Mary: Thank you for taking time out of your schedule for the interview and for being thoughtful about your responses. I enjoyed it very much.
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