Author Interview – Timothy Bateson
How long have you been writing for and what made you start writing?
I’ve been writing on and off for about twenty years, but it wasn’t until the last three years that I started getting serious about it. I’ve been taking part in NaNoWriMo since 2010, but haven’t always been successful in meeting the 50,000 word goal, or ever actually completed the stories I’ve started during those events. However, those months of endless writing have produced a lot of ideas that I’ve used elsewhere.
My wife’s writing was what actually got me serious about getting back into some of my own projects. She’s been working on two book series, one pure fantasy, and the other urban fantasy. It’s the latter series that started sparking ideas for my own work, especially as we both worked on the world-building and character development for her projects. I’ve been very lucky to be allowed to borrow a couple of her characters for my own projects, and she’ll no doubt be featuring some of mine too. In time, we hope to develop a number of short stories, and a novel series that we’ve both contributed to.
Do you write for a living, or do you also do other work?
Writing for me has become a very serious hobby, which I’d love to turn into a full-time living. However, I’m realistic enough to realize that few even make local-level success with their work. So, until I manage to complete my novel, and sell millions of copies, I’m working retail to pay the bills, and allow me to write. The good thing about this is that I’ve met a lot of local writers, and want-to-be writers in the course of my day job, and they share my enthusiasm, as well as helping me celebrate the successes I’ve had so far.
How did you get into being a serious writer, and how much effort does it take to be able to write?
I’m not really what I’d consider a professional writer. I can’t place my backside in a seat, and type consistently enough to keep churning out words. But that’s where the effort comes in. I work very hard to find a little time every day to do something toward a writing project. That might be just answering emails from a publisher, updating my website, posting new blog entries, or jotting down ideas. Thankfully, there are few days where I don’t do some kind of work on a my social media, or active projects.
Were you always good at telling stories, or has it come to you as an adult?
I think I developed a taste for telling stories when I was in college, while running games of Dungeons & Dragons for my friends. If I wasn’t actively running a game, I was planning one, or taking part in one. Then as I got older, and moved between groups, I started seeing the different styles of story that different people were telling and planning. And it was this that led me to trying to write some of those adventures down, so that I would be able to look back on them as full stories, rather than individual game sessions.
Unfortunately, my favorite story never found an ending, as the gaming group splintered, and we all went our separate ways. I was unable to find a suitable way to finish the various stories that our characters left unfinished. And I drifted away from writing for a while.
I think that having to adventures way ahead of time, it gave me an advantage when I came back to the writing table, to help my wife with her projects. I was able to take her completed projects see the outlines of the stories, and to break them down into individual events, and scenes. And then I reversed the process to start writing my own material.
Were you good at English in school?
Funnily enough, with parents in teaching and local library services, it was probably impossible for me to be bad at English. Along with math and computers, it turned out to be one of the subjects I enjoyed most, and excelled in. I had little idea at the time that I would be finding myself having to break down everything I wrote years later, to analyze the sentences for structure. Nor did I think it would help in producing more coherent translations of my thoughts and the images I would see in my head.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer?
- Be ready to work hard at your first draft, but not so hard that it becomes a chore.
- Plan ahead, so that you have an idea of what’s coming up, and which causes lead to which effects.
- More importantly, remember, no matter what you write edits happen. They as unavoidable as breathing, and will likely be the hardest you will work on completing the story for publication.
- Always have others read your material before you submit it to a publisher, competition, or even post it online. They will find the errors, plot inconsistencies, or unclear passages that you would swear have been fixed.
What is the most useful advice you’ve been given?
- As soon as writing stops being fun, it becomes a job.
- Once you start seeing it as a job, you’ll start calculating your rate of pay.
- Prepare to be disappointed, a lot of authors don’t make much money for the number of hours they commit to their craft.
What is the strangest advice you’ve been given?
Don’t edit as you write your first draft. Bizarrely enough, this might seem counter-intuitive, but it actually works. It frees the mind to just create, and not to worry about the structure of sentences, the correct spellings of words, or even making sure that the plot flows cleanly from point A to point B. That liberation alone can lead to ideas that you hadn’t previously thought of, or give you insights into characters you thought you knew well.
For me, the prime example is when one of my characters walked out on his job, completely derailing my ongoing plot. But when I looked back at that event, I realized it couldn’t have happened any other way without subverting my character’s personality, and ignoring what made him tick.
How do you deal with the stranger reviews?
So far I’ve not had many reviews, because each of my short stories has been published through small-press companies. I’d like to think that I read the reviews and learn something about who my readers are, and what they are looking for.
Who do you write for?
Primarily I write for myself, although “Evaline Transcendent” was actually written as a submission request from the publisher who printed my first short story. I find that I have to write for myself first, because if I don’t enjoy the project I’m working on, then I lose a lot of the drive that went into starting that project. My second audience is my wife, because she is one of the few people I trust to give me her honest opinions on a draft. Then I write to meet the submission guidelines for the competition, or publication I am looking to send the story to.
What sort of things do you write?
My main focus for writing has been urban fantasy, since it’s a genre of stories that meshes well with my love of the supernatural, and allows me to write in a modern setting. By picking an existing city I’ve been able to build stories that are grounded in places people are already familiar with, and help draw them into the world quickly. It also allows me to be a little lazy about the physical aspects of the world building process, and focus more on the characters, plots, and supernatural elements. My stories tend to be told from the perspective of the primary character, and more often than not, they are written in first person.
I recently completed my first science-fiction story, “Evaline Transcendent”, and have signed a publishing agreement. This piece actually took a lot more work in the edits, since I had to do a lot more background writing to get the ideas to mesh.
What do you have in the drawer? (i.e. what have you written but not yet published)
I have two more short stories on my shelf (I put all my stories in binders, and label them, so I can find them easily). One is told from the perspective of Richard Parsons, who is a lupine (a werewolf that can shift at will between wolf and human forms), with a shady past. The other is from the perspective of Garfield Feldman, a retired Marine, who has fought lupines in the field, and it allowed me to examine the potential dynamic between the two characters for my planned novels.
Describe your writing process, what, where, when and how please?
I grab what time I can to write, between work, and the rest of my life. That usually means either writing extremely early, before work, or extremely late once I’m home from work. Because I work retail, there really is no set schedule for putting my backside in the chair, and getting my laptop fired up for writing.
Most of my sessions consist of clearing emails, checking my regular news feeds, reading a ton of web comics, doing some random browsing, and then finally getting down to writing, or editing, depending on what project I’m currently working on. I very rarely have more than one ongoing project, because I find it hard to shift focus between projects, unless I can spend an extended period of time working on any one of them.
I try to outline my stories ahead of time, so that I have an idea of where they are going, but once I start typing, almost anything can, and will happen. I tend to type very fast, and try to stop my brain from over thinking things, since I have habit of over analyzing things, or self-editing before I’ve seen where the current train of thought was going.
I also refuse to edit before I have finished a complete draft, so that I can make the most of the writing time, and let ideas form without risk of being censored out.
Where can we read your words?
” Under a Hunter’s Moon” appears in ” Moon Shadows” from Laurel Highlands Publishing, available now in paperback and e-book.
” Shifting Dreams” appears in ” Spooky Halloween Drabbles 2014” from Indie Authors Press, available on Kindle
” Evaline Transcendent” will appear in “Across the Karman Line” from Laurel Highlands Publishing, due mid-May 2015
“The Lupine’s Call” is a follow-up to “Under a Hunter’s Moon” from the “Moon Shadows” collection. This story was entered into Inkitt.com’s “Echo of Another World” competition (being run to honor Terry Pratchett, who I had the honor of meeting). “The Lupine’s Call” can be read for free, and if you enjoy it, feel free to click the heart at the bottom of the page.
I know that it’s a little link heavy, but there are some great stories in that competition, and I would love to give people a chance to discover some potentially wonderful authors.
Links to blog, website etc.
My author website: http://timothybatesonauthor.weebly.com/
Goodreads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8509895.Timothy_Bateson
Amazon Profile: http://www.amazon.com/Timothy-Bateson/e/B00N7OXNJG
Ramblings of an Author (Blog): https://timothybatesonauthor.wordpress.com/