Recently, I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them for guest-spots on my blog. (If you are interested in participating, please contact me.) I asked everyone thirty-five questions — some were basic, and others were multi-part inquiries — and I asked them to answer only what they wanted to or what was applicable. My friend and fellow-blogger, Tim Bateson, had some very interesting responses which I’m sure will captivate you, as well. After you read his interview, please be sure to hop on over to his blog and follow him for a regular dose of his charm. And now, heeere’s Tim…
1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:
I’m Tim Bateson, but my birth certificate and writing credits read Timothy Bateson. I was born in England in the mid-seventies, and studied computers through school, and a four year stretch in university. From the ages of 18 to 30, I lived all over the UK, working for a number of computer companies, and even call centers, but books, birds of prey, and people were always my main passion.
In 2005 I moved to Alaska and married Sandi, who I had been introduced to online, through mutual friends in the live roleplaying community. I’ve worked my way through fast food and retail jobs since arriving, and am studying to take the US citizenship tests. I like to tell people that “I get paid to hang around, chat with my friends, give the occasional order, and sometimes even do some real work”.
2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):
3. How many books have you written?
I’m currently still working on my first book, but have written several short stories, which I’ve been using to investigate the backgrounds of my intended characters. Even though I’ve not personally finished writing a book, I’ve helped my wife finish two books, one of which heavily influences my work.
4. Has any of your work been published yet? If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:
I have one short story that was accepted by Laurel Highlands Publishing, for their “Moon Shadows” Halloween anthology. The events of “Under a Hunter’s Moon” are a defining moment in the life of my main character, Richard Parsons.
5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing? Why? If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?
“Under a Hunter’s Moon” was submitted as part of an open request for short story submissions, through Laurel Highlands Publishing. I’ve so far submitted three other stories to competitions, and open submission requests, and am awaiting response on two of them. The third was a 100 word drabble, which has been accepted by the editors of “Altered States”.
For my novel length stories, and those of my wife, we’re considering the self-publishing route, since this will give us more creative control over the final product. However, we’ve not ruled out the option of traditional publishing, if we can guarantee the publication of the complete series of stories, that are currently being planned.
6. How old were you when you started writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I dabbled in writing material for role-playing games, which I ran for friends during college, and into my late twenties. But, I didn’t get into serious writing, until I moved to Alaska, and read some of my wife’s work. Her urban fantasy novel revolved around the story of a vampire, but had elements that made the setting and her secondary characters just as interesting. Because of one of those characters, I started thinking about the ‘what-ifs’ of werewolf packs, and how werewolves in that setting could be made different from the mainstream. It was probably right then that I started taking the idea of being an author seriously, even if it did take another seven or eight years to build up the steam, and skillset.
7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?
My primary motivation is telling a good story. I know that sounds like a cliché, but I’ve always enjoyed reading good stories, and telling them through role-play. When I found that I could write those stories down, and edit them into a polished form, I found the motivation to keep going, in the hopes of sharing those stories with people beyond my circle of friends and family.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?
If I had to pick a top ten authors, in no particular order: Alan Dean Foster, Orson Scott Card, Terry Pratchett, Dean Koontz, and Jim Butcher, Neil Gaiman, Dan Brown, H G Wells, Piers Anthony and Douglas Adams.
I’ve just finished reading Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz, Skin Game by Jim Butcher, and and currently reading Inferno by Dan Brown.
9. What is your preferred reading method? (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.) Why?
I have a personal preference for having the story physically in my hand. That can easily be a paperback, because they are light enough to take almost anywhere. I also have a huge collection of hardbacks, which I always read with the dust jackets removed, in order to keep them pristine.
Having pretty much grown up in libraries, book stores, and always having books at home, I think I tend to be a bit snobbish about having the hard copy when possible. My mother was a librarian, and my dad a teacher, so books were almost guaranteed to be a big part of my life, and always treated with respect.
That said, I’m slowly building a collection on my iPod, because of the versatility of where I read. I love the ability to write notes, and highlight sections, and that I can carry the equivalent of library with me at all times. Will I be switching over completely? Probably not, because there’s still something very relaxing about reading a physical book in the bath.
10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?
I have a tendency to write in the first person, primarily because it’s how I see the world through the eyes of my characters. When I setup a scene, I tend to block it out in present tense, even if I’m writing about something that happened in the past, because I can then see how it all moves forward. However, my story then gets written in past tense, as though it were the character writing about the events as they witnessed them.
11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books?
Even when I’m heavily into a writing project, I make time to read, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day.
12. How many books would you say you read in a year? How many at any one time?
I’d have to make a wild guess, at somewhere between twenty and thirty-five books per year, especially if I’ve just picked up the latest installment of an ongoing series. I have a very bad habit of going back to the start of a series, and then reading all the way through until the end of the new book.
ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::
13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?
Right now I’m working on the outline for a NaNoWriMo project, which currently has no title. I’m tempted toward “Lupine Dreams” or “Chasing the Lupine Moon”, since it’s going to be a werewolf (or lupines as my wife and I call them in our stories) novel.
14. What is your novel’s genre? Would you say there is a sub-genre? What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?
I would have to classify most of my work, to date, as Urban Fantasy since it is the categorization given to most stories of a similar nature. Like many of the books set in this genre, the stories take place in a busy city with an active supernatural community.
What I’d like to think sets them apart from a lot of others is that there are less of the racial rivalries that seem to make up at least some of the conflict in other books. Instead the conflicts come from the characters themselves, and the alliances they make during the course of the story. The characters, settings, the themes, and the background material is also shared (and developed) between two writers who share a common overarching plot thread.
15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?
My wife created a bar called the Devil’s Own, owned by Seattle’s lupine alpha, Art. She took the concept of a man who wants to be human badly enough that he represses the wolf side of his nature as much as possible. I wanted to approach the opposite view, and created Richard, a lupine who embraces his wolf side, and revels in the abilities it gives him.
16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?
This story is definitely intended for an older teen audience, and upward.
ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::
17. How often do you write?
I try to write every day, but it depends on my work schedule.
18. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?
Some days I manage to write nothing at all, others I can hack out as much as three thousand. On my productive days, I often split my writing into a couple of different sessions.
19. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?
So far I’ve done all my own editing, with assistance from my wife. I do use online editing tools to highlight some of the bigger problems, such as awkward grammar, vague words or phrases, and even passive terms. On short stories, I might spend as much as three times longer editing, than I do on writing.
20. What is your method of writing? (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes? Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters? Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)
I never edit before I’ve finished the story. I have to get to the end, before I return to the beginning, and start the editing process. It’s easier for me to do it this way, because I already know where the story is going, and what needs to be improved, or removed.
21. Do you have a muse? If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?
I’m inspired by the world around me, and my wife. The world around me is full of stories, and impossibilities made real. My wife has a belief in me, and my ability to tell a story, that I amazes me. Without her support, I would never have started entering my writing into competitions.
22. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?
My short stories take about a week to write for every five thousand words. I often write as much as thirty percent over the target word limits, and then have to cut back to meet the requirements of the particular competition.
23. Do you give yourself a word limit for each day or a time limit to finish your novel? If so, please elaborate.
So far, my time limits have been set by the submission dates of the competition.
24. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?
I use a lot of online resources for coming up with character names, and the good ones allow me to pick random names based on racial, or geographic factors.
Behind the Name has so far proved my most reliable go-to for character names. Firstly, it allows you to select from several criteria when asking it to generate a random name. But more importantly, once you have your random name, you can click on it and find out more about the origins, etymology, and even meanings of the name. If you’re like me, a character’s name can often suggest a little about their character, or even potential plots and conflicts.
I don’t seem to have too much trouble picking place names, or business names. “Devils Own” was a biker bar my wife created for one of her novels, and I simply stole it, and the barman… But the “Cup of Doom” coffee shop earned it’s name from a scene I have outlined for my novel. I even created a background explaining why it’s name changed from “Cup of Joe”. For the rest of the place names it’s really easy, since I am using a real city as the location for my stories.
25. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?
Generally, my notes start out very simple, but then I build up several levels of refining details before I finally start writing. Right now, I have far more background material for the version of Seattle I share with my wife, than I am ever likely to use. But, I have very little information about some of the characters, which is why I started writing short stories, to flesh those details out a little more.
26. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write? (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)
Honestly, I hate to admit it, but I have to have an internet connection. I will often find myself checking facts before I write a section that I have little personal experience with. For example, I did a lot of ongoing research into the US Marine Corps, their weapons, transport vehicles, and organizational structures, while writing “Wolves in the Desert”. Because I’ve never served in the military, never handled firearms, or spent any time in the desert, I had to gather a lot more information than I might normally need for a short story. Rather than bug friends who had relevant experience, I did a lot of online research, wrote the story, and then had them fact check a draft version.
Thankfully, I got a lot more right, than I got wrong.
27. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location? If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?
Since I share a single-room apartment, with my wife, my writing occurs at the only desk in the room. I’d love to be more flexible in my writing locations, but my laptop and it’s battery are about five years old, and no longer hold a good charge. So, with that in mind, I have to fit my writing in around my working schedule, which can vary wildly through the week. Some days I write before work, others after work, but I always try to do a minimum of an hour of writing, or editing (and procrastinating, and research do not count toward that hour).
Some days are more successful than others.
28. Does your real life ever get neglected because of your writing? If so, how do you feel about that?
I actually find that my real life only gets put on hold when I’m doing a concentrated period of writing, or editing. November is the prime time for this to happen, since it’s NaNoWriMo, and I have not missed a single year, out of the last five.
29. What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?
I think it was during the 2012 NaNoWriMo, when I went through most of the month avoiding meals until I had written my quota for the day. I’d take the laptop to work, plug it in during my one hour lunch, and write in the super busy break room, while listening to music on the headphones. The food would be sat beside me, ready to eat, but I would have to write a minimum of 1000 words within that allotted time. To make it more difficult, I had to allow time for any shopping I might have to do, as well as time to eat, take a bathroom break, and be clocked on in time to start the afternoon.
Since I work in retail, I shop at lunchtimes to avoid having to do so after work, and that often takes five to ten minutes out of my schedule. With bathroom breaks, boot-up and shutdown of the laptop, and the walk to reach the time clock, I probably had a realistic thirty-five to forty minutes of writing time… At best! Most of those days, I ended up eating on my final break, instead of during the allocated lunch time.
ABOUT YOUR WORK::
30. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?
If I could pick any one character? I think I’d have to pick the main character from my novel, and the star of “Under a Hunter’s Moon”, Richard Parsons. He lives in two separate worlds, and somehow manages to make transitioning between the two seem natural. Of course, as a shape shifter, he is able to shift from human to wolf, and back, but it’s the changes in perception that make the potential more interesting for me.
Having grown up in England, and then moved to America, I can sometimes see glimpses of what Richard might go through on a daily basis. I have to mentally filter what I say to people, and try to avoid words and phrases that are British enough not to be easily understood here in the US.
31. What is the most difficult thing you have ever researched for one your books and why?
I’m not sure if it qualifies as the hardest, but it seemed like it at the time. I needed to find a way for a character to die from blunt force trauma, but have the death happen in a confined space, without an obvious killer.
Thank you, Tim, for allowing me to interview you. I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.