Name: Timothy C. Hobbs
Where are you from: Robinson, Texas
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc:
I was born January 23, 1950 in Temple, Texas. I had a brother who was 10 years older. My father worked for a local gas company. My mother worked for a funeral home, which would help add to my fascination for the macabre. I used to spend my after school hours there. It wasn’t unusual for me to do homework in one of the occupied, viewing rooms. (now’s the time for an eerie laugh sound effect)
I was married in 1969 and fathered two children, a son Shawn and a daughter Holly. My wife and I divorced in 1998. I am now remarried to Donna, an English Professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
I graduated from a two year college and then attended a school for medical laboratory training in 1971. I started working in the clinical lab in 1972 and continued until my retirement in 2003. I went back to college in 1998 and finished my Bachelor’s degree.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My wife and I are in the process of relocating to Austin, Texas, so I haven’t had much time for writing. I have completed a novella and three short stories this year, and I am working on a fourth story between all the crazy things associated with moving and selling a home.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Because of my older brother’s influence, I cut my teeth, no pun intended, on horror. It was just a matter of time before I wanted to try my hand at writing in that genre. I wrote my first story, The Vampire of England, shortly after I completed my first reading of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. As you can imagine, it was highly imitative of that great novel, but that’s what really got me started. I was 12 years old and in the sixth grade at the time.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote off and on between 1962 and 1980 and focused more on poetry than short stories. But it was in 1981, shortly after my brother’s untimely death, that I decided to pursue writing seriously. That’s when I concentrated on short stories and actively sought to be published. I consider that time to be my start at writing in earnest. I wouldn’t attempt a novel though until 1995.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I wrote my first novel, The Pumpkin Seed, in 1995. Up to that point, I had only been writing short stories. The original idea for the novel came from a news program a few years before. The program dealt with growing nerve tissue from fetal cells in the lab to treat Parkinson’s disease. It was an early version of stem cell research. When I began the novel, I decided to use a variation of this for the production of a super food for vampires, allowing these creatures to stay out of the public eye for a safer lifestyle.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I usually get an idea and just let it develop as I go along. I go back and fill out the details like correct dates and locales later.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
In The Pumpkin Seed I used an image of a rotten pumpkin in the early part of the novel. This was a shell filled with young insects. I compared the insects to seeds bursting from their pumpkin-like cocoon.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want the readers to find empathy for the creatures. It’s usually humans who are the real monsters.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The time period and locations were researched to be as accurate as possible. My editor for The Pumpkin Seed was from the UK. She helped me tremendously on being true to the Victorian era and also in regard to how the British and the people of India were represented in that time period.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
As a rule, my horror fiction has no ties to me, my family, or friends. I only have one literary fiction novel, Veils, that is semi-autobiographical. It is filled with memories of my childhood and my family.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Dracula, The Werewolf of Paris, Interview with the Vampire, and Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural edited by Phyllis Cerf Wagner and Herbert Wise, originally published in 1944 and considered to be a definitive collection of horror and supernatural stories.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
There are so many who influenced me. H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Bram Stoker, Charles Beaumont . . . . the list is long indeed. But if I had to say whose writing I most emulate, it would be Richard Matheson. He was a definitive horror master at both the short story and the novel.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Swamplandia! By Karen Russell
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
No one in particular. There are a few on my “To Read” list like Redeployment by Phil Klay and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Besides completing a short story here and there, I am editing a second collection of short stories, researching my next Once Upon a Time in Texas fairy tale reimagining, and working on a werewolf novel I started back in the late 1990’s.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My first novel, The Pumpkin Seed, was published by Vamplit Publishing in the UK. Gaynor Stenson was the editor. She really got me started in working on other projects and helping me get published. Her husband was also a great help to me with some medical aspects of The Pumpkin Seed. After Gaynor closed down Vamplit Publishing, a group of her authors and some other writers formed Visionary Press Collaborative, which has been a solid support group for my, as well as other member’s, works.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
When I was in my twenties, I was certain I would make my living by writing. Reality checked that pretty well early on. I don’t expect I will ever have writing as my focal career, but I would certainly not avoid the chance if it ever occurs.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
The last book I published was Maiden Fair, which is part of my Once Upon a Time in Texas fairy tale retellings. If I had the chance to do anything, I would do a much stronger edit, but I would not change the story.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My older brother had a vivid imagination. He read volumes of horror and supernatural literature. I picked up the same love for the genre and eventually wanted to write original stories myself.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here is the opening of the werewolf novel I’m resurrecting from its beginnings in 1998. It’s entitled The Change.
It isn’t easy being a werewolf.
First of all, people don’t believe you. You try to confide in them—your parents, friends and relatives, lovers, and, ultimately, therapists—but they never believe you. They’ll say you’re troubled or loony or maladjusted or whatever sensible conclusion they come to. It doesn’t do any good to have them video tape you either because werewolves don’t do that Lon Chaney Jr. thing. In reality, we would just come over looking mad and wired and vicious to a camera. Bottom line is you have to show someone personally and then there’s nothing left, no one to convince, only pieces of what used to be them.
As you can imagine, we tend to avoid people not affected with our disorder. This is for their protection, but it makes for a lonely life. Oh, we can find others like us. It isn’t hard to do. They’re out there looking around for comrades too. Our paths are bound to cross.
There’s a bar on Sixth Street in Austin, Texas called The Full Moon (hey, even werewolves can’t pass up a good cliché now and then) that’s owned and operated by werewolves. It was an attempt to form a social structure, a family place of sorts. But it just didn’t work into what was expected. Basically, werewolves don’t get along, especially when they’ve been drinking. They have only one solution to an argument. Something as simple as what song is being played on the juke box to what kind of coat is the coolest fashion statement can turn into a bloody mess in minutes. So the bar was a failure in that respect. Eventually, it started serving everyday people types as customers rather than put up with all the hassle from the patrons it was designed for. Some us still meet there and do our best to be civil. It’s how I met my girl Cheryl and my current employer Luther. But before I go and bore you with the ‘story of my life’, let me put to rest some of the myths about my race.
A full moon: helpful but not necessary.
The change can occur at anytime, night or day. On the night of the full
moon it is much stronger because of that old devil moon’s tidal pull on our
vascular system, so watch out on full moon nights.
Sprouting copious amounts of hair, wielding fangs and drooling teeth, ripping off of our clothes: not so dramatic.
It would take a biophysicist to explain the physical change, and I don’t
recall an intelligent being like that doing so. In the first place, he would have to
be in the werewolf’s presence at the time of metamorphosis which would lead
to his untimely end, so even if he knew what he was doing, an individual with
that much knowledge wouldn’t be obtuse enough to try it. I suppose one of us could attain a degree as lofty as that one to scientifically explain our own kind, but it is rare for us just to make it through Junior High or High School, much less college.
Once puberty hits, it only takes one disappointing grade or egotistical teacher to
set us off, not to mention everyday life at school with its competition—everything
from girls to grades to sports to locker and seat assignments to pressure of just
‘what I want to be when I grow up’ hanging over our heads. So, you’ll just have
to trust what I tell you from my limited education.
We do change physically. It occurs from the adrenalin rush brought on by
an act of aggression we assume is directed our way. Our muscles bulge, our
strength escalates exponentially to something superhuman. Suddenly we tend to
resemble those grinning gods you see on the cover of muscle magazines. I’m not
certain what the P.S.I. numbers of our jaws reach, but we can snap a bone
between our teeth like you would a pretzel. The blood encouraged flesh and
musculature disfigures our appearance, especially our face. I saw myself in the
mirror early on and it scared the bejeezus out of me just looking at that thing
glaring back. But hair and fangs? No. Howling? That’s just our bellowing rage
to do what our body is telling us to do, and, believe me, we get lost in that rage.
Now about tearing our clothes away. To me that’s the most amusing
werewolf personality trait expressed in books, movies and television shows. I
remember watching a weekly television series on Sunday afternoons, this was
before I hit puberty, called Werewolf. It was about the life of a man who had been
bitten by a werewolf. This, of course, sealed his fate of becoming a werewolf. But
he was different and would only kill ‘bad’ people. He was a heroic
lycanthrope, which, just like the being infected thing, is just another
fallacy. Anyway, when the full moon rolled around and this hero
would transform into a hairy sharp-toothed beast, he would rip away his clothes as
he howled mournfully at the moon. Immediately after he had dealt with a bad guy,
he showed up fully dressed again. I couldn’t figure out where he got that new set
of duds so quickly. I mean, did he have a stash of clothes hidden at strategic spots
along the forest paths or jammed under a car seat. I never saw him wearing a back
pack either so that theory was out.
The clothes thing. We might get ours dirty or mussed up, but the only
ripping done is what we do to the focal point of our anger. The fact is, we are
killers. We kill without mercy. There is nothing heroic about it. The just and
unjust share the same fate. Our aggression is not like any known on this earth. We
do not hunger for human flesh and blood. We are driven to destroy and to do it
Next myth, silver bullets:
Save your money. Any large caliber will do.
I’m talking .45 or .357 here. Don’t waste your time with .22’s or 9mms. They
can’t penetrate our muscle mass enough to do any fatal harm. It has to be a
serious chunk of metal to bring us down. Silver destroying evil is just more
superstitious nonsense. We can be killed quite easily if the weapon can get
through the tangle of enlarged muscles we possess during the change. Fire will do
the job as well. We are not indestructible devil beasts raised from Hell. We
are the people who tear your movie tickets, stuff your tacos or fry your burgers.
We are the people next door.
Sulfur: the only truth in a sea of fables.
I have yet to know a werewolf that won’t steer clear of burning sulfur. The key
is, it has to be burning. When we breathe the fumes, an acute asthmatic condition
overwhelms us and we get the fuck out of Dodge. Sulfur is our Achilles’ heel.
Now, the fabrications dispelled, let me tell you all about me and my special gift of transformation into a killing machine.
My name is David Sanders. I grew up in Mc Allen, Texas near the Mexican border town of Reynosa.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Once I’m finished with the first draft, the editing process is the most challenging. When I was younger, I dreaded editing. Now I see it as the most important process of completing a story.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have many favorites ranging from Anne Rice to William Faulkner to Ernest Hemingway to Thomas Hardy . . . . and so many more. But one whose work I appreciate a little more than the others is Vladimir Nabokov. His prose is some of the best I’ve ever come across. Although known chiefly for Lolita, another of his works, Pin, is an insightful and melancholy look into the difficult process of an immigrant professor trying to fit into the academic, college faculty niche. I admire how he managed to translate his Russian prose into English. The smoothness of that feat appeared seamless.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I’ve never had a book signing outside of the city where I live. I have tried to arrange some in larger Texas cities like Austin, but most of the book stores I contacted shy away from POD books. I’m still trying though.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Sue Mydliak did an amazing job designing the covers for my Vamplit publications and my Visionary Press republications, those being The Pumpkin Seed, Music Box Sonata, and The Smell of Ginger. She is also an exceptional author as well. The covers for Veils and Mothertrucker and Other Stories were designed by the staff at Publish America, and the cover for Maiden Fair was done by the art staff at Netherworld Books in the UK. All of those were also outstanding jobs. My upcoming novella, E. D., from Visionary Press Collaborative has excellent cover art provided by Thomas Arensberg. Thomas has the unique ability to make the grotesque seem strangely attractive. He is quite an artist.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Besides the editing, setting a daily pace and keeping to it. For me, a steady writing discipline is what keeps me going even when I don’t feel like it.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned a lot when writing all my books from the research involved. One example would be for my novella The Smell of Ginger, which is an updating of Hansel and Gretel. I found that most researchers of fairy tale origins think Hansel and Gretel actually came from a Russian folk tale about a witch named Baba Yaga. She didn’t fly around on a broom but rather on a mortar while carrying a pestle. She lived in a hut that was elevated on chicken feet. I named one of the characters in the novella after her.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
I think writers should not be discouraged by rejection slips. I remember when the first short story I submitted to a magazine back in 1969 was rejected. I couldn’t believe it and was crushed. I swore never to write again. Of course, that resolution lasted only a couple of days. I’ve kept every rejection notice I have received in a brief case. It is overflowing. So, my fellow writers, don’t let those disturbing slips get you down.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
First and foremost, I truly hope they enjoy my work. I know some won’t and that’s fine. Variety and individual preference are what make our choices entertaining. But, if they do get caught up in one of my stories or novels, I would ask them to crawl inside one of my characters skin and try to imagine how it feels to be that character for just a little while.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first book I read was a collection of horror and supernatural stories entitled Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural. My older brother would check it out from the city library and share it with me. Through that excellent collection, I was introduced to such classics as W.W Jacob’s The Monkey’s Paw and Ambrose Bierce’s The Boarded Window. These and others in that anthology kept me hiding under the covers long after the lights were turned out at bedtime.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I paint abstract and impressionistic pieces and like to sing rock and roll songs from the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
There’s not much on television I really watch. I do keep up with House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, The Americans, and The Walking Dead.
I love movies. I spent most of my youth haunting the local movie houses. I really enjoy a good historical drama like Braveheart or Lawrence of Arabia, something that keeps me guessing like Angel Heart or The Secret in Their Eyes did, and most any horror movies, including the B ones I remember seeing as a child on Saturdays.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Foods: I am a Vegan, so I enjoy veggies and fruits and nuts.
Colors: All shades of blue.
Music: Even though I love old time rock and roll, my favorite music is still classical, my number one picks being Franz Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No.1, and Sir Malcom Arnold’s Tam O’Shanter Overture Op. 55. Both of these are from an excellent 1950’s album entitled Witches’ Brew with Sir Alexander Gibson conducting the New Symphony Orchestra of London.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Continue my singing career. I would still like to get together with a rock band from my own age group and do some weekend gigs playing songs from the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I don’t have a blog, but I am part of the Visionary Press Collaborative website.