Name Tim Arnot
Age 53 (Jeez I can go on Saga holidays! )
Where are you from
I’m originally from Rochester, around 30 miles south east of London. It’s an ancient city that dates back to Roman times, and featured in many of Dickens’ books. Now I live outside the comparatively modern (it only dates back to 900 AD!) city of Oxford. Home of the dictionary, Tolkien, CS Lewis, yadda yadda.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I flunked my degree. But so what? It was a factor in getting interviews for the first couple of jobs, but after that I started working in a different field (programming), and the lack of a degree became largely irrelevant. I lost my job and went self-employed about the time the recession hit. Boy was that fun (not)!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My second novel, Hunted – a post apocalyptic tale set in 23rd Century England – is about to hit the streets. (we’re having a party on Facebook to celebrate, on Aug 16. Games, giveaways and all sorts of fun. Everyone’s welcome. https://www.facebook.com/events/304918826352835/ )
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I was given a notebook and fancy pen one Christmas when I was a kid. I’ve always liked writing, but never really considered doing much with it. For a long time I had much more to do with technical writing than story writing.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Well, I always wrote, but it was a means to an end, rather than the end in itself. I produced a lot of product manuals in the 1980s and 90s, but it was generally incidental to my main job – we had a product and needed a manual, and since I was the one on the team that could write, I got to do it. I don’t think I considered myself a “writer” until I published my first novel (not my first book) in 2013.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was actually a technical computing book, back in the old 8-bit days (mid 1980s). It was trad published by Melbourne House – so I can legitimately call myself a hybrid author! It’s even still on Amazon – ranked about 8 billion, although I don’t think there are any copies still in existence – at least I hope not! My second book was also a computing textbook, written around the same time. That was actually self-published! We’re talking 1985/6 here, long before e-books or POD, so yes, for a while my hallway was lined with stacks of the things! Then up until the early 90s I was editor of a technical trade journal.
My first novel came about over a pint in the pub. We’d been to see a movie and started talking about novels that got made into films. And then it got into that “how hard can it be…” discussion, and rather rashly I said that even I could write a perfectly good novel, and the challenge was on. A year later, Wanted was finished.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Not consciously – I just write. People tell me that it’s pacey and engaging, and sucks them in. I smile and nod, and grab the credit!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My first book is about a girl who is wanted for a murder she didn’t commit, so she goes on the run. Originally that was called Hunted, and book 2 was Wanted. But as the writing progressed it seemed more natural for the titles to be the other way around. So book 1 is Wanted, and book 2 Hunted.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Don’t give up.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Given that it’s set 200 years in the future, with a population that’s maybe 1% of it’s current level… it’s as realistic as I could make it. I did a lot of research into abandoned cities and how they decay, what kinds of materials would survive and what wouldn’t, how people would adapt – using horse-drawn trucks & cars, patched up with whatever’s to hand, all the remaining “good stuff” being available to the rich and powerful but outlawed to the rest, and so on. It’s basically how I imagine society would reshape itself 150 years after the collapse of modern civilization.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not really, it’s all kinda made up!
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Growing up, books like Treasure Island, Enid Blyton’s Famous Five/Secret Seven, and the Jennings books by Anthony Buckeridge were influential. I kind of lived those stories. In later life I’m much less influenced, but I adore most kinds of science fiction, urban fantasy etc. I recently discovered the Rivers of London series by Dr Who writer Ben Aaronovitch (I think they’re called the Peter Grant series in the US), and they are utterly brilliant.
There are actually some nods to Treasure Island in Hunted, particularly the sequences set in Bristol.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Neil Gaiman. The man and his writing are awesome.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m in the middle of the 8th book in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. Proven Guilty, it’s called.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Jonathan Hill is a very talented up and coming indie writer. He’s well known for producing comic shorts, but recently published his first novel, Fag, a cutting and insightful social commentary on social injustice set in the 1930s school system, that’s sadly just as relevant today.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
The third novel in the Flick Carter series. It gets a different title every week, but generally I refer to it simply as FC3.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Abingdon Writers and the Abingdon Fiction for Adults Group. They’ve given plenty of good no-holds-barred advice and critique.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. Just not a well paying one!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, cos I’ve done all the rewriting. If you’d asked me six months ago, the answer might have been different. Actually… if I had to do it all again, I suppose the answer would have to be: write it right the first time! But then, thinking again, there’s probably a few things I’d still do differently. Ultimately any book is never finished; it’s just abandoned.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
From a young age we learn by copying, and I was always reading, so I think it was natural to start writing too.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I can share the first few Chapters of Hunted – they’re up on my web site. http://www.tim-arnot.com/hunted-sample/
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Starting in the mornings. It’s all to easy to get lost in incidental things – a bit of publicity, or a blog post, email Facebook etc, and suddenly the morning has gone.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Oh lots. For a long time it was Pratchett, for his witty observation, but more recently I’ve been more interested in space opera, so I’ve delved into the likes of John Scalzi, David Weber, Thomas DePrima, Mike Shepherd…
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I haven’t travelled any in regard to publicity, signings etc. But for research, most of my locations are fairly close to home, so I can jump in the car and be there in an hour or two. I spent several days in Liverpool, researching the old tunnels under the city. That was for a thread in the story that ultimately got cut out!
It’s been known for a long time that parts of FC3 would be set on a “desert island” which I would have to visit for research (Google Streetview is never quite good enough…) and I joked that if sales went well, it would be set in the Caribbean, and if not, it’d be the Isle of Dogs (part of London’s docklands district).
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Me. I did.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The bit just after the words “Chapter 1”. The opening scene, I find is the hardest to write.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes. Write faster! Actually I think for me, the best advice might be don’t start at the beginning.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Finish what you start. Even if it’s rubbish, you might be able to fix it. But you can never fix what you never finished.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thanks for spending a few hours immersed in my little world. Now go tell your friends!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
A.A. Milne: When we Were Very Young, and Now We are Six. I can still quote most of his poems. And then I graduated to Winnie the Pooh (the real poohsticks bridge is actually very close to my house!)
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I used to have a pilot’s licenses, but I had to give up flying when I went self employed – it was just too expensive. I still cadge a right-hand seat every now and then though, for a fix of airborneness. Other than that, I act and stage manage with a local theatre group. We put on 4 shows a year, including our own adaptations of Pratchett’s Discworld stories.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I rarely watch much live TV, but I’m partial to Game of Thrones, NCIS & most of the UK cop shows. I’m currently watching Warehouse 13 and Death In Paradise on Netflix. I have an Unlimited card for my local cinema – 16 quid a month and it’s all you can watch. So I watch a film or two most weeks. Even if it’s rubbish, the aircon is nice in the summer…
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Bacon. Green. Jimmy Buffett. Actually, my tastes in music range from Abba to ZZ Top, via Count Basey, Iron Maiden, Rachmaninoff, Cole Porter… Just spare me opera: all that screeching drives me mad!
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
There are careers that I was never really aware of before I started writing. One of my characters is discovering the “lost art” of crime scene incestigation. His name is Socko, which is a play on words (SOCO – Scenes Of Crime Officer is the British equivalent of a CSI), and that’s sparked off a fascination for the world of forensic science. So I suppose that’s what I’d like to do.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
On the web: http://www.tim-arnot.com
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TimArnotAuthor
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/TimArnot
My Amazon books page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CTN47CS