Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hey there, I’m Timothy Bateson, and I just hit Level 45. Yes, you read that right… My wife and I often prefer to consider our ages in experience levels instead of years. We’re both gamers, and writers, and it keeps us from feeling old, especially when things get rough.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m originally from London, England, but after 4 years of living in south Wales, and a couple of years in the Midlands, I moved to Alaska in 2005 to marry my lovely wife, Sandi. It’s a very different life up here in small-town Alaska compared to what I was used to.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I grew up with a father who was a teacher, and a mother who worked in the local library, so is it any wonder that I grew up loving the process of learning?
All the way through school, I was great at maths, English and computers, but almost didn’t make it into college because Calculus came along and reared its ugly head. I also started working at the local libraries to make a little extra money and get easier access to course books.
After coming out of college with a degree in computers, I worked through several jobs in the field and slowly discovered that I hated the long hours and lack of appreciation from managers. So, when I moved to Alaska I started to work in retail and haven’t looked back.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I recently started recording audio samples from fellow authors, as part of a major online book event. It was a lot of fun to do the recordings. Considering the feedback, I received, I’m going to start offering this as part of my line-up of author services in the very near future.
For now, readers who want to check out the samples can get a twice weekly taste of these readings at http://timothybatesonauthor.com/category/story-time/
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Funnily enough, I have my wife to thank for starting on my writing journey – not that I’m complaining. Just after we got married,Sandi started to share her story drafts with me, and there were several characters in “A Rose By Any Other Name” that got me thinking about her wolf-shifters, and how to make them stand out from werewolves.
Next thing I know she’s encouraging me to start writing my first novel, which remains unfinished, because the characters kept insisting on me writing up their backstories instead.
Since then I’ve written four more short stories in what has become the “Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels” series. Each of these stories introduces characters who will be appearing in the novel series.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s difficult to pin down, but I think it was after Sandi started to encourage me to try and submit my short stories to anthologies, and two of them were picked up for the 2014 Halloween season.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I’m actually still working on my first novel “Of Wolves & Men”, which is largely inspired by one of the characters in Sandi’s drafts for “A Rose By Any Other Name”. The barman, Art, grabbed my attention almost immediately. With a background that includes Native American heritage, being a wolf-shifter, and the Alpha of the Seattle shifter pack, it was hard not to want to know more about him, and the other wolf-shifters.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The “Shadows Over Seattle” series title came from one of Sandi’s friends.
Originally “Of Wolves & Men” was going to be “C.O.S.T.S. of Living”, with the acronym standing for COvert Supernatural Task Specialists, and was intended to serve as a series title, appearing in book titles as much as possible.
While the word ‘costs’ spoke to some of the themes of the stories we had ideas for, it really didn’t work well for squeezing into book titles. It worked even less well for the series title, because not every story featured the taskforce members.
Then out of nowhere this friend suggested S.O.S, and “Shadows Over Seattle” was born. Now we had the flexibility to tell stories that only featured taskforce members as secondary, or peripheral characters, and as a bonus, by adding “Prequels” to the end, we had a title for the short story series too.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Urban Fantasy is a very popular genre for writers, because it mixes the fantastic, supernatural, and contemporary, and we all want a little magic in our lives. It often allows writers to bypass many aspects of world-building, because they don’t need to create as much of the setting, or history.
But it’s that same list that makes it popular with readers too. They’re already familiar with the real world and can learn about the differences in the world’s reality that makes it different from our own.
And that’s really the challenge, mixing the familiar with the fantastic, and being as original as possible. Because Urban Fantasy is such a popular genre, a lot of ideas have already been done.
Vampires that can walk around during the day – done
Wolf-shifters with shamanic roots – done
Wizards who advertise their services in the local papers – done
People who help ghosts pass into the next life – done
And that’s not even a complete list, but it is a familiar problem for writers trying to be original in the genre.
The solution my wife and I came up with was to try and find unique twists to the mythologies from which we draw. As a result, we have vampires that can feed on sources other than blood, shapeshifters are a natural species and not the result of a curse, and a genealogical chart that documents the histories of the species.
However, even the most novel world building doesn’t make the characters real. And that’s the same challenge all writers face, regardless of genre.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are some aspects of the shifter world that resonate with me, because I often feel like I’m living in two separate worlds. Having been raised in England, I was used to certain things, like free health care, the prices on store shelves including sales taxes, and historical buildings that were more than 50 years old.
When I moved to Alaska, I had to adjust to so many changes that it felt like living in another world. Even after fourteen years, I sometimes have to remind myself that there is a difference in word usages here in the US. Some of the produce items have different names, word spellings are different, and voting works on a very different system. It can be quite disquieting sometimes, but at other times it’s a great reminder of how those differences make each culture unique.
I draw on the feelings that these changes create when I write for some of the shifters that appear in my stories, as well as characters who are discovering the supernatural world for the first time. After all, those people either live in two different worlds, both human and animal, or are realising that the world around them is not what they thought it was.
For some, it’s as much of an eye-opener as it was for me.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Since Sandi was familiar with Seattle, I had a little understanding of the city, and some of the surrounding areas. However, it took a three-day trip to the city before I understood just how hilly it is in places.
Google maps is a useful tool, but it really doesn’t do some of those hills justice. However, it was a great way to freak Sandi out while I pointed out landmarks from the stories as we drive around Capitol Hill.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The “Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels” covers are designed by Ceejay Designs, while the cover for my sci-fi story “Evaline Transcendent” was designed by me. It’s very easy to tell the difference between the professional work and mine.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I never consciously set out to write a message into my stories. But if there is one, it’s that no matter who you are, or what your past is, nothing is more important to your future than the decisions you make right now.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I’ve been reading the work of a couple of authors lately.
I just finished the latest in C.L. Schneider’s “Nite Fire” series, and her main character is a dragon shifter from another world. I love seeing just how far she’ll go to deal with her problems and guessing at the consequences her actions will have on keeping her origins and abilities secret.
Then there’s Nikki Hyson’s “Paper Souls” series, which features a writer who doesn’t know how powerful the written word can be, until enters a world where fictional characters can be pulled from their books and made to serve the mysterious Guild. I’ve loved the twists and turns that reveal the identities of the various characters and trying to guess their origins before the main character.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I have to give a big shout out to everyone involved in National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo), from staff to fellow writers. The level of encouragement is amazing, especially from the various guest authors who’ve dropped in to provide pep-talks and advice, many of whom are big-name published authors.
When I started my very first outlines for my novel, I used to do NaNoWriMo religiously. Every November I’d set out with the goal to write 50,000 words, or more, and just write. That’s given me a lot of experience in being able to turn off my internal editor and get words on the page, as well as the discipline to get my butt in the chair, and work on something.
But it’s their post-event ‘what now?’ emails and posts that really help guide you into finishing those stories, and what to do with them. Through their various partnerships, they offer limited-time discounts to writers, which can help them afford author services that might otherwise be too expensive to let them publish.
I certainly wouldn’t have been brave enough to start writing my novel, and persist this long in getting it completed, or have met so many fellow writers, if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’d love to be able to turn it into a career, but for the moment it’s very much a secondary income. I’ve never been good at sales or marketing, but with the help of various writers groups, and books I’m slowly learning to turn my hobby into something resembling a business.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Originally the “Shadows Over Seattle: Prequel” stories were written for release in anthologies, and not individually. That meant there were word limits on how long I could make the stories, but when I got the rights back for “Under A Hunter’s Moon” I rushed to release it under my own name.
Readers told me they loved the story, so I decided to release the next two stories, and had matching covers made for all three books. But now people are telling me the stories are too short.
So, would I change anything? Definitely.
I’m already looking into the possibility of launching a collected edition of “Under A Hunter’s Moon”, “The Lupine’s Call” and “Wolves In The Desert”, with two bonus stories.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Be ready for your characters to derail your plans. No matter how much you try to plot your story, sometimes your characters will have other ideas, and it’s up to you to either force them into submission or follow where they lead and hope it makes things more interesting.
In “Of Wolves & Men” there is a scene where my main character gets into a disagreement with his boss, for several reasons. His actions, while ending the argument, really threw a spanner in the works as far as the rest of the story was plotted out.
No matter how many times I tried to re-write that scene, the outcome always turned out the same. I eventually looked at his motivations and realized there was no other way that scene could have ended.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Tom Holland. His experience of playing Spiderman means he’s already familiar with characters who live a double life, and the complications that introduces into the role. He’s also one of the few actors who’s around the right age, can deliver some of the humor. But he’d have to grow his hair out, dye it blond, or wear a wig.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
No matter what you write, edit happens.
It’s an unfortunate truth, but an essential one to remember. It’s become such a huge part of my writing toolset that I can’t stress it enough. Once you realize that editing is inevitable, it’s very freeing, especially in early drafts.
Writing and editing are two very different processes and should never happen at the same time. When you’re writing, that should be all you’re doing – getting words down on the page and getting that story closer to completion. Remember, what you’re writing in your first draft is helping you to explore the world, the characters, and the story. It doesn’t have to be great and it doesn’t always have to make sense.
Once the story is completed, that’s when you go back over it and start the process of editing. That’s when you pull out all the parts that don’t belong, figure out what has to be changed, start really crafting the story and picking the words that will have the most impact.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Writers love reviews, and I’m no different from any of the others.
Firstly, we love to hear what people think of our work, because the feedback lets us know what works (and doesn’t) for our intended audience. But more importantly, a lot of other readers look through online reviews when looking through book recommendations. That means those reviews can help readers decide if they want to try our stories, or if something else might be a better fit for their preferences.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now, I’m reading “The Forsaken Corridor: Paper Souls Book 2” by Nikki Hyson. It’s the second book in a series about a writer who finds herself dragged into a world where characters can be pulled from their books and into the service of the mysterious Guild.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It definitely wasn’t the first book that I read, but ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’ is the first that really sticks in my mind. It changed my outlook on the effect of words on the people, and world around us.
It introduced me to the concept that words have power, especially when they are aimed at changing the world, or the people they are aimed at.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My taste in humor is weird at times. Shows like Red Dwarf always make me laugh, while I must be in the right mood for a comedy movie. I think it comes down to situational comedy and commentaries on life that make me laugh the most.In part it’s because I either relate to the situation, or realize that the events described are funny, even if I wouldn’t be laughing if they happened to me.
But then there are comedians like Robin Williams, Eddie Izzard and Michael McIntyre that make me laugh just because of how off the wall their deliveries are, regardless of the topic. But then again, much of their material comes back to situational or slice-of-life, but the delivery of the material certainly helps.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
That’s a very difficult question. There are so many to choose from.
I’d love to meet all the authors I’ve worked with on various online events, because they’re such amazing people. Then there’s the authors who were so fundamental in shaping my tastes in speculative fiction… Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Ursula K. LeGuin, J.R.R. Tolkein, the list goes on..
But if I had to narrow my list down to one author, from any time in their lives, I’d go back to meet J.R.R. Tolkein prior to the release of the Hobbit, and persuade him that he doesn’t need to put so much backstory into his work. Don’t get me wrong, I love that all that detail is there, and that it shows the extent of his world-building, but it slows the stories down too much… I think a lot of readers would thank me, if I succeeded in my goal.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I’m an avid amateur falconer. Over the years I’ve been very lucky to have been able to visit falconry centres and take part in displays. And that’s given me a lot of experience handling and flying a wide range of raptors, including falcons, hawks, owls, buzzards and even a couple of eagles.
I’ve learned to respect the fact that while these birds are tamed and trained, they are still very much wild animals. But at the same time, there is nothing like the feeling of being nose-to-beak with an eagle, and the weight of such a marvellous creature on your arm.
Unfortunately, I’ve never had the time, training or money I’d need to train and own a bird. But I have been able to introduce Sandi to the experience and see the look of pleasure on her face as she’s holding a barn owl. Well worth it.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Oh wow… That’s such a difficult one to answer, because there are so many great films and shows out there. Sandi and I love binge watching shows and movie series, so we’ve got an extensive collection.
Doctor Who is probably the oldest running show that we share, but our collection also includes Hogan’s Heroes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fringe, Dark Angel, Wonder Woman, Knight Rider, Psyche, Sherlock, 10th Kingdom – so a pretty wide-ranging collection.
Our movie collection is just as crazy, including movies like the Marvel and DC films, Inception, The Phantom, a lot of Jackie Chan, Labyrinth, Men in Black, Now You See Me, James Bond, Star Wars, Star Trek and First Knight.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
In terms of foods, I’m a big fan of pizzas, bacon, craft beers, Yorkshire puddings, mashed potatoes and roast beef.
Musically my playlist includes soft rock, heavy rock, blues, soul and classical. I’ll often build custom playlists for my characters, outside my preferred music genres, so that I can get into their heads while writing them.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
If I couldn’t write, I’d probably do a lot more reading and go into book reviewing on a more regular basis. Having seen how much work writers put in, from the inside, has made me appreciate their work far more.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I would want those last hours to be spent with my wife. We’ve seen each other through some of the hardest times in our lives, and the times that we’ve lost people without the chance to say goodbye. As selfish as it sounds, I want my last hours to be spent letting her know how much I appreciate and love her.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
My wife and I have an agreement to cremate each other, so that we can be together wherever we go. So, I don’t see any headstones in my future. But, maybe a plaque reading ‘His life was full of stories, and wisdom’?
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Both my website and blog can be found at http://timothybatesonauthor.com. Readers will find information about me, and my work, but also learn about events I’m taking part in. On the blog I run interviews with fellow writers, book spotlights, reviews, and themed guest slots (such as my yearly Halloween event).
My books so far:
The Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels (urban fantasy short story series)
* Under A Hunter’s Moon – https://books2read.com/u/bzLLa2
* The Lupine’s Call – https://books2read.com/u/4XRRg9
* Wolves In The Desert – https://books2read.com/u/3nnnOR
Science fiction short stories
* Evaline Transcendent – https://books2read.com/u/bwqqYY
My Amazon page is:USA https://www.amazon.com/Timothy-Bateson/e/B00N7OXNJG