Kindle Author Interview With Tim Walker

Sunday, 31 January 2016
Up next to take their place on the interview chair is kindle author Tim Walker. Join us as he chats about the reason's why he writes and also tells us about his book Abandoned which is available on the amazon kindle store now.

Why do you write?

Although I have previously been a journalist and publications editor, I only started creative writing in 2013 during a period of convalescence after skin cancer diagnosis, operation and radiotherapy. I had time on my hands and undertook an online creative writing course, followed by attempts at writing short stories. I found it a useful medium for escapism, after writing a droll account of my illness.

What genre are your books?

I love history, particularly English history, so it is no surprise that my stories were pulling me in that direction. Historical fiction sits comfortably with me. I’m also writing a novel which is a futuristic political thriller.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

I started writing short stories based on ideas that came to me from newspaper stories, historical research, and reflection during long walks along the River Thames. At first, my stories appeared unconnected, but in early 2015 I started looking for a theme that united them. This proved to be location (or setting) and so Thames Valley Tales was born – a collection of 15 stories that became my guinea pig amazon kindle e-book.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I’m still unable to work, as in have a day job, and spend much time at home. Due to ongoing health problems, I find I can write between one and five hours a day, often working around appointments, and depending on whether I can get into the mood (and barring other distractions). Sometimes I have a break of a few days, so I’d say my writing is haphazard and based on mood, medication and inspiration.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I write in the morning on days when I get up feeling in the mood. I rarely write in the evenings, due to fatigue of the brain and spirit!

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I feel I’ve improved a lot in just two years. This is based on reader feedback and my own sense of developing stylistically and technically as a creative writer. I’ve realised, from my copyeditor, that my English is not as good as I thought, and I’ve been on a slight learning curve. I’m undergoing a ‘this is how we do it now’ language upgrade! I’m pleased that I’m learning something.

What have you written?

Thames Valley Tales, a book of short stories, self-published on amazon kindle, July 2015.

ABANDONED! An amazon short, self-published on kindle, December 2015.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?

I sketch out a rough plot and list the characters and their relationships, then start. The story often changes as I get into it and have new ideas. I write down new characters and place names as I go along, to keep track of it. Also, if I’m writing historical fiction and uncover new facts, then the story might bend to reflect that.

How do you market your books?

I’m on a learning curve with self-promotion through social media. I use twitter, facebook LinkedIn, Google+ and Goodreads, and am developing an email list. I have small followings and minute sales. I keep telling myself that it’s okay, that I’ve just started and I’m not motivated by trying to make money, but in reality, I need to wake up and take more of an interest in sales and promotion.

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in the future?

I’ve just been following advice from my writing group and what I can learn on the internet. I’m still a novice on promoting my own books, and haven’t bought any followers or paid for a promotion...yet.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

‘Write what you know’ has become a cliché, but very true, I feel. If your subject matter is fantasy, then put in things you know about, like basing your characters on real people who you can describe in detail. If you just try and make things up, your readers will see it as shallow and unconvincing.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?

In ABANDONED! My main character is a young soldier called Marcus Aquilius. He was raised as a Roman under the influence of his father, however, after the Romans abandon their province of Britannia, he feels his identity shifting more towards his mother’s Celtic/Briton background. By the end of the story he is Marcus Pendragon, the father of Uther and grandfather of King Arthur (setting up the next parts in the trilogy!).

Where do your ideas come from?

My love of local history took me to the site of an old Roman garrison town, not far from where I live. I walked around it (Calleva Atrebatum, in Hampshire, southern England) and started wondering what it would have been like living there at the time the Romans packed up and marched away, never to return.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

The self-discipline of sitting down to write; battling my easily-distracted mind and natural laziness.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

I want to be as faithful to historical events, dates and characters as possible, to give my settings authenticity. This requires a lot of reading, and I have come to learn that there is no one definitive history of the period I’m interested in – a fact that draws me to it – but conscious that it is also the territory of much conflicting and incomplete accounts and a large amount of guesswork. This may give me license to make things up, but I want the overall historical framework to be believable.

Which writers inspire you?

At school, my English literature teacher told me to read PG Wodehouse and Graham Greene to improve my written and spoken English. I followed his advice with great enthusiasm, but also soaked-up the adventure stories of Ian Fleming and Alistair MacLean. I guess the first historical fiction book that captured my imagination was Rosemary Sutcliffe’s ‘Eagle of the Ninth’. If I read this in the 1970s, as a schoolboy, then it comfortable pre-dates the more popular (an excellent) contemporary writers in the historical fiction genre – Hilary Mantel and Phillipa Gregory, both of who’s books I have immensely enjoyed.

What do you do to get book reviews?

I’ve had very few reviews to date, most are from people known to me who have put reviews up on amazon kindle (and escaped their radar!). Recently, I’ve had a few thoughtful and helpful reviews through Goodreads. I’m still at square one with this!

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?

Not very. Most writers are busy promoting their own work, and readers are also busy people! Lack of time seems to be the main reason, and lack of engagement with your work.

What is the current book you are promoting?

ABANDONED! Part one of A Light in the Dark Ages series.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?

Marcus Pendragon, the main character, because he rises to the challenge of leadership.

Who is your least favorite character and why?

My baddie - Cerdic, the Saxon warlord, Marcus’s opponent. Try as I might, he still appears to me to be a clichéd two-dimensional character. Should I give him a pronounced physical characteristic? He can’t have a hobby, apart from killing people! I feel I’m missing a trick here…

If your book were made into a movie, who would you cast?

Well, Marcus could be played by Mark Strong (play the good guy for once!), and Cerdic by Ray Winston – his Beowulf was awful, but he deserves another chance!

What is your next project?

A Light in the Dark Ages Part two – Uther’s Destiny – is currently in hand.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?

Sherlock Holmes is a brilliantly flawed and compellingly complex character. Conan Doyle has inspired a whole generation of crime fiction writers.

What one person from history would you like to meet and why?

King Arthur – I believe there was a real king Arthur or Arturus, a cavalry commander of note. Where and when did he live? What was he like? Did Camelot exist? And Merlin?

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?

Narrow the gap between the rich and poor. Wealth-sharing and less personal greed in the World would be nice…When I went to do voluntary work in Zambia in the mid-1990s I gave up the rat race and divested myself of most of my worldly possessions – wealthy people should be encouraged to try it! (I’m not saying I’m a hero or anything… it was a direction I was pushed in by circumstance, but one I was prepared to embrace, and never regretted. It is possible to change your life).

How do you write your books?

I thrive on inspiration, and can lose interest quickly. I have to force myself to make a plan and stick to it, often unsuccessfully. That is my nature, so I have to try and battle it by somehow keeping the project ‘fresh’. Not always easy. I have plenty of things I started and sidelined, once a new idea came along. But equally, I have re-visited some of my earlier writing and reworked it, for example, an uncompleted short story became a chapter in my novel, with some customizing.

Where do you come up with your stories?

I follow my interest in news and history, mainly.

Who is your favorite author?

Tough one. I could drone on about Charles Dickens and Graham Greene, and I occasionally dip into the classics for a bit of perspective, but at the moment I’m drawn to contemporary action/adventure/historical fiction writers, that mirror my writing interest. Lee Child’s character, Jack Reacher, fascinates me. He is a flawed anti-hero and I find myself pulled into the story by Childs’s compelling writing – short sentences for pacy action scenes, interspersed with longer, easy-paced descriptive scenes to add depth and texture. His style is modern and closer to what I’m trying to do with my fiction writing.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?

Humility. I must be willing to accept criticism with good grace and not plot to kill my critics!

What is one thing you hate about being a writer?

It’s not just about a flash of inspiration; it’s a job that requires patience, organisation, knowledge, planning and resources. Some days it feels like going to that job you hate but have to do - work!

Tell us something unique about you

Everyone’s a product of their environment and socialization - no one’s unique, only different. In my case, I am adaptable and relocate a lot, due to family movement patterns, replicated in my adult life. I have lived in the UK, Hong Kong and Zambia, all completely different environments, peoples, languages and customs. I hope this gives me a broader perspective than average, and I love to travel.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?


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