Welcome to another edition of what I'm now lovingly calling "Meet the Writer!" This week, it's my sincere pleasure to introduce everyone to indie author Tim Kearsley, author of The Anniversary, Therapy, Bittersweet,and The Healing Shard. Tim was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions from a Drunken Penguin, so lets hear what he has to say!
DSP: For starters, tell us a bit about you, we like to get to know our authors as a person!
Tim: My name is Tim Kearsley and I was born in the county of Northamptonshire in England in 1955. I’m single, but have been with my partner Jill for about 18 years. We live in a lovely little bungalow on the edge of the countryside with a view over green fields.
I work by day as an I.T. Manager but I would love to give that up and write full-time! I’m passionate about conservation and the environment and abhor all forms of animal cruelty. I actively support a number of conservation and anti-cruelty organisations.
My other interests include astronomy and aviation. So, as you could guess, I spend a lot of time watching the sky!
I love to walk in the English countryside – there’s nothing better than a nice, long walk on a warm, sunny day followed by tea and cake in a little, traditional tea-room!
DSP: Nice to meet you! And I must say, I'm jealous of the view, it sounds absolutely beautiful! So tell us, where did you find the inspiration for your most recent book?
Tim: I had the idea for “The Healing Shard” in my head for a long time. The basic idea never changed, but the characters and some of the detail shifted and went this way and that. I guess it was Jill that finally persuaded me to commit my ideas to paper. As to where the original idea came from – well, I’m not sure to be honest! It kind of just grew from nowhere. I’d always liked reading fantasy and the concept of magic in all its forms fascinates me. What’s so nice about writing fantasy is that you can, quite literally, do anything in your book. After all, that’s what fantasy is all about!
DSP: This is true! So, do you have any kind of ritual for writing? Such as, you have to write with music on, or you can only write when you’re completely alone, etc?
Tim: For me, writing is absolutely a solitary pursuit. I cannot have any distraction, even music. It took me a year to write “The Healing Shard”, working in the evenings and at weekends, and sometimes I would sit at the keyboard for hours and would write just a few hundred words, or even nothing at all! Other times, I would write pages and pages. I think writing, for me at any rate, demands that you be in the right frame of mind. I can be very easily distracted!
DSP: Who is your favorite character in your book, and why? How about the character you had the most trouble with?
Tim: I think my favourite character is, surprisingly perhaps, not the “hero.” Rather, I have a great fondness for Gus, Leo’s (the hero) teacher. Gus is heavily based on one of my own teachers (from some 40+ years ago!). The “real” Gus was a gentle, clever man who had a passion and great enthusiasm for his subject but he was a very shy man too and he didn’t really have the means to properly deal with a class of unruly teenagers! In my book, Gus has hidden depths and, without giving anything away, is a very important character.
As to the most troublesome character, well I suppose I would have to say that it was Nargol, the centre of evil in the book. At times it was hard to balance just how evil he should be in what is essentially a children’s novel. I don’t think children should be patronised, but they do need some protection from the worst excesses of evil.
DSP: That's incredibly insightful. Now, when you sit down to write a book, a paragraph, or whatever you‘re working on at the moment, do you just sit down in front of the computer, or do you need an outline of some sort? Is there any other prep you need in order to organize your thoughts either before you write or in the process of writing?
Tim: A bit of both really! I have to have the basic outline of a book and a chapter, but beyond that things just flow. In writing “The Healing Shard”, there were many elements of the story which didn’t figure in my original idea. It’s partly why the novel turned out to be longer than I had intended (it’s around 130,000 words). The agent that I had before I chose the self-publishing route told me that it was too long for a first novel! I find though that characters come alive and start to do things for themselves. I believe that if you write well this is almost bound to happen. If you, as the author, can’t see your characters as real, how can you expect anyone else to?
DSP: Hm, I wouldn't have thought it like that, too long for a first novel. Personally, I find it harder to read a new author whose book is too short, but the shorter ones seem to sell well. Perhaps we're unique in enjoying a book that really tells a story! Speaking of, do you foresee any more books to continue this story? If so, do you think we can get a taste of what’s to come?
Tim: From the start I always intended that there would be a sequel to “The Healing Shard”. The book is self-contained and there aren’t any loose threads left dangling (well not many anyway!). But equally, the story doesn’t really end. If you read the book, the Epilogue will make clear what I mean. I don’t want to give anything away, but the last three words of the whole book are the clue as to the direction the sequel will take.
DSP: Ooh, such a tease! Well, in that case, other than this most recent story, do you have any ideas for different books that might be published in the future? Care to give us a teaser?
Tim: I have to be honest and say that, beyond the ‘Shard’s sequel, I have no firm ideas of what I will write. I do love fantasy, but I would also quite like to write a gritty, “real” thriller. My problem is that I don’t have enough worldly experience to write something that spans the globe in the way that the James Bond novels do.
DSP: Who is your greatest inspiration to write? What person makes you believe in yourself, and how?
Tim: That’s a tough one! I admire many authors. If I had to pick one, it would have to be J.R.R.Tolkien. The world he created is just astonishing in its breadth and authenticity. The “history” of Middle-Earth and the peoples who lived there is just so detailed and real that it beggars belief that it all came from the mind of one man!
In the modern era, I would have to say that it’s J.K. Rowling, not because of her phenomenal success, but because, again, the world she created is so believable. I would love to meet Joanne and ask her if she had planned all seven “Harry Potter” books in detail before she started to write the first – if she did, it’s a truly extraordinary achievement.
DSP: I'd have to agree with you there! Do you have any aspirations to be similar or comparable to another author? Why?
Tim: In contrast to the last question this one is extremely simple to answer – no, I do not! I want to be me and I want my writing style to be my own. Though I admire many authors, I have no wish to imitate any of them.
DSP: That's very admirable, and a good theory to live by! Okay, one last question, and this one is different for every author, not to mention completely off the wall! If you had the chance to meet any one person, deal or alive, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Tim: Now that really is a tough one! There are so many! If I really have to choose just one, then it would be one of the great scientists and I would probably have to say Albert Einstein. He understood the universe more deeply than almost anyone before or since and yet he was a flop at school! I think conversations with him would be something to remember for the rest of your life! I might even learn something, if I could understand what he was saying!
And there you have it folks! Another great interview with a phenomenal (not to mention accomplished) author. All of Tim's books are available through Amazon.com HERE, and for one lucky reader, Tim is graciously giving way an ecopy of The Healing Shard! Interested in winning it? Stay tuned to find out how...