Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit the clubhouse is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today I’m welcoming Tim to the tearoom. Let’s order our drinks, what would you like?
Hi, as it’s a bit nippy outside, I’d love a chilli chai if you have one?
Now we have our drinks I would like to start by asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I’ve always been interested in the darker side of things so it’s natural, I guess. I’m a huge fan of horror in all its forms and have been since I was a nipper. My primary school teacher sent a letter home once saying that he was concerned about me and my ‘morbid’ nature. I’d just written a story about a Friday the 13th style killer at a Butlins holiday camp and illustrated it with stick-men getting butchered. It didn’t help that I was reading Ramsay Campbell at the same time… I was about ten, I think.
Plus, as a flag waving goth DJ, it wouldn’t be good for my image to be writing romantic comedies.
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I think action and dialogue are my strongest points. I struggle most when it comes to the emotional stuff. I’m not good at writing believable romantic stuff, it usually ends up like something out of the agony pages. Luckily, as most of what I write doesn’t need it, I tend to dodge the romance bullet more often than not.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
I have a bunch of things on the go at the minute. Several of which, I’m sworn to secrecy so you would probably have to switch beverages and ply me with gin to get them out of me. I recently started a kind of pseudo-sequel to my novella, Burning Reflection. It’s coming along nicely but I’ve had to leave it for now and get a novelette written for a looming deadline. This month is going to be a nightmare. Deadlines are like buses for me, you get nothing for ages then six of the buggers turn up at once. I’m going to have to plug myself into an intravenous coffee drip at this rate.
I’m also in the editing phase of an episodic novel which I’m very excited about. I’ve been working on it for some time now and it’s going to be the start of a trilogy. Once that is finished the hard work of finding a publisher will begin.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter? If you only write short stories, or play or poetry do you plan your story, or let the characters lead you?
I’m a complete pantser. I tend to get ideas pop into my head and just go with it in an almost stream of consciousness kind of way. I rarely plan anything. I’m leading a group project at the moment so I’ve had to be a plotter on that one. I’m pleased that I can actually do it but it doesn’t come naturally. Half the time, I have no idea where the story is going to end. I guess that’s why I struggle with keeping to word counts. Drabbles are my kryptonite!
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
Immensely. There are a couple that I wrote during stressful events and its obvious to me that I was in a foul mood. I tend to satire things that are getting my goat as a kind of catharsis. I always tend to write what is in my head at that particular moment so it stands to reason that it’s not always going to be fluffy kittens and rainbows. My moods influence my writing a lot, I’m Bi-Polar so they have a big impact on my output and productivity. I channel the manic phases into work, I’ve found it a really helpful way of keeping them under control. The downswings, however… I’m absolutely useless.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Absolutely. Some are affectionate, some are thinly-veiled revenge. I have dealt with a number of people on my shitlist by having them eaten by giant lobsters and murderous plants.
What did you learn when writing your book? In writing it, how much research did you do?
I learn all kinds of random stuff through writing. For Burning Reflection I had to research numerology quite heavily which was really interesting. Also, Victorian plumbing, breeds of horse and about a billion synonyms for fire, flame, etc.
One of my favourite bits of research came from a short story I set in the Scottish Highlands, I had to learn how to swear in Gaelic. That was fun.
Did you uncover things about yourself while writing your books or stories, whether that be a long forgotten memory, a positive experience etc.
Yeah, I tend to dig deep sometimes. For example, the novella I’m writing as a follow up to Burning Reflection came from an idea I had about using all the serious injuries I’ve had in my life as a story. So, every serious accident that happens to the MC is something that has happened to me. I’ve just finished the part where I had the top of my pinkie finger chopped off by a falling mantelpiece, I’m hoping to make the reader wince… The bit where my feet get deep-fried is going to be interesting to fit into a Victorian setting. I’m thinking an overturned skillet.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
No, I tend to just go with the flow. Depending on my moods, some days I can rattle off upwards of 6k, some days I struggle to do 2. I try not to beat myself up about the bad days as even if I can’t make much progress I’m usually doing promo or something so it’s still kind of productive.
How many hours in a day do you write?
I tend to treat it as a nine to five, though I often get a couple of hours in before bed. I need structure or I’ll just arse around posting pictures of octopus on Facebook all day. If I treat it as a day job, I can trick myself into behaving.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I like to try and use names that fit the story. I’m writing something that has a lot of connections to the garden so I have chosen names that are floral in nature. I do it quite a lot. I like to use names as a plot device where possible. It comes from the old occult teachings that names have power, why not play around with it? Even if nobody spots it, it makes me smile. A lot of my characters evolve organically. I tend to start with one or two then just add new characters where needed. I don’t like to have superfluous characters. I think they all need to drive the story in some way, even if they are just cannon, or giant lobster, fodder.
Thank you so much, Tim. Please have a good look around and when you’re ready to leave please let Brutus know.
If you want to find out more about Tim’s writing click on the links below.
Author of Burning Reflection: https://getbook.at/burningreflection
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.