Meet Tim Lees

Oct 6, 2014 by

Tim Lees

Today on the blog, I’d like to introduce you to Tim Lees. He is a fellow author published by Harper Voyager Impulse and Tartarus Press. I decided to interview him and review one of his novel of my own accord and my opinion here is unbiased and honest.

To share a bit about Tim, I can tell you that he was born in England but now lives in Chicago with his wife and two dogs he loves, even if they are horrible from time to time. When not writing he’s tried his hand at being a teacher, a conference organizer a film extra and more. His short fiction has appeared in Postscripts, Black Static and Interzone. He was nominated for a British Fantasy Award for his collection The Life to Come.

His novel THE GOD HUNTER was released this summer and after reading it, I can tell you that his writing is direct and his characters true to life. You can read my short review of his novel on Amazon or Goodreads.

Now, let’s learn a bit more about Tim and his novel:

How does a day in Tim’s writing life look?
Shambolic. I would like to say I keep office hours and write almost non-stop, relying on skill, technique and hard work rather than inspiration. And there are days I do do that. Other days I mess around and put in a lot of time at the computer or scribble in notebooks, but nothing much seems to get done. Only a percentage of it is ever any good. Mostly I feel like I’m stalking the good stuff, trying to sneak up on it. Often I will only know days or even weeks later whether it was any good. So I keep working anyway, and hope for the best.

I do certain things better in the morning – usually revision, editing. By afternoon I try to con myself by going out to a café or some other venue and working there for an hour. This might mean running through a print-out or writing a first draft. The change of venue is often helpful at recreating that fresh, just-woken-up mentality. There are other tricks, and even miseries such as jetlag or insomnia can be co-opted into the fight; non-normal mental states may help you see a different aspect of the story, or solve a problem in a new way. Alcohol works up to a point, but pretty soon you discover that you’re not drinking to help you write, you’re writing to provide an excuse for drinking. So that’s not really recommended.

I really like your idea of using non-normal states of mind to help see a different angle to the story. Very interesting! So tell me, where did the idea for THE GOD HUNTER come from?
I often have an idea in my head for a long time before I get to use it. The seeds of The God Hunter were planted in my first published story, way back. Then I noticed a book called Ghost Hunters on my wife’s bookshelf, and somehow the story just appeared in my head. I combined it with the first idea and, eventually, it became a novel.

Sometimes ideas never get used. Even in short stories, usually two or three different elements have to come together before I feel the piece will work. Sometimes I’ll write half a story and leave it, perhaps for years, then rediscover it and find the second part is ready to be written.

Amazing how the mind works. Do you ever base your characters on people you’ve met? (I loved your characters. They felt so very real!)
I base them on characteristics of people I’ve met, which is not quite the same thing. When I was younger I wrote a number of romans á clef, all unpublished, and discovered that a character only really came to life when I departed from the template and added a bit of imagination to the mix. The same is true of scenes; the stuff I just made up seemed far more real than things that actually happened and which I wrote down pretty much verbatim. I suppose that’s why they call it “fiction”, isn’t it?

The dialogue in THE GOD HUNTER was excellent. Any advice for authors on writing good dialogue?
I think it’s a combination of two seemingly opposed things. As I mentioned above, I used to write a lot about events I’d actually experienced, trying to get the dialogue as close as I could remember to the real thing. So there’s that aspect: how do people actually talk? And that kind of dialogue may well be suitable for certain books. The God Hunter is an adventure story, though, it’s meant to be entertaining, and genuinely realistic dialogue is seldom that. People are never as concise (or as funny) as they think they are. So I filtered that through the kind of verbal sparring you get in, say, Raymond Chandler’s books. Lots of one liners, and the hero actually gets to say those witty ripostes that most of us only come up with afterwards.

The other thing I would suggest is—remember where your characters are coming from, as people. They’re not there simply to put across whatever information you want them to convey. They’re probably thinking about something else entirely. Sometimes it can be good to ask yourself what’s going on for them, aside from the action of the book.

Rapid Fire Questions

You’ve had some interesting jobs, what was the worst ever?
I worked in academia, rising to the lowly position of Research Assistant. I co-authored papers, edited books, ran conferences, met various esteemed personages, etc, and the whole thing sounds wonderful—the work, indeed, could be fascinating—but it was a nightmare; an organisation that ran almost entirely on bullying and nepotism. Nor was I the worst treated. It was a great relief to escape into the world of mental healthcare in which, despite some genuine dangers, there was real teamwork, objective goals, and (regardless of the shortcomings of the system itself) a chance to actually provide some benefit to people.

What is your favorite book?
Just one? I don’t think I can answer that! But I always loved Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin; I love the way he takes a horrendous period in history (the rise of the Nazis) and focuses on a few individuals caught up in the mess – small, often comic stories that somehow never trivialize the greater horrors going on around. In fantasy, I think Brian Aldiss did a similar thing with The Malacia Tapestry, a book I also much admire. But a favourite? Depends what mood I’m in.

Favorite book YOU have written?
Whichever makes the most money… (says the dedicated artist)

Thing you miss most from Manchester?
The past. Although I missed that when I lived there, too.

Thanks so much for visiting, Tim!

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Top 5 reasons to read the book before seeing the movie

Sep 29, 2014 by

Teenager and cinema

1. Get more for your buck

When it comes down to the amount of entertainment you get for your money, there is no doubt that a book offers you many more hours of enjoyment than a movie can. So, if your strapped for money, snatch an ebook or go to the library and pick up the story in its printed format. The cost for your fun will come down from $5 or more an hour to $1 or less. Not to mention the fact that you get to keep the book to enjoy it over and over again, if you wish.

2. See the original work

In the end, a movie based on a book is just that. It isn’t the original work by the original creator. It is simply one interpretation of it. During development, the script writers, the producers, the directors, will inevitably change the story. While at it, they may very well dilute meanings, twist plots, misinterpret facts, butchers characters, add content *gasp*, etc. and . . . you will be none the wiser.

3. Fight dementia

Did you know that reading can help your mind stay younger? There was actually a study that showed less physical signs of dementia (lesions, brain plaques, tangles) in autopsied brains of those who were more mentally active. So yeah, help your dear old brain, it’s only who you are ;)

4. Be an insider

If you have read the book, your friends will be dying to hear your thoughts on the movie after you guys watch it together. You will be their source of information when they invariably ask things like “Was the movie any different from the book?” or “Was Peeta really that short?” :)

5. Imagine the characters as you want

This one is huge, especially for romance novels. When I imagine the hero of a story, he will always manage to “float my boat.” I mean, I’m imagining him, right? So he will be just what the doctor prescribed. Nothing less. In the movie, however, you get what you get. No room for imagining. So, if the casting director picks someone you consider butt-ugly . . . well . . . your boat won’t be floating anywhere.

So yeah, read before you watch!

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Is This YA Book For Me?

Sep 25, 2014 by

Don’t you hate it when the book you decided to read turns out to have a lot of elements you dislike? We all have pet peeves, things that make us dislike a book for one reason or another. I know I do. For instance, I get bored out of mind with books that spend a lot of time describing the setting. Things like furniture, clothes, weather, etc. Yawn! To me, in this department, a little goes a long way.

So I thought, why not do book reviews with this is mind? Why not try to help readers decide if a book is for them or not? Yep, why not? So here it is. I will vlog my reviews, using he haghtag #YA4ME wherever I can. As in: Is this YA book for me?

Let me know if you find this helpful. And what pet peeves you have that can make you dislike a book, so I can consider them when I do other book reviews. All right, here’s my first one!

The Raven Boys
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Meet Katherine Harbour

Sep 21, 2014 by

Katherine Harbour

Today on the blog, I’d like to introduce you to Katherine Harbour. She is a fellow author published by Harper Voyager Impulse. I decided to interview her and review her debut novel of my own accord and my opinion here is unbiased and honest.

To share a bit about Katherine, I can tell you that she was born in Albany, NY but now lives in beautiful Sarasota, FL. Jealous? I know I am :) She works in a bookstore and, once, her creative brain led her to want to be a painter, but in the end she wised up, dusted an old manuscript she’d written when she was seventeen, revised it and got a book deal with a major publisher. She was always meant to be a writer, I’d dare say! That old manuscript is, by the way, her debut novel THORN JACK.

After reading her work, I can also tell you that she can paint a picture in your mind like no one’s business. Her writing is evocative and full of imagery. You can read my short review on his novel on Amazon or Goodreads.

Now, let’s learn a bit more about Katherine and her novel:

How does a day in Katherine’s writing life look?
On my days off from work, I wake up at nine–okay, ten (I’m a night owl) in the morning, check my emails, and mess around on my social media sites. Then I shut off the computer, around twelve, and work on extras for my books (blog posts, interview questions, short stories), revisions, and outlines. About three o’clock, I take a break (during which I do life stuff, or go out into the world to socialize with actual human beings). I return to my desk around six and write creatively until one in the morning. This is what I call a good writing day, and it’s rare.

Sounds like heaver, Katherine! Who is your favorite character in THORN JACK and why? (I really liked Caliban. Yeah, I like villains :) )
My favorite character is Finn Sullivan, my protagonist, because, after awhile, she developed her own personality without much effort on my part and surprised me a few times. She started out as someone almost sleepwalking through life, then gradually developed into a fierce hero. It’s great when characters take on a life of their own.

Those sneaky characters :) So, I know you’ve been working on THORN JACK’s sequel, how hard is it to work on a series? Any advice?
I had planned the Thorn Jack series out earlier, with detailed outlines. I followed the traditional story arc with all three books. I guess my advice for writing a series would be keep one outline ahead of each book, just so you know where you’re going. Trilogies are traditionally one story told over three books, while an ongoing series is episodic with a recurring main character.

I’m a pantser and have such trouble with outlines, but I need to get better at them. Tell us, What plans do you have once the THORN JACK series is done? Any more fresh ideas?
After the Thorn Jack trilogy, I’ve outline a YA/New Adult steampunk trilogy about an impoverished young aristocrat, a soldier with no memory, and a mysterious young woman who solve occult mysteries in a massive island city. And then there’s the haunted house book I’d like to write, about a family of perfume makers and a sinister toymaker.

Ooooh, both sound super intriguing! Now for some fun, random questions…

Rapid Fire Questions

Winter in NY or Summer in Florida?
I remember winter, with vivid detail. But at least you could occasionally crack a window. Summer in Florida…you’re hermetically sealed into your home for at least four months. And you get air conditioner colds.

Salvador Dali or Van Gogh?
Salvador Dali, because I’ve seen his paintings at the museum nearby and I just saw a crazy movie where Robert Pattinson plays him.

Favorite YA book?
My favorite young adult book would have to be a triple-tie between Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover, Holly Black’s Tithe, and Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones. (With Francesca Lia Block’s Witch Baby and Tiffany Trent’s In the Serpent’s Coils as runner-ups) Is that cheating?

Favorite book to movie adaptation?
My favorite book to movie would have to be another tie, between the Harry Potter movies and The Lord of the Rings.

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