Sunday, February 15, 2015

Author interview - Tim Major

Do you use Scrivener or Word?
For novels, it’s Scrivener all the way. Using it for the first time was a revelation for me. I love being able to see the skeleton of the novel outline in the left-hand pane the whole time and the ability to dot around between scenes without feeling that I'm creating an impenetrable mess of a document.

Do you have any pets? Do they influence your writing?
Three chickens, until one was killed by a fox last week. So, two chickens. They make an appearance in the early scenes of ‘Carus & Mitch’, so I suppose that’s an influence of sorts. Witnessing the murderous fox at work will no doubt become the seed of a future story.

Would you rather see your stories on the big screen or the little screen?
That’s a good question. I'm a big film nerd, so even though the received information is that all the talent’s moving to TV, my answer’s still the big screen. I don’t have a wishlist cast for ‘Carus & Mitch’, because child actors are tricky. The novel I'm currently editing is a different matter, though. It’s a time-travel psychological thriller set in Cumbria. In my imagination, the characters are played by very specific UK actors, in a film directed by either Peter Strickland or Ben Wheatley – two of the most exciting directors working in the UK at the moment.

Are you hooked on any of the shows on the sci-fi channel? If so, which one(s)?
Was the Battlestar Galactica remake on that channel? Because that was brilliant. I once had an eye problem that meant I had to avoid bright light for a month. BSG was so dimly-lit that it was just about the only thing I could bear to watch.

Do you own copies of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings DVDs? The extended version? Do you ever watch them?
No. I watched the standard versions in the cinema. Just the thought of them being made any longer makes me feel fidgety. I’m not much of a fan of CGI action scenes – ‘slow cinema’ in short bursts is more my thing. My ideal director’s cut of the LOTR trilogy would be 90 minutes long, in which Frodo never leaves the Shire and instead dwells on what might have been.

Have you seen the first two parts of the The Hobbit? Are you planning to see the final instalment?
Slightly undermining my previous answer, yes, I have. And no, I don’t plan to.

Are you--or have you ever been--a gamer?
Absolutely. Nowadays it’s just quick sessions on my Android tablet while my one-year-old son naps, but I was an avid PS3 gamer. If I ever switch on the console these days, it’s purely in order to retread Fallout 3, which is my favourite game and endlessly replayable.

What kind of foods do you eat? Are you a health-food-nut or is it strictly junk?
Most days, food’s just a source of energy, or a source of handy projectiles for my son to throw.

Have you ever been to Starbucks?
I have, but in Oxford there are an incredible number of independent coffee shops. Each weekend involves visiting at least two of them.

Do you wear socks?
In the UK there’s a period of approximately ten days in the middle of summer when going without socks might be an option.

What are you wearing right now?
Tweed trousers, brown boots, checked shirt, navy jumper. I work in publishing and pretty much always dress like I'm heading off to an interview. It saves thinking about it each morning.

Do you do your own laundry?
Are you trying to embarrass me? I can do my own laundry. In practice, my wife usually does it. But I swear I do the washing up and the bins.

Does life fascinate you?
Of course. But being a new father means living life a little less, in terms of being stuck in the house more often. So, increasingly, my imagination is where I live out imagined conversations, far-flung travels, death-defying stunts. It’s simpler and a great deal cheaper.

Do you do yoga? Meditation? Or deep breathing? Does it help you cope?
Never. My way of coping with difficult times is to sigh and carry on. It’s worked so far.

On a scale of 1-10, how eccentric are you?
I'm off the scale at the low end. You wouldn't believe how sensible I am. Growing up, that was very uncool. Turns out that in adulthood, being sensible means actually getting things done, as opposed to floundering around. I'm fine with that.

Do you consider yourself a slave to the muse?
See my previous answer about being overly sensible! I love the idea of being the kind of impulsive writer who experiences lightning moments of inspiration. For me, it’s a methodical process. I make notes of ideas, I sit down to write, I jam several of those ideas together and squeeze a story out of the resulting mishmash. The most important part of that process is the ‘sit down to write’ bit. I force myself to write until the inspiring idea shows itself. It only becomes a pleasurable experience after that point.
For example, ‘Carus & Mitch’ began life as the start of a very different novel. I wrote several drafts of the whole novel before realising that my interest lay squarely in those early chapters. I reworked the story into a ‘quiet horror’ mystery, concentrating on the psychological effects on the two girls, then I rewrote and rewrote. That’s a lot of work for such a short book. Hopefully it all turned out OK.

Tim Major’s dystopian novella, ‘Carus & Mitch’, is published on 23rd February 2015 by Omnium Gatherum. Find out more on GoodReads.

About Tim Major:

Tim Major lives in Oxford in the UK with his wife and son. His love of speculative fiction is the product of a childhood diet of classic Doctor Who episodes and an early encounter with Triffids. Tim’s short stories have featured in Interzone and the Infinite Science Fiction anthology, among others.

Contact Tim via Twitter @onasteamer, his Goodreads author profile or his blog, Cosy Catastrophes.

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