Liz – Hi, Tim! Thank you for joining us for ‘The Horror Tree Presents…’ Why don’t you tell us about your part of the world?
Tim – I live out in the suburbs of Seattle, WA. We have near constant rain, but it’s okay. Writers need mood setting. I’m 40 minutes from the big city but only 15 minutes from a Costco. It’s an important trade off. Can’t be too far from cheap mutant sized rotisserie chicken. Who doesn’t like coming home from the store with enough food to last a month? It’s like a preppers dream come true.
My house is in what used to be a very small town. Over the last 15 years it has probably quadrupled in size. But I still like to say I live in the boonies. Now it’s the boonies with a super Walmart and an Office Depot.
Liz – Do you enjoy reading as well as writing? If so, who are your favorite authors?
Tim – Before I became a writer I devoured about a book a week, and sometimes more. I’ve always been a fan of door stopper sized epic fantasy. Some of my favorite authors are Steven Erikson, and George R R Martin. I also enjoy thrillers, and the occasional historical fiction tome. I used to read everything that Tom Clancy (RIP) put out. I’ve yet to find an author who had such a keen eye for technical detail as well as interesting characters on top of real world events and politics.
Liz – How long did you serve in the Navy for? Did you get to travel much? Have your experiences in the Navy influenced your writing?
Tim – The Navy was a fantastic learning experience. Every 18-year-old kid think they know it all, but when you join the military, you really see a new side of life. I was in for 4 years and got out in 1990. I spent most of that time in Japan on a ship that made a lot of port hops, but didn’t spend a lot of time at sea. I’ve been all over Asia, and even spent a month in Australia and Tasmania.
My time in the Navy as an engineer directly influenced my most successful series, the Z-Risen books. The main character is a wise-cracking, wrench swinging, engineer, who likes to bash heads first, and ask questions later. For the record, I never bashed in any heads.
Liz – That’s good to know! You’ve worked in some interesting roles: from working for a gaming corporation, to aeronautics, to an IT engineer. Do you utilize these experiences when working on a story?
Tim – I primarily write character driven stories, to that end, I think it would be hard to say my real life experiences haven’t influenced my writing. I have always tended to draw from stories I hear from other people. But I’ve never really based a character on someone I know. For the most part, though, I just make stuff up. If I don’t know about a job a character has I will talk to people or do research.
Liz – What prompted you to become a full-time author?
Tim – That’s a simple one. It’s the dream of every writer. Leaving a good paying job, and hoping I can keep my writing career on track, was a scary decision. I don’t know what most people think a full time writer does, but for me, it’s sort of like war. Long hours of boring stuff like sitting at a computer, followed by complete chaos, like releasing a new book. The week of a new book release can mean 14 hour days of non stop work. But I wouldn’t trade this for anything. It’s the greatest job in the world.
Liz – It’s definitely a dream for many of us. Your girlfriend is an author also, are there pro’s and con’s to living with another author?
Tim – It’s all pros. We completely understand our need to write. Instead of being solitary, though, we often work on projects side by side. We talk about the business all the time. We discuss what’s happening in the industry, and trade marketing and business ideas. Katie is the absolute best. We met at a zombie convention because we were both writers selling our work. Now we do a number of conventions together every year.
We talk about our ups and downs in the biz. She also has a publishing company and we help each other with our separate business. It really is amazing being with another author.
Liz – It sounds like you make a great team! Can you write anywhere, or do you need a specific set-up? If so, what is it?
Tim – Pretty much anywhere. I keep Scrivener on my phone which is my favourite writing program. I can be waiting at an appointment and knock out a few hundred words on my latest work in progress. I don’t need a special setup. All I need is a writing program.
Liz – I didn’t know you could have Scrivener on your phone? The things we learn! I see you’re also a coffee lover – a writer after my own heart. Do you find there is a fine line between ‘enough’ and ‘too much’ coffee when writing?
Tim – I’m sure there is. I wouldn’t know. Related question, why am I so jittery right now?
Liz – Good point…Do you have any quirky writing habits or methods?
Tim – I don’t think so. I can write in silence, but I prefer to have something on like the TV, music, or even a satellite radio station. I’ve written 16 books so writing it is a job I have done for years and it requires very little setup.
Liz – What inspired you to write your first book? Tell us about it.
Tim – I was intrigued with the whole zombie genre. Max Brooks had made a huge splash with his books, and then I found out that there was an entire culture of zombie inspired work out there. My first book was a kitchen sink zombie book. I threw everything into it. Fast zombies. Slow zombies. A serial killer. Loss, love, and everyday problems compounded by lots of blood and gore.
Liz – What have you released since then?
Tim – I’ve written 15 other books, and countless short stories. I write everything from zombies, to science fiction/superheroes, to dystopian fiction. I have also dabbled in some satire but that’s mainly for fun. I’ll never make a living from writing funny stuff. The money is in the more serious work.
Liz – That’s quite an impressive body of work. What are you currently working on?
Tim – My newest book was just released. It’s a book called Drums of War and it’s a dystopian technothriller. It’s based on the current political unrest in the states, and draws on a lot of what I have seen as far as fighting on social media, and the war on the news. One man gets caught up in the middle of what may turn out to be the second American civil war. I had an absolute blast working on this book, and the sequel comes out in June of 2017. It’s called March to War.
My next book is in nearly done. It’s the fifth novel in the Z-Risen series and it’s called Barriers. It should be released in mid-April 2017.
Liz – Has your writing style changed from your first book to your current one? How so?
Tim – I feel like I’m a hell of a better writer, that’s for sure. My first book was filled with passive writing and a lot of other newbie mistakes. Still, that book has always sold very well, and I’m pleased that I wrote it. I’d say that I have let a little more humor leak into my work since then.
I’ve also spent a lot of time getting better at the craft of writing. I have taken classes and read books on writing. But mainly, I have found that learning to read with a critical eye, has improved my writing. Having my work critiqued hasn’t ever been a big learning experience. But learning to critique other’s work has been.
Liz – Do you prefer to write stand-alone novels, or a series? Are there pro’s and con’s to both?
Tim – A little of both. But there is a lot more money in writing series. I tend to write short pulpy reads. Sometimes people just want a quick entertaining tale. That’s the kind of work I like to consistently deliver.
Liz – What is your ultimate goal as an author?
I don’t know that I have one. My goal had been to become a fulltime writer. I don’t know, I’d love for a big Hollywood producer to show up on my doorstep with a wheelbarrow full of money. I’d sell the crap out of a book if it could become a block buster.
Liz – If you had to select one of your books as your favourite, which would it be, and why?
Tim – I like all of my children and it’s hard to pick a favorite. I’d say that my current book is always my favorite. Then I write another book and it becomes my favorite. So I guess Drums of War: A Broken Patriot novel is my current favorite.
Liz – Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Tim, and we look forward to seeing more of your work!
You can find out more about Tim W. Long at:
Website: http://timothywlong.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TimothyWLong Twitter: https://twitter.com/TimWLong