Posted by Susan Jean Ricci on Tuesday, January 17, 2012
I happily discovered Tim’s formatting talents while reading his current blog. Having a novel in revision, I've been wondering how authors complete formatting on their own, since the task seems so daunting. When Tim consented to be hosted on my blog, it was like an answer to a literary prayer, because he'll soon reveal more insight into those formatting mysteries in Part 2 of his next blog. So without further ado, let's get to know more about Tim…
Tim C. Taylor worked in the software industry for twenty years with roles such as coder, project manager and software quality assurance group manager. He had been writing fiction for several years when in February 2011 he was made redundant. His co-workers gave him a Kindle as a leaving gift. That gave him ideas... A few weeks later, he set up Greyhart Press to publish eBooks for the Kindle and other devices.
SR: What specifically drew you into the writing craft, with all its various tentacles?
TT: Looking back, it’s obvious now that writing fiction satisfied the creative urge at a time when it wasn’t getting expressed. Before writing words, I used to write and record music. before then I used to write software (though that pleasure diminished when I coded professionally). Going back to my schooldays, I used to play role-playing games such as Traveller and Dungeons and Dragons; my favorite part of such games was creating the scenarios, and the world-building that explained where they came from. At the time that I started writing (2003), I would have answered that the reasons for taking up the hobby were craft beer and Doctor Who. I was (and remain) a fan of craft beers and had deepened my immersion in beer (not literally) by learning how to brew. I would devise my own recipes, mashing grains and calculating the quantity of diastatic enzymes and such like. I thought I’d do something similar to deepen my experience of fiction. I had always read science fiction and fantasy avidly. Most recently I had devoured a few score novels by semi-professional authors in the BBC’s Eighth Doctor range. This was before the Doctor Who reboot of recent years, when the BBC released a novel a month in ongoing new adventures for the Paul McGann doctor who had appeared once in a TV movie that hadn’t got the ratings it needed. I wasn’t thinking of writing to get published; I just wanted to write some Doctor Who scenes.
SR: Which aspect of your work tweaks your passion the most?
TT: In terms of writing, I like to build connections that feel real. As a reader I enjoy books — often, but not always, in series — where there are some big ideas, larger than the novel’s plot, that stitches the fictional universe together. I can’t think of a better example than Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee Sequence, where in seven novels and scores of short stories, he comes back to a future history of the galaxy. I get a thrill from devising similar fictional worlds, but surfacing the world-building like icebergs: the reader only gets to see an eighth of how the world works, but I know about the other seven-eighths and that (hopefully) gives depth and believability to my stories. Strange Horizons recently had something nice to say about the ‘richness and depth’ of my world-building. That’s something I aim for in all my writing.
SR: You have two books due out soon called, The Slough of Despond and The Narrow Path, the first two of The Reality War Series. I’ve seen the covers and the art is amazing.
TT: Thanks. As I write these words I’m taking a break from the final edits to the first one, The Slough of Despond, where I’m going through the report from the copy editor. That’s my debut novel and should be out in February. I’m hoping to get the second one, The Narrow Path, out during April It’s written but needs some tidying. There’s a cliffhanger at the end of book 1; the copy editor said it was a cruel ending because I hadn’t given him book2 to find out what happened next. So I’m keen to follow-up with book 2 quickly in case other people also decide the first one has a cruel ending, and come round my house demanding book 2. The names of the books come from chapters in The Pilgrim’s Progress, a 17th-century spiritual allegory by John Bunyan. Although it wasn’t the original plan at all, my books link at a number of levels to The Pilgrim’s Progress... except my version has time-travel, and lizard-people. The cover artwork is from Andy Bigwood, who’s twice won the BSFA Award for best artwork (that’s British Science Fiction Association). He’s done some great covers in the past for Greyhart Press.
SR: And when can we look forward to the third?
TT: You’ll wait a long time for that as The Reality War concludes with book 2. I have a linked novella sketched out that I would love to write. I also have other novels written or being written that sit in the same universe and share a character called Greyhart. Short stories too; the short story that Strange Horizons mentioned is actually a development of something that happens in The Narrow Path. Perhaps I’m subconsciously following Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee template.
SR: I see you are also the proprietor of a site called Greyhart Press. What made you decide to host a publishing site, which genre does the site favor, and what are your hopes regarding its future?
TT: When I was made redundant last year, I needed a break from the world of office politics, and that seemed as good a point as any. I knew I was going to be published in an anthology released that Easter, and I thought I would round out my online presence a little by publishing Kindle versions of some of my back catalog of stories, those published previously in various magazines (plus it sounded fun). For a few weeks, Greyhart Press was only intended to publish my stories. Then it occurred to me that other authors had a back catalog of short fiction and I knew some of those authors. What’s more, novelettes and novellas (story lengths in between short stories and full novels) are near-impossible to get published in the print world, so why not publish some great fiction that happened to be at the ‘wrong’ length?
I like to publish anything where the setting is something different from everyday ‘real’ life. I guess that comes back to the love of world-building I picked up when a kid. I normally simplify that to saying ‘science fiction, horror, and fantasy’, but really the genres are wider than that. For example, I’m in talks about a high-tech thriller novel, a hard-boiled P.I. with a paranormal twist, and a short book that is so unusual I’m going to call it New Weird. I’m looking for an even balance between novels, novellas, and short forms. In 2012, I’m concentrating on novels and novellas, and looking to slow the rate of release so I can spend more time promoting each book. Having a publishing business where you publish your own works as well as others is a tricky balance. The reason I’m publishing The Reality War now, and will be doing so through Greyhart Press, is because I know how much effort goes into writing a novel in the spare hours squeezed out of a regular life. I can’t justify asking an author to risk their novel with me if I haven’t done so with my own work. When I sign a contract for Greyhart Press books, it is to acquire the rights for five years. That matches my plan for the future: that in five years the author will feel that I have turned their book into a success, and success means a lot of satisfied readers. If, after five years, the author feels their book would be better off sold by someone else, then I’ve had my chance and they can take their rights back. I think that’s a realistic plan, but it’s a slow build. No one’s gotten rich out of Greyhart Press yet.
SR: What does the future hold for you, Tim, and where would you like to be 10 years from now?
TT: I’m afraid it comes down to the money. I would like my family to be financially supported through my writing, publishing, and book design services. That’s a tough one when readers expect even eBooks priced at 99 cents to be produced to a professional quality. If I can’t support my family, I will eventually have to get another job and cut down on the writing. Oh, and I’d like to live an easier life in 10 year’s time. Starting a business isn’t for the feint-hearted. Or those who need sleep. During the week, my working day doesn’t finish until 1am, but I’m getting such satisfaction and more time with my family that I don’t care.
I'd like to thank Tim for sharing his writing life with us. Indeed he is a talented and gifted author, one who not only lures us into the realm of other worlds via his novels, but offers us guidance through his blog regarding the many aspects of proper formatting. I urge you to visit his website for more information; I promise you won't be sorry!
You can contact Tim on the following sites:
Tim’s website: www.timctaylor.com
Greyhart Press: www.greyhartpress.com