Tim Gallen is one of those people I feel like I’ve known a very long time, but I think we’ve really only known each other for a couple of years . . . that’s what Internet friendships do for us – they collapse time. I’m so excited to have Tim here on the blog today, especially because I’ve read early pieces of his new novella . . . and I can’t wait to read the rest. Enjoy, Tim’s words and wisdom today.
1. Tell me about your latest project.
My latest project is called Niscene’s Creed. It is a fantasy novella that tells the story of a newly minted assassin who is sent to make her first kill. But she ends up falling in love instead. The book serves as an introduction to this cast of characters I’ve been getting to know for a few years now, as well as the world in which they live.
2. What role, if any, did books, writing, and reading play in your childhood?
Books always have been a part of my life. I can remember reading through a Dr. Seuss book all the way for the first time and being so proud that I did all myself. I constantly read all kinds of books as I progressed through school. As a kid I had a paper route and the two main things I would spend my monthly earnings on were books and comic books. I was more voracious a reader when I was younger than I am now, though I am trying to remedy that. I remember enjoying writing as early as second grade, but I never gave much thought to it as a career or a life path until high school.
3. What is your writing practice, your writing routine?
Well, I work full-time so it’s not as routine as I’d like. Traditionally, it’s been a matter of me putting off writing, then getting completely anxious and mopey about it until I finally write and wonder why I didn’t do it earlier. Then I vow to establish a more healthy routine. But as of late, I’ve been doing my best to sit down at 8pm and write for at least an hour.
4. Who are you reading now?
At this very moment, I am reading City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett, a book I picked up at the library based completely off the cover. I honestly haven’t even read the description on the back of the book.
5. What are three of your all-time favorite books? Why do you love those?
Three of my all-time favorite books are: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling. Lewis’ classic fairy tale may be only a few hundred pages long but it is truly an epic story (especially when you include the other six Narnia novels). But I love it because it has all the elements of a great fantasy: a unique, fantastic world; a great villain; great characters both primary and secondary. It’s high, epic fantasy but without the 800-page length. Plus, the title is absolutely brilliant and rolls right off your tongue.
As far as Gatsby, Fitzgerald is a master of American English. I love his prose, especially reading it aloud. It has a musicality and rhythm to it unlike any other.
And as for Half-Blood Prince, the entire HP saga is brilliant, but I love the sixth installment because Rowling delves us deeper into the villain and how Tom Riddle came to be Lord Voldemort. I think one of the main factors in what defines heroes is their villains. I’m generally a good person (at least I’d like to think so) but I admit I am drawn to the dark. I’m always fascinated by a villain’s motivations and backstory, and in Half-Blood Prince, Rowling gives much of that for Voldemort.
6. How do you balance “building a writing platform” and the actual writing to set on that platform?
Since I wandered into the Internet writing scene, or the blogosphere, about three years ago, I’ve consistently struggled with this. But over the past year or so, I’ve come to recognize that most of the writing that all the gurus and ninjas and experts and whatever else they call themselves these days are doing is not the writing I want to do. I’m a fiction writer. That’s a whole different ball of wax when it comes to platform-building I’ve found. But what I try to remember is that my stories are my platform. So the best thing I can do for my writing platform is to keep writing the best I can and telling stories. I may not be a worldwide phenomenon, and probably never will be. But if I can turn one book into two, then two into three and so on, I build momentum and have an oeuvre that I can market a whole lot more easily than simply one little book. Of course, at the end of the day, to paraphrase whoever it was who said it: all we are entitled to is our labor and not the fruits thereof.
7. What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day consists of me waking up between 6am and 7am to exercise with my wife and have breakfast, then take the dog for a morning walk. I then shower and head out to my day job working for a newspaper/media company here in Phoenix. I try to get home around 4:30 or 5, depending on what things I need to finish up at the end of the day. When I get home, I take the dog for a walk, which also helps clear my head, especially if it was a particularly busy or hair-brained kind of day. After the walk, I might have a snack and watch something on Netflix or read for up to an hour or so then wander into the office to see about writing something. Then when my wife gets home from work we ping-pong back and forth about dinner plans and what we want to eat. Then, we usually watch something or just listen to music as we unwind from the day. After spending some time with my wife, I wander back into the office to see about writing. I head to bed after 10pm, and try to read for a few minutes before falling asleep.
8. Describe your dream writing space?
Wow, huh. Ideal writing space? I’ve never been one of those writers who feel I must lock myself away in a cabin in the woods with a beautiful mahogany desk. Honestly, my ideal writing space is one where I can turn off my wifi and write. The Internet, while a glorious source of all kinds of crazy information, is a terrible distraction. So, to answer the question: As long as I have some kind of computer (I type way faster than I can write out long hand, and my handwriting is horrible anyway) music to drown out the world (if I’m not alone) and a good amount of uninterrupted time, I’m good.
9. What is the hardest writing critique you ever received? How did you respond?
This is kind of a difficult question. I’ve suffered a long time from a reluctance to share much of what I’ve written. Plus, I’m a recovering perfectionist, so for years I never would finish anything I started. But I do recall one time when someone said my characters were flat in a story I had written. I responded like I’m sure many writers would or do with an attempt at seeing the critic’s point but secretly calling them names inside my head and calling down any number of curses from the heavens.
Just write. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia or the navel-gazing or odd romanticism surrounding writing. Hey, I’ve fallen prey to all that stuff, too. But just shut up and write. Write terribly. Write brilliantly. Write often. Just write. Oh, and read. Read, read, read.
Tim Gallen is a writer and oddball who lives and works in Phoenix. But he has no tan to speak of. He mainly writes and reads fantasy but has a strange fascination with YA books. Perhaps because in his mind he still is 16 and trying to figure out life. Feel free to stalk him on the Internet at Twitter, Facebook and TimGallen.com.