Featured Authors Talk About It
ATAI: Tell us a little about you.
Timothy Bateson: I was born in England back in the mid-seventies, and moved to Alaska in 2005, after meeting my wife Sandi online. She’s been a huge inspiration over the time I’ve known her, and is the reason I pushed so hard to get my US citizenship earlier this year.
My wife and I are a writing team that seems to work together well. She’s developing two novel series, one of which I’m also contributing stories to, as well as helping me keep on track with my own projects.
Outside our personal projects, I’m also involved in several online communities, including Brain to Books, which has hosted an online book and author expo for the last three years. I also love handling birds of prey, and have been an amateur falconer since I was about 12. I’ve lost count of the number of raptors I’ve flown and handled, but I’ll never forget the experience of handling and flying eagles.
ATAI: How long have you been writing?
Timothy Bateson: I’ve been writing for about 15 years, but I had a hard time getting projects finished until I met my wife, Sandi. Once I read her first draft for a novel she was working on, and we started collaborating on story and character ideas. That was probably about 10 years ago, and I really became series about my own writing about four years ago, and beat Sandi into print after having a story accepted for an anthology.
ATAI: What was your most recent release?
Timothy Bateson: Last year I re-released the story that started my appearances in print, Under A Hunter’s Moon. Since its original release it became the first of a series of short stories that look at some backstories for the Shadows Over Seattle novels that Sandi and I are working on.
More recently, I’ve re-released my first science fiction story, Evaline Transcendent. However, this is an expanded version of the story that first went into the anthology it was featured in. I revisited this one, because I realized there was more to the story than the original word count limit had allowed for. So, I went back, added in plot threads I’d originally had to delete, and brought in some new material that I really rounded the story out.
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ATAI: What do you love most about writing?
Timothy Bateson: It’s the after-work mad word dashes at 3am to try and hit my personal word count targets, the pressure to fix all the plot lines, spelling errors, grammar problems, and formatting issues to get the projects finished.
But I think more than anything it’s the fact that I’m an indie writer, and if I don’t start believing I’m doing this for the money, I’m answerable to no-one but myself. There are no editors breathing down my neck to meet deadlines, no one telling me I can’t write the stories I really want to tell. It’s just me and whoever is kind enough to pick up my stories, and join me for on the journey – even if it’s for a short time.
ATAI: What do you find most challenging?
Timothy Bateson: I’d have to say it’s the marketing aspect of being a writer. Even with the big publishing companies, many writers are now being expected to take part in marketing their own books. It’s a trend that’s even more noticeable in the indie writing market, because many of us are our own publishers.
I’m very lucky to have a lot of very good friends who are also writers, and some of them are very marketing savvy. But I still have problems planning a release date far enough out to have time to build buzz for the book before it hits the shelves.
However, every book is a new experience, and I learn from the mistakes I make.
ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?
Timothy Bateson: I think this is one of those questions that doesn’t have an easy answer. For me, it’s a combination of factors.
I read a lot, and this is something I recommend to everyone, not just new writers. Not only does it broaden your experience, but it allows you to look at how other people build their stories. I can pick up a book, and learn at least the basics of a subject, usually at least enough to get an idea and not look like a complete idiot when I incorporate it into a story. I’ve probably got more web pages bookmarked for possible story use than I’ll ever actually use, but it’s comforting to know that I have the resources marked for things I’m not overly familiar with.
I also draw a lot on personal experiences, because I try to broaden my horizons as much as possible. It’s hard to connect to aspects of a story that you haven’t personally experienced, and I think that’s the same for both writers and readers alike. Google Maps can show you the layout of a city, give you street level views, and help you navigate, but there’s no substitute for personally walking the streets during rush hour and soaking in the sights, sounds and smells
ATAI: What is your writing process?
Timothy Bateson: A lot depends on the project. Under A Hunter’s Moon came about because the lead character in Of Wolves and Men (Richard Parsons, a shapeshifter) kept trying to interject his backstory into inappropriate spots. So, the idea of writing that part of his life as a short story was born.
Usually though, I’ll get a rough idea of an event that happens to someone, and then brainstorm around that. Sometimes that event will be the catalyst for the story, and other times it will end up being in there somewhere, with other events leading up to it. A lot depends on the idea, and the characters I need to tell the story. I’ll then write a draft overview of the story, and then an outline which might anything from a full scene-by-scene breakdown to a one-line idea about each scene.
When I’m creating characters, I like to explore their personalities in my head, and try to get a good feel for their physicality and emotional landscape, and personalities before setting pen to paper. I like to build up a profile which includes as much descriptive information as possible, and then I’ll even sometimes build a 3d model of the character, so I have an actual model for visual reference. These models are also a great way for me to visualize snapshots of action scenes.
ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?
Timothy Bateson: Very definitely. I’ve already mentioned before, how Richard Parsons kept trying to derail the plot for Of Wolves and Men by interjecting his background story. Well, he derailed the plot a little later, when he quit the one job that put him in a position to resolve a major aspect of the story. But, in the process of doing so, I learned something important about his personality and realized that this was the only decision he could make in the circumstances. I had to rewrite about sixty percent of my outline to accommodate this shift in his available resources, but I think it’s going to make “Of Wolves and Men” a much more interesting story a result.
ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?
Timothy Bateson: Evaline Transcendent is told from the perspective of a colony ship’s artificial intelligence. But, she’s been operating without human intervention for almost twenty years. I love those little moments when she shows hints of a personality that might be more than her programmers anticipated.
ATAI: What are you working on next?
Timothy Bateson: I’ve got two more short stories in the Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels series that I’m working on.
The Lupine’s Call is a follow-up story to Under A Hunter’s Moon, and immediately precedes the opening scene of Of Wolves and Men. It’s pretty much finished in terms of writing and editing, and just needs a good cover before I release it.
Wolves in the Desert is going to need a lot of work, because there are aspects that don’t seem to work for me even after three drafts.
I’m also still working on Of Wolves and Men, which will be the first novel in the Shadows Over Seattle series, as well as helping my wife write and edit the follow-up novel A Rose by any Other Name.
Hopefully I won’t be distracted from these stories by ideas for new ones.
ATAI: Where can people find you online?
ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.
Timothy Bateson: I’d like to thank Rob and Janelle for reaching out to authors, and offering the opportunity to do these interviews. It means a lot to me that you’re willing to get new faces out to your readers.
And to everyone reading, don’t be shy about reaching out to me on social media, or by email, because I love chatting about almost anything.
*NOTE: ATAI does not edit the responses of the authors.
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