Please welcome Tim Hemlin today! This is the first conversation I have had with him, however, his wife Valerie and I have been getting to know each other quite well over the last few weeks. I am excited to have him on my blog today!
What genre do you write and what drives it for you?
I write a variety of genres, including mystery, young adult urban fantasy, and dystopian science fiction. What drives any genre for me is characterization. The newness of any world and the excitement of any plot will only be as good as the characters they are built around.
I agree whole-heartedly. Characters drive a story (sometimes my characters not only drive the story, but they drive me as well, haha)
How has self-publishing changed the way you read?
I read a lot more indie books now than I used to, and in doing so have discovered many wonderful writers. Time for a confession—I am a product of one of the many university creative writing programs that exist, and for the longest time I carried with me the biases such programs tend to instill. Now I still read the New York Times Book Review but I no longer believe that every book they feature is gold. Not only that, I’ve discovered there are writers out there just as good or in some cases better than the ones in the NYT. I also read a wider variety of work now and don’t limit myself to one particular genre. If it’s a good book, I’ll read it. On the other hand, if I don’t like a book I’ll quietly put it away.
I used to read the NYT Best-seller list, but this year I committed to only reading indies, and you know what? I discovered the same thing. There are indies out there who are BETTER than the writers that get on that list.
Who or what has helped you become a better writer over time?
The who is my wife Valerie. She is my first reader, editor, and toughest critic. The woman shows no mercy, which is worth its weight in gold to any writer. She does it, though, because she believes in my writing, and that has carried me through some hard times. The what is simply writing itself. For years I made myself sit down and write something every day. It’s like a runner preparing for a marathon. You don’t just wake up one morning and run 26.2 miles. You put in those training miles first, and the more you put in the better (most likely) your race results. Recently a friend and I talked about how bad our first efforts at novel writing were. Well, it’s those horrible efforts that never saw the light of day that lead to the books that are now out on the market.
Valerie is a GEM! You are lucky to have her! I know exactly what you mean about the ones that never see the light of day. I probably have 10 of those, but they were good practice!
You have put your blood, sweat, and tears into your work. What made it worth the effort?
Blood, sweat and tears—isn’t that the truth. The late great writer Elmore Leonard said sometimes the writing’s smooth and sometimes it’s like laying bricks. Well, on those brick laying days I often wonder why in the world I’m doing this. I could be down at the pool or out on a trail run, but no, here I am letting my characters befuddle me and the plot line tie my shoelaces together and trip me up. And then the Muse pops in, smacks me upside the head with inspiration, and I’m off to the races. That’s what makes writing worth it—those stretches when everything fits together and flows like a cold beer on a hot Texas afternoon.
Now I want a cold beer and to be back in Texas. Ah Abilene, how I miss you.
When did you start writing for publication? What made you decide to put your work out there to be read by others?
I knew I wanted to be published as soon as I took up writing seriously. Even when I wrote crap back in high school I wanted to publish it. (Thank God for rejections slips; I sit here cringing as I recall some of the pieces I actually sent off to magazines.) So when publishing came my way I was more than ready for it.
That makes one of us! I knew I wanted to publish, lost that dream during college, and found it again much later. I didn’t bother with any publishing companies and I got enough rejection letters from literary agencies that I just decided to go indie. Now it would take a really GREAT contract from me to go traditional. I don’t think I WANT to share my royalties, haha.
Tell us about your favorite memory related to reading or writing?
I was in my early thirties and still writing like a madman but not getting anywhere when Valerie read an old manuscript I’d started. She was immediately enthused by it while pointing out where it had gone astray. Long story short, I sent it to an editor at Ballantine that I’d met at a writer’s conference in Beaumont, Texas. He liked it but wanted a prequel. It’d taken me five years to write the first book but I agreed, of course. I wrote the prequel in nine months, and the first two books of my culinary mystery series—If Wishes Were Horses and A Whisper of Rage—were published. Moral of the story—get out there and network. You never know where you’re going to meet an editor. It might even be in Beaumont, Texas. On a side note, I recently reacquired the rights to the five books in that series and will start reissuing them later this year through a publisher in New Orleans.
That’s pretty exciting! Networking does work! I never put much stock into it until I became an indie and discovered the right places for me and the right people for me to connect with.
I found you through your social media presence. What do you like to see from your fans, followers, readers, and supporters on your social media sites?
Social media and I are relatively new friends. Valerie is much more adept at it than I am, though she assures me it’s like working a room, and I have been known to do that fairly well. I enjoy meeting people and talking to them. I like it when people ask me questions, give me feedback, or just talk about something interesting. And it’s fun learning about people, getting a snapshot into someone’s life. After all, if I wasn’t interested in people I wouldn’t be a writer.
That is the truth! People drive our characters, don’t they? I have been known to warn people that I do not have any inhibitions about writing them into one of my WIPs.
As an author, what is that one memory that will always stick with you?
In the mid 1990s my second novel, A Whisper of Rage, was nominated for a Shamus Award. The Private Eye Writers of America gives the Shamus. I recall my editor phoning me, and I particularly recall the surprise in his voice. The ceremony was during Bouchercon. If you’re a mystery writer and/or reader put that conference on your radar. It’s well worth it. That year it was in Philadelphia. Valerie and I flew up for it, my parents drove down from New Hampshire, and my bother came over from D.C. I didn’t win but it was quite an honor to be nominated, and I had a marvelous time.
That is a high honor! I’ve never entered into any sort of competitions for awards or the like. Maybe someday….
What kinds of activities do you do to keep yourself fresh and happy with your writing?
I’m a runner and it’s often while running that my stories sort themselves out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stuck or come to a fork in the road then gone for a run and come back hot, sweaty and excited because I’ve had a breakthrough. I also read a lot. It’s quite satisfying to be immersed in another writer’s story and be absolutely green with envy because the piece is brilliant. It gets my creative and competitive juices flowing.
My buddy writer, Samantha Christy works on her treadmill. Apparently that running is a really good way to get the creative juices flowing! I go find a quiet place (hard with young kids) and meditate on my stories.
When you consider your future, what would you like to make happen for you?
If you’re a true writer then the future means more writing, more books, more hopes, dreams and (hopefully) few disappointments. I’ll stop writing when my heart stops beating. Ideally, I’d like to be able to retire from my job as a high school counselor in the next five years and supplement my income with my writing.
Goals are good to have! I hope you meet yours and exceed them!
Tell us a bit about your current work(s)-in-progress.
I have two works-in-progress. First, the Muse has kindly allowed me to tap into that creative magic and pen a young adult urban fantasy titled Son of a Kitchen Witch. This is a coming of age story with a good v. evil backdrop and a twist of paranormal. I’ve finished the edits and revision and intend to start shopping it around shortly. I loved writing this book and I think it shows. On a different note, I’ve begun the sequel to The Wastelanders, my dystopian cli-fi. Briefly, America is controlled by a corporate oligarchy known as the Water Cartel and warrior-priest Joey Hawke finds himself trapped between a mysterious geneticist amassing a clone army and a group of political fanatics convinced that a dead president will rise from his tomb to lead them to salvation. The Wastelanders series is by far my most complicated work with a slew of characters and subplots, and on many levels it is also my most satisfying.
I look forward to seeing both of those on my TBR!
And what about your previous works? How we can get our hands on them?
As I said, I wrote a series of culinary mysteries set in Houston. These are the Neil Marshall mysteries, which I will soon be reissuing. Old copies of the books can be found on Amazon and through Barnes and Noble, as can my latest work The Wastelanders and a related story titled Black Silence.
Where can find you to tell you how amazing we think you are?
Check out my blog at timhemlin.com
I’m also on Facebook https//m.facebook.com/TimHemlinAuthor
And flit in and out of Twitter quite frequently @timhemlin
My Amazon Author Page link is http://www.amazon.com/Tim-Hemlin/e/B001HPYQ66
And I am on Google+
Thank you Tim for joining me today! And thank you Valerie for connecting us!!
And most importantly, thank you Reader, for spending some of your day here.