Hello and welcome to A Cup of Conversation where I am joined by Tim Lewis, an author I have only recently befriended on Twitter yet, as I read about him and his life and his writing journey, I was inspired and motivated. He has certainly achieved a great deal and in this interview he is open and honest about losing his wife, his brave life choices and how he has learnt to grow from the negatives, plans to produce some online training courses to support new writers and is going to join the thousands of writers in November in the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a novel in one month and reveals how he will be spending Halloween (is it what you think?) Let’s read on…
1. Your story behind you taking your writing to the next level is a sad and painful one. How have you turned the experience of losing your wife, after a two year battle with her health, into a positive one?
Well you never turn a negative experience into a positive one, but you can draw important lessons from it – namely that life isn’t forever, that as long as you are still alive there is always options available to you and that we are very much more blessed than we often think to be fit, healthy and able to do the things we do.
2. Tell us how your first book, Timeshock: I want My Life Back, came about.
It wasn’t my intention when I quit my IT job to start writing. I was intending to do IT contract work, but in my notice period I read the book Write, Publish, Repeat by Sean Platt, Johnny Truant and David Wright about self-publishing and decided to write and self-publish a time travel book. Their technique in writing a book finally helped me to actually complete a book for the first time in my life.
3. How did it become part of a three-book series or is it something you always intended?
It was intended to be part of a series but they were supposed to be novel length rather than novella length. Having a first eBook free in series is a great way to market the book and I wanted to do that. Despite what one reviewer claimed that I’d taken a novel and sliced it in three, in reality I actually wrote each book independently. I take it as a compliment to the way the books are connected that people might think they were one book split up.
4. What is Magpies and Magic about and what do you want readers to take away with them after reading the series?
Magpies and Magic is basically my take on fantasy, based mainly upon my own comic spin on the RPG fantasy worlds that I used to play as a kid. It’s about three Magpies being accidentally transported from our universe to an alternative universe where they are considerably larger (the size of a horse) compared to the other creatures. It is also a fantasy universe where heroes and fantastic creatures exist. The story begins with one of the Magpies, Malcolm, who has been separated from the other two joining a group of hapless heroes who are given an important quest due to the fact that they are the only heroes available to hire in the kingdom. Their quest goes wrong in all sorts of ways but leads them into discovering much greater challenges facing the world which are explored more fully in the later chapters together with revelations of just how important the Magpies are in this alternative universe to defeat a great evil that has just arisen from laying dormant for thousands of years.
What do I expect people to take away from the books? I expect them to be entertained. It does cover issues of religion, sexuality and fantasy tropes in a comic way but it’s primarily designed to entertain.
5. You write sci-fi stories and have a number of published books. What has the experience of self-publishing taught you?
Self-Publishing is tremendously powerful for authors. It is a different experience from being traditionally published in as much as you are in total control of the whole business process. You have to be an entrepreneur to be a successful self-publisher. Like with anything there are services available to help you, but in general self-publishing is a great introduction to online business in general.
Despite popular stereotypes, the quality of self-published books I’ve seen have ranged from considerably better than traditionally published books (almost labours of love where the author has spent huge amounts of money to get the book to a quality that makes no sense for a publisher with shareholders), to equivalent level to sub-standard level. Initially the sub-standard books still sold which lowered the reputation of self-published books in general. Now quality levels generally have improved because that’s the commercial logic now.
6. Can you share an extract of one of your short novellas with us and tell us why you have selected this particular excerpt.
From Timeshock II: The Fourth Reich
Nigel and Kirsten talked for quite a while. Nigel officially didn’t exist, so he couldn’t go back to England. He had no idea if there was another Raymond or Natalie in England, but by now frankly he didn’t care. He had a new life and love now. He just wanted to be with Kirsten.
Kirsten was also infatuated with Nigel. He had rescued her several times and risked his life to save her. On a more practical level they got on with one another, unlike so many couples she had met.
The pair made a decision to return to a farmhouse outside Vienna that Kirsten had inherited from her grandfather. It took quite a while to get back to Vienna. Suddenly lots of borders that previously didn’t exist became active again. The direct route across the Czech Republic was not possible as Nigel had no passport or papers, and he was concerned that the Austrian state might be reformed before they could get back to Vienna.
Thankfully for Nigel he need not have worried. There was as yet no active government in Austria. Vienna itself was starting to refill with people who had fled in the last days of the war. Many of the statues of Nazis had been defaced or destroyed.
Nigel and Kirsten drove through Vienna and Kirsten directed Nigel to a small farm house in the Alpine countryside. It was a pleasant two-floored building with fantastic views of the mountains. The green grass on the hill side glistened. To Nigel it was like heaven after all he had been through.
Kirsten proudly showed Nigel around the house. Inside it was as pleasant as outside. While admiring the decor, Nigel came to a shuddering halt. He saw a picture with a familiar face on it. The face was of Adolf Hitler. Much less malevolent looking than normally seen in his own time-line, but Adolf Hitler for sure.
Spotting Nigel’s strange behaviour, Kirsten spoke.
“What is wrong?” said Kirsten.
“That picture? Who is the man in the picture?” said Nigel, knowing who he thought the man was, but wanting to check.
“That is Adolf. He is my grandfather on my mother’s side.”
Nigel shook for a second but then quickly composed himself.
“You look like you have seen a ghost,” said Kirsten.
“Err… just one of those feelings where someone is walking over your grave, that’s all,” said Nigel.
Nigel followed Kirsten around, his brain full of questions and emotions. Could this woman he had grown to love be the granddaughter of one of the greatest tyrants of the 20th century? But no, she wasn’t – she was just the granddaughter of an artist. Nigel struggled for the next few days to accommodate this truth in his mind. He had been instrumental in changing Hitler’s life.
Eventually he decided not to tell Kirsten the truth. He had never told her the details about how he changed history. He had only told her that he had changed the life of one of the leaders of his time-line’s Nazi Party, but nothing specific.
Quickly things returned to their passionate norm between Kirsten and Nigel. Nigel was the happiest he had ever been.
It seemed, ironically, that by saving Adolf Hitler from a life as a tyrant, Nigel had helped to set up his own future.
I selected this extract because I think it best shows the mind-bending nature of time travel and how it can cause very weird situations….
7. What is Stoneham Press Ltd and how did it come about?
Stoneham Press Ltd is the company I set up to publish my books. It’s common amongst self-publishers to set up publishing companies to give their books more cache. It’s completely not necessary to do this, but as I wanted to potentially pursue other business ventures I set up a company anyway.
8. You have published a book called Social Media Networking. Can you share one key piece of advice with us?
I interviewed 20 people who received massive benefits from social media for their jobs, their businesses and their romantic lives. The biggest lesson was in the field of career-building to me. Statistically only 60% of jobs are advertised. To get the other 40% of jobs you have to know the recruiter – one new way that people do this is by making connections on Social Media. My advice to anyone in full-time employment is to get onto Twitter and LinkedIn and start building those connections within their industry and company, so that when the time comes to move or be promoted they have the connections to make that an easy experience.
9. On your website I read that one of your twin aims with publishing your own work is to also write software to help other self-published authors get better at what they do. Tell us about this because it’s certainly something lacking in the publishing market right now and an aspect of self-publishing so many authors battle with.
Well honestly, it’s not something I’m pursuing any more and I should update my website! It certainly was an issue, but there are now lots of fantastic software tools available for writers and self-publishers. For example, the software package Vellum is excellent for formatting eBooks and paperbacks. There are also now some great free tools like Reedsy’s book editor on their website (they have a marketplace of high-end self-publishing services and provide this to entice you onto their site).
10. What advice would you give a new writer?
To me, learning to write a plan for a book before attempting to write the first draft made a fantastic difference. Then writing the first draft as quickly as possible also helped me to keep everything in my head. But the important thing as a writer is to try approaches and find something that works for you. You will improve with each book you write and I would probably start with a small non-passion project as your first book, particularly if you self-publish.
11. What three things are on your current to-do list?
Well the only thing amongst the three I’m in the middle of is attempting to visit all 50 US states by the age of 50. Since I decided to do this, I’ve visited 6 new states since June this year and I’m currently at 21 states at the age of 46.
Secondly, I’m looking to finally get around to create some online training courses. This is something I’ve procrastinated about for years, but it makes sense to help people by providing training for the things I have learned about from writing, self-publishing, social media and online business.
Thirdly I’m looking to write a new time travel novel in NaNoWrimo in November. It’s going to be a challenge as I’m also attending 4 conferences in November, but I’m still aiming to do it.
12. And since it’s Halloween Night…what will you be doing tonight?
Most likely I’m going to be desperately trying to finish a plan for my new time travel book I’m writing in November.
Thank you for joining us Tim and good luck with your planning! It’s been great talking to you and I hope to tweet with you for many years to come!
To my weekly readers, if you would like to link up with Tim you can do so on his links listed below.
Until next week, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy You.
Big hug, Soulla xxx
Amazon link to books:
My fiction books (UK): https://amzn.to/2MZAxoY
Social Media Networking (under author name Tim Lewis):