A Writer’s Life
Article 15 Blog Tour Interview
November 6, 2019
Please tell us about growing up. Siblings? Locale?
Early on my family moved around quite a bit: Athens (Ohio), Columbus, Racine, and Milwaukee until we finally settled in St. Louis for the long haul when I was in the third grade. It was pretty normal—for back then, anyway. In the summer, Mom kicked us out of the house after breakfast and told us to be back by dinner time. So, me and the guys from the neighborhood rode our bikes all over creation (without helmets); played sandlot baseball and football (and kept score), and stomped through the woods, creeks and ravines at the very edge of suburban civilization (no cell phones or beepers or electronic leashes). It was glorious. Kids being kids.
Were you the shy kid or the tomboy? Married, single? Children? Share anything that lets readers get to know the real you. (Be chatty, please)
I live on the shores of Lake Erie with my stunning, mystery companion, Lola. We first met at The Cleveland Grill. It was a regular night for our duo, Project Mojo. She came in with her girlfriend for dinner and we cajoled her into singing a few songs with us. To make a long story short, we had just lost our female singer and Chuck convinced her to join up with us. A couple hundred gigs later, she and I were celebrating the release of our CD, Operation Thunderclap, over Mac ‘n Cheese at Crazy Mac’s, which, really, was just a flimsy excuse for our first date. And the rest, as they say, is history.
When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?
There’s really not a lot of relaxing that goes on for us. On a crazy whim we bought a really old newspaper building (like 1901 old) in downtown Lorain, Ohio, a couple of years ago when the Broadway riverfront was lined with mostly abandoned and decrepit properties. The city had been trying to set the area up as an Arts & Entertainment District and we thought it would be a great place to expand Lola’s boutique and art gallery downstairs and be home for my publishing “empire” upstairs. While we’ve been chipping slowly away at renovations, the city has finally come through with the streetscape modernization and the time is ripe for us to get the shop open. And there’s a hell of a lot to be done. So anyway, when it comes to relaxing and recharging, we like to sit out back, look out to sea drinking wine and consuming mass quantities of Lola’s exquisitely fine food creations..
How long have you been writing?
Decades. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been scribbling out words since before laptops and Microsoft Word were even invented. I used to use college-ruled yellow pads and a pencil. I’m a fossil.
Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?
I’m not really particular about where I write. When I was still out in the real world (where they expect results), I filled the hours of downtime in hotels, airline concourses, and trapped inside the hollow tubes of Boeing airliners racing down jetways six or seven miles overhead, scribbling out my stories.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a pantser. I work without a net. I get an idea and just start running with it. I did try, once, to outline one of my books and it was a fiasco. I was about halfway through In the Black and I had more characters than a Tolstoy novel milling about and it seems like eleven different storylines going on all at once, so I thought, “Hmmm…maybe I should get organized.” I had also just found a photo of Joseph Heller’s spreadsheet for writing Catch-22, and since this was my homage to that brilliant work, I thought, if it worked for him it should work for me, too. Well…not so much. I wasted a lot of time plotting out grand ideas that my characters took one look at and basically said, “Yeah, I don’t think so, Tim.” Then they went and did their own things.
Tell us about your writing schedule. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?
I get up most every morning around 5-5:30 and write—before I check emails, or look at social media, or read the news, or allow myself to be distracted by any number of shiny objects beckoning to me. I tried setting specific goals, but that doesn’t always work out, because sometimes you’re puking out that first vomit-draft and other times you’re doing fine finish work on a pieces. The point is to be writing. Period.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise readers.
While I am a Commercial Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor, I’m afraid of heights. My brother-in-law, Tom, says it’s not the heights, but falling that I’m afraid of and he may be right. There’s a big difference between height and altitude. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
What advice would you give to unpublished authors?
Know your stuff and never give up. “Persistance to the point of stupidity,” I always say, “but never beyond.”
What has helped you in your writing career?
I’ve been extremely fortunate to have met so many folks along the way who were really helpful as I stumbled along: professors, writers, readers, publishing pros, and marketing guys. I always seemed to get the right advice at about the right times.
What do you hope your writing brings to readers?
Every writer starts out as a reader. I just hope my stories bring a bit of the same excitement, revelations, and sense of discovery I experienced—and still experience—reading great books.
Tell us about your latest release (or the book you wish to feature today with buy links).
This pot has been simmering for a long, long time. The first line came to me inspired by the movie Body Heat. Kathleen Turner’s character, Matty Walker, struck such lustful terror in me that I knew I was going to go down that dark path at some point. But I needed a more formidable foil than Ned Racine. I think Griff comes out scarred, maybe, but mostly in tact.