Interview & Book Giveaway: Author J. Timothy King

Welcome to Author J. Timothy King.

Tim is an independent author and publisher with a diverse history, including more than 25 years developing computer software. He writes both fiction and non-fiction, specializing in life-expanding stories. When not writing, he develops custom web sites, play bass guitar, and spend time with his wife and family in their Boston-area apartment.


If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
I’ve actually spent a little time—if you’ll forgive the pun—thinking about the answer to that question. I’m not sure I’d want to travel in either direction, actually. We’ve never had a world that is as well-off as we have today, and there’s never been a time in which more opportunities and possibilities were open to us. So I’m not sure I’d want to go into the past. If I were to travel to some time in the past, I might go back to 1300’s America, because I’d expect my life there to be satisfying and relatively stress-free. Of course, I might end up bringing some killer disease with me back from the future, wiping most Americans off the face of the earth, before the Europeans got there, which would significantly change history. So maybe that’s not such a great idea. (If it were even possible.)

As for traveling to the future, it’s actually possible to do so, one-way. Scientists have even measured the effect with atomic clocks. If you take two identical atomic clocks, send one on an airplane trip around the world and keep the other on Earth, you’ll see that the one in the airplane gets sent a tiny bit into the future. (And so do you, every time you fly on an airplane, but not enough for you to notice.) I have a story in my idea queue about a wealthy character who sees no future for himself, and so he commissions the building of a time machine to send himself into the future. I’m not sure, though, what he’d find there. He’d definitely have trouble adjusting to the cultural changes that will occur. Imagine if Thomas Jefferson, for example, showed up in the year 2010. There would be some changes he’d appreciate, I’m sure; others that would horrify him; but primarily, he’d feel like a fish out of water, unable even to make ends meet in this new society and new culture. And traveling into the future is a one-way trip. Yes, you could travel even further into the future, if you have sufficient provisions for such a trip, but how likely is it that traveling even further into the future would help?

On the other hand, there’s another theory about time travel. It’s impossible to travel into the past. But it may be possible to build a device that people from the future could use to travel to our time. Sort of like building a pathway from the future. So with such a device, you could return back to the current time, after traveling to the future. I might go to the future, if I knew I could return home, just to see what it’s like. Or more likely, I’d want to read about the future, after others more adventurous than I have made the trip.

Shadows of H.G. Wells. Coincidentally, I recently rented The Time Machine from NetFlix.

When you were 12 years old what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’m not sure I thought much about what I was going to be when I grew up, when I was 12. At the time, I was into electronics and I was into music. I also remembering wanting to be an entrepreneur, to run a small business. As a kid, I made believe I was running a retail outlet, or a small restaurant, or an independent software company. My interest in electronics led me into computers. And led me to study electrical engineering in college, which led me directly into programming embedded microcontrollers. I spent 14 years working at a tiny, Boston-area company designing electronic musical instruments. (So that includes elements of all those interests.) Now, I pick up the odd Internet-software contract to help pay the bills, and I play bass both at a local church and at a local synagogue. So maybe that means I grew up to be exactly what I wanted.

And more. I didn’t dream of being a writer, not as a kid. But I’ve always loved to read. Some of my childhood favorites, I wish I could get a hold of them again.

What is the last book you read?
Talyn, by Holly Lisle, which turned out to be one of the best books I’ve ever read. I love Holly’s work, but she outdid herself with this one. I think twice sometimes before recommending it, because it has some explicit sex scenes in it—and I usually don’t care for those. But she constructed them so well, and they are so core to the story, that I can’t fault her for including them. Indeed, I don’t see how she could have told this story—which is a story that needs to be told, at least in some form—without those scenes.

Or at least, Talyn is the last novel I finished. I’m in the middle of the sequel, Hawkspar. And in between, I read a small collection of essays my pastor wrote, The Power and Practice of the Church, which both made me think and inspired me. And I’m reading The Joy of Work, by Scott Adams, which is my current non-fiction read. That had me laughing so hard at one point, I literally began to see stars.

Who is your favorite author?
My favorite contemporary author is Holly Lisle. I’ve also enjoyed the work of Mark Twain (whom everyone has heard of) and Stanislaw Lem (whom every SF fan should read). But Holly writes across genres, and I like to read across genres. And she writes character-rich stories, which I love to read. And she writes stories that are always about something, and I appreciate that.

Are you a loner or social butterfly?
Loner. I’ve been a loner since I was quite young. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become much more social. But parties drain me, and I seek refuge in order to recharge. At a recent family reunion on my wife’s side, for example, I spent a significant amount of time—you guessed it—reading. One of my Beloved’s many relatives (a second- or third-cousin if I recall) even managed to snap a photo of me immersed in a book. I’m glad she did; otherwise, I might not have showed up in any photos at all, which is too common.

(Yes, that’s me at the family reunion, reading Talyn, while my Beloved was gabbing with second- and third-cousins and aunts and uncles.)

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Strawberry. I don’t know why, though I wish I did. And cookies & cream with butterscotch syrup is a good second, because that combination is immensely sweet and fattening. I don’t allow myself to indulge in ice cream too much anymore. I have to remind myself that salad is free, but almost anything else costs.

One food you would never eat?
Cow tongue and pig’s feet. I’m just not brave enough. I did try tripe once when I was young, before anyone told me what it was. I’ll never make that mistake again.

If you could re-write the ending to a book written by someone else, what would it be?
There are lots of endings I would rewrite. I almost feel more let down more by a great story with a hack ending, more so even than a story that lets me down from the beginning.

One ending I would rewrite is The Golden Compass, the first in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Someone bought me the trilogy as a present—I rarely buy popular books for myself, preferring unknown and mid-list authors. I finally got around to reading it, starting at the beginning, and I really enjoyed the book… up until the end. I thought the last few pages read like a hack, put there only to lead into the second volume of the trilogy. I wanted a satisfying denouement, even if that left a loose thread. Save the day, but let the bad guy get away. The way Holly Lisle did in The Ruby Key, for example. Both my daughter and I agree that The Ruby Key is a great juvenile fantasy novel, more like what The Golden Compass ought to have been.

So I read The Golden Compass, but I felt so let down by the ending that I never got around to reading any of the other books in the trilogy. And I don’t think I ever will. I also never watched the movie, and I don’t really care to, even though there are aspects of the novel that resonated with me.

Yes, I tend to be opinionated about what I’m passionate about.

Is there anything you need in order to write? (ie Chocolate, quiet, music)
Quiet definitely. Too many distractions wear me out and tire me down. That’s part of my personality, being an introverted loner. Sometimes I put on soft, instrumental music. I often light scented candles. The flickering flame relaxes. That’s a common trick writers use. Others include timed writings, 7/11 breathing, and staring at a blank wall.

It also seems to help me to have a cup of coffee nearby, something about the aroma of it. But I’ve been suffering with headaches in recent months, so I’ve switched to decaf. There was a time when I would have considered that sacrilege. But high-quality decaf is pretty easy to come by, and it tastes as good as the high-test stuff.

Do you prefer to write on the computer or with paper?
On the computer. My handwriting stinks, and I have to type it in afterward, anyhow. I’ve also tried printing out a manuscript to edit it, but found that it was slower and more awkward for me than making changes right in the word-processing document. I think that’s because I prefer smaller, structured iterations through the manuscript, rather than grand, sweeping changes. Or maybe it’s just because my fingers work better with a keyboard than they do with a pen.

What is your favorite sport to watch on TV?
Football. I grew up in the Pittsburgh area, and now I live in the Boston area. So I was feeling pretty good this NFL season, but then the Steelers lost their second game, and the Patriots got pummeled the following week. Suddenly, my favorite teams are no longer at the top of the standings.

Thank you Tim for taking the time to answer my questions. Tim is giving away 1 copy of his book From the Ashes of Courage.

From the back of cover of From the Ashes of Courage:Gail Bishop is a headstrong, driven, single-minded businesswoman, a successful independent professional at only 29 years old. But she still feels empty. Eddie Chase is a fun-loving real-estate agent who made a mint in the boom market, now fast running out of money. And their friends set them up on a blind date, unaware that many years ago, they were once married to each other.
Now, both are taken aback by their feelings for each other at a romantic, seaside cottage on Ardor Point, and by the impact this will have on the rest of their lives. This long-languishing relationship that Gail thought was surely dead, could it hold the secret, the meaning of life that she’s looking for?
A heart-wrenching story of human kindness and love without strings.
Genre: Contemporary Romance.
Content: Implied sexual encounter, but no graphic sex.

Some comments from GoodReads and on Amazon:

“Tim’s ability to throw in lines that struck a cord with my heart was
wonderful.” (Linda Boulanger)
“… a sense of excitement when I remember
that I’m in the middle of this story and can get into it whenever I have a
chance to read again…” (Rebekah Labell)

Giveaway is open to followers of this blog with a US mailing address.
Last day to enter is December 7, 2010.

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