Author interviews are something I’ve been thinking about trying to add to my blog for a bit of time now, but nothing ever really sparked me to make me actually pursue it. After I read Scavenger: Evolution though (my review), and being such a fan of AISP, I knew that Tim would be the perfect author for me start with! And I am extremely appreciative that Tim accepted my request to be my first interview!
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Today I am interviewing Timothy C. Ward, author of the new sci-fi novel, Scavenger: Evolution, and former executive producer of Adventures in Scifi Publishing.
DJ: Scavenger: Evolution takes place in Hugh Howey’s world of Sand. What was it about Sand that made you want to tell your story there?
Tim: Hugh Howey creates some of the most fascinating post-apocalyptic worlds I’ve read. His Silo Saga started out claustrophobic, where the environment had forced people to survive inside a buried silo. His novel, Sand takes an almost opposite approach, where people can see desert as far as their resources can take them, though again, the environment is both the greatest threat and the greatest opportunity. And yet his stories are always most interestingly about relationships.
I wanted to write the story of my own relationships within his world of Sand. I had read The Last Prayer by Lyn Perry, a short story set in Hugh’s Silo Saga universe, so I knew that Hugh let people write in his worlds. After reading a scene where catastrophe had hit one of the towns in Sand, and “scavengers” were diving for the remains, I thought, what is one diving for? Is it someone he loved? I asked Hugh if I could publish a story in his world and he graciously agreed.
Second answer: sand diving. I love that idea. My series is a combination of loving the development of my characters’ relationship in the face of loss and terror, and how cool can I make the sand diving technology?
DJ: This was my first look at the sand diver technology and I thought it was totally awesome! Even though I was not familiar with Sand at all when I read your book, that presented no problems to me and in no way hindered my enjoyment of Scavenger. Was making your book accessible to all readers done by design?
Tim: Since this is my debut novel, I didn’t want to have the roadblock of saying people had to read Sand first. I always add the caveat that they should because it is awesome, and my top read of 2014.
The way I designed it was to start at a turning point in Hugh’s story, insert my own characters and then let their story unfold. I ended up not using the events of his ending, so it’s off on its own crazy path.
DJ: Did this present any difficulties?
Tim: The biggest difficulty was in realizing that I could do this and make it work. I thought for a while on other possibilities, such as keeping his characters as side characters on my journey, but that would have been more difficult and possibly disappointing to people who want more of his people center stage. In the end, those are his people and he’ll do the best job showing the rest of their story anyway, so I’m going to do my own thing with mine. Turns out I have plenty to work with as the sequel has switched from one p.o.v. to four.
DJ: I found Rush to be an extremely sympathetic character, and really enjoyed watching him try to turn his life around. The event that seemed to cause Rush to fall down in life was the loss of his son. At the time of writing this novel, I believe you became a father for the first time. Did the birth of your son affect how you were writing Rush’s character?
Tim: The birth of my son was the biggest connection to Rush’s development because I flipped my emotions from my life where I’d just experienced a new and amazing form of love to what would I be like if that was torn away? I cried multiple times writing drafts of Red Sands, the first part. That’s a first for me, and one that excited me to keep writing about his character.
DJ: I thought the ending of Scavenger: Evolution was great, and it left me excited to see where the story will go next. So I have to ask: how are things going along with second book? Any non-spoiler teasers you could tell readers to look forward to in the next installment?
Tim: Part of my plans from the beginning was to gradually reveal more and more about the mystery of this world. The reason I chose the ending point of Scavenger: Evolution was because the shift in power required people outside of the buried military base to become involved. This required more research into the state of the world outside. I read a book called, The World Without Us, based on a recommendation from apocalyptic author, David Wellington, whom I interviewed on an episode of Adventures in Scifi Publishing. In our chat, he said how he’d made mistakes prognosticating how his worlds would look after an apocalyptic event. For example, without people to flush out the New York sewer systems, it would only take a few days for the city to flood. Without people to monitor flooding in general, buildings won’t require much time before they start to crumble.
On top of gathering that kind of information–and really you could do that for a long time and not get any books written–I had to decide what my apocalyptic event was, how long ago it was, and what has been going on since. I’m afraid I’ll have to leave that mystery for the text. Having read Scavenger: Evolution, you got a taste of that. My job in the sequel, 25k words in so far, has been still unveiling the extent of the monster I introduced in Twin Suns.
I’m taking a short break from that book, though, as a publisher asked for a complete manuscript of another book I wrote. I have another week left to polish that up and then I can get back to my sand divers and the chaotic mess they’re fighting through. Lots of action, some more mind bending twists, and a few moments of their past as we finally see through Star’s eyes.
DJ: If you don’t mind going off book topic for a second. Adventures In SciFi Publishing is one my favorite podcasts, and you are a co-host, interviewer, and producer for it. It was one of the shows I nominated for a Hugo this year, and it will be on my final ballot in the #1 spot. I’m curious if you have any interviews lined up for the future that we might hear?
Tim: I sort of retired last summer because my daily writing time is only about an hour, and podcasting was taking up a day or more per week. I love helping authors get the word out, but I’m finding less of a need to ask about their writing process and stories. I know what process works for me and I don’t need the inspiration any more. I’m all in. Podcasts are great for inspiring others, as they were for me, but there comes a time when you need to focus on your career, and that’s what I have to do. My other skills aren’t as valuable as my writing, so I need to get the books out.
That said, we may see a Wes Chu interview after I’ve listened to The Time Salvager. I just finished his Tao series and loved it. I see on Twitter he may be burned out right now with interviews, though, so I don’t think either of us are in a hurry.
Oh, and I know I’ve thanked you before, but your nomination means the world to me. Podcasting is mostly charity to the community, so it feels good to get positive feedback.
DJ: You’re welcome, Tim! AISP was actually the first SF/F podcast I ever listened to, so when I got a Hugo membership this year, I made sure it was one of the shows I nominated.
I received many great recommendations for books and authors to check out from listening, so have you been reading anything good lately?
Tim: I recently started my free trial of Kindle Unlimited and it’s been awesome. I didn’t realize it had “unlimited” listening as well as reading, and while the system sucks for finding audiobooks in that program, I did find Starship Grifters, a funny and twisty scifi tale by Rob Kroese, and now I’m nearing the end of Wayward, the second book in the Wayward Pines trilogy, which is like #1 on Amazon, and for good reason. Starship Grifters was recommended by Hugh as his best read last year, and I can see why there, too. Rob is an author to look out for as well.
One downside with the KU program is the audiobooks only work on devices with the Audible app, which means I either try and bike with my big tablet or I have to put those books on hold as me and my old ipod listen to downloaded titles. The Undying: Shades has been pretty good for a post-apocalyptic horror tale with a twist on its monsters set in France.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
Tim: Just thanks. To have my writing reviewed publically is awesome, and so is the invite to talk about it.
I have a monthly giveaway for newsletter subscribers, and the primary purpose of that forum is for new release info and is once a month. http://www.timothycward.com/join-my-newsletter/
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out your day to answer my questions! Sounds like you have a lot of work ahead of you, so I’ll let you get back to that writing. Can’t wait for the release of the next book!
About the Book:
In the future, sand divers search the depths for the lost city of Danvar and the truth behind their bleak existence. Divemaster Rush hasn’t dove since he lost his infant. A job offer turns from an escape to a trap and the lure of a hardened heart to survive like anyone else would. One dive leads to another. Farther and farther from the surface, death and evolution change his world. He’ll have to change too or watch his wife rise without him.Inspired by Hugh Howey’s world of Sand. Written and sold with his permission. Scavenger: Evolution takes the landscape of Dune and throws in the pacing and thrills of Alien.