Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Hey there, I’m Timothy Bateson, urban fantasy writer, book blogger, animal-lover, Executive Director of OWSCyCon 2019. In 2005 I moved to Alaska to marry my lovely wife, muse, and writing partner – Sandi – who created the world of the “Shadows Over Seattle” stories. I consider myself very lucky to have a fellow writer in the house, because it allows me to bounce ideas off someone, and I’m never short of someone to look over my work.
I’ve also been a book blogger since 2014, and love to feature my fellow indie authors and their works. It was in part because of this that I became part of the first CyCon event in 2015, and in 2019 I stepped up from Fantasy Genre Manager to Executive Director of the OWSCyCon event.
What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?
When I married Sandi, in 2005, she was already writing “A Rose by Any Other Name”, a story about a vampire newly arrived in Seattle, and discovering the supernatural landscape of the city. Reading through one of her drafts I found myself drawn to the Art, the shapeshifting barman and owner of the Devil’s Own, which led to the creation of Richard Parsons and “Of Wolves & Men”. After I discovered that Richard kept insisting on having his past written up in more detail, I started turning those extended character moments into short stories of their own, so as not to slow the pace of the novel. From there other characters started to insist on the same treatment, and the “Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels” came into being.
What inspires/inspired your creativity?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a lot of the credit to my wife, Sandi. Even after 14 years together she still supports my creativity, as well as providing a lot of support, a sympathetic ear when I have creative block, and keeps me on track.
How do you deal with creative block?
When it comes to long stories outline my plots ahead of time, for the most part. If I find myself without an idea of where things are going, or I need to stir my creativity, I sit down in front of my laptop, pop on some music, and read over the last thing I wrote hoping to spark some ideas. Then it’s just a matter of typing the first thing that comes into my head, and hoping that it leads me in the right direction. Of course, that’s why authors rewrite their drafts, and then edit everything, to remove and save potential ideas for other stories and characters.
I also keep a writing journal that I fill with ideas that occur to me when I’m note writing, or notes of things that grabbed my attention. It might be as simple as jotting down a character name, or some ideas about a location, or as complicated as the start of a scene, or brief plot outline. Who knows which ideas are going to lead to the next story?
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
The problems I have as a reader often come from some of the more common mistakes I’ve seen.
Not maintaining consistency of character or setting – characters are shaped by their experiences, and there are rules that come with world-building that can’t be ignored. If a character acts against their nature, or does something that doesn’t fit what I know about them, or if a rule of the world is ignored or changed without notice, it can really throw me out of the story.
Another of the big mistakes comes from insufficient editing. I hate to admit it, but there are some books out there that, despite being best sellers, have lost me as a reader due to appalling editing. In one case I gave up reading the book before finishing the first page. It still surprises me that that book spawned a whole series of books, and films. And no, I won’t say which book, because I don’t want to cloud other people’s potential enjoyment of it.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
When choosing covers, you really need to know the market and audience for your books. Look at the top selling books in your genre, and see what commonalities their covers have. Also research cover artists carefully, and look at the work they have done in the past, because you want to be sure they can produce a cover that will grab attention. Be ready to look at several options, and to work through a few iterations before you pick the final cover. Strangely enough a change of font, or color can make a big difference to how a cover is received by readers.
If you can enlist the help of readers in picking the cover, it will not only help create some pre-sales buzz but make your readers feel more invested in your work.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
So far I’ve been lucky enough not to have received a bad review. But I’ve always been of the opinion that my books won’t be for everyone, so if someone doesn’t like it, and leaves a negative review, it can only help other people decide if my stories are for them.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
For me the most surprising part was how much of the costs can be alleviated by learning to do some things yourself. However, when you’re looking around online, the number of author self-help courses can be a little overwhelming, especially when it comes to marketing systems. The problem with marketing is that it’s an every changing landscape, and what works today might not work tomorrow, especially with social media sites tightening rules, changing how their services work, and pushing people to use paid ads to get the best exposure.
But, there are ways to get around these problems, using word of mouth, and social sharing. Having been part of CyCon for five years, I’ve been surprised at the results of bringing authors and readers together. In fact, because of such collaborations, this year, CyCon will be taking over several Facebook groups during the build-up to (and during) the event itself.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
For me, powerful emotions play a huge part in the creative process. Sometimes they can be tapped to create some wonderful character-driven moments, but I need to be working on a relevant scene to make the most of that intensity. Other times they hold me back from writing, so I try to use mood music and character themes to help shift my mood when needed.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
Write down all your ideas, no matter how crazy they might seem. Keep a writing journal for creature, character, scene, and plot ideas. Whenever you get stuck for an idea, go back through those lists for inspiration. Also hang out with other creative people, because you never know when they’ll spark an idea that you can turn into something unique.
When thinking about your characters consider the kinds of music that they might listen to. I know that sounds like a silly idea, but it can really help get into their head-space. When writing a particular character (especially during later drafts), I’ll play their choice of music, or favorite artist to help me focus on their personalities.
What are your plans for future books?
I have two further short stories to release in the “Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels” series, and Sandi and I are working on four full-length novels. So far we have titles for three of them – “Of Wolves & Men” (by myself), “A Rose By Any Other Name” (by Sandi) and “The Magic In You” (a joint story) – to be released in that order. Funnily enough, it was the second book in the series that inspired me to create Richard Parsons, and everything spiraled from there.
To learn what’s coming up, check out my blog at http://timothybatesonauthor.com/blog/
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
Remember I mentioned being an animal-lover? Well, I’m an avid amateur falconer with many years of flying and handling experience with raptors ranging from owls to eagles. Even though I’ve never had the funds to own my own raptor, I take whatever opportunities present themselves to handle these marvelous creatures. I’ve also been licked by a wolf, held alligators, and had a lion cub fall asleep in my lap.
I’ve also been a book blogger since 2014, and love to feature my fellow indie authors and their works. It was in part because of this that I became part of the first CyCon event in 2015, and in 2019 I stepped up from Fantasy Genre Manager to Executive Director of the OWSCyCon event. The event is now in it’s fifth year, and remains a great opportunity for readers to discover new authors and books. – Find out more at http://owscycon.ourwriteside.com