Last weekend I had the opportunity to talk with Timothy Carter, author of The Cupid War (a review of which I posted a couple days ago). It was by far one of the most silly interviews I’ve had, in which we talked about life, the universe and everything, Harry Potter and Transfomers, and other topics of randomness.
For convenience, T = Timothy Carter, and R = Rebecca (myself).
R: Alright, well I am here with Timothy Carter, author of Epoch, Evil?, Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters, Closets, The Cupid War and Section K. So, Timothy, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
T: I was born in England, born the same week as the last lunar mission, which I think is pretty awesome. And I did turn 13 on Friday the 13th. I like pointing that out because it sounds cool, even if it means nothing.
R: Well yeah, it is cool.
T: It would have been even cooler if that particular Friday the 13th had fallen on Halloween. That would have been really cool.
R: How would Halloween fall on a Friday the 13th?
T: It can’t. But it’s a joke I’m using in a book. I’m not sure how funny it is yet.
R: Sounds interesting. You’re known for writing far-fetched fiction… People who have read your books, or who know you personally will probably just be like “Yep… That’s Timothy.”
T: Well, I’ve learned a lot from a guy called Robert Rankin. He’s the guy that created the term “Far-fetched fiction” and that describes his writing very well. He’s taught me a lot about the running-gag in books and other things. So, I owe him a lot. Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and him are my top three authors.
R: Good authors to have as top authors, they’re all amazing.
T: What else can I say about myself…? I’ve dedicated my life to writing, and that’s about it. I’m still trying to find the something else; you know what I mean by the something else, the thing that pays the bills.
R: Yeah, I’m sure you’ll find it.
T: I hope so, because it’s been a while.
R: Well, you could always write about some vampires that sparkle? That’s apparently enough to get you somewhere.
T: I don’t know if I’d like where that gets me. And yet, don’t think I haven’t considered it.
R: Though, somewhat similar, I noticed on your Twitter feed that you’re working on a novel involving zombies?
T: I’m currently writing a book involving Christian zombies, Yes.
R: Can you tell us a little bit about that?
T: Sure, it all comes this little bit in the Bible where it talks about… it’s one of the quotes that’s used to justify the idea of the rapture, when all the Christians are going to be taken off the Earth. It’s in Thessalonians somewhere, and it has the phrase: “And the dead and Christ will rise first.” That got me thinking, and then I came up with this awesome tag-line… “When there’s no more room in Heaven, the Saved will walk the Earth.” Once I have a really good tag-line, I have to write the book! So it’s going to be kind of an answer to Left Behind, and all the other religious Apocalypse books. There will be some people whose main concern is to fight back, and then others who will be like “Okay, how does this fit into the whole end-time prophecy scenario?” The point is eventually going to be “Look, there are zombies. We better defend ourselves.” I’m having a lot of fun writing it at the moment.
R: Sounds like it’ll be interesting to read.
T: I sure hope so.
R: Is there anything else you’re working on right now? Or anything we can look forward to seeing from you in the future?
T: Well, since I’m giving away all my best ideas here… I just finished the first draft of a book that I want to call “I’m so God damned sick of vampires.” It takes place in a world where vampires have come out, and are well known… not exactly accepted, though. There’s still a lot of tension between them and their food (us). Also, there are werewolves, angels and demons in this world, and my main character is an exorcist. She discovers that something very strange is happening and it involves the vampires somehow. No one likes the vampires; they’re the ‘not cool kids’ group. The vampires had their time in the sun (ha, ha) and now the Nephilim – human/angel hybrids –are the popular kids in high school. Of course, one day they’ll be the losers, and some other group will become popular. Like aliens or who knows what.
R: Hm… Aliens?
T: Well, we’ll see. So, the book started as an attempt to make fun of Twilight (and Vampire Diaries, and True Blood, and Vampire Academy, etc), and I had the basic premise for the story. As I wrote it, it became stranger, deeper, and a lot more awesome. I’m looking forward to revising it and getting it ready to submit. It was a very fun one to write.
R: Yup, does sound like it would be… I look forward to seeing that one. Alright, moving on. This interview will be posted alongside my review for The Cupid War, so tell me… Why cupids? What was it that was your inspiration for them? They’re not really something you ever see anything of.
T: Well, it actually started a long time ago when I was a teenager; I was reading a series of books by Piers Anthony called Incarnations of Immortality. The first book is about some guy who becomes death, the second is about someone who becomes time, then fate, mother nature, war, and so on, and I thought “I want to do stuff like that.” I wrote a book about a guy who becomes Santa Claus, but then that Tim Allen movie came out and knocked the wind out of that idea’s sails. Then I wrote a novel about the Tooth Fairy; that one still needs a lot of work, but I thought it turned out okay. The next concept I had was about cupids; they’re spiritual beings who make people fall in love, and I wanted to do something with that. It didn’t happen right away. I took a crack at it, but I didn’t know what to do with it until I came up with the idea for their opposites, the suicides. They are the spirits of people who killed themselves; they cause depression and other mood disorders in people. Once I had that, I set them up as the antagonists and the cupids as my heroes, and it came together rather quickly. This is not to say I wrote it quickly, I think it took me three years or so, on and off. I’ll do that sometimes; work on a project, pause to do something else, and then I’ll come back. I’m so glad that I finished this one. It would have bugged me for a long time if I hadn’t.
R: Well, without telling you what my review is going to say – you’ll have to read it sometime in the next few days – I did find it to be a good read. [Note — my review for The Cupid War has been posted and can be found here]
T: Thank you.
R: Alright, and there seems to be a lot more that you can do in the The Cupid War‘s world. Are you going to write sequels, or spin-offs? Or will this just be a stand-alone novel?
T: I would certainly like there to be more. It’ll have to be a case of “wait and see,” though. This first book has to make enough money for Flux to justify investing in a sequel. And, because of my contract, I can’t send a sequel to anyone else until Flux have had first look. That being said, I’m about 1/3rd of the way into a spin-off book about a girl who becomes a Suicide. I thought it would be interesting to tell a story from the Suicides’ perspective. I stopped working on it last year for various reasons, but I might get back to it. I have a really good concept. Then, on my blog I’ve posted a short story [http://worldsoftim.blogspot.ca/2012/10/the-cupid-war-fallons-first-couple.html ] that’s set within the events of The Cupid War. I’d like to do more short stories to expand on that world. I also have a good idea for a proper sequel. I have plans for Fallon and Trina. And Louis. I’m not sure when I’ll get to that; again, it depends on how the first book sells. It’s surely something I’d like to do, though.
R: Well, good luck with that. I have spoken with someone else who has read your novels, and I know she’s looking forward to seeing more from you.
T: That’s good to hear! Thank you.
<We started talking about Monty Python/a Bit of Fry and Laurie… Our favourite skits and such like that>
T: Okay, better stop me. And you’d better stop the tape for an hour or two, or however long it takes for me to regain consciousness.
T: Owww…! You didn’t have to hit me THAT hard…
R: Sure I did, you earned it… and it was with your own book.
T: True enough, it’s good to know my book is a real knockout.
R: Yeah, it’s a head-spinner. Anyways, if there was any author – living or dead – that you could write a collaborative story with, who would it be and what would it be about?
T: I would love to do a book with Robert Rankin, because we’re similar in terms of how we write, and I think we could come up with something fun together. At the same time, we are maybe too similar. It would be neat if I could team up with someone who writes completely differently than I do. But not just anybody. I was at this dinner party once, and Robert J. Sawyer was one of the guests, and someone suggested we should write a book together. I won’t go into detail about the look on Robert’s face; I rather diplomatically said I didn’t think it would work out. You see, Robert is a hard science guy, whereas my explosions go Boom in a vacuum. So who would I collaborate with? Um… This is a difficult one; I’m going to have to get back to you.
R: So, which do you prefer… eBooks or printed books?
T: They’re both good. I have a preference for printed books because I like having the physical thing in my hand, and I love seeing them on the shelves in bookstores! And you can’t really sign an ebook, at least not yet. That being said, however, with all the terrific work that’s gone into making the Kindles, Kobos, Androids and what have yous — yes, I actually used a phrase like “what have yous”, that’s the kind of cockamamie thing I say — with all that stuff that I just mentioned, it’s a lot easier now to read eBooks. Before, you could only read them on your computer screen, and that’s not very good on the eyes for extended periods.
I looked at a Kindle screen once, and it looked just like a normal piece of paper! And no, that’s not an endorsement; they’re not giving me any money to say that. I only say it because it’s true.
eBooks do seem to be a way to the future, but I haven’t had a lot of success with them yet. There are eBook versions of Evil? and Epoch out there, but I haven’t been able to interest many people in them, unfortunately. And yet, I’ve heard of people who publish a book through Amazon online and within minutes they have a few thousand sales. I may be exaggerating slightly, but it seems like Amazon ebook authors are extremely successful, so I need to look into that further. I hope there will always be print books, though. It’s a nice feeling, holding a book. And they’re heavier, so it’s easier to knock people out with them.
R: And do you see printed books disappearing at any time? Or do you think eBooks are just a passing phase or something?
T: I don’t think it’s a passing phase, no. I think eBooks are going to be a very strong part of the publishing world. I think it’ll be a while though before we see printed books in any serious decline. For example, television was supposed to be the thing that killed movies, and movies were supposed to destroy radio. But, we still have TV, we still have movies, and radio. When a new form of competition comes along, you have to come up with new ways of doing things. Movie studios are making lots of films in 3D now, because up until recently you couldn’t do 3D on a TV or computer screen. Blu rays and downloads are great, but they’ll never replace the big screen experience. In the same way, I don’t think printed books are going away. Publishers will just have to adapt and make print books more attractive. We’re going to see a lot more people break into the writing business with eBooks; I suppose once they’ve become popular enough, the publishers will take notice an try them out in the printed world. At least until people can download books and movies and what-have-yous directly into their brains.
R: We are seeing a loss of some bookstores as well as the merging of publishing houses, like The Random Penguin House (or, whatever it is that they’ll be named henceforth).
T: I like “Random Penguin”. That sounds like a band name, doesn’t it… “Now, opening for Nine Inch Nails… Random Penguin!” But yeah, bookstores and publishers will have to adjust to new concepts and trends. Hopefully they’ll adjust better than the music industry did once everyone started downloading their music for free. So as long as the publishing houses that are left continue to innovate, they should be able to stick around… but we will see.
R: Now, for a very serious question. I need your full attention for this one. Just who, exactly, is your favourite Doctor, and which was your favourite episode?
T: Good heavens. Up until recently I would say Colin Baker. I have a thing for under-dogs; Timothy Dalton is my favourite James Bond, Rodimus Prime is my favourite Autobot, and Colin Baker was my favourite doctor. I really enjoyed Trial of a Timelord.
Now though, I’m a big fan of David Tennant. Matt Smith is okay, and I’ve enjoyed many of his episodes, but I miss Tennant and the depth of emotion he brought to the role. Blink of course, is fantastic, and Utopia, Sound of Drums and Last of the Timelords are pretty high on my list.
However, for my favourite episode, I’m going with one that didn’t involve Tennant or Colin Baker. It’s a seventh Doctor story called The Curse of Fenric. Those four episodes were really good, they had some creepy characters, and yet it didn’t get all weird like some of the other 7th Doctor episodes. It was a fairly straightforward story with some really good writing, and some really good acting. Although, when my wife Violet saw the main monster in it, she laughed her head off. It looks like a guy in a Godzilla suit! But if you can see past that – which is something all Doctor Who fans have had to do for a very long time – you will enjoy the experience. The other monsters, the not-quite-vampire haemovores – very cool name – had very simple make-up, and they looked terrifying. So that would be my favourite episode, Curse of Fenric.
But, my favourite Doctor is still a tie between Colin Baker and David Tennant.
[Timothy wrote a short-story set between the episodes The End of Time (II) and The Eleventh Hour, which can be found here – http://doctorwho.livejournal.com/7111807.html ]
R: Alright, thanks! And kind of leading into the question I asked you earlier… If you could rewrite any major series – like Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter…
T: Does it have to be rewriting? Or can it be adding on to?
R: Or adding on to – if you could change anything, what would you do?
T: Well, let me start with my sequel idea. I would love to write a book in the Harry Potter universe – oh, going back to that collaboration question, there’s someone I could probably write a fairly decent book with. Listen up Jane. (Did I just call her Jane? Sorry Jane. I meant J.K.) I would love to use the Gilderoy Lockhart character, and do an entire book around him. It would be set after the events of Deathly Hallows; he’d still be suffering from memory loss, but he’d remember that he had been a pretty fantastic guy. He’d find all of his books and read them, and think that the way he is portrayed in them must be who he is. He’d set off on some kind of an adventure, and somewhere in the middle of the story he’d remember who he actually is and have a bit of an identity crisis. Closer to the end, he’d pull himself together and hopefully things would work out. I would love to write that, and if I had the rights to Harry Potter, that’s what I would do.
I wouldn’t do what everyone else probably would, namely kill Harry Potter off. That’s been done… How many times has it been done? Was it just the once? I’m trying to think about whether it counts when he was attacked as a baby, but he didn’t really die, did he? Nevertheless, Harry has already been killed. It’s been done, so I wouldn’t do that.
R: Yeah, but how many times has Rory been killed?
T: You know, I’m sure he’s been killed many more times than have actually been televised.
R: Most probably, but it does go to show that you can kill the same character off more than once. Harry can die a couple dozen more times.
T: Here’s what I would do. I’m not sure where I’d put it – at the beginning of the fifth Harry Potter book, or just after those events, but I would love to do a team-up of Transformers and Harry Potter. I would love that. I would call it “Magic versus Metal.”
R: I feel like that would fit into some Battle of the Bands style music concert.
T: I can so see the Hogwarts Express transforming into Optimus Prime, or the Elder Wand being Megatron. Unfortunately though, there aren’t many big things in the Harry Potter universe for the Transformers to be, so I’d have to be a bit more creative.
R: The car from the second book? The Ford Anglia had a life of its own; it could have been a Transformer.
T: That could be cool. Good idea! But yeah, there are two ideas that I think no one else would put together – so naturally, I put them together. And I think right after the events of the fifth book… that’s when I’d throw the Transformers into the story, but it would be as if they’d been there all the while, just in disguise. That would be cool. Or, crossing Harry Potter and Star Wars.
R: Wands to channel The Force? Having Daniel Radcliffe or any of the Harry Potter cast being in the seventh Star Wars movie could be interesting.
T: Yeah! If they’re still planning on doing a young original cast, he’d be a good Luke or Han. He could be one of Leia and Hans kids I suppose, all grown up.
R: Yeah, he’s not as young as he used to be. Though, from what I’ve noticed that does tend to be the case with most people. Except for the bloke Benjamin Button – I swear he gets younger by the day.
T: I’ve had people ask me “If they made a movie out of your books, who would you cast.” All of my books involve young people, and the actors I immediately think of are all well into their twenties – but they were the right age five or six years ago! So it’s like, I’d want Rupert Grint to play the part of Vincent in Epoch, but the Rupert Grint from Harry Potter 2, not Rupert Grint as he is now. And Elijah Wood circa The Faculty as Fallon in The Cupid War, but not Lord of the Rings or Sin City Elijah.
R: Right, yeah.. That’s understandable. Moving on, for people who haven’t read any of your books now, what would you recommend as a good starter point for them to start getting to know you and your style?
T: Epoch, definitely. I think that’s a good gateway book for me. I’m pretty proud of that one; it’s basically the story of the apocalypse with jokes. There are a fairly small number of books that are humorous apocalypses, or… apocalypti?
R: Apocalypti kind of sounds like octopus pie…
T: It does, that could be pretty cool! But yes, I really like the way Epoch came out. I’m happy with my other books, but Epoch came together so perfectly. And, it’s good for kids and for young teens; Evil? and The Cupid War are for older teens and young adults, for 13+, whereas people could start reading Epoch as 10-year-olds, and then graduate to my older stuff.
R: And though I’ve only read Cupid War, just from what I’ve heard about your other works, they’re mostly just silly.
T: Yes, and no. Some of it is silly, but some of it became serious quite unintentionally. My characters sometimes have different things in mind than I do. The Cupid War was originally going to be called “Cupidity” — I thought I was very clever, combining “Cupid” with “Stupidity”, but it turns out cupidity is an actual word. “Cupidity” was going to be more of a comedy, but Ricky Fallon and Trina Porten wanted something a little deeper and more serious than I had planned. I like the way it ended up, though. My characters often know what they are doing.
R: Yeah, The Cupid War definitely did start off with a bit of a light, silly feel to it, but as the story progressed it kind of lost that a bit and became a bit more of a serious book.
T: Well Evil? manages to be a comedy through and through, yet it manages to raise some good issues. Heh, “raise some good issues” is really funny if you’ve read it. After the first page, you’d get that joke.
R: Ah, well… I will have to check it out at some point.
T: Hmm… To whet your appetite even more then, when I came up with the idea for Evil? I told my wife, Violet, about the idea and her response was “Yeah, good luck with that.” And when I submitted it to my editors who published Epoch they said “This has got to be the least saleable premise we’ve ever read.” And yet, it made it into publication – I’m a really lucky guy, and I’m delighted that novel came out. I wish it had done a bit better though. I kept hoping some religious group would threaten to burn or ban it. I wanted some outrage!
R: Though, a quick note – to any religious readers, please don’t take any offence.
T: No, please do! You can’t buy publicity like that.
R: Now, now, Tim. Don’t make me hit you with your book again.
T: I’ll be good. But if you read the book, you’ll understand why there should have been uproar.
R: My to-read list at the moment is quite short, so perhaps I’ll add it on there and get to it sometime in the next little while.
T: Fantastic. Is there anything else I can tell you?
R: The answer to life, the universe and everything?
T: Hm… 42. No, no… That’s Douglas Adams’ theory; I like to think there’s a point and a purpose to everything, and that when I die it won’t just be a fade to black thing. It’s a nice dream – the idea of an afterlife. I used to really believe in it a lot, in part because I was terrified of it, because I was a part of a Christian youth group and I took the whole “burning for all eternity in Hell” quite seriously. I have a pretty good imagination; I could picture it vividly! Eventually I grew up though, and decided I wasn’t happy about having that message shoved at me. So, a lot of that feeling of anger goes into my work. Like Evil? And, to a lesser extent, Epoch.
R: Okay, well… Thank you and I do have one last question which I seem to have made a habit of asking anyone that I interview. If you could be any flavour of ice cream, what flavour would you be?
T: Chocolate chip. Best flavour of ice cream ever. Well, okay… Maybe not the best, but it’s certainly one of my favourites. Not mint chocolate chip, mind you – I can’t stand mint.
R: Alright, so I think that’s it. Thank you!
T: You are very welcome. And may I just say you are a wonderful interviewer, with breathtaking intelligence and impeccable journalistic skill! And not hard on the eyes, either… rawr! …just a moment, I don’t remember saying that.
R: Oh, you did. Trust me.
T: I’m thinking you added that bit yourself…
R: Of course not! I’m a respectable reviewer, after all.
T: Okay, okay. But at least take out that rawr. Makes me sound like a complete wanker.
R: No problem. It’s gone. Bye!