Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Friday, 7 August 2015

The Lowdown with... Tim Major

Today's Lowdown focuses on GAME OVER contributor Tim Major, who lives in Oxford with his wife and son. His love of speculative fiction is the product of a childhood diet of classic Doctor Who episodes and an early encounter with Triffids. Tim’s horror novella, Carus & Mitch, was published
by Omnium Gatherum in February 2015. His short stories have featured in publications such as Interzone, Perihelion, Every Day Fiction and the Infinite Science Fiction anthology. He blogs about writing and reading here and you can follow him on Twitter here.

1. Tell us three things about yourself.

Between the ages of eight and fourteen, Doctor Who was pretty much the most important thing in the world to me. I jumped on board just in time to see the classic show come to an end, but fandom, Target novelisations and the Virgin New Adventures series kept me going. I still think of Doctor Who more as a book series than a TV show. Doctor Who, along with John Wyndham novels, made me who I am.

Most of my stories feature a horror element, but I’ve never been much of a horror reader myself. I find suspense more satisfyingly upsetting than gore. Shirley Jackson is wonderful, but the unrelenting tension in Patricia Highsmith novels scratches the same itch. I fear socially awkward situations, which is why I’d class the recent film, ‘Force Majeure’, as a horror. It’s excruciating.

I live by lists. I list and rate films, books and albums. I work through ‘best of’ charts methodically. Most importantly, my writing progress and story submissions are contained in detailed spreadsheets. Even when I’m not in the mood to write, the satisfaction of charting progress is often enough to give myself a push. Without the lists, I’d flounder immediately.

2. What was the first thing you had published?

When I was about ten I wrote a sequel to the Doctor Who story, ‘Silver Nemesis’, featuring Cybermen in Ancient Egypt. I typed it up, got my dad to photocopy a few dozen copies and illustrated the front cover myself. Then I sold it to friends, family and teachers. I made a fair profit because the cover price was, quite frankly, outrageous.

My first proper fiction sale was a story called ‘The House Lights Dim’ to Sanitarium magazine, back in 2013. That’s not so long ago, really. Thing have been chugging along steadily since then.

3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of?

I’ve written a novel called ‘The House-sitter’, about a man who steals a time machine, then hides in a remote Cumbrian mansion to test it. Naturally, things go awry. It’s slow-burn and creepy, and I think it’s pretty good. Even so, it’s still sitting in my desk drawer.

4. …and which makes you cringe?

Back in 2011 I completed my first impromptu NaNoWriMo-style challenge (in February rather November, due to my impatience to get started). I wrote like a demon for a month. The resulting YA novel was abysmal, but I had no qualms in chucking it away. Behaving like a writer for a whole month let me develop ways of continuing to write regularly. I haven’t stopped since. Come to think of it, that first novel did have one saving grace: the title was excellent. I’m planning to reuse it for my next project.

5. What’s a normal writing day like?

I don’t have writing days. My son is nearly two; any time when I’m not at my day job and he’s awake, then he calls the shots. I write in dribs and drabs – before work, during lunch breaks and in the evenings – wherever I can set down my laptop and get going. The only important elements are headphones and Spotify. I listen to drone and minimalist music constantly when I write. It’s less like a trance state and more a way of pretending that I’m an efficient, clunking, clanking writing machine, which I certainly am not.
6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first?

Probably my novella, ‘Carus & Mitch’, which was published by Omnium Gatherum in February 2015. It’s about two young girls who live in isolation, boarded up within their house. During the story Mitch challenges Carus to piece together the reasons why they’re sheltering there, and what may really be outside. It covers all my main bases: it’s resolutely British, it features a mystery, and it’s not nearly as overtly science-fictional as it might at first seem. Readers and reviewers have been very nice about it.

7. What are you working on now? 

I’m just finishing up with a medieval time-travel adventure novel. At least, it started as an adventure. Over the course of four drafts it’s become darker and bleaker. I guess there’s something about multiple rewrites that gets me all gloomy.

Tim on Amazon UK and

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