I have a real treat for you today. Timothy Carter writes fantastically quirky YA novels, and I’m thrilled to have him appear on my blog. I hope you enjoy finding out about this talented author who seems to like drinking tea almost as much as me.
About Timothy Carter
Timothy Carter is a writer of far-fetched fiction for young adults and the young at heart (and mind). Born in England during the week of the final lunar mission, he has a great love of outer space and tea. Timothy is the author of The Cupid War, Epoch, Evil?, Closets, Section K, and Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters. He lives and writes in Toronto with his wife and cats.
The Cupid War
In life, Ricky Fallon was a depressed teenager desperate to escape his smothering friend Susan Sides. After accidentally falling to his death, he becomes something more. Fallon joins those responsible for spreading love to the living – the Cupids. But the afterlife isn’t like a box of chocolates. Fallon must deal with an obnoxious leader while fighting the Cupids’ enemies – the Suicides – who curse the living with despair. If that weren’t enough, Fallon discovers that his former friend Susan just might be the deadliest being on either side of life. When Fallon meets Trina Porten, a teenage girl with a psychic gift, he makes a valuable ally among the living. Together, they must convince the Cupids of the threat Susan poses before she discovers the full extent of her power.
Welcome to my blog, Timothy. I’m so chuffed to have the opportunity to chat about your book The Cupid War. Perhaps you could start by telling us a little bit about it.
The Cupid War is an afterlife fantasy, and begins with the death of my main character Ricky Fallon. He becomes a cupid, one of many spiritual entities who bring love to the living. Fallon also learns there are dark entities, known as Suicides, who haunt the living by giving them mood disorders like depression. This novel helped me work through my own struggle with depression, and allowed me another chance to explore the metaphysical.
I love the idea of starting a novel with the death of the main character – an immediate attention grabber. What inspired you to write this story?
Piers Anthony did a fantasy series a while back called Incarnations of Immortality, about regular people assuming the roles of Death, Time, Fate, War, Nature, the Devil and God. I found the concept fascinating, and tried to come up with my own version. With all the good ones already taken, I decided to take a crack at Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and Cupid. The novels I wrote for those first two didn’t work out, as I was still learning my craft back then. The Cupid concept took a long time to get off the ground, but when I came up with the idea of the Suicides I knew I had struck gold.
I’m so intrigued by the concept of Suicides, and I’m busting to read The Cupid War. Tell me, how did you choose the title?
I didn’t. My original title was Cupidity, because I thought it was going to be a much funnier, slapstick kind of book. That’s not what ended up happening – my characters demanded a more serious tone – so Cupidity had to go. In the end, it was someone at Flux who came up with the final title for The Cupid War.
So what age group is the The Cupid War aimed at?
The Cupid War is primarily a YA novel, aimed at boys and girls aged 10 to 16. I would also say it is good for people of any age who like spiritual or metaphysical stories and/or mental health themes. I really hope that teenagers struggling with their own mood disorders will find and enjoy The Cupid War. Primarily, though, my novels are for people who like fun stories.
Do you have a special system for choosing character names?
Sometimes it is a spur of the moment thing, sometimes it is something I plan. Sometimes I give homage to people I like, and occasionally I do requests. Most of the time, however, I name my characters something that just sounds right at the time.
Are you working on another book at the moment? Can you tell us about it?
I’m having a go at vampires. There’s so much vampire crap out there that I just have to make fun of it.
I’d love to read your spin on a vampire romance.
How long have you been writing?
Pretty much all my life. I’ve been coming up with stories since I was 4, cartooning (badly) throughout my childhood. I moved on to words in Grade 7, and produced short stories by the bucketload throughout my teen years. Straight out of high school, I began writing my first novel. That was in 1991. My first published novel came out in October of 2005. In-between, I wrote (and published) many short stories, articles, and even a couple of scripts for an animated TV series!
Ooh, an animated TV series!
Where does the writing magic happen?
At a table in a Tim Horton’s, with a cup of tea close at hand.
I have to have a steaming cup of tea next to my laptop when I write, too.
Are you a plotter or a pantser, and do you have a favoured POV?
Mostly by the seat of my pants, though I do plot just a little bit. I have a vague idea where I want the story to go, but the rest depends on what my characters tell me. I discover the story as I go along, which is way more fun. If I plot too much, I already know how it turns out, so what’s in it for me? POV depends on what is best for the story. My favourite is 3rd person Limited, but I’ve been known to use 1st person when my characters have demanded it. I began Evil in 3rd person, but by Chapter 3 it clearly wasn’t working and my main character, Stuart, was most unhappy. I changed to 1st person, and it was very smooth sailing after that.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I was going to write a really far-fetched answer to this one, involving blood sacrifices to my muse and selecting pens that have first been dipped in holy water. In the end, though, I just couldn’t come up with something silly enough. The truth is, I go out to a Tim Horton’s, sit down at a table with a cup of tea and write in a spiral notebook with a pen from Paper Mate. I suck.
You definitely do not suck, unless you drink your tea through a straw.
What is your most common writing mistake, the one that makes your editor want to scream?
I insist on using the Metric system and British spelling. My editor prefers the American style of things. Sometimes I win those battles, sometimes I don’t.
I think I can guess your favourite writer just by looking at your photograph. Terry Pratchett, right? The hat’s a big giveaway.
You’re 50% right. It’s a tie between Terry Pratchett (the Discworld series) and Robert Rankin (the Brentford Trilogy). Both write wonderfully funny and intelligent fantasies, each with their own unique style. I stole the term Far Fetched Fiction from Robert, and Terry’s work helped to save me from organized religion. I owe them a debt I will happily spend my career paying.
Please check out (from Terry Pratchett) Small Gods, The Truth, Going Postal, and Good Omens (co-written with Neil Gaiman). From Robert Rankin, there’s The Witches of Chiswick, The Dance of the Voodoo Handbag, The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse and The Da Da De Da Code.
I must admit, I haven’t read all of those books. But I’ll take your recommendation and add them to my TBR pile.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Give yourself permission to write crap. Don’t try to make it perfect on the first try – just get the story down. Good books aren’t written, they are rewritten. For the first draft, good enough always is.
Have you got any stellar writing or publishing advice?
Writing is fun. It doesn’t need to hurt. I’ve read posts by authors who claim they must endure unimaginable agony in order to tear their prose out of them. I feel sorry for writers like that. The worst pain I endure while writing is when I accidentally spill tea on myself. My take is, if you are having fun writing your story, your readers will probably have fun reading it. So go and have fun. This is, after all, the business of making stuff up.
And finally, can you recommend any craft books that have helped you with your writing?
I have enjoyed Zen & the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury and The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. The best one I’ve read, however, has to be Stephen King’s On Writing. That man knows his craft.
Thank you so much for providing us with such detailed answers. I’m sure readers will join me in wishing you every success with The Cupid War and all your other projects.
And if you’d like to find out more about The Cupid War in Timothy’s own words, follow the link (below) to his video youtube clip.
The Cupid War can be purchased from Amazon.
If you are a published author and would like to be interviewed on my blog, please contact me at amaleen (at) amaleenison (dot) com.