Today in the Library we have Tim Walker, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author.
You are very welcome, Tim, please tell us about yourself.
Thank you for inviting me, Pam. I’m an independent author living near Windsor in the UK. I grew up in Liverpool where I began my working life as a trainee reporter on a local newspaper. After attaining a degree in Communication Studies, I moved to London where I worked in the newspaper publishing industry for ten years before relocating to Zambia where, following a period of voluntary work with VSO in educational book publishing development, I set up my own marketing and publishing business, launching, managing and editing a construction industry magazine and a business newspaper.
My creative writing journey began in earnest in 2013, as a therapeutic activity whilst undergoing and recovering from cancer treatment. I began writing an historical fiction novella, Abandoned, following a visit to the nearby site of a former Roman town, publishing in 2015 (revised and extended in 2018). This would become book one in a series, A Light in the Dark Ages. The aim of the series is to connect the end of Roman Britain to elements of the Arthurian legend, presenting an imagined history of Britain in the fifth and early sixth centuries. Now there are five books in the series, published between 2015 – 2020.
My latest novel, published in June 2020, is Arthur Rex Brittonum, a re-imagining of the story of King Arthur (book five in the series). It received a Highly Recommended commendation by the Coffee Pot Book Club in June 2020. It follows on from 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum, the story of a youthful Arthur (book four in the series), that received recognition from two sources in 2019 – One Stop Fiction Book of the Month in April, and an honourable mention in the Coffee Pot Book Club Book of the Year (Historical Fiction) Awards. The series starts with Abandoned, followed by Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (2017); then book three, Uther’s Destiny (2018). Series book covers are designed by Canadian graphic artist, Cathy Walker.
I have also written two books of short stories, Thames Valley Tales (2015), and Postcards from London (2017); a dystopian thriller, Devil Gate Dawn (2016); Perverse (verse and short fiction, 2020); and a three-book children’s series, co-authored with my daughter, Cathy – The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2017); Charly & The Superheroes (2018) and Charly in Space (2020).
Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?
I have always enjoyed reading historical fiction, ever since I read with fascination Rosemary Sutcliffe’s Eagle of the Ninth, as a teenager. It is not surprising, then, that my first attempts at creative writing were the short stories that make up my first book, Thames Valley Tales. Many of these tales evoke the rich history and legends associated with places beside England’s longest river. I visited Silchester (formerly the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum) for a walk in 2014 and pondered the question, “what would the reaction of the Britons have been to the Roman withdrawal on or before the year 410 AD?” This started me off researching and writing a short story, Abandoned, that grew to a 20,000 word novella. I revisited this novella in 2018 and added in new characters and material to extend it to a 50,000 novel. My love of history and the magic of creating a world and breathing life into my characters meant that historical fiction was the genre that chose me.
Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
Yes. I read, review and move onto the next book. I enjoy reading historical fiction, not just in the period I write in, but in other historical periods, such as the Tudor era where I’m enjoying SJ Parris’s Bruno Giordiano series. I recently read a more recent historical fiction novel, Joseph Kanon’s The Good German, set in post-War Berlin, and enjoyed his skilful creation of period detail, with engaging and memorable characters. There’s always something to learn from reading other author’s fiction.
Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?
I am a self-published author and have only once made an attempt to find a publishing agent. I quickly gave up and concentrated on self-publishing. This feels natural to me, given my publishing background, and I enjoy the technical aspects like formatting paperbacks and e-books and loading to a platform. The only services I buy in are proof-reading, copy editing and cover design. Everything else, including marketing, advertising and sales, I do myself.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
I guess my biggest influence is from the historical books of Bernard Cornwell. I’m pleased that I was well into book two in my series before I read Cornwell’s The Winter King – his story of Arthur and book one in a three-book series, The Warlord Chronicles. I absolutely loved this novel, and would have felt defeated if I not already mapped out my own series and was well on the way. I have since completed his series, and thoroughly enjoyed it – soon to be a TV series I hear on social media. I admire his style of writing – less literary and more action and adventure, but with enough complexity to challenge the reader. I think his storytelling has had an unconscious influence on me, and certainly inspires me. I had found a successful author I can aspire to, and whose approach is close to what I’m trying to achieve. I had already set my stall out before ‘discovering’ his Warlord Chronicles series, honest! I was just pleased to find a top quality example of where I want to be.
Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?
Yes, enormously. I have always been enthralled by the history of England and whilst experimenting with creative writing when doing an online creative writing course in 2013, was instinctively drawn to creating stories around historical locations, events or characters. I was fascinated to find that the site of the Roman town of Calleva was only 40 miles from where I live, and I have often popped over there for a walk and to feel the call of history. I get value from my English Heritage membership, and my most recent expedition was to Hadrian’s Wall where I planned a whirlwind tour of five Roman museums and sites over two days. I’m fascinated by Roman Britain and am still reading history books about it.
What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?
Given my journalism background, I was instantly comfortable with ‘write what you know’ and the whole area of researching your subject matter. The switch from factual writing to fiction was interesting and refreshing, but not that difficult. In my first novel, Devil Gate Dawn, I put a lot of my own life experience into my main character, George Osborne. This definitely helps to make your character believable, realistic and relatable to your readers.
Please tell us about your latest published work
My latest book is Arthur Rex Brittonum, published in June 2020, the fifth and final part of my series, A Light in the Dark Ages. I feel a great sense of relief and achievement in completing a series that covers a little-known period in British history due to the paucity of verifiable evidence. We know that the Romans left around the year 410 AD, and that Saint Augustine baptised the first Anglo-Saxon King in 599 AD, but what happened between these dates? These are the years in which Geoffrey of Monmouth, who published his History of the Kings of Britain around the year 1139, tells us that Constantine, Vortigern, Ambrosius Aurelianus, Uther and Arthur were kings. Historians have been unable to find solid evidence to verify their existence. It remains in the realm of legend, until such a time as archaeologists uncover new finds or lost manuscripts are found. I have rolled up my sleeves and written about these characters, building to the life of King Arthur, who may have died at the Battle of Camlann around the year 539 AD (according to historians who have attempted to date entries in the Welsh Annals that record two key battles that may have involved a real, historical Arthur).
Amazon universal link for paperback and Kindle: http://mybook.to/ArthurRex
Amazon universal link for the book series: http://mybook.to/DarkAgesSeries
E-books also available for Kobo, i-books, Nook and other platforms: https://books2read.com/ap/ngjpb2/Tim-N-Walker
If you would like to know more about Tim and his work, please check out his social media links below:
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/678710.Tim_Walker
Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/TimWalkerWrites
Facebook Page: https://facebook.com/TimWalkerWrites