Book Country Member Spotlight Q&A
Timothy Maguire has been writing for years; he’s finally gotten to the point where he thinks he’s onto something. He lives in Leicester in the UK with some friends and a lot of books. He’s been using Book Country for years, and is probably best known for his “Science!” thread, explaining various bizarre parts of current scientific understanding.
So, if you want to know more about time travel, energy, string theory, or black holes, head out to the discussion forum!
Nevena: Thanks for joining us, Timothy. Why did you become a writer?
Timothy: I started writing ‘seriously’ when I was still in school. I borrowed David Weber’s Heirs to Empire (the last book in a trilogy, so, of course, I read it first) from the library, and I found myself thinking, “This is what I’d write.” From there it’s simply been a forgone conclusion that I’d be a writer.
Nevena: How do you fit writing into your life?
Timothy: Badly. I’m not the best organized of people at the best of time, so I tend to crowbar it in wherever I can. Ordinarily, I can be found pecking away at my laptop during lunch breaks or when I’m supposed to be socializing. When I’m up against some sort of self-imposed deadline, I head out of the house to a coffee shop or the local park to work until my battery dies.
Nevena: Tell us more about your science background. The “Science!” discussion you started on the site is a treasure trove of scientific insight.
Timothy: I graduated a few years ago with a Bachelor’s in Physics with Space Science and Technology (yes that was the actual course name). I mostly took the course to better understand the science I’d need to write good science fiction, but a lot of the actual process and history is fascinating. There’s so much weirdness in physics that’s really interesting, even if (like me) you really don’t get the math that well.
Nevena: That is what I call dedication. What draws you to the science fiction and fantasy genres?
Timothy: I’ll be honest and say it’s a love of big, excessive action. Also, you get to step back and ask questions that your really can’t access in an ordinary setting. The simple act of creating your own setting can often give you hundreds ideas for unique stories you can tell.
Nevena: So what are you currently working on?
Timothy: I’m putting the last touches to my novel Slide the Scales from My Eyes, with the intention to publish it on Book Country by the end of the month. It’s an urban fantasy novel about a young woman who’s unwillingly introduced to this very odd, secret world hidden in the shadows of Leicester. I’ve been getting some great feedback on it from the Book Country users and my beta readers (thanks guys!). When I’m not worrying over that, I’m working on a number of other projects (as anyone who’s glanced at my profile will tell you), the main one being Dyson Academy, my project for the Summer Writer’s Club. It’s a comical YA/NA novel about the sole earth-born human at a school for alien superheroes. It seems to revolve around stealing a golden snitch at the moment.
Nevena: Sounds really intriguing.
What inspired you to write Slide the Scales from My Eyes? I love the cover, by the way!
Timothy: Well, there were about two major influences that led to Scales, beyond just my desire to try and write an urban fantasy novel. The first was reading a fan-written RPG called Genius the Transgression, which has this wonderfully creepy/weird setting. There’re a lot of its ideas poking out the corners of Scales. Finally, the real impetus for it, especially the characters, came in a book store a few years ago. I suddenly realized that every shelf in the new fantasy releases had a different urban fantasy novel on it, but each one had some variation of ‘badass heroine in tight black’ on the front cover. After the first few, it was kind of laughable, so I decided I’d create a protagonist who refused to dress like that. It’s how Lea born; she’s someone who feels naked without a tie. Everything kind of followed from there.
Nevena: What’s your writing process like? Do you plot extensively or let the characters lead the way?
Timothy: A mix of the two. I tend to start with the vague concepts and write something, preferably a short story of some kind, before I get down to the details. That tends to show up everything I haven’t thought of (like names; I am truly terrible at names), so I then work from there to figure out what I haven’t thought of. After that, I’ll stitch all the mad ideas I’ve had into something resembling a plot, plan out a few chapters if I’m really organized, and let it roll from there. I’ll admit I do find that my characters do just seem to talk about whatever they want, and I have to keep going back and prod to get the actual plot in.
Nevena: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Timothy: It came from one of my English teachers at school, during a course I took to improve my writing. I’d just presented him with the short story I’d written for my coursework about a month early (he didn’t know me well enough to know how unusual this was). He came up to me the next class, apologized, and told me he ‘didn’t feel qualified to mark it’. While at the time I was quite annoyed (this started a two-month-long saga to get the thing back), it taught me that no matter what I write, it’s impossible to get everyone to love it. In a way, that’s quite freeing. I write what I want to write because it’s fun to tell these stories.
Nevena: Why are you on Book Country?
Timothy: I saw it featured online a while back and thought, “I’ll have a go.” I was looking at a way to go beyond where I was with my writing at the time, and it seemed perfect. Since then, I’ve surprised myself with how often I’m interacting on the site and how much I enjoy seeing the process of development on some of the books I’ve reviewed. The community seems far more focused on improvement than ego-boosting, and it’s often home to some really fascinating discussions.
Nevena: I’m glad you think so. Is there anything else you want the members to know about you?
Timothy: My luck is so bad that in certain corners of Leicester I’m worshipped as a god (I’m really not kidding).
Nevena: Haha, if you say so! Thanks for chatting with me, Timothy. Good luck with Scales!
Connect with Timothy on Book Country and help him fine-tune Slide the Scales from My Eyes.