Author Interview with Herding Cats

Thank you to Herding Cats Blog for having me! You can read it here:

What do you think makes a good story?

Hi Herding Cats! Thank you for having me. Like most writers, I’ve spent most of my life reading. When I was a child, I was a big fan of Roald Dahl (and I still am). I liked the suspense he created in ‘Matilda’ and ‘The B.F.G’, and the whimsical nature of ‘The Twits’ and ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’.

Now, as an adult, I like books like ‘The Girl on the Train’ (Paula Hawkins) and ‘An Isolated Incident’ (Emily Maguire) because I still love that suspense, and I also love reading more whimsical books such as ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared’ (Jonas Jonasson) and ‘Elefant’ (Martin Suter).

So I think, for me, a good story has suspense, whimsy and heart (because every story needs that right?)

Let’s talk about We Are Animals. There are 22 animals in the book. Why?

There are two answers to this question. The first is simply due to my love of animals. There are a group of crabs in the first chapter, and I found myself researching sand bubbler crabs for about three hours after watching them on a beach in Goa. It was the enjoyment of that research that persuaded me to incorporate as many different types of animals as possible. The characters go to ten countries in total, and I’ve learnt a lot about some fairly niche species.

The second answer goes back to the first question. Some of my favourite books as a child were about animals (Charlotte’s Webb, The Sheep-Pig etc), and I thought, maybe adults would enjoy the same kind of surreal escapism that animals can bring in literature.

What themes do you explore in your writing?

When I first started to write We Are Animals, I didn’t know what genre I was going for. Now I’ve finished it, I still don’t really know what genre it is. It’s probably literary fiction, because that covers all strands of fiction, right?

I used to perform stand-up, so the one genre that is present throughout is comedy. There are plenty of emotional chapters in We Are Animals, and there are quite a few dramatic scenes that hopefully wouldn’t be out of place in a thriller, but I’d like to think that the humour comes through in all the scenes.

What does your family think of your writing?

I’m very lucky to have a very supportive family. It was my wife who, after she had read the first few chapters, convinced me that I should keep writing. At one point she also reminded me to add a plot, which, although obvious, was probably the most crucial piece of advice I ever received!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Probably location. I’m one of those writers that you see writing on busses and trains. I book meeting rooms during my work lunch breaks and tap away on my iPad before going back to my desk in the afternoon. I don’t have a ritual as such, or a writing space, I just do it where and when I can.

Where can people find out more about you?

I have an Instagram account which I set up as a reader rather than an author (@quickbooksummaries) where I make inaccurate but humorous book reviews.

As an author, I’m on the usual social media sites; Twitter (@Ewinstim) and Facebook (@timtewins).

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