Wednesday, February 18, 2009
FEATURED AUTHOR: Timothy N. Stelly
Timothy N. Stelly, Sr. is a poet, novelist, screenwriter and essayist from northern California. Human Trial is his first novel, and is the first part of an urban sci-fi trilogy. His poetry book, Stories From The Black Side Of The Rainbow is currently under consideration for publication. He has also written more than 350 essays for Useless-knowledge.com and e-zinearticles.com from social and political issues to film noir history. In 2006, he won first prize in the Pout-erotica poetry contest for his poem, C’mon Condi, and he is a regular contributor to Oysters & Chocolate.
HUMAN TRIAL asks the question, “What happens when all that remains of the world is fear, distrust and desperation?”
A scattershot group of humans survive a thermal war initiated by intergalactic beings. Daron Turner and a pregnant co-worker Regina Jackson, lead this eclectic group that must overcome intense heat, attacks from rabid animals, and their fear of the unknown.
The aliens desire is to use the remaining children on earth for study and hybrid procreation. Daron and his cohorts must decide whether to give up or fight to protect the planet’s future: Regina’s unborn child.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
One of the questions posed by HUMAN TRIAL is whether or not man is capable of saving himself from destruction; not so much by technological means, but in a survivalist state, can we put aside our fears and prejudices to do what is best for the survival of all?
The book has a little bit of everything—sci-fi elements, action, romance, and a smidgen of humor thrown in for good measure.
Why did you choose to write this book?
In books and movies we often see the theme of good vs. evil. That’s the sort of book I always wanted to write, along with one that explores group dynamics. Second, I had never read a sci-fi book with a black protagonist. Third, I’d never written a sci-fi story before, so it was stimulating to take on the challenge. Eventually, it evolved into a trilogy.
What did you learn while writing this book?
Like any writing that requires research, you have to be accurate. In HUMAN TRIAL, I received an assist from a sci-fi reader and writer who pointed out to me that the alien flotilla needed to be in low-polar orbit, and how such thermal devices might impact upon earth.
Second, that most sci-fi stories are return as serials, usually in a three-part format. Hence, HUMAN TRIAL II and III follow.
What was your favorite scene from the book?
There are two scenes I think that set the tone for the book. The first is when Daron and Regina are first introduced. Not only does the reader get a sense of their feelings for one another, but that these feelings will help them persevere through the dangers that are lurking.
I thought the scene with Rocks and Doris was important, because it focuses on betrayal and feelings of isolation, which would pose a threat to the cohesiveness of any group.
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
The amount of work that goes into it, and that when a person loves to write, it is never “a waste of time.” How can creativity be a waste of time? There is a lot of struggle and learning that goes into writing, no different from learning how to play basketball or repair an automobile.
What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?
Credit for this goes to the marvelously mature novelist Minnie E. Miller: Do NOT try and edit your own work. I tried and boy, was that a lesson I learned the hard way. I have a book titled “Tempest In The Stone,” where it shows. You need an objective eye to peruse your work, and this is where writing and crit groups come in handy.
What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?
The dread of a rejection slip, of which I have 23 to date. I got over it after I read that Stephen King’s book, “Carrie,” was rejected 31 times. If King can get rejected, it can happen to anyone.
What is something readers would be surprised you do?
Write poetry—all types, from Japanese verse to the old European styles. Such poetry forces you to “think inside the box”; to tell a detailed story while being confined to a certain number of syllables, words, lines or stanzas. Once I understood that, I became a better fiction writer by keeping my narrative from becoming mundane and clichéd.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
I hate to bad mouth a company, but there is a certain author mill that “published” my first two books. It essentially turned out to be a sham. All I will say is that the company is based in Maryland;
Two, beware of agents who pursue you, then want to charge fees for reading and editing. Though I never bit on this one, I see a lot of it going around. Many of these so-called agents are fly-by=night companies. I’d advise any writer to check them out through sites like preditors&editors and Absolute write.
I wish I had learned more about the art of publishing. It is a field I am giving serious consideration to getting into. But I have a more unique concept. However, I have a lot more research and fund raising to do.
How do you reach new readers?
I have an e-mail and contact list made up of book clubs, bookstores, radio stations, newspapers, etc. that I contact. I also issue online press releases and keep informed the members of the writers groups I belong to. I also find that library discussion groups are a good way to get he word out, because like moviegoers, if a reader finds something they like, they will spread the word.
If you could have dinner with 3 authors to talk with about their writing (living or deceased) who would you invite and why?
My list of influences is quite eclectic: Stephen King, Rene Guy De Maupassant (short story writer, 1850-1893), Richard Wright and Donald Goines. One of these would be left out, so I guess it would have to be Goines, since I don’t write a lot of so-called “street lit,” though I’m a huge fan of his.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Write every single day. I can’t emphasize this enough. Even when you have “writer’s block,” make up anagrams, do crossword puzzles, get on the buys with a pen and notepad, write haiku—write SOMETHING.
On the other hand, don’t let others’ criticism bring your career to a halt. Yes, we all get bad reviews and our work gets splattered with red ink, but those are the things you might want to work on. Learn your craft by writing and reading as many books on the subject as you can, and/or take classes.
Our theme for this month is Writing the book, what advice do you have for starting a book?
Take your time. If you’re in a rush, all you will have produced is the proverbial “quick job poorly.” Outline, and when you finish the first draft, set your manuscript aside for a month or so before you begin rewriting. You will not only come back with a fresh perspective, but you’re likely to see the flaws in your work, such as typos, bad syntax and key plot points that need fixing.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
I am always responsive to e-mails, so one can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. No website yet, but I am working on it. My Facebook account has suffered a malfunction.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
The tentative release date for HUMAN TRIAL II: ADAM’S WAR, is January 2010. The third part of the trilogy is still being written. I also have another sci-fi work, “A Junkie’s Paradise: The Crack-Melanin Factor.” It’s a “dramedy,” centering on a strain of avian flu that jumps species’ and kills more than half of the human population. When it ius learned that the one group with immunity is black crack smokers, U.S. politicians and scientists initiate a plan to create an army of crack addicted zombies--people willing to smoke the drug and supply the nation with the blood needed to combat the pandemic. Soon crack becomes a government-subsidized growth industry.
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