Tim Greaton’s name says it all. His work is great! I first read his lovely holiday book, “The Santa Shop” in the heat of summer and fell in love with his writing. The next book I read was “Zachary Pill – The Dragon at Station End”. His work never ceases to impress me.
When did you start writing?
Because my childhood home could best be described as a domestic war zone, I escaped into books and the nearby library from almost the time I could walk. I wrote my first stories when I was in first grade. I thought I had written my first novel (probably a handful of handwritten pages) at the age of seven. Though I don’t remember specifics, it seems to me it was something about astronauts. Anyway, I remember my mother gushing over how great it was and what a talented writer I had become. That I still remember her comments suggests that could have been the moment that cemented my writing career.
My first professional stories and nonfiction articles were written for national magazines and commercial advertising publications in my mid-twenties. Almost twenty-five years later, I’m somehow still publishing…and loving it even more as each year passes.
What gave you the idea for your first book?
I’m going to assume you’re not referring to that that first seven-year-old astronaut tale. My very first actual book, written sometime in my early-twenties, was called the “Isle of Achievement.” A fantasy novel for young adults, that book attempted to explain how kids could come up through painful childhoods but still be okay. That manuscript did not survive the theft of a computer system from a cottage I owned back then, which is probably just as well since I’m sure it was probably a little too preachy for most children and young teens.
What genre do you write in now?
That question always requires a little background explanation. I don’t have a set genre. My current publications range all the way from Christmas novels, to novels about the afterlife, to young adult fantasy books to science-fiction stories. I suppose my reason for roving across so many genres has to do largely with the limited number of shelves in my hometown library. When things were difficult at home, which was most of the time, I used to grab armloads of library books and crawl into stories that allowed me to mentally escape the constant screaming and unhappiness. Though I couldn’t possibly count the number of books I read between the ages of five and fifteen, I’m certain it was well into the thousands. By fourth grade, I was reading an adult novel a day. At that pace, it didn’t take long to read nearly every book in my library…some of them several times. Today, I write in many of the same genres I read those many years ago.
What do you do to keep yourself focused?
I’m very fortunate when it comes to writing. Because reading was a very real and literal escape for me as a child, I’m still able to completely lose myself when both reading and writing books. For me, a book is often more real than a movie. When I step into a novel in progress, I’m really there: living, seeing, feeling the lives of my characters. I’ve been known to start writing at eight in the morning and not realize the entire day has passed come four or five that evening. So to answer your question, I always have a backlog of projects, and my method of focus is simply to open up the most important to-do item on my computer screen. Chances are, half or more of my day has passed before I stop to look at my list again.
Do you stay with one project or do you work on multiple projects?
Because writing is a multi-staged process, I always have six to ten different projects going on at any given time. Currently, I’m working on the first draft of a series novel. But I’ll pause that project as soon as final edits for two other completed books are resubmitted to me for review. In the meantime, I have several short story projects and novel outlines that are also being worked on as feedback and my schedule allow.
What is your writing process?
Because my schedule is so full these days, I tend to always do outlines first because it saves the need for more than four rewrites. After the outline, I usually write four drafts of each novel, followed by two or three edit reviews (editor, me, editor, me). I’m very fortunate to be able to write full-time, so unless I’m touring my days are spent at my home office amid seven acres in Maine. When I need a break , I go out on my 60-feet covered porch and feed the ducks that are always in my brook and pond just a few feet off the stairs. I probably average about twelve to fourteen hours of writing and phone calls each day. Though that might seem like a lot, it really isn’t because I’m doing something I love.
How did you find your voice?
I wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized I did have a written voice or style. In broad strokes, I’d say I have a tendency to move stories along quickly by not getting involved in long descriptions of the setting or tedious explanations about the past. Instead, I let stories and their characters unfold organically. Both my readers and I learn about the characters as they think and speak in reaction to what is usually an urgent time in their lives. I also tend to write from close points of view; in other words, my readers seldom know more than my characters at any given point in time. I also tend to stick with ten cent words rather than a fifty cent ones whenever possible. Though, like most serious readers, I have a fairly substantial vocabulary, I’d rather not force my readers into holding a dictionary while trying to enjoy a story.
A last note about voice that might be of help to other writers moving along their own paths is that voice can only come to a writer who has done A LOT of writing. I recently saw a documentary about musicians and athletes. It turns out that these professionals usually started young and practiced for at least ten thousand hours before becoming truly great at their chosen career paths. I’m certain I passed the ten thousand-hour mark many years ago. I guess the message is that if you want to be truly great, you need to put in a lot of time getting there.
Do you ever change your endings after you have plotted them out in your outlines?
Sometimes but not so much as I used to. As time goes on, I find I’m better at building outlines. What does tend to change, however, are the small details that really add life to a story. I might originally imagine my heroine to be a nurse, but she might later become a mechanic because it fits her personality or the circumstances of the story better. Of course, tiny details like eye color, hair color and which makes or models of cars throughout the story always change—lots of times because I forgot what they were from one part of the story to another. My editors always catch those things, however, so I promise not to drive readers crazy.
What is your latest release?
My latest is the science-fiction short story “The Pheesching Sector.” It’s a fun space romp, which has been generating quite a few interesting emails and positive comments.
My latest novel release is “Under-Heaven.” At the core of this emotional book is Nate, a little boy who was murdered in the 1940s but wakes up in a place called Under-Heaven. Told partly in that Purgatory-like place and partly back here on modern-day Earth, the story delves into the loyalty and emotions that are the very meaning of family. The reviews have all been very positive so far. I actually received an email from one man who was completely embarrassed because he couldn’t stop crying while reading the ending on a plane. The truth is, I cried when writing that ending.
What other books do you have published?
“The Santa Shop” is a story that one reviewer called, “Christmas through the eyes of suicide.” It’s an emotional story about a man whose wife and little boy died in a fire in Albany, NY. Rest assured, I don’t write unhappy endings but most readers will likely shed a tear or two for this man who has a difficult journey to travel.
“Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End” is what people in the book industry refer to as an epic fantasy novel. Intended for young adults and adults, it’s about a boy who discovers his father is not human. Unfortunately, it isn’t until his father disappears that he finds this out. So he’s left to battle deadly creatures and evil villains without any help or knowledge of how to use the magical items his father left behind. Unfortunately, he’s forced to fight these battles while staying with Madame Kloochie, a family friend who lives in an absolute pigsty in New Hampshire.
“Bones in the Tree” is a novella about a woman who recently went through a divorce and now has one catastrophic dating experience after another when she returns to her home state of Maine. Unfortunately, she also has a bad relationship with a squirrel at the same time.
“Ancestor” books 1 and 2 are adult-themed horror novels about an evil entity from Colonial times who is trying to take over his descendant’s body. Those ARCs (uncorrected Advanced Reading Copies) are currently only available in e-book format.
Where are your books available?
My e-books are available in virtually all online bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple store, and Smashwords. Below are a few quick links:
My physical books can be purchased at many of the same online bookstores and at most local bookstores. If a particular title isn’t in stock, readers can just ask the cashier to order it.
“The Santa Shop” – An Unexpected Breath of Fresh Air
Skip is homeless. He’s been living on the street long enough to know his way around. After the accidental death of his wife and son, for which he holds himself responsible, he loses his job, his home and his self-esteem. Desperately contemplating suicide, he meets Father Johnston and his life begins to change.
We walk through Skip’s day, learning about his life. Neither asking for sympathy, nor denying his fall from grace, Skip reminds us we’re all worthy of a little respect. Although he’s fallen about as low as he can go, he maintains what small dignity he has, refusing a handout, especially when it’s accompanied by a lecture.
Although set at Christmastime, “The Santa Shop” is a book that readers can enjoy at any time of the year. It’s appropriate for young teens to adult readers. I read part of it aloud to my teenage son and he’s decided to read the book—clear evidence that “The Santa Shop” bridges generations.
Greaton treats the character of Skip with unusual insight and tenderness. He lovingly portrays the other characters as well, showing the compassion they have for their fellow man.
I greatly enjoyed “The Santa Shop” and look forward to reading more books by Tim Greaton in the future.
Zachary Pill – The Dragon at Station End
Zachary Pill is nobody’s hero. Smaller than average, skinny, smart—he’s a bully magnet. His father, Roger, is a quiet, unprepossessing man who hates conflict. Even when Zachary is picked on at school, he doesn’t do much about it.
All that changes the day that Zachary decides to fight back. When he sees another boy being bullied by the same bunch who pick on him, he confronts them and ends up with a broken arm. After his arm is set, Zachary is taken to Station End, far off the beaten track, to stay with a weird and slovenly woman named Madame Kloochie. That’s when the fun really starts!
“Zachary Pill, The Dragon at Station End” is a wonderful fantasy tale set in modern times. Full of trolls, werewolves, dragons, pixies and a bunch of creatures he has no name for, Zachary discovers that nothing he held as true—is. His father isn’t a coward and life as he knows it has pretty much been a lie to protect him from a villainous creature named Krage.
With the help of his friends, Bret and Robin, Zachary takes on the creatures sent against them, beating the bad guy at his own game.
This wonderful, lighthearted fantasy novel is great for middle grades on up. The wild adventures that Zachary shares with his friends are sure to capture the imagination of children and adults.
Easily as engaging as the “Harry Potter” series, “Zachary Pill” is a delight. The characters are well crafted, coming alive on the page. I enjoyed the feeling that this reality exists just beyond our ken, an undercurrent to society that “normal” people have inkling of.
“Zachary Pill, the Dragon at Station End” is a delight and I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy a great story and a fantasy adventure.