Author Interview: Tim C. Taylor

In 1992, Radlan Saravanan runs a small business out of a Tudor cottage in the sleepy English village of Elstow. But Radlan was born in 2951, and when he falls in love with a local girl, he has to choose between running from his own people and condemning his lover to die.

He makes the wrong choice.

Travelling into the past, falling in love… it turns out that he was meant to do these things. He’s been manipulated all along. But now he’s slipped his handlers, and Time isn’t following the right script any more. Other versions of history vie for dominance, and our reality is losing.

In 1992, Radlan Saravanan sparked The Reality War.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I live with my family in a old village in England called Bromham. When I was a young and impressionable lad — between 1977 and 1978 — several important things happened to me all at once: 2000AD, Star Wars, Blake’s 7, and Dungeons & Dragons. Consequently, I now write science fiction.

Last year I also set up Greyhart Press a publishing business, which publishes science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?

The discovery of a limitless and free source of energy

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Ben 10. My young son started watching this children’s science fiction series on Cartoon Network, and I sometimes like to watch shows with him. I have err... kind of watched every Ben 10 episode ever broadcast. And, yes, that includes the films.
What is the best gift anyone has ever given you?

This will probably sound odd, but I was made redundant at the start of 2011 after twenty years working for the same software business. I needed to move on and do something different, and that was just the kick I needed. Now I write, publish, and do freelance book design work.

What is your writing routine (if you have one!)?

It depends on what stage of the book I’m working on. Once a novel is underway, I’ll try to reserve at least a couple of days per week for writing, when I’ll cycle into town (Bedford), quickly run through what I’m going to do over a cappuccino at Costa Coffee, and then write all day at Bedford Central Public Library. I’ve learnt to my cost that if I don’t start with my coffee, then I don’t settle into my routine so easily.

That working in the library became very significant with this novel. The most famous thing about my adopted town of Bedford is John Bunyan and his book, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Everything in Bedford seems to be called Pilgrim’s this or Bunyan that. When I was writing the first draft, I sat in the library’s local reference section, surrounded by books about The Pilgrim’s Progress and about John Bunyan’; Bunyan’s book quickly began to influence mine. The Pilgrim’s Progress is a Christian allegory. Mine isn’t: it’s a science fiction adventure story. But there are narrative links to John Bunyan, and I see many parallels in the theme of a spiritual journey, although in my book I have characters undertaking the same spiritual journey but in parallel realities vying for existence.

In one sentence, what is your book about?

The first book in a time travel adventure series where the two heroes are each from an alternate reality vying with the other for existence.

What gave you the idea for this story?

It started with a writing course I did with the Other Worlds Writers’ Workshop (which has the lovely acronym of OWWW). I had to write a 500 word beginning, and match it with one cliff-hanger ending and one wrap-up-all-the-loose-ends ending. I was pleased with what I’d written, so I set myself a challenge of writing a story with that beginning and both the endings. You get all three in the first book of The Reality War.

I’ve heard other authors talk of starting off stories by setting themselves such challenges. At the start, the challenge often sounds crass, but it can force you to work your imagination hard and arrive at a story you couldn’t otherwise have written.

How long did it take you to write it?

I started in 2002 and printed a first draft at the end of 2005. Since then, it’s been workshopped with the British Science Fiction Association. The theme and most of the characters stayed the same, but pretty much everything else has been rewritten, including the name, which was My Future in the Past until very recently.

I had some interest from a publisher in 2010 with another novel series called Stain Blossoms. They eventually said ‘no’, but invited me to send another novel. That was to have been The Reality War but the story grew much too big, so I’m publishing through my Greyhart Press imprint and writing them another. I’ve promised my agent the next one will be shorter.

What is the target audience for your book?

Anyone who enjoys time travel stories, and science fiction readers who enjoy a little depth to their world-building. If you enjoy Alastair Reynolds, David Brin, or Stephen Baxter, I think you’ll like The Reality War. Also my wife and I enjoyed Peter F. Hamilton’s Mindstar Rising series, which was set in a near-future Rutland, just north of where I live, and close to Bedford and Elstow where I set my novel. We enjoyed reading novels set in a future England that had a definite sense of place, and somewhere that wasn’t London. That was one reason why I chose my setting.

What have people said about your writing?

Well, amongst the nice things people often say is that there’s a richness and depth to my world-building. I was chuffed when online magazine Strange Horizons recently said exactly that about a short story of mine that is itself a spin-off from The Reality War.

Favorite Book?

Resplendent (2006) a short story collection by Stephen Baxter. The stories tell the future history of our galaxy and humanity’s place within it, principally our 100,000 year war against the Xeelee. The stories are fine in themselves, but I am lost in wonder at the way they all connect together to tell this deeper story on this enormous canvas. Sheer imagination delivers a narrative of breathtaking proportions.

Funnily enough I build eBooks for other publishers, and my current project is to build Stephen Baxter’s next book. If you had told me that when I first read Resplendent, I would have thought you absolutely mad. How quickly the world can change!

Favorite book you've read this year?

Fables from the Fountain (2011). I never would have come across this if I hadn’t been asked to build the eBook, and it’s a chance encounter I’m very grateful for. It’s a tribute to Arthur C. Clarke from an eclectic mix of academics, fans, friends, and top British SF writers — Neil Gaiman and, that man again, Stephen Baxter, to name just two. Fables is a collection of stories where — funnily enough — science fiction writers, fans, and scientist get together in a fantastical pub to tell each other tall tales.

When I build eBooks I check the formatting on every page, but I almost never read the content. I just don’t have the time. I couldn’t help myself with Fables because I found the stories so outlandishly compelling. In the end I felt I had buy my own copy.

Normally I prefer to read novels or individual short stories; I rarely finish anthologies. I’m still trying to work out why my two favorites I’ve listed were a collection and an anthology.


15 copies of the eBook to giveaway!!!

Leave a comment on stating that you’ve read the SciYourFi interview, and that you’d like a copy of The Reality War Book1. Tell me whether you would prefer Kindle, ePUB, or PDF format. The first 15 people win the book.

Winners will be announced on March 31!

Tim C. Taylor is a writer and publisher of science fiction. The Reality War Book1: The Slough of Despond is his debut novel and is available now as a Kindle eBook at The initial launch price is just 99¢ / 77p and includes a limited time offer for a free download of book2. The second and concluding book will be published in the spring, as will paperback editions.

Read more about The Reality War, John Bunyan, and time travel at Tim’s blog: Say ‘hi’ on Twitter @TimCTaylor