Today we flap gums with Timothy C. Ward, author of ‘Scavenger: Evolution’, a story set in the world of Hugh Howey’s ‘Sand’.
What was it about Howey’s ‘Sand’ that made you want to write a story in its world?
I’ve always been a fan of treasure hunting in a fantasy or scifi setting, and Howey’s combination of setting and sand diving technology make his world a fascinating opportunity for adventure. In this future, the heart of America is covered in sand with almost no trace of the America and the cities we know now. His book leaves the door wide open for what could be found in the fabled city of Danvar. He has a scene where a couple of sand divers go under the rubble of a recent disaster, but he doesn’t say what they went after. I know Hugh, and how he’s let people write in his Wool universe, so I asked if I could write the story of one of those sand divers. Sneak peak, he is diving for his wife, and sneak peak, eventually the story will discover something ancient and terrifying.
As a disclosure, you won’t have to read Sand to read my story. They share elements of setting and technology, but the characters and plot are my own.
Do you see yourself writing more in the Sand world, or in any other authors worlds? And is there any franchise (ie, Doctor Who, Star Trek, and so on) that you would love to tackle, if it were possible?
Self-publishing is expensive, especially for a first book. In this market, most authors don’t begin to make money until their fifth book, and even then, I’ve heard those five books should really be in the same series if you want to take advantage of sales momentum. This is a round about way to answering your question, but since my goal is to become a full-time writer, decisions have to be based on money. The quick answer is I’m nearly done with the sequel to Scavenger: Evolution, but I may try to wrap it up so if it doesn’t sell, I won’t upset readers by not investing any farther down this storyline. I recently signed a two book deal with Evolved Publishing for an apocalyptic fantasy series set in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss, and one of my own design, so the sequel to that first book will be my next major effort.
I had an awesome opportunity last Fall to fill in for the anthology, Tales from Pennsylvania. They wanted a story set in the Amish Scifi world of Pennsylvania by Michael Bunker. It was a lot of fun reading that book again and finding a short story to add to its world. I’d keep writing that storyline if they asked me. Pennsylvania was recently optioned to be made a film, so that could be interesting.
Do you think you learned anything by writing in a world someone else had created? And did you find any unexpected challenges in doing so?
On top of studying through the novel for notes on world and technology, I also had the challenge of trying to guess what lay outside of the setting specifics Howey laid out. I researched books (The World Without Us) and TV that talk about what would happen to our world if civilization collapsed, considering that it would likely take a few hundred years, I think, for the sand to cover cities with skyscrapers. I also thought writing in someone else’s world could help me gain fans from that world, but so far that factor has been minimal. This world is one open in Kindle Worlds, but I didn’t like a few things about that system, namely Amazon exclusivity and how difficult it is for readers to find books in that program using Amazon’s interface.
What’s the biggest influence on the kind of thing you write? Another author? A TV show? Some other thing that is neither of those two thing? SPILL!
Scavenger: Evolution is heavily influenced by Hugh’s ability to set the stage with a fascinating setting, but then carry you through an emotional experience based on the characters involved. Hugh sets the bar so high, it really challenges me to work hard.
I also see inspiration from Alien. As my sand divers discover a buried military base, what they find evokes the same kind of thrills as when Alien’s soldiers came in with guns ready, then had to run for their lives.
What was your favourite book as a kid? (No, you can’t include ‘The Joy of Sex’ that you found in your parents’ bedroom when you were nine and giggled over.)
Don’t parents realize kids will find everything they hide in their room? I suppose that’s a story for another time.
I read Goosebumps through Elementary school, then took up King and Dragonlance in middle school. The Shining was the first adult novel I finished, and while I also loved Dragons of Autumn Twilight, finishing The Shining was such a boost to my self-esteem because it meant I could go into the library and read anything.
What’s you’re writing schedule like? Are you super regimented, butt-in chair every day, tip-tapping away for hours, or an airy-fairy ‘when the muse strikes’ sort of a person?
I’ve really had to adapt since the birth of my first child two years ago this December. I’m super regimented, having been forced into it in college and then my master’s degree while working full-time, but ever since my son became old enough to want to play, I’ve really had a hard time getting as much writing as I’d like. I claw out at least an hour Monday through Thursday nights, and then another two hours or more on Saturday. It’s not ideal because I’m tired by the time we put him to bed, but it’s either that or I don’t write, so….
I’ve found good, loud music along with the self-discipline to use a timer that, when on, means I don’t check email or facebook, or anything else. That’s the “when the muse strikes” mentality, and it leads to far more time on facebook than the book. I am a sports fan, so sometimes I look at my five days a week writing as the best I can do to be like a Major League Baseball athlete getting his batting cage reps in. Without that dedicated time, they will never make it, and neither will I.
What does the future hold for you? Apart from your body gradually succumbing to sag, decrepitude and, ultimately, death. (You’re going to die.) But immediate-writing-career-wise, gimme the lowdown. (Seriously, you’re future worm food)
My faith has immediate benefits, especially in relation to how easily writing and the elusive success in this market can lead to depression, but that’s not your question. I mentioned my plans above, a little, but to expand, my next book will be the apocalyptic fantasy with Evolved Publishing. That should come out next March or April. Scavenger: Evolution’s sequel may wait for a few months after that. The audiobook for Scavenger: Evolution is nearly done, so that should be out by late November. Dave Robison of Wonderthing Studios is doing a fantastic job. You can listen to the first fifteen minutes here.
In this future, sand divers search the depths for the lost city of Danvar and the truth behind their bleak existence. Divemaster Rush hasn’t dove since he lost his infant. A job offer turns from an escape to a trap and the lure of a hardened heart to survive like anyone else would. One dive leads to another. Farther and farther from the surface, death and evolution change his world. He’ll have to change too or watch his wife rise without him.
Inspired by Hugh Howey’s world of Sand. Written and sold with his permission. Scavenger: Evolution takes the landscape of Dune and throws in the pacing and thrills of Alien.
This and more available in signed prints and ebook at SpikePub.com