Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Tim Parks – Ever since the age of five, Tim Parks knew that writing was in his blood, and began writing short stories, one of which was published when he was 12 in a children’s magazine.
Thanks so much, Tim, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Tim Parks: Well for a while I wanted to be an astronaut. I am pretty sure that’s because I watched too much I Dream of Jeannie and was convinced that I’d find a genie in a bottle. Other than that, I have only ever wanted to be a writer.
JSC: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
TP: I started writing when I was five years old and I was always the kid in class that would moan when the teacher would assign a page of creative writing. I wanted to write more! And often I would end up writing 10 pages. I knew that there was something to my writing when I won a literary award at age 12.
JSC: If you could kill one person, who would it be, and why?
TP: I wouldn’t kill anyone, as a wise friend told me, “Living well is the best revenge.”
JSC: Describe yourself using… ( a food, a book, a song, a movie, an animal, a drink, a place)
TP: A steak, because I’m 100% all beef.
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, because like the characters in the book learn; I firmly subscribe to the philosophy that it’s the family you make along the way and not the one that you are born into, which makes a difference in your life.
“Audition” from La La Land. It helped me realize that I’m not dead inside and really spoke to me about being a creative type.
A monkey, specifically Curious George, as I am very curious by nature.
Tang, because it’s what the astronauts took to the moon!
It’s a place, where nobody dares to go. They call it Xanaduuu.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
TP: I always say its equal parts comedy and heartbreak, just like the author himself. Ha ha. What I mean by that is being able to throw the readers for a zig when they think I’m going to zag, emotionally speaking.
JSC: Do you have any strange writing habits or superstitions?
TP: I primarily only write in the morning, but if the mood strikes me, I will write whenever. Superstitions, hmm…never write under a ladder? Or…I usually don’t tell a lot about the project I’m working on or its title.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
TP: My first story was published when I was 12. It was called The Basketball Star and was published by a magazine called Stone Soup. It was really just a thinly veiled plea for me to get a dog because – spoiler- that’s what’s happens to the main character Mark. True to form, I didn’t get that dog.
The first professional article I did was about same sex domestic violence entitled The Silent War and was one of many articles that I wrote for The Gay and Lesbian Times in San Diego.
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
TP: Oscar Wilde and I would ask him where my portrait was hidden away to stop the aging process.
JSC: If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose, and why?
TP: While I do spend quite a bit retooling and mining my past for my books, I don’t know that I would want to change where I’ve been…it’s gotten me to where I need to be. That’s the luxury of fiction, you can take small things and change them a bit to have more of an outcome of how you wished a certain situation had gone.
JSC: If I were a Hollywood producer about to put your book on the big screen, who would you want me to cast as the leads? Why? And can we have pictures?
TP: I’ve always felt that it would make a better TV show. Sean Grandillo, who is currently playing Kenny’s boyfriend Brett on The Real O’Neal’s, is my first choice for Henry as a teen. I first saw him on MTV’s Scream and thought he’d be perfect.
Reeve Carney who played Dorian Gray from Penny Dreadful for Danny! Kyle Chandler for Big Ed and since the book is a semi-homage to ’80s primetime soap operas, Heather Locklear as Kate.
JSC: If you were stuck on a desert island all alone with only three things, what would they be?
TP: My Spotify playlists and a way for me to recharge my phone.
A good book.
Christopher Atkins, circa Blue Lagoon.
JSC: Tell me about a unique or quirky habit of yours.
TP: I don’t like to read when I am writing a book, so as not to be subtly influenced by another writer’s words.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
TP: Two cups of coffee. Check. A few cigarettes. Double check. Sitting down in front of the blank page on the computer while listening to ’80s music. Triple check.
JSC: What fictional speculative fiction character would you like to spend an evening with and why?
TP: Ellen Ripley because Aliens is one of my favorite movies. Plus, as an added bonus if the Alien Queen got to close to me she could say, “Get away from him, you bitch!”
JSC: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
TP: There are four dogs in my household. Three dachshunds named Sherman, Simon and Ellie and an English Cream Retriever named Steve.
JSC: If you could create a new holiday, what would it be?
TP: National Hug An Author Day. I love hugs.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
TP: I am working on the sequel to The Scheme of Things. I am hopeful it will be out this year.
And now for Tim’s new book: The Scheme of Things:
For Henry Dodge, coming out was only the beginning of an incredible journey.
For all intents and purposes, I am undead, not quite alive, not quite corpse. The life I have been living is disappearing with each passing mile, and the one I want to live remains a mystery before me.
My head is pressed against the window of the train; my breath, sharp and low, fogs the window, marking time with the sound of the wheels meeting the tracks. I am heading to a destination that is for now, in this moment, punctuated by small pinpoints of light stretching out before me as readily as the infinite blackness.
This seems to be a fitting analogy to my life.
Ever since the age of five, Tim Parks knew that writing was in his blood, and began writing short stories, one of which was published when he was 12 in a children’s magazine.
Fast forward to now and Parks has amassed over 300 celebrity interviews, including Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue, John Waters, Olivia Newton-John, Margaret Cho and Chelsea Handler to name a few. He relishes in the fact that he has gotten to thank the people who have populated his pop culture landscape over the years.
His 16 year freelance writer credits also include numerous other arts and entertainment pieces, including being a columnist that lampoons all things Hollywood. He has written for The Gay & Lesbian Times, The Rage Monthly and Gay San Diego in his hometown of San Diego; and has also contributed to reFRESH Magazine and the websites Digital Spy in the U.K. and afterelton, which is owned by MTV and Logo.
Even though his first novel, The Scheme of Things, is fiction; Parks likes to consider it a work of “faction,” as many of the events in the book are based on actual events in his life. He lives in San Diego, California and is currently working on the follow-up and he currently won two awards for his debut novel, including placing as a finalist in the Beverly Hills International Book Awards.