Friday, May 22, 2009

Enchanting Review: Tim Byrd

Interview with Tim Byrd

1. What made you want to be a writer?

I realized I wanted to write sometime before I can even remember. I learned to read when I was three or four, and was reading novels by five. That was when I wrote my first story, “The Blue Stallion,” which I also illustrated in crayon. It was an exciting tale in which our hero, the stallion, fought and vanquished a mountain lion.

I always intended to write, but didn’t realize it was to be my absolute calling until I read Ray Bradbury’s story “The Fog Horn” when I was about nine or ten. I found it so moving, and was so overcome with the fact that the written word could have such power, I consciously decided that writing would be my main job, whatever else I might get around to doing.

2. How long have you been writing?

As long as I’ve been reading, I think.

3. Why action/adventure?

I love adventure stories. Always have.

I was recently thinking about this very question, about why this is the sort of thing that my mind comes up with (as opposed to, say, suburban divorce stories), and it occurred to me that most adventure tales are tales of optimism. The heroes face difficulties, and almost always manage to overcome them. Adventure stories are usually considered escapism, a retreat from our daily reality, but I think instead they actually motivate us subconsciously to engage reality. They give us models of perseverance and hope.

4. Describe your writing style.

The goal is for it to be vivid. I want people to get as close to actually feeling what my characters are feeling as I can bring them. I want emotion on the page, and sensation, and passion. I also want my writing to actively engage the mind, to be smart.

Whether I achieve those things is up to each reader.

5. What's the best part of being a writer?

Oh, being read. I write to be read, and the more people who read my stuff, the happier I am, especially if I get to hear their impressions. It’s all about sharing the stuff bubbling up in my head.

6. Describe DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM in 3 words.

Smart rollicking adventure.

7. Why frogs? :)

It just felt right, even inevitable. As soon as I knew I was going to write about Doc Wilde and his kids, I immediately knew their first challenge would be the Frogs of Doom. Frogs are primeval and weird, but also goggle-eyed and goofy, so there was potential for the Wildes to face creatures that were alien and dangerous but at the same time somewhat ridiculous, which adds to the fun.

8. What sparked the idea for DOC WILDE?

I've always loved pulp adventure fiction, which grew as a form during the Depression in the 1930s. I grew up reading reprints and scavenged copies of pulp era science fiction, fantasy, and mystery, and a big favorite of mine was Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze. His adventures were full of exotic locales, twisted villains, brilliant gadgetry, and constant action.

When I became a father, I looked for stories to share with my son that had that old pulp spirit, and didn't have much luck. Doc Savage and The Shadow were out of print. There were some contemporary movies available (the Indiana Jones flicks, the first two Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser, The Shadow with Alec Baldwin), and there were some good modern pulp books for adults by writers like James Rollins and Matthew Reilly, but not much for kids.

So I decided to write some pulp for him. Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom is the result, a modern-day homage to the pulp greats, full of cliffhangers and gadgets and world-threatening villains being vanquished by a stalwart family of adventurers.

9. What do you like best about Doc Wilde and his family?

It’s all about love. They’re all overflowing with love of knowledge, love of experience, and most of all love of each other. It was very important to me that the reader would feel all that love along with the Wildes.

10. What was your favorite scene to write?

It’s a toss-up between Brian’s adventure on the Empire State Building, with its incredibly over-the-top resolution, and Wren’s solo encounter with a Lovecraftian monster late in the book. Both were classic examples of the writer writing himself into a corner, with no more idea of how the characters will survive than the reader will have. Figuring out how they did was exciting and fun.

11. What do you have in common with Doc Wilde?

He's more tanned, more fit, and way more accomplished than I am, but he shares my hunger for knowledge and experience. Most importantly he's a dad before he's anything else, putting his kids ahead of everything else in the world.

Again, it’s all about the love.

12. What would readers be surprised to know about you?

Among the many pets I’ve had in my life were a hedgehog, a little brown bat, and a very affectionate raccoon named Hamlet.

13. What's next for you?

The second Doc Wilde book, of course. It's called Doc Wilde and The Daughter of Darkness. In it, something terrible happens to Doc, and Brian and Wren go looking for help from an old friend of the family, a shadowy avenger with a sinister laugh. He's not home, but his teen daughter is, and she joins them against a diabolical Manchurian warlord who's been around a very long time.

Interivew by Lisa

May 2009

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