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Interview with Tim Cundle

Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself?
A. Okay then. I’m a forty-something journalist who has spent the majority of his adult life writing about music, books, films, and comics, and did the whole playing in punk rock bands thing for way too long. I’m currently the editor of Mass Movement.

Q.2 Do you have any upcoming books?
A. I do. My short story, rites of passage collection called What Would Gary Gygax Do? is scheduled to appear in February, and a new novel is also due to be published around July by Earth Island Books.

Q.3 What made you write Compression?
A. Honestly? I don’t know. The idea had been rattling around in my head for a while, and one day I just sat down to write it, and a month later, the first draft was finished. I think maybe it was because after my first band broke up there was a creative vacuum in my life, and at the time I just needed something to fill it. Somewhere along the way, I discovered that I enjoyed writing more than making music, so I gave up on the latter and began to concentrate on the former.

Q.4 How do you come up with the name of this book?
A. In my experience, life is comprised of short, sharp shocks and brief moments of revelation, and joy so I wanted a quick, one-word title that would reflect that. And Compression seemed to perfectly capture the ideas and themes of the book, so I went with it.

Q.5 How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
A. That’s difficult to say… I spent most of my teenage years and my adult life, so far, immersed in the punk rock scene, so the connection to music was bound to appear in some fashion, and as I grew up in a small town, I guess the personal and everyday politics and social norms have shaped my way of thinking which is expressed through the way I write.  My literary influences and the writers I adore are as far removed from what Compression is, and became, as possible, so it’s more of a manifestation of my musical influences, and the bands I’ve been listening to for far longer than I care to remember.

Overall though, I think that I’m influenced by a glorious mishmash of all the things that I love - genre fiction, punk rock, and Hardcore, comics and science fiction and (old) horror films. How they do that though, I have no idea. But they are part of it.

Q.6 Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A. Just that, as people we’re not defined by the past, and we should never let a single incident shape our futures. Our lives are our own and, ultimately, they’ll be as rewarding and fulfilling as we want them to be.

Q.7 How many books do you write? Which one is your favorite?
A. So far? Two, with the third well underway. Which one is my favorite? That constantly changes but at the moment the one that I’m currently writing is my most beloved literary creation.

Q.8 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
A. I don’t have a set formula or pattern, they just tend to appear fully formed, and evolve as the story progresses. I used to be a drug and alcohol counselor so I’ve seen people at their absolute worst and lowest and at their best and most triumphant, which served as a stark a reminder that as a whole, we’re all fallible, beautiful, and incredibly fragile. That sense of realism is something that I’d like to think that I incorporate in the characters that populate my books.

Q.9 How much of your work is realistic?
A. The first two books are very dependent on realism. However, the one that I’m writing at the moment? Not so much. That’s a work of pure fiction.

Q.10 Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
A. I’d like to alternate between factual and fiction, which is part of the whole five-year plan that my publisher, and I are working toward. I’m sort of a long game planner and have the next decade completely mapped out in my head, and I know what my next eight or nine books are about, and when they should appear. 

Q.11 Does your family supports your career as a writer?
A. My family is incredibly supportive. I’ve been juggling being a full-time parent with a journalistic career for the last sixteen years, and I couldn’t have done any of it without my nearest and dearest. And they’re fully behind me adding being an author to my schedule. I’m incredibly fortunate in that respect.

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
A. Oh goodness, yes. Well, the only way I can deal with it is by just writing. That’s the only way to break it, and move on. Just write. It doesn’t matter what you write about, you just have to write.

Q.13 Does writing energize you or exhaust you?
A. It depends on what I’m writing about. Work-wise, constantly writing reviews can become tiring as you can tend to exhaust your ideas, and what you’re trying to say if you just lurch from record to record or book to book. But creatively? No, it’s always energizing as the tales that have been trapped in your head are given form and substance. I kind of like and thrive on that.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. Every writer does. I tend to relate everything to personal experience and approach everything I do from an incredibly personal perspective. It can be both infuriating and massively liberating at the same time, and as much as it annoys others, it annoys me far more. 

Q.15 What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
A. What I’m most proud of has nothing to do with writing. The fact that I’ve raised, and in some small fashion, helped to enable my daughter to become a confident, well-adjusted, fair-minded, and just human being is the thing that I’ll always be most proud of. She is the absolute light of my life and the reason that I am who I am and why I do what I do.

Q.16 What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
A. I really don’t know. I mean, you hear all sorts of horror stories about writers being taken from granted and treated poorly by their publishers. While I’ve been ripped off by magazine editors in the past, not been paid for work I’ve done despite contracts and agreements being in place and have fallen foul of the whole nepotistic nature of the business, apart from that I haven’t really seen the more vicious, or unethical, side of the industry.

Q.17 What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
A. Believe in yourself and what you’re doing. It’s easy to lose faith, but just remember, sometimes it takes a little longer to get to where you want, and need, to be. You’ll get there in the end though, so don’t lose the faith, and believe in what you’re doing. Because if you don’t, how can you expect anyone else to?

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. Can I have three? Henry Rollins, Stan Lee, and George Lucas. Why? Because they’re responsible, more than anyone else, for helping to shape my creative and philosophical world view. And I think that meeting all three at once, over coffee or dinner, would provide an evening filled with endlessly fascinating conversation.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. My absolute favorite? That’s difficult and changes all the time, but at the moment it varies between Broken Angels by Richard K. Morgan, Aberystwyth Mon Amour by Malcolm Pryce, and Volpone by Ben Johnson (which is a play, but still a riveting read). They’re all character-driven tales that subvert societal norms, and have a flexible moral ambiguity which provides a fascinating insight into the human condition. And, at their core, they’re all GREAT stories. 

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A. It’s been long, it’s been difficult, and full of unexpected twists, turns, and surprises, but I wouldn’t change a second of it for anything. And it’s just beginning.

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Facebook - @tim.cundle
LinkedIn - @timcundle
Instagram - @timmassmovement

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