Tim Lees is a British native, recently moved to the US. He’s the author of two books: The God Hunter, and Devil In The Wires. Like me, he was plucked out of obscurity and hurled into a new kind of obscurity when Harper Voyager selected him from its open submission window.
Hi, Tim. Welcome. What are you drinking? Understand as a Brit, your choice of pint will heavily weigh my lasting opinion of you. No pressure.
Ginger lychee mojito, please. Thanks very much.
I had no idea you were a bond villain.
Right then, moving on. In your books, the storyline revolves around the idea of harvesting the latent psychic energy left behind in ancient worship sites (and eventually the Gods themselves) and using to it create real power; electricity. However, your main character also deals with the daily grind of being a corporate underling; paperwork, inept supervisors, etc. Are you really just a socialist/communist/anarchist/botanist looking to convert others to your ideas in attempt to form an underground army with the plans to bring down the capitalist structure?
Yes. But I hide it well.
Do you? Or is it a clever ruse, and you’re writing this book in hopes of distracting others from your real goal of forming exactly the company in your stories that will one day rule the world with an iron-fisted control on the energy market?
You mean we don’t already?
Do you have an IPO planned?
Okay, now that the easy question is out of the way, here’s a really tough one, and don’t try dodging it. Manchester United, Arsenal, or Chelsea?
Well played, sir. Well played.
Next question: science fiction has a long tradition of making social commentary; condemning wars, warning about the certainty of invading aliens who will destroy us if we don’t win the war against them, warning about the certainty of robots/AIs who rise up to destroy us if we don’t win the war against them, to life in a giant submarine would be awesome. Is there any deeper message to your books?
I don’t think you can have a book without some kind of deeper message, since its content is bound to reflect the author’s views and experience, whether he knows it or not. There are some deeper messages there – I could even suggest an allegorical reading for the last one, but I won’t, because it would sound really bad – but I don’t believe in preaching. I’d rather entertain people, and maybe make them think a bit. Let them come to their own conclusions.
I think I agree with you entirely. The entertaining makes the message easy to get across. What are your plans for the series? How many books are you thinking about?
I have one more in my head at the moment, still a bit underdeveloped, but it’s coming along. I’m told HarperVoyager are keen to extend the series and, lo and behold! I am suddenly inspired to do the same! Amazing, isn’t it?
Absolutely remarkable coincidence! Such luck! Now, as a new author, what would you rate as the top three experiences thus far? Assuming of course getting the publishing deal and seeing your book in the flesh are numbers one and two.
I’m not really a new author. I’ve published a lot of short stories, two collections, and the novel Frankenstein’s Prescription (Tartarus Press). But this is my first experience with a major publisher. My previous work was with the independent press, and the thing I learned there is that your exposure is likely to be limited. Some good reviews, but, unless you’re very lucky (or have lots of friends) not much in the way of sales. With a major publisher, you get noticed more. That said, my first book with them, The God Hunter, was a little slow to take off. (It’s doing pretty well now.) They got behind it and, after first asking my permission (yes, really) put the e-book version on special offer, just to get the whole thing going. I’m impressed; I had imagined that, in the tough world of big boys’ publishing, anything that immediately failed to make money would be junked. Not so, at least in this case.
The editing process has also been very important. It’s had me tearing my hair out at times, but I think my writing since has been stronger for going through that mill – knowing what to leave out, what to make clearer, and so forth. I may be busy crafting sentences and scenes, but the editor sees the book as a whole, and if it starts to flag at any point, she (in this case) can spot it where I may not.
I should say, the editing was mainly a matter of cutting. It hurt, but I’m in favor of it – if you can say the same thing in half the space, you’ll probably say it better.
I am also now entirely bald.
Ah, so you’re experiencing things from both sides. And I’m very sorry about the baldness, but the wig is excellent. Very natural looking….How do you deal with/react to bad reviews? If you have none yet, let me know and I’ll provide you with some.
The “bad” reviews I’ve had tend, I think, to be from people who are expecting something different. The God Hunter has a lot of comedy in it and the publisher’s blurb mentioned Pratchett and Gaiman’s Good Omens. So I got a thumbs down from a Pratchett fan for, well, not being Terry Pratchett. (I would like to assure everyone that I am not now, nor have I ever been, Terry Pratchett.) Someone put up an Amazon review of Devil in the Wires complaining that it was too gruesome and they were now desperately trying to forget it. But they gave it five stars, so I’m not sure if that’s a bad review or not.
Well, in fairness, I’d give you a thumbs down for not being Terry Pratchett as well. You’re a nice guy, but you clearly aren’t Sir Terry. But enough about your shortcomings in being Terry Pratchett. Your book almost straddles the line between science fiction and fantasy, the harnessing the power of Gods, but in a scientific society where there is no magic. Was the genre bending intentional? Or did it come about as a consequence of the story as it evolved?
Are you trying to suggest I don’t know what I’m doing?
No, of course not……
Actually, there are all sorts of things in there: comedy, horror, adventure, etc. But my notion was that, having thrown in something utterly fanciful, it should then be explored in a logical, “realistic” fashion. Note I put “realistic” in quotation marks.
So you’d call your book more magical realism, then. I think that’s a fair assessment.
If you could, what one author would you meet, and would you hug them or punch them? Understanding of course that this document could well be used against you in the future to show premeditation and intent, should charges be filed.
There is the old line about being wary of meeting your heroes. But if you fancy a punch-up, I’m game.
So then it’s someone you’d punch and you’re refusing to give a name for your own legal sake. Prudent choice. Do you feel the need to correct Americans who call it soccer?
We call it soccer, too, you know. There are two kinds of football (real football, I mean): rugby, or “rugger”, invented at Rugby School for the brutalization of the English upper class, and Association Football, or “soccer”. I’m not sure why that was invented, though there are rumors it began with a bunch of Anglo-Saxons kicking a Viking’s head around. That would certainly make the World Cup more interesting, anyway.
What’s not to love about a sport designed to physically assault the upper class? I think I heard that about soccer as well. You know, it would make the World Cup more interesting, and might even get some more Americans watching. Lastly, because I’m a philosophical kind of guy, if you could go back to any point in your life and give your younger self any single piece of advice, at what age would you meet yourself and what would you say? Or would you just mess with him and tell him he’s the only hope to turn back an alien/robot invasion that has decimated the human race?
Now, you know I’m not allowed to talk about the alien invasion. That would be like discussing my superpowers or my secret identity, wouldn’t it? And please don’t call me “Clark” in public any more. You know it embarrasses me.
I’m very sorry, Bruce.
Thanks, Tim, it’s been fun. *give secret handshake* Good luck on your books and/or plans for corporate domination of the energy market.
Tim’s books are available in paperback or ebook pretty much everywhere. They really are excellent stories with an interesting story line. If you’re looking for a thriller with great dry humor, you’ll love these books. You can also find out more about Tim and send him adoring fan mail via his website https://timlees.wordpress.com/
“It’s a perfect circle, Chris. The god receives his audience, the grid receives the power—and we light up Chicago.”
After the perilous retrieval of a long-dormant god from Iraq, Chris Copeland—professional god hunter and company troubleshooter—is about ready to quit his job. But his employers at the Registry have other plans…plans to build a power facility on the shores of Lake Michigan. Adam Shailer, a rising star at the Registry, thinks he can cage the god, drain its energy, and power the city.
It’s Chris’s job to make sure nothing goes wrong. And at first, everything seems fine. Great, even. But when ecstatic devotees start leaving human sacrifices on the beach near the god-house, it quickly becomes clear that the god is not as contained as the Registry would have everyone believe. The devil’s in the wires, and there’s no turning back now.