Tim Bryant is a Texan author and musician. He was the first ever recipient of BFA in creative writing in the state of Texas, whilst attending Stephen F.Austin. " Three years later, in August of 2010, I published my first novel, DUTCH CURRIDGE. I am now writing the sequel, tentatively titled TENCOATS & TERRABONE. I have also been asked to contribute short stories to two anthologies in 2011."
This is an interview I carried out this week with Tim for my own website. If anyone on Crime Space is interested in being interviwed, please contact me. Naturally, I will need to have some fimiliarity with your work but I am happy to sample or read, or download/buy where possible.
Please give a potted history of who you are for people who may not know?
I'm a 47 year old musician/author/businessman in East Texas. I've released CDs under the names 2Take Tim and Othy and published my first novel, Dutch Curridge, in the fall of 2010. I've lived in New Orleans, and my heart remains there, but my roots are deep in East Texas. I'm married to Leela and we have two children.
How did it feel to hold the first copy of your first book in your own hands?
I've released CDs, so I'm used to seeing my name on product, but none of it was like the feeling of holding the novel for the first time. It is akin to holding your own newborn except the gestational period had been years and years.
When you are writing, how much of the time do you spend with a 'reader's' hat on? How much with a 'writer's' hat on? In what ways are they different?
I'm not sure they're different at all. I think I always have my reader's hat on. As long as you know how to put words together in a way that is pleasing to yourself, you keep the reader's hat on as you work. At least I do. There might be an editor's hat that I keep handy, just to keep the story moving in the right direction. But I'm usually trying to write the book that I want to read.
On your site www.bytimbryant.weebly.com you mention that your new project may be something special. You also say that at this early stage, you are not sure whether it will be a novel or not. Firstly, when do you think that becomes clear? Secondly, how do you know when you set off with a new piece if it will be a novel?
That's a good question. Well, sometimes, it's very obvious going into the project. I'm writing the sequel to Dutch Curridge, and it, by necessity, will be a novel. But I had written half a dozen short Dutch stories before I tackled the novel, and yet I knew when I began it that the novel was a whole separate thing. The pacing had to be different.
With the project that you are talking about, which is titled Those Who Know Us Best Don't Know Us At All, its genesis was more personal. It was something that I wanted to get out, to pull out of myself. And I'm still in the process, and I don't know how much of it is in there. I pointed the ship in the right direction, and now I'm just kind of along for the ride.
You are a musician, you have your own shop and you are a novelist. How do you divide your time?
Sometimes, the more you have on your plate, the easier it is to focus and get things done. If I'm only doing one thing, I can make all kinds of excuses to wait around and get to it later. And the more I get done, the more I want to do. I almost died last February, a situation which only myself and a couple of people even knew about, and it took me a couple of months to pull things back together. When I did, though, I decided to see what I could accomplish with the rest of the year. And between June and December, I released two CDs of music, completed and published Dutch Curridge and opened up my store, The Runaway Mule, in downtown Nacogdoches.
February of 2010 was a terrible month, but 2010, as a year, was unbelievably productive for me. It all comes down to making a decision and sticking with it. People makes lots of decisions, but sometimes it just takes the sticking to them. Having said that, I would also add that I'm not above writing while things are slow at the store.
Having published your first novel and being close to publishing the second, is there anything you know now about the process that you would pass on, that could save time, sweat and frustration?
The only thing I know now is just that I've received a lot of great feedback for what I've written, so I have a little more confidence that I am doing the right thing. It's a genuinely horrifying thing to push your work out there and let it be judged by strangers who might not have your best interests in mind at all. Joe Lansdale says you have to think that you are better than all those critics out there, you have to have a confidence that borders on narcissism, really.
Maybe I am slowly developing some of that. Or maybe I'm just growing more confident in my own voice, in the niche that I have cut out for myself. It took awhile to find my center as a fiction writer, but, just like my songwriting, when I found it, I knew that it was completely genuine, one hundred percent mine.
What makes Tim Bryant 'the reader' buy a book?
The same thing that makes me want to tell a story. I want a protagonist who is multi-dimensional, who feels like a real person and talks like a real person. Give me that, and you can take me anywhere that you want to go. I said before that I write the story that I want to read, but that doesn't mean I read only stories that I would write. I want to be taken somewhere I would never get to go, to see what things are like and what people are like under disparate circumstances.
Lastly, who are your key influences? How are you similar and how are you different?
Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, Mark Twain and Flannery O'Connor. All for the way they used words, almost like magicians. They cast a spell on me. They knew how to get the most out of a key word or phrase. The importance of choosing the right word. They were poetic and yet very economical.
And later, of course, Joe Lansdale. I love Joe's writing and am lucky as hell to call him a friend. I did, however, have to work my way through a stage where everything I wrote sounded suspiciously Lansdalian. As much as I love him, I knew the world didn't need two of him, and especially didn't need my pale imitation. But I kept on writing and writing until my voice got stronger, and I made my way to a place of my own.