Interview – Tim Bedford, author of RED
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined in the Showcase Lounge by the author of the young adult novel RED: Tim Bedford. We’ve fluffed up the cushions and popped the kettle on so make yourself at home, Tim.
Tim Bedford: No muffins then?
SPS: We may have a half-eaten scone if that works for you? Let’s kick things off today with a bit of an introduction. Can you enlighten those who may not be familiar with you, as to who is Tim Bedford?
TB: Erm, that’s me? Have you done this interviewing stuff before Paul? Oh, I see, you want me to explain myself – that phrase takes me back to my school days, I can tell you. Right, well Tim Bedford grew up in another century in a very rural part of Northern England that nobody has heard of. It’s near the Lake District and very beautiful but was not exactly jam-packed with opportunities for school-leavers. He moved away, studied at Art College and then, thanks to a lucky break (not), got into call-centre work. Having lived all over the UK he suddenly realised he was terminally homesick for the hills and moved back up North. Having renovated an old farmhouse with his partner he studied Creative Writing at University as a mature student. On discovering he was finally more unemployable than ever before he fell into online copy writing. All along he was secretly writing other ‘stuff’, which he is now gradually working his way through in attempt to publish some ‘real’ writing.
SPS: What made you first want to become a writer and now you are doing so is it all that you thought it would be?
TB: People may think I’m trying to be witty or something when I say this (I’m not) but I never wanted to become a writer, I can’t help it. My family are mostly engineers or artists (I know, odd combination) so I came from a background in which making things work, in a pretty way, is what we do. Three of my generation have ended up writing for a living, whether we liked it or not. I think I may just be wired that way so I blame nature, not nurture, on this one. I don’t think I ever clearly thought about what writing would be like and making a living out of it has evolved slowly for me. Making a living out of your hobby rocks and, although it can be a precarious living, it’s got to be one of the best lifestyles.
SPS: Before your first novel you published some of your poetry in online journals. Do you have any plans to ever release them as a collection or revisit the Genre?
TB: I hate poetry in general and my own in particular. However, it’s something that I’ve always written. My own poetry makes me deeply uncomfortable; fiction is just telling lies on paper but poetry tends to be far more personal, even if you’re writing about the wider world. I’m shy, retiring and a wee bit pathologically reclusive (occupational hazard, I reckon) so opening up my inner thoughts and feelings to the world is a deeply uncomfortable experience. Most of my poetry ends up in the fire, once I’ve got it out of my system. I have toyed with the idea of getting a collection together but toying with it is about as far as I’m likely to get!
SPS: Red is your first novel and is loosely based on Red Riding Hood. Can you explain how you decided on the idea for this ‘fairytale, of sorts”?
TB: I think, being naturally curious, I was interested to find out why Red Riding Hood had a Riding Hood but no pony. The fact that she was unable to distinguish her Grandmother from a wolf also intrigued me. Fairy tales have a fascinating history and are somehow hard-wired into us. I think they are the ‘original’ writing and literature, reaching back into the depths of oral storytelling traditions, probably with roots in a time before we were even fully human. As to my book, Google didn’t help with the lack of pony, so I dealt with it myself.
SPS: The book contains what we would consider to be very British humour. Is that something you were keen to inject into the story?
TB: No. The thought of injecting British humour into anything sounds terrifying; the whole world would end up giving up early for the day and going to the pub. I’ve lived in the UK all my life so naturally I’ve absorbed the culture around me, my humour is British, for better or worse, and that was always going to come out in my writing!
SPS: Can you tell us a little about the relationship between Beyonce and her father, Bob?
TB: Beyonce is, despite her father’s best efforts, pretty spoiled. She also takes after both Bob and his mother in that she is very shrewd, and (perhaps) a little calculating. Bob is surrounded by strong and capable women (which there’s nothing wrong with, of course) but that doesn’t help to achieve his much longed for ‘quiet’ life. Beyonce operates a ‘divide and conquer’ approach to her parents but sadly, towards the end of the book, they seem to be developing an unwelcome united front on all things pecuniary (including pony ownership).
SPS: We picked up a copy of RED for ourselves in your recent Free Weekend on Amazon. Are you someone who loves doing these days to boost your potential readership?
TB: Anything that boosts readership is good; the book’s priced nice and low anyway but ‘free’ seems to attract people like nothing else! To be honest, if people enjoy reading it, then I’m a happy writer.
SPS: Now that your first novel is ‘out there’ what are your thoughts on the reactions to date?
TB: The reactions from various people have very positive but I’m wary of reviews and comments of either the positive and negative kind. The former leave you with an overblown sense of your own skills and the latter can leave you in a darkened room with a cold compress over your eyes for days. Once a work is released into the wild you should really view it with a certain amount of detachment but I think, like many writers, I find that easier said than done.
SPS: What was the hardest part of your journey in self-publishing Red?
TB: Almost certainly the editing but that’s true of any work (for me at any rate).
SPS: Have you learned anything from the process that you are carrying forward into your next publication?
TB: I’m used to doing my own editing and proofreading in my day job but the two tasks sent me cross-eyed on a whole book. I’m almost certainly going to get a freelance proofreader and (probably) an editor next time.
SPS: Speaking of next novel; can you let us into what you are currently working on and when it will be released? Are you writing in the same Young Adult genre or are you keen to diversify?
TB: I’m working on a number of drafts at the moment (I have a large number of drafted pieces). Red has spurred me on to get on with them. The next book is likely to be called “Ibrahim, or Puss from Boots”. It bears no relation whatsoever to the original ‘Puss in Boots’, unlike my take on Red Riding Hood (not that bears much relation, to be honest!). I’m assuming that this will be next only because it’s the most completed draft I have but, of course, I could start obsessing over one of the others at any time and that could take over! Both have been described as ‘young adult’ and ‘immature adult’ (the latter, coincidentally, describes me rather well too). One older reader in her sixties admitted she nearly wet herself reading Red, although this could have been an age related issue, I guess.
SPS: We always like to spend a moment looking at an individual’s book covers; can you tell us about how your cover for RED came about and whose handiwork you have utilised?
TB: With zero budget I opted for the Kindle Cover Creator and I think that was a mistake. I have plans to change it quite shortly to make it look a bit more pro. Although I can draw I’m no graphic designer and any future publications are likely to be done using one of those incredible beings. Although I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, most of us do.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
TB: No, not really. Self-publishing just became easier in the last couple of years. As I’ve inadvertently made it into my forties I’ve gradually become aware of this thing called ‘mortality’. As friends and relatives start to drop like flies you suddenly realise that there’s not as much time as you thought to fit everything into life. That’s probably my main motivation for self-publishing but I continue to explore the so-called ‘traditional’ route.
SPS: Before we let you escape, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
TB: An old friend of mine, Jess Richards, got a publishing contract a few years ago and her two novels “Snake Ropes” and “Cooking with Bones” are available. They’re also brilliant and she’s been likened to such greats as Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter, though personally I think this is because mainstream reviewers are desperate to classify her somehow, anyhow. Her work is probably the most original stuff I’ve read for a long time. I’ve also discovered Troy Blackford, via Self-Publisher’s Showcase. His work really stands out for me and he is already a very talented writer. I suspect the world will be hearing a lot more about him in the future. And so it should.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today Tim, and good luck.
TB: Thank you guys, it’s a pleasure – and also thanks for all the hard work you’ve put into a great new site (and a badly needed one) in the Indie publishing world.
SPS: Our pleasure. RED is available right here Go grab a copy, it won’t disappoint.