Ten Knives Interview with Tim Lebbon:
Knife 1: Please name at least three contemporary authors who write generally better than you do and why.
[Tim Lebbon] Adam Nevill, a good friend of mine and a fantastic writer. His horror novels are beautiful and shattering, and The Ritual is one of the scariest books I've ever read. Adam is a true wordsmith -every sentence is lovingly formed, every words carefully chosen. John Connolly writes dark crimes novels tinged (and sometimes soaked) with the supernatural. One of my favourite of his is Bad Man, in which a bunch of criminals bent on revenge stir up a horde of protective, nasty ghosts. His writing is effortless and compelling, and I always know I'm going to have a good time with one of his books. Joe Lansdale is also a big favourite. His novels always contain humour and a degree of violence, but there's always an underlying moral that he never has to hammer home. A profoundly moral writer, whose work is touching, and important.
Knife 2: Has ever something happened in your life that made you think give up writing?
[Tim Lebbon] Nope. I love writing. I've always loved it, from an early age when I first picked up a pen and decided I was going to write a book (I guess I was maybe seven or 8), and I still love it as much now that I'm making a living from it. It's the best job in the world ... I make stuff up and write it down and sell it. In the process, I get to learn a lot about myself and the world around me, and I've also been lucky enough to meet some amazing people, many of whom have become dear friends. I can't think of anything that would make me want to give up writing ... and if there is something, tell it to stay the hell away!
Knife 3: Which compromises did you have to accept for commercial reasons?
[Tim Lebbon] I'm lucky enough to be able to write pretty much what I want to, although of course being published commercially means that there are usually some sort of expectations from a publisher. If I'm writing a fantasy novel for Orbit, for instance, I know they wouldn't be very happy if I delivered a 17th century naval romance novel. I don't see this as a compromise, rather than a part of the business. I love the areas I write in, and it's a pleasure being able to do so, not a strain.
Knife 4: Is it very important to win literary prizes? Does it help to sell?
[Tim Lebbon] I like winning awards. There are people who say they don't care about awards, and that's fine. But I'm always very touched when I win something, especially when it's for a book that is very close to my heart, such as (a novella very much influenced by the death of my mother). I've seen no real evidence that they increase sales, but they're always very nice to have.
Knife 5: When you have no ideas for writing, how do you bring down yourself and whom do you phone to?
Knife 6: What do you think when you read your country's best seller rankings?
[Tim Lebbon] I don't pay that much attention. I don't write cookery books, or reality TV tie-ins, so it's doubtful I'll ever be on those lists. I'm not sure I'll ever see one of my own novels as a national bestseller ...but never say never.
Knife 7: What do you reproach to American publishing? What are its limits?
[Tim Lebbon] I've made whatever name I have in American publishing, so I've got little to say against it. I'm only now experiencing a very satisfying publishing career in my own country - I have deals with Orbit and Arrow/Hammer - but until several years ago all my books were published in the USA. Limits are set by circumstance, and I think at the moment there are self-imposed limits in publishing - to do with traditional behaviour - that are set to be broken when it comes to electronic media. We're living in very interesting times.
Knife 8: How many times have you refused to participate to a no-profit project?
[Tim Lebbon] I'm usually happy writing for a charity project if it's something that interests me, or if there's something I think I can bring to it. I'm less keen working for non-profit publications now that simply 'pay' in contributor copies, mainly because I'm a professional writer and I do this for a living. But I judge each project on its merit, and some projects can benefit a writer's career in the exposure they'll enjoy more than in the small fee they'll receive.
Knife 9: What did you do right after signing major book deal?
[Tim Lebbon] My first mass market deal was with Leisure Books in the USA, for my novel The Nature of Balance. I took my wife away for the night to a very posh, very expensive hotel that had just been opened close to us. We had a lovely afternoon in the health suite, and a spectacular meal, and I spent about 10% of my advance on one evening. Fun, though. Nowadays, I always celebrate a new book deal somehow, either with a meal out with my family, or a bottle of wine at home. Though I've been writing for a while, I'm still delighted each time I sign a new book deal. I still get that sense of excitement. I hope it never goes away.
Knife 10: Final question: Whom to (or to what) would you throw a knife?
[Tim Lebbon] I once threw a knife at a tree, and it stuck. It was perfect! I don't think I'd like to throw one at anything else.
Tim Lebbon's (London 1969) books include Face, The Nature of Balance, Changing of Faces, Dead Man's Hand, Pieces of Hate, Fears Unnamed, White and Other Tales of Ruin, Desolation, Dusk, Berserk, Fallen, The Everlasting, The Map of Moments: A Novel of the Hidden Cities (with Cristopher Golden) Echo City, The Thief of Broken Toys, plus books from Cemetery Dance, Night Shade Books, and Necessary Evil Press, among others. He has won two British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award, a Tombstone Award, a Scribe Award, and has been a finalist for International Horror Guild, World Fantasy Awards, Shirley Jackson Award. His novelisation of the movie 30 Days of Night became a New York Times bestseller.Tim Lebbon has served as vice president of the Horror Writers Association and he has taught creative writing at Cardiff University. Web Site
Buy "The Island" by T. Lebbon on Amazon