Scavenger: Red Sands and Blue Dawn - Timothy C. Ward
I love when authors transform our current world for the sake of fiction. Whether it's apocalyptic, set in the future, or in an alternate dimension, I enjoy seeing Earth twisted and manipulated into something unfamiliar.
Timothy Ward does this well, blending Earth into a strange and dangerous planet. While I have not read the Sand series that his plot is based on, I saw connections to Frank Herbert's Dune and Terry Brooks' Shannara series.
It takes special talent to find the appropriate middle ground between familiar and completely foreign, and Ward nails it. I loved the connection between Danvar and Denver, and the rumors behind it. This connected me to the story and gave me a frame of reference for visualization.
Rush and Star are both engaging characters that have an emotional journey to go through as well as their physical journey. And I'm interested to see if River pops up again. She seems determined to interfere with Rush's life, but I'm not sure why. I'm very interested to read the conclusion of this series.
Some Bio Information
Timothy C. Ward grew up on DragonLance, Stephen King, and Dune. Read how he blends these influences in his serialized epic, Scavenger, where sand divers uncover death and evolution within America's buried fortresses. Parts one and two, Red Sands and Blue Dawn, are now available on Kindle. Scavenger: Evolution will be the first compilation of these parts into a print book. Sign up to his newsletter for exclusive news and giveaways. His first printed story, "The Bomb in the President's Bathroom," released in the Amish SciFi anthology, Tales from Pennsylvania. Signed copies are available in his store: Spike Publishing.
1. Was there an inciting incident that prompted your desire to become a writer?
My first word was ‘book’, so I’m sure my parents deserve credit for my love for stories. Other than that, in Kindergarten I co-authored some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics. In high school, depression and boredom led to writing poetry and fiction, and I pursued that in college as well. To maybe flip your question around, there was a suppressing incident after college when I was left to my own devices to continue writing, and gave up. I thought, I’m just a skateboarder from the suburbs of Cleveland, what do I know about adventure? (My first novel attempt was about skateboarding mice in a mansion ruled by cats, but for some reason I never finished that. You know. Excuses.)
I stopped writing for three years, taught English in Korea and then moved back to the States to pursue ministry. While in seminary, a SciFi fanboy/roommate asked me to write a novel with (see: for) him. I joke about that with him, but it was that idea that turned my life back toward writing. I fit in all I could between work and studies, listened to writing podcasts every spare second on the road or working out, and was on my way. That was seven years ago and I’ve averaged 100-150k words a year. And I’m still not “there” yet. No worries though, this is in my blood. I’ll see it through, Lord willing.
2. If you could give Scavenger Red Sands and Blue Dawn any soundtrack you wanted, what song would you use from the opening credits?
Funny question, partly because the beginning of Red Sands is kind of like a Western, where my main character is stewing over a prostitute as he mopes in his beer. As I write this, I’m listening to Power Trip by Lecrae. It has a base beat that promises future problems, but the confidence that when weapons are drawn, my hero will step up and prove hard to take down. If you’re not a hip hop fan, Muse would be a good soundtrack as well. This story strives for an epic range from down in the pits to surprising victory in battle.
3. Why did you decide to write in short segments instead of putting out a full length novel?
Hugh Howey, author of Sand, the story world Scavenger is written in, published Sand and an earlier novel, Wool, in parts. The basic idea is to release episodes to help generate buzz so that when the final episode is released there is a large following.
For me, while that was surely a goal, my first goal was to write a stand-alone novelette (Scavenger: Red Sands), and if people liked it enough in the reviews, decide if I should continue the story.
I was encouraged by the early reviews for Red Sands. Without them I may not have taken on this project. But, releasing it without the next part written may have left many readers thinking it was the only story. I mentioned at the end a plan to write more if readers wanted, but there has been a drop off in sales from Red Sands to Blue Dawn that makes me wonder if serialization requires too much work from the reader.
I’m trying to promote my newsletter so that readers will know when and how to buy the next episode, but I still may not return to this serialization model. One bonus has been splitting the editing costs out over each part, which has helped with my budget.
4. Who's your favorite author? Is it purely due to entertainment value or do they inspire you?
Many authors have unique attributes that make me huge fans, but character is king for me, and Hugh Howey’s characters are the best I’ve read. T.C. McCarthy and James Smythe are close seconds. Hugh also inspires me with the advice he’s given on self publishing, and simply by the way he lives his life. He is a role model for sure.
5. What time of day (or night) do you prefer to write? And why?
Right after work is the best time for me. I’ve had time to think over what I’ll write and I’m still awake and motivated. I also get in a session before bed, though sometimes that is harder with how tired I am with parenting my one-year-old child.
6. Do either Rush or Star resume anyone famous in your mind?
I don’t really imagine famous people when I write characters. I’m not a huge visualization person, especially with fictional people, so I don’t really know what their faces look like. This may be seen as a weakness or an annoyance to readers who prefer hawklike noses and scars on cheeks, but I like to let the reader have some freedom to imagine what they look like. I’m more interested in their hearts, what motivates them, and the emotions within their actions.
7. Describe your optimal writing environment.
I love my recliner and being alone, with headphones and a solid album on high. I guess it’s best to learn to write whenever and wherever, but those are some things I like to have. During the summer I went out to my garage and wrote with my laptop on the trunk of my car, dancing a little as I wrote, with a breeze at my back and a carpet square under my feet. Writing outside is really peaceful.