Greetings! Today I’m chatting with author Timothy Moonlight about life as a writer and his upcoming new release, a thriller titled ‘The Last Word’.
Thank you, Book Squirrel. I’m delighted to be here!
Great! Why don’t you start by telling us what inspired you to write?
For me, writing is an internal drive. I wrote my first novel when I was 15, but never did anything with it afterward. However, from that point on in my life, I knew my purpose. My about page goes into a lot more detail, but this has been a life-long journey for me.
Now, that I’m actually writing again after so many years, I will never go back to a place of inactivity. We can accomplish so much in our lives if we apply ourselves. It took me finally getting fed up with not pursuing my dream and avoiding activities that were non-productive in my life to begin this journey. When I finally put my foot down and said “enough”, then I began to make progress.
What’s your favorite thing you have written?
This is a hard one and several things come to mind. There are several poems I have written in the past, “Journey”, “A Child’s Plea”, “Clinging”, and “Next to You” immediately come to mind.
As far as blog posts on my website, my favorite is “Leap of Faith”.
The Last Word, my novel, has a ton of scenes that I enjoy. What makes writing beautiful is that it comes from the heart. When you really write something that resonates with you, you’re really showing a little bit of yourself. Expressing your thoughts, sharing your emotions, or even a memory, can make a powerful impact on readers.
What’s your favorite thing that someone else has written?
Seize the Night by Dean Koontz holds a dear place in my heart. The writing is superb and he is a masterful writer. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it, but you’ll have to start with Fear Nothing, since it is a sequel to that book. I think the setting has makes a serious impact throughout the novel along with the characters. It’s an overall great story.
What are you working on writing now?
My next novel will revisit the second book I began to write in college, but couldn’t finish due to a full-time job along with my class load. So, there is a ton of history between the origin of the story and where I’ll actually go with it. I wouldn’t say that too much will change between what I’d envisioned back then and what I think of the idea now, but you never know. When I’m writing, I find myself adding to the story in ways that make sense. A thriving, engaging plot means the world to me and it has to resonate with the reader. My first mission in writing is always to think about the reader. Will they enjoy this? Does it resonate? Those types of questions are very important for me to answer.
Do you have a favorite food or drink that helps you write?
It’s not so much food or drink, although I am very partial to Dr. Pepper, lol. Really, it’s instrumental music. It has to be able to match the setting of the book, the tone of the story. That may not make sense, since it is a highly subjective experience, but I do enjoy great tunes when I’m writing. They just have to be instrumental. I can’t have people speaking in my ear, breaking my concentration.
Oh, I’m right with you about the great tunes! What’s your favorite kind of music?
I will always be a fan of 90s pop/alternative rock, and I have never left those years. I also love music by the late Robert Miles.
Forest, country, beach, or city?
I’m a beach and country person. I like the slower pace in life. I have lived in a big city before and the traffic is just crazy. Traffic where I live now is continually getting worse. More and more people moving here. I live just North of Atlanta, Georgia in the United States.
What movie can you watch over and over again?
Is it wrong to have two? The Illusionist and Interstellar. I can watch these over and over again, however, I don’t resonate with the ending of Interstellar. It’s a great film though, perfect score, and most of the movie is so massive. I truly felt like I was in outer space throughout the film. I’m always eagerly anticipating more Christopher Nolan movies!
What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?
Just because the publishing world has changed with the ability to self-publish doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of hard work involved. You are responsible for everything. This is fine with me, but know this up front. Not only do you need a great story, you need an editor, you need to be completely dedicated to your craft and continually making yourself better. I spend hours each week learning grammar again. Yes, starting over is hard, but you have to better yourself continually. However, I love it. I love most things about this business. You are the writing team, you are the marketing team, you are everything. When you need help, be certain to ask. There are plenty of people who are willing to help along the way. Most importantly, do it only if you love it. You have to love what you do in life. If you’re in a career that you don’t enjoy, then you are wasting your time and doing a disservice to yourself. You only have one life and time is the most precious commodity. Find what you are passionate about in life and do it with all your heart and your life will be full of life and color.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. It’s taken a long time, over two decades, to go after my dream, but I’m finally doing what I’m passionate about. When I know that I’ve touched someone with what I’ve written, then that makes everything worth it. I want to touch lives with my writing. I want people to be excited when they know I’ve got something else coming out. Their excitement is my excitement!
In what genre would The Last Word be classified?
The Last Word is a technology-driven thriller riddled with mystery.
Oh, that sounds good! What is the main plot of the book?
It revolves around the life of Claire Bigsby right after her father’s death. In her struggle with grief and other intense situations she faces within the book, the reader is drawn into an intriguing web of constant suspicion.
How did you come up with the idea for the novel?
This novel was borne out of my own personal loss of my father in 2011. It’s interesting because when I started writing The Last Word, I had no idea my own sense of loss would enshroud the book, but if you look hard enough, anyone who knows me will be able to see that, in a way, the story chronicles my own bout with grief. Anyone who has lost a loved one, someone who is irreplaceable in their life, will be able to identify with what Claire is going through in the book. The story doesn’t stay in a bleak mood as you will recognize after the characters are introduced.
Why do you think people read thrillers?
People don’t read books to feel depressed. People read thrillers because they want to see how others deal with tragedy and situations that they wouldn’t want to be in themselves, but they sure don’t mind reading about in other people’s lives. It’s part of the element of seeing someone overcome impossible odds. The mystery involved in the novel helps solidify its ability to grip you, to startle you, and it keeps you turning the pages. One of the goals behind my writing is to keep you wondering, keep you reading, and maybe even keep you up at night. I can remember a substitute teacher from 2nd grade who used to have a “story-time” with us at some point in the day. She told us scary stories! Lol I used to go home and spend half my night awake because of what she described. Now, I hope I don’t have that type of effect on readers, but I have to say, those types of interactions in my life have helped shape my own stories.
Describe the pace of the book?
Have you ever read a book where you’ve invested a portion of time only to find yourself going through the motions in drudgery? “Come on already, when will this thing pick up!” is what I usually say if I pick up a book like that. That is definitely not this book. All stories have to produce an environment where the reader is invested in the characters. Beyond those formed connections, the book takes off and becomes a page-burner. I would hazard to say that some people will read it in one sitting.
What does it take to create a compelling character?
It takes a little bit of you, someone you have a connection with in some realm of life. For us in this novel, it’s Claire, a woman who has lost her father – a good and decent man who she loved fiercely. When you have a connection with someone, you are drawn to them like a magnet. You suddenly want to see them succeed in their quest. You care about their well-being and you want them to overcome the obstacles that they face. When you see characters in stories overcome their difficulties, it speaks to us, deep down inside that maybe we can overcome our own obstacles in this life as well. Claire isn’t the only person in the story that you care about and as for the rest my lips are sealed.
Why do you write thriller/mystery fiction?
Honestly? It’s why I’m on the planet. It has been my passion, my drive, my dream for so long. I’ve known for years, years, that I am supposed to be an author churning out thriller fiction, but I let too many other things get in my way when I was younger. When I was 15, I wrote a novel. It took me a year to finish it. Then, as I started college, I started another novel, but between classwork, and my job, I didn’t have time to write. My dream of becoming an author was drifting high above me, like a balloon I had accidentally let go and was now out of reach. Time goes on, no matter if you’re on track with your own personal destiny or not. If too much time goes by and you’re not accomplishing the dreams you have in your life, they can begin to fade. Then, almost like a form of depression, you only think about the time you’ve wasted and that isn’t good. You need to think about what you can still accomplish and not just think about it, but act on it. That’s why I have motivational content on my blog.
What does the writing process look like for you?
Great question! It is a jumbled mess! Lol, but it’s a lot of fun. I work a full-time job like most writers and like most writers sometimes you come home and you’re tired, but you have to write! Writing has never been a chore to me. It’s really about having a goal and sticking with it. A word to a sentence to a paragraph to a page that eventually turns into a novel. I don’t know everything that will happen in the novel before I’m done with it. Some items I know I want to happen in the book, but a large portion of The Last Word wasn’t written to a specific plan until after the 40% mark. Other things just fell into place and as I’m sure other writers will agree, some things I changed during the course of the book.
What is the story behind your branding logo?
The logo of a writer’s silhouette against the moon is a picture of someone who started late in life, during the moonlight phase of their existence. It’s a picture of my life. Notice though that I’m writing in that picture, I’m finally doing what I was born to do on this Earth, it just took me a while to get here. I’m here doing what I love now and I’m here to stay.
You mentioned earlier about your motivational blog? Tell me about that and what other content do you have on it?
My website is www.motivationbymoonlight.com. It’s my author site where people can read some of my content, but also a place where people can read motivational content that I wish I had access to when I was a kid, teenager, or early 20s. There is a wealth of knowledge out there, but what I have come away with in life as far as happiness is this: Do what you love. Do something your passionate about. Find a way to turn what you love into a profession. We spend the majority of our lives working. Why would you do something you dislike most of your life? Some of the things you’ll read there is common sense, some of it will provoke you to take action. You’ll also find some poetry I have written, some from decades ago, some from mere weeks ago. Also, you’ll discover I chronicle my journey with my novel when I’m writing one. I expect that I will continue to do that. It’s fun telling people about the adventure you’re on. They can see your process and how things are moving along. I will never give spoilers about any of the content.
Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
I used to wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for novels. I expect that will come back to me as long as I keep myself engaged in the process. That didn’t happen with The Last Word. Truth be told, I didn’t know what I had until it was almost half-way completed. I believe in the future of my writing I will have more of an outline, but I’ll also keep an open mind with regards to the characters and try to give them a will of their own. If you want your story to take an unexpected turn, then let them make the decisions.
What about writing a novel do you enjoy the most?
All of it. Writing a novel takes patience, dedication, and strategy. I have always done well with these elements. I enjoy thinking through situations and how different scenarios play out. I love to plan surprises for my fans with at least one big “I never saw that coming!” moment. I believe The Last Word delivers this excitement several times.
What is the most challenging part of writing a novel?
Like most writers, I would say ensuring your plot lasts. The middle of a novel can be terrifying to writers. This is because they may not have the content to carry a novel to the end. Haven’t we all read novels where there is a lot of filler? I never want to do that. I may take some time in the beginning to introduce you to the characters and their world, but when that has been completed – look out, the thriller train is chugging down the track. All aboard! If the train doesn’t have the steam to get moving, then my book isn’t ready for release.
How have you grown as a writer in this process?
The short answer is leaps and bounds. One thing that I have grown plenty in are the relationships that I have formed with people. I love my editor, Debra Kastner. We discuss things. If something needs to change, I change it. Like I have stated on my blog before, “I am an impartial judge, holding an ax and pen instead of a gavel, not beholden to the cries of my own personal creativity.” I’ve embraced more fully the patience inside me. You can’t rush a high-quality product. You have to take your time, gain perspective, and see other points of view, all while staying true to who you are. I will continue to learn every day and hope to only increase in the quality of my novels. Above all else, I want my fans to be thoroughly pleased when they reach the end.
Brilliant! Thanks for your thoughtful and interesting answers, Timothy. It’s been great having you here today.
Thank you for having me.
‘The Last Word’ will be available at a special promotional price until August 23rd.
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