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RT: In the Collin Chronicles we meet Peter Kringle. While he may not be as famous as his brother, he clearly possesses that Kringle magic. As both brothers went into the toy business, how does Peter distinguish himself from his brother, Kris?

Tim: Peter hasn’t seen his brother for centuries and wonders if he’s even still alive. Peter’s life has been laced with so much adversity, he doesn’t worry about distinguishing himself at all. He’s just surviving, living day-to-day, immersing himself in what he loves.

RT: Collin and Ramey, the brother protagonists in The Collin Chronicles live on a farm. The details about farm life and its daily rituals are pretty extensive. Is this first-hand experience? If so, were there any particular events from the book that happened in real life?

Tim: They say you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy. That couldn’t be more applicable to me. I grew up on a cattle ranch and currently live on acreage closely resembling the Stump and Gorge near Sedro-Woolley, Washington. [Think Furry-Pine.] The book’s introductory incident with the pigeon egg fight actually happened with my brother Carl and me. The only difference was that Carl, when he fell off the roof, landed a-straddle the top rail of the pig pen. Ouch! The book’s other incidents of farm life are also based on my childhood experiences.

RT: Collin and Ramey are, in part, modeled on your sons Connor and Corey. As you wrote the book, did you seek their guidance on some of the events or the other characters?

Tim: As I wrote most of the story, my sons were actually a little younger than Collin and Ramey, so I didn’t seek much input from them. However, our house at the time was rather small and being in such tight quarters it wasn’t difficult for me to closely observe my sons and capture their personalities and quirks. Collin and Ramey are indeed very similar to Connor and Corey, right down to the similarity in their names.

RT: Deep inside the Dark Quartz Mine there is a machine that helps extract and process the gold that the children mine. It all sounds pretty sophisticated. Is there really such a machine or is this the imagination and ingenuity of a civil engineer?

Tim: When I started this project I did not want anyone to guess my profession by my writing. My general opinion of engineers is that they tend to be, well, shall I say, “socially challenged.” I like to think I’m the exception, of course! (Cindy, my lovely wife, might have a different opinion.) Anyway, as I wrote, I took great care not to sound like an engineer. Until I came to the stamp mill chapter; then I had a quandary. Big machines and technical things have always fascinated me. So has the prospect of finding gold. Now the two had come together and I had to decide the best way to convey the enormity and complexity of it all — without sounding too technical. Having George narrate it seemed to fit the bill. It was also in my mind that my target audience would be adults as well as kids. The kids could skim that chapter but I thought the adults might appreciate the detail.

That stamp mill is exactly what you would have found in the early 1900s. In fact the drawing is a tracing of a real one that I got from the book The Mining Camps Speak by Sagstetter.

RT: Peter Kringle's friend and assistant is a gentleman named Evon, who speaks in a squirrel dialect. How hard was it to create his dialogue pattern?

Tim: It came so easily even I was surprised. When I started writing this book I had a rough idea of the plot. As I got into it - on more than one occasion - I felt the story was truly writing itself. That is such an exhilarating, nearly magical experience. I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but that feeling — being immersed, swept away by your creation — rivals them all.

RT: Magic, Bones, and Catacombs is the first book in your Collin Chronicles series. Have you started any of the subsequent books? How many titles are you planning? Do you have a time-table for publishing them?

Tim: I am ten chapters into the second book. In those fifty-some-odd pages, Evon and the boys have three near-disasters, save a little girl’s life, get up close and personal with the Tommyknockers, and travel through time. We also learn that Peter Kringle had a son whom he thought died in a fire, but did not. [Can you see me stirring the plot pot? The stew is sooo thick!]There will be three books in this series. However, the groundwork is laid for a subsequent series should this one prove popular.

Regarding time frame, I am trying to obtain the services of a good literary agent, and creating a website. Oh! And I have a real job and coach my son’s youth sports teams. So, my hope of having the second book done this year isn’t looking good. Hopefully by this time next year it will be in your hands.

RT: Let's say you get a 10-second ad on TV. In this ad, you have to distinguish your fantasy adventure from the many that are out there, how would you pitch The Collin Chronicles?

Tim: Here is how I would advertise this book:

“Soaring adventure…” [Red Rocket zooming by, Collin’s face riveted in fright, Ramey’s bubbling with delight.]

“Sparkles with magic…” [Peter Kringle experimenting with magic in his early days, i.e., the twister going haywire thrashing his landlord’s house.]

“Homespun values…” [Farm scenes: George riding the rope swing to the supreme delight of his sons. Marge reading Charlotte’s Webon the couch.]

“Lurking danger…” [Malcrook shouting orders at his slave children, Doberman Pincers snarling at his side. A Tommyknocker slinking, unnoticed, in the background.]

RT: In making presentations about the book, have you gotten any feedback from the kids on what they would like to see happen next? Do you think any of their wishes might come true?

Tim: I get lots of comments from the kids about the Tommyknockers. Kids are petrified by them, but at the same time want more! So, in the next two books, Tommyknockers have a much bigger role than I had originally planned. But we find out that while the Tommyknockers are indeed evil and bent on making Collin and Ramey into Hu-man-Stew… Hu-man-Stew… Hu-man-Stew… we also find that they can be really funny. There are also Tommyknocker children who haven’t yet learned to be evil. I dare not say more!

RT: The Collin Chronicles is your first full-length work of fiction. How difficult was the transition from the technical books and columns you write for the National Association of Homebuilders?

Tim: It was as natural as slipping on a banana peel! You see, I’ve got about ten other fiction books in various stages that predate my technical writing by a decade. So I’ve been practicing. Further, fiction is my passion, not the technical stuff. I believe that if you do what you’re passionate about the quality will shine through (sooner or later).

Do you think being a technical writer makes it easier to become a fiction or children's writer?
Tim:Not especially. The styles are vastly different. However, all writing is practice and practicing will make you better. I started the technical writing as a means of promoting my software. Did you know that I own a software company? It is called ConstructionCalc and you can check it out at www.constructioncalc.com.

RT: What have you found to be the most rewarding part of publishing your fictional novel?

Tim: The smiles on the faces of the folks who’ve read the book. Particularly kids. It is an awesome feeling knowing that your invention has brought joy to another.

RT: In your presentations, you talk about writing and publishing and encourage others to try their hand, as well. Of all of the things you've learned in the process of self-publishing your book, what do you think has been the most important?
TIM: PATIENCE! This industry moves at a slug’s pace, particularly if you’re not famous. Everything about writing and publishing takes time: stuck-in-traffic-jam amounts of time. If you want to produce top-level work, slow down and be meticulous. Realize that your first few drafts will be junk. I changed the title of The Collin Chronicles three times and seriously rewrote it at least ten!Also very important is that you must be in it for the love of writing, not for the love of money. Your chances of making money by being an author are literally less than hitting your state’s lottery (I just read that from a very reliable source).

RT: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
TIM: Yes, thank you for allowing me this opportunity! I had a hoot of a time completing the questions. The Reading Tub rocks!

Website: http://www.tkgarrison.com


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