When Authors and Bloggers Unite: An Interview with Tim Floreen, Author of Willful Machines + More



It goes without saying that book bloggers visualize authors as ROCK STARS. We admire them, are in awe of them,  and in their presence tend to fangirl to levels that we blush at even remembering. It is our mission to help authors in any way that we can, by being  their cheerleader, book pusher and in general get the world to know more about them. That is why Tales of the Ravenous Reader in partnership with NYMBC created this platform in which local authors and bloggers could get together and combine our energies for something amazing.

This year I was partnered with Tim Floreen, author of WILLFUL MACHINES and ANATOMY OF A MURDERER (formerly Tattoo Atlas). Sitting down and interviewing Tim was like chatting with a good friend. It was fun and entertaining and I did not want our interview to end, which is why we kept chatting well past our allotted time and once you meet Tim you will immediately understand why.  So, today I present the highlights of which I hope that you will enjoy. Tim is a genuinely kind person and a great author and I hope this interview gets you to know him a bit better and considering some of his YA novels; WILLFULL MACHINES, ANTATOMY OF A MURDERER or a short story in FERAL YOUTH, the next time you are in search of an interesting novel with a but more substance.

RR: Hello Tim, and thank you for being here today. It is our second year with this event of which you also attended the previous year. What did you enjoy about this platform that made you want to participate in another year? 

TF: I think that it is a great event and the it is in person and that we get to see each other face to face because so much of what we do is online. I feel that I am not very good at self promotion and I think that it is great that bloggers are willing to help us to get the word out.

As bloggers we love to help, either by interviewing, tweeting, instagramming, basically anything that can get the word out. We even have a calendar on Tales of the Ravenous Reader to help people keep track of events and we encourage people to tell us about future events for that very reason. 

RR: Who is the author that you would like to meet and spend some time with, alive or dead?

TF: In terms for as a writer that is writing right now. I would have to say Leigh Bardugo. She was at Y'all Fest and I was too shy to approach her.

RR: Did you realize that she was just here in September?

TF: So listen. She was coming to Books Inc. and I was going to go and get my book signed and then I was contacted to moderate the event but then I realized that I could not because I was going out of town. Obviously I would have loved to I could not. It was so devastating to me. I think she is an amazing writer and I love her writing. I am a Wonder Woman fan and she just wrote the Wonder Woman YA and I also understand that she is a huge WW fan and I won have loved to talk to her about it.

Tim discussed his books, from his writing process to NaNoWriMo and more.

RR: If you could describe your novels in 5 words what would they be. 

TF: Before I answer this I will tell you that the woman that designed my paper back for Willful Machines and the hard cover for Tatoo Atlas. I got to meet her and she is really amazing. She has this thing were she reads the book before and she comes up with a book design after she boils it down to just a few words. And I think it may be five words and she told what the word were for Willful Machines and for Tattoo Atlas and they were both so funny.  For Willful Machines it was: Mystery. Robots. Explostions. Boys Kissing. Yet I cannot remember the one for Tattoo Atlas so I will wing it. Tattoo Atlas: Can Evil Be Cured? Plus a little kissing. LOL!! I think that works.

RR: What do you hope that your readers get from your books?

TF: My hope, most importantly is that people are entertained and that it also gives people something to think about and as a third goal my books all tend to have gay male main characters and I want to write the kind of book I would have loved to read as a young person. The book that wasn't available to me and I am hoping that there are kids that read my books and see themselves reflected there. I deliberately to not to write books that are issue books. I want anyone to be able to pick it up and enjoy it and think of it as a great story that happens to have a gay main character in it. Most importantly it is always good to tell a great story.

RR: What is your writing process like?

TF: I always like to talk about this because there was this thing that was actually born in the Bay Area called NaNoWriMo. So, I had been writing short stories for a long time and had dabbled in writing something more but had not taken the plunge. Then I finally had the courage to write my first novel when I heard about National Novel Writing Month and it was nearing the end of October and I decided to participate and that way I forced myself to go for it. By nature I am the kind of writer who if I had my own why I would make every sentence perfect before moving on and with NaNoWriMo that is impossible and it forced me keep going and pour it all out on paper. I then went for it and wrote 2,000 to 2,500 a month and by the end of the month I had a rough draft of my first books. It was terrible but it was something to start with and it was actually better than what I thought it would be. When I went back to the beginning I had a lot more that was usable than I had thought and it was a sketch then I spent a year and a half revising it and it was the book I sent out and was able to get an agent with it. Every book that I have written since then I have used that method. It doesn't always happen in November but I take one month to write the rough drat and I write it as fast as I can just to get something down and then I go back and revise.

RR: Do you have a word count that you strive to stick to?

TF: At the end of the month I have 50,000 words minimum to win NaNoWriMo and so It works out to roughly 2,000 words per day, usually. I usually have a page number or word count number - word count number that keeps me going. People talk about how writing is about inspiration and I think that is true, but you cannot wait for inspiration to strike  and you have to be able to keep writing even if you are not feeling inspired and for that to work for me makes me strive for a word count. Sometimes it's not so good and sometimes I feel really good about the work I have done that day. The  only way to do it is by sitting your but in the chair. 

RR: Do you write your books in sequential order?

TF: When I am starting out and making notes sometimes I'll start getting into scenes and writing them out. When I actually am writing a draft I write it out sequentially. I am a plotter and I have to know where the story is going. So I usually have a rough draft. There my be changes during the process.  

RR: Do you have a specific time of day in which you like to write?

TF: I didn't initially but nowadays I do because I have two young kids at the house and it is just too distracting. I will go to the library and there is actually a library in San Francisco that I go to. It is not a public library it is the Mechanics Institute Library and it's like a great resource and for $100 a year you can go to this library that is really beautiful and it has WiFi. It's quiet and it has a good amount of table and chairs. Everything you need basically and I just go there and I just write. I take a break in the middle of the day, exercise and have some lunch and then I return and get to it again. It feels good to me because it makes me feel as if I am going to work. It gives me some structure. That said my schedule can be unpredictable with the girls and because of that I find that my writing time is really, really precious. I steal every chance I get. 

AND WE ARE THANKFUL FOR THOSE MOMENTS! Thank you Tim for being so wonderful and please forgive my lateness in posting this, but you made this so delightful. I hope to see you again soon and cannot wait for the day when you finally meet Leigh in person.

We got a bit off topic and then proceeded to talk about pod casts, audiobooks and the fact that I listen to them at triple speed. LOL!




WILLFUL MACHINES

In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.

Charlotte's attacks have everyone on high alert—everyone except Lee Fisher, the closeted son of the US president. Lee has other things to worry about, like keeping his Secret Service detail from finding out about his crush on Nico, the eccentric, Shakespeare-obsessed new boy at school. And keeping Nico from finding out about his recent suicide attempt. And keeping himself from freaking out about all his secrets.

But when the attacks start happening at his school, Lee realizes he's Charlotte’s next target. Even worse, Nico may be part of Charlotte’s plan too.

As Lee races to save himself, uncover Charlotte’s plan, and figure out if he can trust Nico, he comes to a whole new understanding of what it means to be alive ... and what makes life worth living.



ANATOMY OF A MURDERER (formerly titled TATOO ATLAS)


A teenage sociopath is “fixed” after he gets an implant that’s supposed to cure him in this thrilling coming-of-age tale from the author of Willful Machines.

A year ago, Rem Braithwaite watched his classmate Franklin Kettle commit a horrific crime.


Now, apart from the nightmares, life has gone back to normal for Rem. Franklin was caught, convicted, and put away in juvenile detention for what he did. The ordeal seems to be over.


Until Rem’s mother selects Franklin as a test subject for an experimental brain procedure intended to “cure” him of his cruel and violent impulses. Suddenly Rem’s memories of that day start coming back to the surface. His nightmares become worse than ever. Plus he has serious doubts about whether his mother’s procedure will even work. Can evil really just be turned off?

Then, as part of Franklin’s follow-up testing, he and Rem are brought face to face, and Rem discovers…Franklin does seem different. Despite everything, Rem finds himself becoming friends with Franklin. Maybe even something more than friends.


But when another of their classmates turns up dead, Rem’s world turns upside-down yet again. Franklin insists that he’s innocent, that he’s cured, but Rem doesn’t know what to believe. Is someone else responsible for this new murder, or is Franklin fated to stay a monster forever? And can Rem find out the answer to this question before the killer, whoever it is, comes after him too? 



TIM FLOREEN


Tim Floreen writes young adult fiction. The New York Public Library named his first novel, Willful Machines, one of the best teen books of 2015, and in a starred review, Kirkus called it "gothic, gadgety, and gay," which is an accurate assessment. Booklist called his second novel, Tattoo Atlas, "incisive, startling, and intense."
One of Tim's very earliest memories involves sitting on the floor in front of the television and staring in awe at a raven-haired, star-spangled Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman. He went on to spend much of his childhood running around in a paper tiara and bracelets and tying up his grandma with his “magic lasso.” When not doing that, he was developing crushes on his Masters of the Universe action figures and memorizing the entire libretto of Les Misérables (including all the talky parts between the songs). Also, he read a lot and wrote a lot.
After majoring in English at Yale, Tim moved to California and had some Life Experiences, including working as an assistant accountant on the crew of the film Titanic (long story), becoming a yoga teacher (which is actually required by law in the state of California), getting punched in the face while a contestant on The Price Is Right (again, long story), and ONCE ACTUALLY SHAKING LYNDA CARTER'S HAND.
Having filled his Life Experience quota, he went back to school, earning a master’s degree in creative writing at Boston University. He now lives in San Francisco with his partner, their two cat-obsessed daughters, and their two very patient cats. His recollection of the words to Les Miz and his adoration of Wonder Woman remain fully intact.


BLOGGERS LOVE AUTHORS EVENT 2018



Last month a group of amazing local authors, book bloggers, and NYMBC got together to demonstrate how we can all work together to help one another. It was a great day filled with good times, fascinating interviews and hope that we are all now better connected.

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