Total Amnesia is a Science Fiction Novel about the invasion of Planet Earth that leaves me as the only human left.
I have been writing for 15 years. The first book (The Gold Slaves) took about 10 years to write because I was really learning how to write; the next book about 5 years, the next book 2 months. You really learn to write by writing.
My motivation is to tell a great story that readers can enjoy and possible gain a new interesting viewpoint from reading.
Is Total Amnesia a stand-alone novel or part of a series?
It is stand alone, but at the same time could certainly be expanded upon.
I would definitely consider making it a series. That is really my goal, to create a theme that catches on, then continually provide stories along that line (give the reader what he/she wants.)
Who are your main characters in the story and how would you describe them?
The main character in Total Amnesia is ME! I’m the one telling the story. The other character is Professor Espree. The “espree” means free spirit and that is what she is. She also happens to be the creator of most of this universe! Interestingly enough, she never claims to have any more ability than I do. She simply doesn’t have any “disabilities.” Oh, by the way, she and I become boyfriend and girlfriend. Imagine being a boyfriend (and advisor) to the creator of the universe. It’s very cool!
Is there any symbolism in your book that you’d care to share with potential readers?
What is happening on Earth is simply a microcosm of what is happening in this universe on a grand scale.
Do any of the characters resemble you? How about friends or relatives?
Since I am the one telling the story, that character resembles me, at my best. Espree doesn’t resemble anyone, she is my idea of an ideal being. The other characters—including the aliens—simply represent typical, garden variety humans interacting with others with their insecurities and peccadillos.
What is the worst thing reviewers or critics have said about your book?
It’s just too good. Just kidding. I have gotten some advice on sentence structure. At times my sentences are too short and choppy. I endeavored to correct that in parts where I thought it might apply.
What is the best thing reviewers or critics have said about your book?
“Tim Northway takes you on an exciting and interesting journey with this story.”
That is what I like to do!
Have you tried submitting your book to publishers?
I have submitted a query to a half dozen publishers, but most of my efforts have been at self-publishing so it was done somewhat half-heartedly, with little research done on what a publisher wants. Therefore, I got the typical “Thank you for your submission, although I found your idea to be interesting, I have decided that this project is not right for me. Best of luck. Blah, blah, blah.”
Self-publishing has made me really take a hard look at what makes a novel marketable and has been a good learning experience for me. Considering the time and effort it takes to self-publish, I will be making a more concerted effort to submit to publishers. I think a writer should try every avenue possible to be successful!
What has been the most difficult part of your writing experience? Dealing with publishers, agents, editors getting reviews, query letters?
Writing is the easiest part of all so that isn’t a problem. Query letters drive me insane. Maybe it is because rejections often follow queries, and you have to keep trying to figure out how to communicate the perfect “pitch.” Publishers and agents seem arrogant and “too busy” for new writers (unless you become a success, then they love you). If you get the attitude of “I’m doing you a favor,” I think you have the wrong publisher.
Best advice I’ve gotten: “Never pay a publisher or agent for your work.”
If you were to be offered a movie deal, who would you like to see play the main characters?
Who would play me? Has to be young and independent smart and a non-conformist. Bryan Reynolds would probably fit. As for Professor Espree, it would have to be an exotic look, self-assured but happy personality. Kate Walsh or maybe Jessica Biel.
Describe your writing process. Do you outline, create rough synopses, do you do detailed biographies of the characters before starting to write?
I shoot from the hip. I get a concept of the story and I create on it. I don’t like to try to fit the story into a framework as it inhibits the creativity. I may take the story in one direction and decide it doesn’t work, but it will spur on a new idea; whereas if I “pre-think” it, I will would not have come up with new ideas.
How much research do you do before starting to write? Where do you find most of your background materials? How do you fact check?
Have you heard? There is this wonderful new information source called “the Internet” and everything on it is true. Sorry, I’m being snide. But that is generally my source of background research. For instance, I needed to find a good estimate of when the first life on earth first began. I found a number of sources of info online. Most of my information comes from life experience (I’ve been accumulating it for over 50 years).
What didn’t you mention in the synopsis that you can reveal here?
I believe my fantastic, wild Science Fiction stories are essentially true.
If you had to do the experience of writing your work over, would you still write it? Would you change it? How?
I wouldn’t mind re-writing my stories because I like the theme. I would probably change it. I have re-written my first two books at least twice and each time they were better. I might add some more details about other world and civilizations. That would be interesting.
How did you choose the story you wrote?
It is based upon a concept I hold near and dear to my heart. To quote Nicola Tesla:
“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”
I truly feel this is the path mankind needs to choose; and furthermore, the material sciences are leading mankind on a destructive path (man is just a victim of the environment).
Finally, I believe that Science Fiction has always taken a role in suggesting new viewpoints and methods.
This is a story of two people solving the mysteries of the mind and the physical universe through non-physical means, BUT at the same time tells an exciting, interesting story.
How did you choose the title?
That was an ordeal, I changed it three times. It started with “The Spirit Trap.” Then I changed it to “A Million Lives.” That sounded pretty good, but it could be mis-understood. Finally, I came up with Total Amnesia which I believe is very commercial (witness “Total Recall”)
How did you decide on the cover and did you design it or did you use a professional designer? However you created the cover, will you be doing it that way in the future? Why or why not?
I do have some graphic design experience, so I designed the cover. I stumbled upon a graphic of an eye with circuitry superimposed over it. That was perfect for the story. Then I went online and after an exhaustive search through various websites found a graphic that was really attractive. So I purchased that and added the text.
I would prefer to use a professional designer—but only a real professional one.
What’s the quick synopsis of Total Amnesia?
Alien invaders have arrived to remove the humans from Earth—an activity, to the invaders, as mundane as herding cattle. As the aliens gas the planet and the humans fall into paralysis around me, the object of my affections, the lovely Professor Espree, arrives at my door and gives me an antidote for the gas. She then shows me a revolutionary new device—a “Markosian Viewer”—that allows us to see and hear anything, anywhere in the universe. Believe me, if you like Google Earth, you will LOVE Google Universe! Her objective is to show me the BIG picture that we all have failed to see here on Earth. I am about to go on an inconceivable journey through the universe that will lead me into my past—a past that has resulted in the condition of Total Amnesia.
Who were the authors that influenced you? What about them and their style appeals to you?
L. Ron Hubbard, one of the most productive writers ever, who can tell a story like no one else. Edgar Rice Burroughs—I am in awe of his amazing, beautiful use of the language. Steven King—his ability to communicate his story in a witty, interesting way.
What did you learn that surprised you while writing your book? What was the most difficult part?
The most surprising part of this book is that I actually discovered a lot of amazing new ideas that I would never have thought of had I not actually needed them for the story. I created a universal Internet and figured out how it could be built. I found a way to construct a computer-like mind on an energy field and attached it to a spirit without a body. I had to create an inconceivable, universe full of never-before-thought-of technologies. It was awesome!
The most difficult part was making a continuous story when life kept interrupting my work. Also the seemingly endless editing. At some point you have to stop editing your book and realize it is good!
What types of hobbies do you have? Do these activities find their way into your books?
Currently during the day I am a mechanical designer for a pump company. In the evenings and weekends I am a writer. Eventually I will drop the day job (designer), but for now it pays the bills. I am fascinated by studies of the mind and the spirit and totally disappointed in the drug oriented pharmacological environment that our grant-hungry modern “sciences” have created making victims out of people. In the summers I run the nearby mountain trails and fly fish. In the winter I try to hit the ski slopes. I am most comfortable as an athlete and an artist.
Have you traveled at all? How has that experience helped in your writing career? How has the type of employment you’ve had helped to enhance your writing career?
I have traveled some to Europe and Japan and all around the western US. I have written some personal short stories of my travels but have not particularly incorporated them in my novels but have honed my skills as a writer. I have been employed as an educator and counselor which helped me to understand the human condition, the mind and the spirit. This has been a major influence in all my stories.
What do you feel is the best personal quality you bring to your writing career?
A sense of humor and a mind full of new and interesting viewpoints.
Where do you see your writing career going? Why do you think that?
I see myself as a successful author with a good following of readers who enjoy my books. I think I have something unique to offer as an author.
Do you have a special theme, or design that you intend to continue throughout your career as your signature item?
Yes. Read Total Amnesia. It’s a big universe with a whole lot of amazing stories to create! My stories will be designed to expand your viewpoint, fascinate you and leave you wondering what I will come up with next.
What happens next for Tim Northway? Does your future depend upon your books being a success?
Another book! Of course my future depends on this book being a success! My future plans are dependent upon doing well as a writer—actually selling well. That is the career I want; I don’t desire another career.
Do you use a pen name, why?
I do use a pen name. It’s simply a name I like as opposed to my real name which I never particularly liked. (Sorry, Mom.)