Friday, July 26, 2013

Author Interview with Timothy Davis


The DMS was lucky enough to interview Timothy Davis. Lizzy recently reviewed his story Sea Cutter: Book 1 in The Chronicles of Nathaniel Childeand it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours. We are excited to learn a little bit more about the story behind the story. So, without further ado... take it away, Timothy! 

What inspired you to become a children’s author?

I lived in a world of imagination as a child. For example, I stood at the edge of Long Pond, Cape Cod, and took my clothes off to go swimming...only to snap back to reality to find my second grade teacher shaking me, and all the kids laughing at my natural condition. Books sailed me into new worlds of imagination, especially Treasure Island. My parents caught me reading it under my bed covers by flashlight. As a teenager, I joined Renaissance Festivals and the like. I’d go around the festival juggling and inviting children to the next Children’s Story Time. At the Story Time tent, I would tell classics such as “The Elephant’s Child” by Kipling or “The Tinder Box” by Anderson. In high school, I took a career placement exam. I wanted to join the Coast Guard, but the test result said that my career should be “telling stories to children.” “That sounds high paying,” I thought. Flash forward ten years. I was intellectually restless, so I decided to try writing a novel. I remembered how I’d been caught reading Treasure Island under my blankets, and wanted to write a book that would get some other child in trouble. A child caught reading my book by flashlight – I kept that image in mind whenever I wrote. And, guess what. I had a blast, loved every minute of writing. Accent Publications published the result – In Search of Perlas Grandes, the precursor to Sea Cutter.

What made you decide to rewrite In Search of Perlas Grandes into Sea Cutter?

Flash forward twenty years. I’ve earned my Ph.D in English, taught Children’s Literature at university, and become disabled. Searching for something that I am able to do, I decided to rewrite In Search of Perlas Grandes. I wished to use what I’d learned about children’s literature, and I also wanted to reach a wider audience – both adults and children. Once again, I had a blast. I hired editor and writing coach, Lisa Costantino, to take a look at Sea Cutter (she’s quite affordable and still taking clients.) She immediately spotted egregious errors in my creative-writing style, and gave me suggestions about how to fix them. I still remember the moment that a supernova exploded in my brain, and I “got it.” I rewrote Sea Cutter to read fast, turning a 179-page book into a 99-page book, while also inserting new scenes. Thank you, Ms. Costantino. I like the result quite a bit, but do I think I’ve written a book as good as Treasure Island? A resounding no.  I appreciate readers’ comparisons between the two, but Sea Cutter is leagues below Treasure Island. So, if you haven’t read Treasure Island, stop reading this interview and go read it. While you’re at it, pick up E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. And also pick up….

How many drafts did you write of Sea Cutter: Book 1 in The Chronicles of Nathaniel Childe?

Between the first draft of In Search of Perlas Grandes and the final version of Sea Cutter, I wrote fourteen drafts. LOL. “Writing is rewriting.” I kept visualizing that nine-year-old child under her or his blankets, and did not want to confuse or lose her or him even for a moment.

Where did you come up with the characters: Nat and Paulo?

I modeled Nat after two people–after a twelve-year-old boy named Steve who used to crew with us on our sailboat races, and after myself. I modeled Paulo after Darshan, my best friend when I lived in India as a child.

Where do you like to write?

I like to write at my desk in our study. I’ve tried carrying my laptop to a bench by the Pacific, but the splendor distracted me. Besides, I share our study with my wonderful wife, and I like to bounce questions off of her. Of course, our cats think they own the study, so I’m obligated to pat them whenever I’m trying to think through a sticky problem–another bonus.

Most of Sea Cutter: Book 1 in The Chronicles of Nathaniel Childe takes place on a boat. Do you have a boat? If so, what kind?

Yes, I own a tugboat. It’s made of orange and yellow plastic, and I play with it in the bathtub. I got most of my sailing experience as a teenager on Cape Cod, crewing on Rhodes 19 (Hurricane class) races. I wish that I owned Wayland’s sloop, Sea Cutter. I modeled Sea Cutter after a sloop docked in the Wellfleet Harbor–gleaming white haul, polished oak deck, and beauteous lines. I loved that sailboat.


I know that you are currently rewriting, Red Stone: Book 2 in The Chronicles of Nathaniel Childe.  How many books will be in the series?

After I rewrite and republish Red Stone, I plan to write a third and final book. Ideas? The historic British Naval firebombing of Falmouth, Massachusetts (now Portland, Maine) – the city to which Nat’s family moves in Red Stone. Wayland, Nat, Paulo, and Ruth sneaking Sea Cutter through the historic British blockade of Boston Harbor. And…






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43 comments:

  1. Fun interview and esp that he has the experience with boats

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    1. Thanks, Brandi! So glad you enjoyed it. :) ~L

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  2. What a fun interview! I read and loved, loved, loved Sea Cutter, and though Mr. Davis is a great Twitter friend, it was ice to read a bit more of his very interesting background. Thank you, Jessica and Tim. :0)- Donna L Sadd

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    1. Donna- So wonderful to meet another fan of Sea Cutter. What a great book! We are glad we could help you get to know a little more about your Twitter friend. :) ~Stephanie and Jess

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  3. I love the image of a kid reading by flashlight--that was definitely me and so many other authors I know today!

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    1. Meradeth- Me, too! :) ~Stephanie

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  4. Brilliant interview! I read and reviewed Sea Cutter - it is a great read!!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Carol! So glad you also enjoyed the fabulous adventure. :) ~L

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  5. Thank you, Jessica, for interviewing me, and for laying out the interview to look so lovely. What fun comments! It warms me to hear from those of you who have read Sea Cutter. To Meradeth - Glad to meet a fellow flashlighter!

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    1. Tim- It has been wonderful having you on our blog. Thanks for agreeing to the interview and your thoughtful responses! :) ~Jess and Stephanie

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  6. I love Timothy's writing motto and the description of his imaginative childhood.

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  7. Fourteen drafts! That is impressive just shows that you can always polish. Very interesting interview. I am glad to see that Timothy still lives in his dreamworld through writing. Happy Friday!

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    1. Heidi- It is always fun to hear what the editing process is like for different authors. :) ~L

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  8. I love the bit about reading Treasure Island under the covers with a flashlight! :) I'm glad that you turned your love for reading into a love for writing. Wishing you all the best, Tim!

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    1. Jan- Thanks for stopping by! I love that Tim took his childhood inspiration and used it to fuel his writing. :) ~L

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  9. I need a distraction-free environment to write too. Great interview.

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  10. An interesting interview...Timothy has a wonderful imagination and I'm sure that is what is takes to write successful children's books. I laughed when he said he took a test intending to join the Coast Guard and found out it indicated he should be telling children stories. He evidently made the right choice.

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    1. Hi Anna Maria- I love the part about the test Tim took too! How cool! :) ~L

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  11. Great interview! I also loved treasure Island. I love reading about the authors I've read. Good luck with your future wip, can't wait to read more about Nathaniel.

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    1. Kim- I love reading about the authors I have read too. It is so fun to learn more about them. Thanks for stopping by. :) ~L

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  12. I loved reading about Timothy's journey. Fourteen rewrites sounds like a lot, but writing for kids is hard -- as he said, he didn't want to confuse the 9-year-old, and that takes time. Good luck! :-)

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    1. Lexa- Thanks for stopping in! :) I would imagine each genre and age group has its difficulties. :) ~L

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  13. I want to enter to win. Patty.wright1958@gmail.com

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  14. Sea Cutter looks like a great read! Love how Timothy keeps that 9-year-old wielder of flashlights in mind as he writes. :-)

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    1. Bibliolinks- I think it is great he keeps that image in his mind too. :) ~L

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  15. What a fun series. I'd love to read these. Good luck to the winners.

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    1. Donna- I bet you would love these books! :) ~L

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  16. Wonderful interview! Great job Jess, and it is so great to learn more about you Tim, my friend. I am excited to hear about Red Stone. I can't wait to read it as I loved Sea Cutter.

    Paul R. Hewlett

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    1. Paul- Thanks for stopping by! Glad we could help you learn more about Tim. We can't wait for the next book either! :) ~Jess and Stephanie

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  17. I love this book and this awesome interview! :D :D

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    1. Erik- We loved it too! So glad you enjoyed the interview. :) ~L and F

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  19. What wonderful comments from everyone. To Carol - thanks for your compliment about the interview, and for your endorsement of Sea Cutter. To Medeia – thank you for loving my writing motto. To Heidi – LOL. At one point, I had the entire book memorized. To Jan – did you ever read under the covers with a flashlight? Thank you for the good wishes. To Kelly – yes, distraction free. I would often get up to write in the middle of the night. To Anna – so glad that you enjoyed the detail about the Coast Guard and my placement exam. To Kim – a fellow Treasure Island lover. Thanks for the good luck wish on my rewrite of Red Stone. To Lexa – thank you for realizing that it takes time to write for children; however, it doesn't seem like work to me. I find it exciting and very fun. To Patty – I hope you win one of the three free paperbacks. To Donna – before you buy Sea Cutter, you can read the first four chapters up on the web to see if you like it. Here is the link: http://www.timothydavisauthor.com/Sea_Cutter.html. To Paul – so glad that you wish to read Red Stone, my friend. Thanks for saying that you loved Sea Cutter. To Erik – thank you for loving Sea Cutter and for your compliments on the interview. To everyone – May huge joy leap from your heart today, like a humpback breaching.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by to chat with our readers, Tim! It was so nice of you to comment to each of them. We can't wait for Red Stone! ~Jess and Stephanie

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  20. So wonderfully kind of you to mention your editor, Tim! Sea Cutter was such an enjoyable story to edit, and I'm proud of how you accomplished you were in bringing it to a higher level. I look forward to working on Red Stone!

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    1. Lisa- Thank you so much for visiting. Sea Cutter is such a great book. Nice job editing! :) ~Stephanie and Jess

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  21. Great interview. I now know just a little more about my favorite author. Looking forward to the next book. I think that children reading Sea Cutter will have something to really spark their imagination. Heck, I enjoyed Sea Cutter at age 65 and think about being at sea again. Keep up the great work Timothy.

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    1. Allen- Thanks for stopping by! We are so glad we could help you get to know your favorite author a bit more. Sea Cutter is a wonderful tale that will take kids to the high seas on an adventure they won't forget! We loved hearing your thoughts. ~Stephanie and Jess

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