Interview with Tim Jopling

When did you first start writing?
It was around 14 years ago when I first started writing. I'd always wanted to write something but I'd never really gotten around to it or come up with an idea that really got me started. At that point I started watching '24' and there was one scene in a safe house where a character called 'Paulson' was under attack as the safe house had been breached. It's hard to describe but that scene of a character no-one ever remembers changed my life it really did. It was an intense scene, brilliantly played by Kevin Ramsey who played 'Paulson' and though it only lasted a few minutes everything about had an impact on me. From the way it was shot, to the way tension was created, the way the characters were dressed, you name it. The very next day (once I got over the fact that 'Paulson' wasn't going to be in the next episode) I started writing a short story called 'ShadowHawk' which was so much fun. It was just a bit of fun but I ended up really enjoying it and a few months later I started writing another short story and it went from there. Years later I wrote my first novel 'Out of the Shadows' and the rest is history!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do, it was called 'ShadowHawk' and it was based around an MI6 agent called Martin Bedford. I've probably still got that first version lying around somewhere. It was a bit basic but it was a short story where Bedford was being stalked by a team a threat that was looking to swap him with one of their guys who had been surgically modified to take his place. All a bit Hollywood right? It was really and it was just a bit of fun. I ended up using the name Martin Bedford in one of my novels. Having a good name for a character is so important not just for the reader but for the writer too. Thomas Smith is not quite the same as Thomas Deane if you ask me so it will make a big difference to the writer if that name is right and the visualisation process can start.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
For me its so much fun to create a character and go on a journey with him/her. There is so much to fleshing out that character, giving it some human qualities and making it someone that you can connect with and therefore (you hope) the reader too. I admire writers that create a new book and therefore new characters every time. It must be difficult to create a whole new world every time. For me some of the joy comes from having a world that you operate in and continuing the development of the characters every time, especially when it comes to saying goodbye to one of them. It is a journey that's for sure and although my novels are thrillers and espionage they are effectively all about relationships, good or bad. That's where the joy comes for me and hopefully the readers too!
What do you read for pleasure?
I'm a big believer that reading will help improve and maintain your writing. With that in mind I tend to read thriller novels such as those by Robert Harris, Henning Menkel, Michael Crichton and other authors. Sometimes though I tend to feel like I need a break from reading novels so I'll read some autobiography books to read something different. I always enjoy those, they could be about an actor or a someone in sport but I always enjoy them.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Well I work full time in IT on the server projects side of things so that takes up a large amount of my time as I'm sure anyone who works full time will know! When I'm not working (or writing) I play tennis at my local club. So that could be playing doubles on team practice night or playing singles with a friend. I do enjoy tennis as its a great sport and a good way to get rid of stress. I used to go running once or twice a week but I've had a few injuries lately so I'll see when I can get back into that, hopefully soon. Other than that I spend time with my wife, go out for dinner or have a quite night in. We all need those every now and then right?
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
This is a tough question. My first love is writing but I've recognised like all writers that you have to market your books, you simply can't do nothing otherwise no one will ever know about your work. So what do you do? Well when I started out I did get duped by one of the many companies out there that will charge you a flat fee and you'll be 'discovered' where you work will be found, everything will take off and as if by magic you'll be a writer with a following! Well sadly this almost never happens and you end up paying a lot of money (I paid £400) for what ended up being a few tweets, some reviews I never saw and the end result was no sales, no discovery, no nothing! DON'T DO IT! Since then I've been on Twitter which has helped a bit and Facebook too which has been good. Facebook ads have definitely helped. I tend to use my website as the main source and then use Facebook ads and Google+ to link back to that. It's all a work in progress though, much like my next novel!
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design is really important. It's the first chance you have to get a potential readers attention so my view is that you need some professional help to make the most of that chance. Sure you could do it yourself in Microsoft Word or some other software but I don't really have any skills in that area so I tend to use 'The Cover Collection' and work with Debbie to put together an eBook cover and then the Print cover for Createspace. For my novels I tend to look for something that will match a key part of the story whether that's on a direct level or as a subtle visual link to another aspect. Either way it has to stand out and so far I've been really pleased with the covers of my novels.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle Touch which has been good but I have to say I'm a bit old school and I do enjoy reading a paper book. I still use my Kindle but not as much as some I'm sure. Its a great device but I don't think you can beat reading from a paper book there is just something about them. I'll be sticking with paper books that's for sure but I'll still use the Kindle every now and then.
Describe your desk
Well its made of wood, has my desktop PC on it (this has Windows 10 and MS Word amongst other things) and a board on the wall that has ideas on it. I tend to use Post-It notes to map out a story and anything else that may pop into my head from time to time so I can keep track and make sure I use these ideas and not lose them. I have a docking station for my iPod as well as I do find that listening to music will help the creative juices flow.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Originally I had my novels on Amazon and they were both part of the KDP Select programme. That worked quite well and I used the free promotion tool and the discount promotion as well but eventually I found that I needed to spread my wings a bit more. I've talked to other writers and they've found KDP works for them but they have a following already and they had more titles as well where as I felt that with just two novels and a following that needed building it would be much better for me to be on other websites. So I came out of KDP and I was originally going to add my work on each site individually but that was a lot of work so I'm glad I went the Smashwords route instead. Having the ability to manage my titles that are on multiple sites from one console is a massive positive and there are many other features that have helped too. I'd recommend Smashwords to other writers!
What's the story behind your latest book?
The next book in the Akira and Deane Thriller Series is Book 3: Double Cross. This follows the events of Book 2: 'Underground Murmurs' and we find Zoltan Ferec rotting in a top secret MI6 prison, and Thomas Deane and William Hawk stranded in Latvia as they try and find a way home after the failed assasination attempt from Operation Purge. As I write this on the 13/10/2015 the novel is still some way from completion but its been great fun to write it so far. In particular its been interesting to write the Ferec story as we find out more about that character and meet his interrogator, Patrick Walker who is a character as human as the next man. With Deane and Hawk that's been different as Deane has suffered serious injuries from the failed operation from 'Underground Murmurs' so we find out more about Hawk and see his struggles as he tries to get them home. Lurking in the background is Akira who launches a man hunt to find them and he realises this is the best chance he will ever have to take out Deane permanently and finish the job...
Published 2015-10-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Out of the Shadows (Akira and Deane Thriller Series Book 1)
Price: Free! Words: 84,800. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Nothing is ever what it seems. Don't turn your back on anyone or anything. Akira is a man on a mission and will stop at nothing to see his vision of the world become a reality. His past will help unlock the secrets he needs. Thomas Deane lives for MI6 and will do anything to keep the peace with his loyal partners by his side. They're on a collision course, one you don't want to miss.