#AuthorInterview with Timothy M. David, author of The Imposed Path
Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kathy Stickles is talking with Timothy M. David, author of The Imposed Path: The Gem Keepers Saga, Book 1.
FQ: The story that you have written is absolutely amazing, and I have quickly become a huge fan. Where did the idea for The Imposed Path come from?
DAVID: Kathy, I would first like to thank you for your review, and I am thrilled you enjoyed the story. The idea for The Imposed Path, and The Gem Keepers Saga, came to me while hobby writing short stories. I just recently retired from the military, after a short 24 years, LOL. When I was stationed away from my family, I liked to write short stories to fill the time. My last two years I was stationed in Honduras, and I wrote a different short story but with the same characters. That story was not Sci-Fi, but dealt with similar topics. At one point in that story the characters received a movie deal, which I had used two paragraphs to describe. At the end of that story, I wanted to continue the characters I created. So, I went to the movie idea and started to write the short story of the Gem Keepers Saga. When I write short stories I just write whatever pops into my head. But that short story kept evolving and adding to the characters and lore. When I finished it, I was wanting more. I had fallen in love with my characters and the concept; so, I decided to try and write a full book for the first time. I got about 30 chapters into it, and realized I was only about a fifth of the way through the plot of the short story.
As for the inspiration of the story, I have always been interested in the aftereffects of the hero’s journey. But unfortunately, I don’t see it often, or it is barely touched on. Usually the hero saves the day, and rides off in to the sunset with no emotional impact of what they just experienced. A great example is the Iron Man story in the MCU. Tony Stark is kidnapped and his life changes. He has to deal with possibly dying in Iron Man 2, and PTSD from the events of the 1st Avengers movie, in Iron Man 3.I thought those parts of his story were excellent, and wished it had focused on it more. Then they would continue to show how his experiences in future MCU movies were motivated by his previous encounters. All the way until Endgame, his past shaped his future, which is why his character was really unique to the others. I haven’t seen another character given that backstory, or humanity. My story takes that, but dives into it much deeper; and is a primary focus of the series. What is going on in the mind of the heroes, after they are out of the public eye. Having them be teens makes it even more impactful, because they shouldn’t have to experience these atrocities. But they learn to cope, and have support; they still fight because they need and want to. They have the qualities of a hero, but I pull the curtain back on their lives after the battles.
FQ: You deal with some very intense issues in the book before we even come to the science fiction part...things like mass shootings, nuclear weapons, hostage situations, and so on. How hard was that to put down on paper? Did you worry when writing it that it might not be accepted by some people and they would immediately not like the book before they even finished it and understood the point?
DAVID: Of course I was concerned, and I know these topics could prevent possible fans. I hope they will give it a try, and see how those scenarios are important to my character development and overall story. I will say this, nothing I write is just for filler or shock value. Everything has a very deep impact on the characters, and many will be explored again in the series. Whether it is the incident, or a character from the incident. My characters constantly are going out helping people which is typically just mentioned. But the incidents that get detail, and are a part of the story; those have lasting effects. I wouldn’t use these types of incidents for no reason; they all have a purpose.
As for how hard it was, it is very hard to write about these types of incidents and scenes. I would get emotional writing some of the scenes. I would put myself in Emma’s mind, and have to try and write what I felt. Closing my eyes, experiencing the scenes, then writing what I believe my character would feel. With all trauma, everyone handles it differently. Emma deals with it one way, and not all of them handle it the same. They also will not always deal with the trauma in a good way; especially as the series continues. I didn’t want this to be like most heroes stories; I want a realism to the impact a hero would feel in these scenarios. The girls get their powers, and everything is great because they can save everyone in the beginning. Then Chapter 9 – Reality; comes along and blows that out of the water. They experience their first losses, and see the horrors our world is exposed too. Some of my readers have said it is hard to remember my main characters are teenagers. They are exposed to things most adults will never experience. But they are just teens, and they were really naïve to the atrocities which occur. I have directly or indirectly experienced many tragedies in my military career and life. I have many friends who have experienced worse, and it is unfortunately a reality of our world. My story brings these into focus, and show the impact of those types of tragedies.
FQ: The six heroes are wonderful characters, each very different, but pulled together due to the gems and their ultimate goal to save the world. Each of the girls is also gay and part of a couple with one of the other heroes. I thought the writing was done so well and sensitively, showing that love comes in all forms and you have to deal with problems from others along the way. What made you choose to write the characters in these relationships as opposed to another, and was it difficult to make it come together? And again, were you worried about the readers' reactions?
DAVID: I expected these types of questions when I published the book. I had actually played with the idea of making them straight boy/girl relationships. But, the original characters in the short stories were all girls, so I ended up keeping it that way. There are other reasons as well, which will become clear as the series continues as well. I have also always been fascinated and pulled to a strong female lead. Growing up in the 80’s & 90’s, most action superheroes were male. But movie characters like Ripley (Alien Series) always attracted me. Don’t get me wrong I love a good Schwarzenegger or Stallone movie; but I think the lack of female leads drew me to like them more.
Their relationships, was it difficult to write? Not really. I know what some will say: What does an old straight guy know about teen lesbian relationships. My answer will always be, I wrote them as I would any relationship. Emma and Natalie’s relationship is how I would want my relationship to be. I was young once and experienced love, and wrote it the way I remember feeling. I don’t think it matters who you love, when you are in love it feels the same for everyone. So was it hard to write females in love with each other, not really.
I did struggle a little when it came to certain parts. The bullying in the school scene, and the barn scene. Those were a little harder, but I actually had some similar incidents when I was younger in school. I used those to try and get in my characters minds, and reflect what they would feel. I also will never attempt a graphic sex scene in my books. I believe passion and arousal, desires, those are the same and dabble in that. But I can’t relate to what actually happens between two women, so I won’t attempt it.
Will the lesbian piece scare off some possible fans, probably; although I would hope it wouldn’t. That’s actually a huge subplot in the book, acceptance; there’s a chapter with that title. I did not write them this way to be a part of an agenda. It makes the story better, and I really couldn’t write it a different way. My characters are actually pretty adamant to not make their sexuality their focal identity, when it comes to the publics view. They are just trying to save the world, and I hope readers will see it that way as well. But I know there will be some who won’t even give it a look; and they will just miss out on a cool Sci-Fi Superhero Action series.
FQ: I truly loved all of the characters in the book, from the heroes to their parents, and so on, but I have to admit that I had a favorite character in Mac. He was just so much fun to watch as he tried to train the girls, make the world understand, and as he tried to fit into this world as a human. I am really hoping that Mac will be back in the future books because I think he is fabulous. Do you have a personal favorite out of all of the characters?
DAVID: My mother loves Mac also, and he is an integral part of the series. Besides Emma, my favorite character to write would be Chloe. While Dakota also provides some humor, Chloe is just really fun to write. Both of them continue to be the comic relief, but Chloe’s simple kick butt attitude is always a pleasure to write. There are a lot of great support characters who will be introduced in coming books that are also great. One who is introduced in the next book has become a favorite of mine.
FQ: Can you give the readers, especially this one, an idea of what is going to happen in book two?
DAVID: So as you pointed out in your review, there is a warning in The Imposed Path. It was not just for this book, but for the series. The series will have my characters experience many various traumatic incidents. I like to think of The Imposed Path as the easiest to read, as the second book has a very dark tone to it. Of course, there is action, romance, humor, and more superpowered fights; but I really put Emma through a lot. I tell my friends and family that I am not very nice to my characters. The series only gets darker, before it gets easier on them. But their experiences will shape and evolve them. Like I said before, I won’t ever just throw a scene in for shock value; it all has lasting effects on Emma and the other characters. There will be some pretty cool technology, and theories of the universe that I introduce as well. Later in the series the girls do start exploring the galaxy, and universe; so you’ll see new worlds and some pretty crazy stuff.
With such a great review, and a new fan, I will let you be the first public website to know the next books title – Drum roll – Tribulations. It is a very fitting title for the story it tells; and should be available in September or October this year.
FQ: Do you know, at this point, how many books will be in the entire series and how things are going to progress going forward, or do you write just one at a time and see where it takes you without thinking too far ahead?
DAVID: So after writing the first, I thought it would be five books. But I now believe it will be seven, based on the main plot points from the short story. The third book was actually supposed to have the fourth books ending, but I introduced a new antagonist who wasn’t in the short story. His story line really developed, and the book would have been twice the size of The Imposed Path. I am trying to keep the series in a similar page count. So seven books is what I am planning currently, but who knows; in the world of Sci-Fi there are so many possibilities to expand.
FQ: Given the fact that this is your first novel, and an amazing one...did I already say that? Do you have any suggestions for writers out there who are working on their first book?
DAVID: Take your time, research, and let your story be yours. You should always listen to advice, but don’t let someone change your story. I probably could appeal to a larger audience without certain aspects of my book, but it is my story. I wouldn’t have been happy writing it, if I let someone change it. There are some great resources online on how to self-publish, or if you want to go the traditional route. Listen to other authors who have gone down this road. Also get an editor, and beta readers; my beta’s picked up on several grammatical issues - Don’t try to self-edit.
Don’t get discouraged and enjoy the journey your book takes you on. If you don’t enjoy what you are writing, no one else will.
FQ: What types of books do you enjoy reading personally? Are you a science fiction fan, and that is why you chose the genre, or do you have other favorite types of books?
DAVID: I love science fiction, and love reading about crazy worlds and technology. Star Wars, I mean come on, nothing is cooler than Jedi and Lightsabers, and that only comes from Sci-Fi. I totally geek out on real science as well, even if I don’t understand it all. I like trying to understand theories, then come up with my own. I am a comic book lover as well, hence superpowers! I also enjoy horror; I have a nice Stephen King collection. A good crime thriller will also intrigue me, especially if it is set in the future.
FQ: The cover of the book is really excellent. Was the cover your idea, or did that come from someone else?
DAVID: The artwork is through Miblart, which I loved the service and final product. I told them my idea, and they got it the way I envisioned. Even with my constant little tweaks, they worked with me till I was satisfied. They are almost done with the next books cover.
FQ: What is next for Timothy David?
DAVID: I am currently taking a year break after retiring. Mainly to watch and spend time with my five kids. I missed a lot of their lives while serving. I am also giving this author thing a good try. I have three of the books completed, and halfway done with the fourth. I have so many other stories I would love to convert into novels too. Some horror, a Sci-Fi Crime Thriller, and possible fantasy series I’ve had shelved a long time. I would also love to make the original short story that inspired The Gem Keepers Saga its own novel. I will be giving the YouTube thing a try also, to try and gather fans as well. But I do have financial responsibilities, so we will see if this can become a full-time career for me. If not, I will continue to write as a hobby and publish as I can.
Thank you again for the amazing review. I am so happy you enjoyed the story.