Good morning, friends! It’s time once again to open the pantry, pull a fresh dish to review, and bring in that dish’s chef into the kitchen to have a few woods. This week, we talk to Timothy A. Freriks, author of Renaissance. Let’s see what’s on his mind!
Please introduce yourself to my literary foodies!
I am Tim Freriks. I have read books ever since I knew there were books. The worlds they took me to seemed more real than anything I was living in. But, reality being what it is, I think the big challenge in life is to find that kind of excitement and reward by writing and living your own story. Failing being able to custom-create a life, you can invent stuff and write fiction. My first career was as a musician, creating musical environments. Then I became an architect and created spatial environments. Then real estate development to build the physical environments, then two software companies that where designed to create simulated training environments. I guess creating environments is just my thing and fiction is the natural outgrowth.
Do you do any work outside of the writing kitchen? Any non-work interests?
Non-work? What’s that? When I sold the business and retired three years ago, it was a vacuum into which rushed all sorts of things. However, the primary interests are making my family (and dog) happy and writing stories about people in exciting made-up worlds, escape-to worlds that make readers happy, too. When my wife retires we will travel in the RV and find other adventures (that I will probably write about). But that’s not work.
What is your latest dish to be served up? Are there any past pieces of literary cuisine you think we should take a bite out of?
My newest, Mrr, is now available on Amazon. It is a complex but terribly enjoyable science fiction story. But there is something else: a strange thing happened one day while working on the sequel to Renaissance. A sentence popped into my head and I just had to type it down. When the frenzy was over, I had created a young woman, a remarkable young woman, with whom I’m afraid I have fallen in love. That book will be named Julia and it is chicklit. Crazy.
What made you want to put on the chef’s hat and whip up your own books?
I love to read books that grab me and engage in the stories. I found that I wanted to take characters in different directions, however, so I starting writing my own stories. It’s weird: I don’t consciously write; it’s more of reading a great story as it appears on the monitor. Usually, I have no freaking idea what’s going to happen next. I write because I really want to know how it turns out.
Do you have a genre of specialty or do you dabble? Why?
Renaissance is complex weave of story lines based in the political thriller genre. Sorta. There’s some romance and military and time travel and just a bunch of things in the pot. Mrr is a science-fiction love story that has bad guys and good guys and an ending that you will not believe. I’m working on Roland which is a historical novel set around 1800. And then there’s Julia … chicklit. I’m basically all over the place. I just love stories.
Style! Every literary chef aspires to have their own unique one! What do you think sets yours apart and why?
I don’t know if my style is terribly unique, but I respect writers who can tell a story that makes sense and flows well and moves around to create interest without boring the reader to death. I try to make my work easy to read while being challenging and engaging. I like humor, too; I’m a really funny guy and I just sometimes write stuff that makes me laugh, so I leave it in.
Even the best of us find inspiration is the dishes of others. Do you have any literary inspirations, heroes, and influences?
I think Harry Chapin (the songwriter) was one of the finest writers of all time. He never wrote a novel, but he could say things with a short sentence that would take other people a chapter to accomplish. Steven King does that, also. I am mesmerized by his style: so smooth and visual and efficient. He keeps the story rolling and weaves so many threads together that the tapestry you end up with is truly marvelous.
Let’s get into the meat and potatoes: the art and craft of writing itself! Do you have a preference of points-of-view when you write?
I never write in first person. It’s just easier to create visualizations with a narrator.
Sparse or wordy, how do you like your descriptions served up? Are you a Hemmingway man or do you like some saucy adjectives with your nouns?
I hate writers that string a bunch of cute adjectives together to make it sound flowery at the expense of moving it along. The art is in putting ordinary words together to create powerful visuals and emotions and story lines that captivate the reader’s imagination. Every sentence is like a brick in a wall: every new brick should be supported by a brick that was placed earlier and should also prepare to support a brick that will be set in place later.
Picking off the menu of base literary conflicts, what’s your favorite and why?
Bad guys/good guys. Evil/Good. Win/lose. Love/loss/love. You know, the basics. They work.
What do you think is more important to your recipes, plot or characterization? Why?
Probably plot. I love to create simultaneous story lines that integrate as the book moves forward and finally comes together into a massive and satisfying climax. Of course, characters have to be real and engaging. So, it all works together.
We all know that the first taste means the most! What do you do to get that first bite hook with your readers?
Give them something to get excited about, to care about and question. When they ask: “damn, where is this going?”, I’m pleased.
The most important of questions: Cake or pie?
What the hell does that mean? Boxers or briefs? I don’t get it. If you mean “real” food, if I could get a pizza cake, I’d probably buy it.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to aspiring literary chefs out there, what would it be?
There are basics to learn, like clarity of scene changes, character POV, creating the setting, and a whole lot more. Learn those; it’s like a skeleton: if you have a strong framework, you can build beautiful people or ugly people just by adding the meat. Some writers add the meat well, and some don’t. I have come to believe that most great writers just “have it” and no amount of training can make you a Steven King. Don’t give up, but if it isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try something else. That’s probably awful advice, but I spent five years of my life thinking I was the world’s greatest jazz trumpet player. I wasn’t, and no amount of practice was going to make me good enough. But, if you DO have it, do not be afraid to just keep writing. Pretty soon, somebody will agree with you.