AUTHOR INTERVIEW 48

Timothy Minneci

United States

Age 46

I am currently the co-host/creator of the weekly Dig Me Out Podcast, which launched in 2011. We revisit albums from the 1990s (most overlooked, under appreciated and lesser-known), host roundtable discussions and conduct occasional interviews.

From 1998 to 2008 I was in the band The Stepford Five, who released three albums and an EP. I’ve released several albums of electronic/ambient instrumental music under my own name on Reverbose Records, a label I started with some friends in 2003. My complete discography is here.

In 2013 I published my first book, Power Ballad – A Definitive Guide To Hard Rock’s Softer Side, Vol. 1. Since then, I’ve released a few others (Small Stories in 2017, Are You Making a Sound? in 2018), a complete bibliography is here.

I have two in progress works – a fiction novel currently titled The Black Sky that has its own dedicated blog. I’m also in the progress of researching and conducting interviews for a book about the Columbus, Ohio music scene from the 1970s to today tentatively titled Down To High Street, which also has its own blog here.

I was born in Tonawanda, NY in August of 1974 and currently reside in Columbus, OH with my wife, daughter and pets. I graduated from Bowling Green State University (Ay Ziggy Zoomba!) with a BA in Sports Information & Journalism.

I am a stupidly dedicated fan of the Buffalo Bills, maintain a reasonable but ever growing music collection and like getting my hands dirty in my vegetable garden though I don’t really enjoy being outside.
Bishop and Tessa Dawes survive on opposite sides of the Manhattan Island seawall, one of fifteen corporation-controlled cities across the United States in the post-asteroid apocalypse. While Bishop works off citizenship debt in the drone command center, slowly building credit to secure her entry in two years, Tessa survives in the lawless boroughs surrounding the city, reconditioning knives for the black market Free Zone controlled by bullet gangs. On a cold January day, an offer from management – Bishop has forty-eight hours to drive to the free city of Bangor, Maine and kidnap a doctor capable of saving the life of Manhattan’s ill CEO. Upon his successful return, his debt will be wiped clean, and Tessa will be granted entry, their year and a half separation ended, a new life within their grasp.
Bishop departs for Bangor unaware of the forces working for and against him, the corporate backstabbing and deception at the highest levels of Manhattan’s government, of the fate of the soldiers sent before him, and the immediate threat to Tessa’s safety. The Black Sky is ultimately a story about family by blood, by circumstance, and by community, while exploring themes of economic, technological and surveillance extremism.

Romelia: WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR ARTISTIC PROCESS?

Timothy D. Minneci: The most difficult part is definitely finding the time to do everything. Whether that is just formulating an idea, or outlining, actually writing, or revising, it all takes time. Having a full-time job and a family and home to take care of, it is all about carving out some time here and there during the day or week to focus.

For my first novel, The black sky, I wrote it about 500 words at a time on lunch breaks at work, or when I could get some free-time late at night. That was back when I was going into an office every day. It was a good schedule and kept me on track, since I knew I had an hour at lunch to write. Working from home is a new challenge, as there is more freedom but I find it harder to focus since I get distracted or pulled away by what is happening at home.

Romelia: DOES YOUR FAMILY SUPPORT YOUR CAREER AS A WRITER?

Timothy D. Minneci: Yes, my family is very supportive. My wife is a great resource for feedback. She can read something and tell me quickly if I’m on the right track.

Romelia: IF YOU HAD TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY AS A CHILD OR TEENAGER TO BECOME A BETTER WRITER AS AN ADULT, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Timothy D. Minneci: I was always a good student when it came to creative projects, or writing essays, but I had a hard time staying focused when reading. I rarely read on my own for pleasure, all the books I read in school were assignments, and I was not attentive. It wasn’t until college that I started reading on my own, and even then it was sporadic, because I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to read. I picked up a few things at random.

Romelia: HOW LONG ON AVERAGE DOES IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE A BOOK?

Timothy D. Minneci: I’ve written four non-fiction books and one fiction book, and they have all varied wildly. The fiction book (The black sky) is the most recent, it took about a year to write the complete first draft, and another year to do a very thorough revision, which included two complete rewrites of the opening chapter.

Romelia: DO YOU BELIEVE IN WRITER’S BLOCK?

Timothy D. Minneci: Maybe some people experience it, but I’ve found that when I’m stuck, it’s because I haven’t really developed the idea I’m working on to the point I can write it. Sometimes I have the edges of an idea, but not the entire picture. It is usually because I haven’t really nailed down everything – the stakes, the emotion, the story being told, the perspective, etc. There is usually a piece missing, and that’s is what trips me up.

I’m not afraid to put something down and let it sit. Sometimes I just need to spend a few days thinking or daydreaming about where I’m at in the story, and letting my mind wander. If I can get to a place where I can think freely and without interruption, I can usually work my way through any problems.

Romelia: AT WHAT POINT DO YOU THINK SOMEONE SHOULD CALL THEMSELVES A WRITER?

Timothy D. Minneci: Writers can be anything. Doesn’t have to be novels. Poems, short stories, song lyrics, whatever. As long as you are trying, putting something down, bringing it into existence, then you can be a writer.

Now, will anyone take notice if you don’t share what you’ve written with the world? Is someone a writer if they never show anyone? I don’t know, I think you have to put it out into the universe.

Romelia: WHAT DIFFERENCE DO YOU SEE BETWEEN A WRITER AND AN AUTHOR?

Timothy D. Minneci: I think of an author as someone who works primarily in books, whether they are short stories or full length manuscripts. A writer could be a columnist for a newspaper or magazine.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU PROCESS AND DEAL WITH NEGATIVE BOOK REVIEWS?

Timothy D. Minneci: I think there are two types of negative reviews – people who simply didn’t understand or like the book, and express it, and those that maybe enjoyed aspects of the book, but were frustrated by what didn’t work for them.

I’m more interested in the latter. If someone writes, “I thought this was okay, here’s how it failed for me,” and writes something thoughtful and constructive, I can learn from that. I always want to be improving, and learning from others is important.

Romelia: WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR WRITING PROCESS?

Timothy D. Minneci: Getting the story straight and the making sure I have the characters properly thought out with strong arcs. Once that is done, and the skeleton of the story is built, the actual writing is fun.

Romelia: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING OR WHEN DID YOU START?

Timothy D. Minneci: I published my first non-fiction book in 2013, which took about a year of work, but that was born out of years of writing sports, politics, and music for a variety of websites and print outlets. I knew I could write short-form, but doing the first book in 2013 was really taking a lot of short form writing and expanding it into over three hundred pages.

Romelia: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A WRITER WORKING ON THEIR FIRST BOOK?

Timothy D. Minneci: Make sure you know your beginning and ending. The worst thing you can do is start writing before you know where you are going, because you may never find it. You don’t have to have every scene or moment figured out at the start, but you should want your ending to be as important as your beginning, because that is the last moment you share with your readers.

Romelia: WHAT, TO YOU, ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF GOOD WRITING?

Timothy D. Minneci: When writing fiction, I have to have an understanding of the world I’m in. Not that it has to be fantastical or anything elaborate, but if you are writing a book taking place entirely on a farm in England in 1900, I need to know the sights, the sounds, the smells, and everything that makes your setting unique.

Romelia: WHAT COMES FIRST FOR YOU – THE PLOT OR THE CHARACTERS – AND WHY?

Timothy D. Minneci: I tend to be plot-driven, but with a dose of theme. What story do I want to tell, and why? What purpose does the story serve? Good stories should work on multiple levels, and readers can decide on which one works for them.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU DEVELOP YOUR PLOT AND CHARACTERS?

Timothy D. Minneci: Plotting is driven by a simple premise for me – what do I want to see that I haven’t seen, or read, before? That doesn’t mean reinventing the horse, but maybe this time the horse has laser eyes and a flaming tale. Haven’t seen that before, let’s take that for a spin.

Characters are a slow burn for me. I’ll often start with a basic idea, and then allow them to develop through the first draft process. Then I’ll go back and see where they’re lacking, or inconsistent, and work on those.

Romelia: WHEN DID YOU FIRST CALL YOURSELF A WRITER?

Timothy D. Minneci: I probably called myself a writer in high school when I started writing for my school newspaper and contributing to an independent regional sports newspaper. It was the first time I worked with a real editor, and got feedback on what I was writing.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA AS AN AUTHOR?

Timothy D. Minneci: Having a Twitter and Instagram presence, along with a Facebook author page, are all important. It doesn’t require daily bombardment, and it shouldn’t be all promotion, but in reality some people who may enjoy your work may never find you if you’re not using social media. If I’m running a deal on an ebook, I’ll be sure to post in my feeds, but do something fun, like create a simple animated gif or video.

Romelia: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE AND LEAST FAVORITE PART OF PUBLISHING?

Timothy D. Minneci: Since I use a self-publishing platform, definitely the least favorite part is the nuts and bolts of getting files ready to print, making sure artwork is sized correctly, and the other dull behind-the-scenes stuff.

My favorite part is the having the control. I got to do some fun things with the layout of the black sky that are little clues hidden in the book that tie into some Easter eggs hidden in the real world. There is a page I added at the end that leads you to a website where the reader can explore and discover additional materials related to the period before the book takes place.

Romelia: WHAT WOULD YOU say TO AN AUTHOR WHO WANTED TO DESIGN THEIR OWN COVER?

Timothy D. Minneci: I would say don’t get attached to one design. I think I created over two dozen cover designs for my book, and I used my Facebook friends to vote on which ones they liked best. I always work with a friend who has design skills to give me feedback and help with layout questions or problems. If you have friends, utilize them, but pay them back as well. Give them a free copy of the book or send them a gift card, just so they know you appreciate the help.

I also worked with a professional artist on the cover art. There are plenty of websites with royalty free artwork to choose from, but lots of folks are using those sites, so there is a possibility of using something someone else has already used, or will use in the future.

Romelia: HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN AND WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE?

Timothy D. Minneci: I’ve written five books overall, and my favorite is always the last one, which is my novel The black sky. I’ll probably say my next book is my favorite when it comes out.

Romelia: WHAT PART OF THE BOOK DID YOU HAVE THE HARDEST TIME WRITING?

Timothy D. Minneci: On The black sky, I rewrote the first chapter three times. Three different versions with completely different entry points for the reader. I definitely ended up with the best version.

Romelia: WHAT PART OF THE BOOK WAS THE MOST FUN TO WRITE?

Timothy D. Minneci: My favorite part of the black sky to write was a scene that involves a helicopter chase through downtown Manhattan. I used a 3-d Google map to plot out the chase, down to details like on which street an errant missile would strike the side of a building, or what ground level would look like when they jumped from the helicopter.

Romelia: WHICH OF THE CHARACTERS DO YOU RELATE TO THE MOST AND WHY?

Timothy D. Minneci: The husband and wife at the center of The black sky both have aspects I relate to in different ways. Bishop is a logical thinker, a planner, who can make quick assessments. He’s my Virgo side. Tessa is my Sicilian side – a temper, holds grudges, unafraid to mix it up. They can both get in trouble in different ways.

Romelia: IF YOU’RE PLANNING A SEQUEL. CAN YOU SHARE A TINY BIT ABOUT YOUR PLANS FOR IT?

Timothy D. Minneci: The black sky is the first of a series of books, the next book is titled The red sky and picks up with events and characters immediately following the aftermath of the ending of the black sky.

I won’t get too much into plot, but I’ll say that an aspect I’m really interested in exploring is the psychological toll that the events in the previous book have taken on the two main characters. They’ve been living in a post-apocalyptic hellscape for over ten years, what happens when they try to re-enter a functioning society, what sort of post-traumatic stress they will have to deal with is something I want to explore. Perhaps with more helicopter chases.

Romelia: TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY ABOUT YOUR ADULT LIFE.

Timothy D. Minneci: I don’t know if it’s funny, but if you had told me twenty years ago I’d enjoy gardening and watching British gardening shows, 20-year-old me would have laughed because it sounded so ridiculous, but now I’m a gardener.

Romelia: describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.

Timothy D. Minneci: I’m a middle-aged dad and husband who enjoys baking and buying vinyl records when not writing. Sadly, I’ve never traveled abroad – my trip to Italy was cancelled due to Covid. Hoping to make it there in 2022. I hate people who are ignorant and arrogant – the worst and most dangerous possible combination to have in the modern world.

CONTACT DETAILS:

My amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Timothy-David-Minneci/e/B084DJ264P

My goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7068554.Timothy_D_Minneci

My website: http://www.timminneci.com/

My facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/timothyminneci

My twitter: https://twitter.com/timminneci my newsletter: https://timminneci.substack.com/

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