Now seems a good a minute to answer Amin from London, who asks:

Where did you get the idea of TIM, DEFENDER OF THE EARTH?

The single best piece of writing advice I’ve ever heard came from an interview I read once with the awesome thriller writer Lee Child: “Write the exact book that you yourself would be thrilled to read,” he said – and as soon as I saw those words it was like a door opening in my head. The only way as a writer that you can hope to get readers excited by your stories, is if you’re excited by them yourself. GIANT MONSTERS thrill me half to death, and have done for most of my life now.

My first giant monster encounter was when I was six, reading Ted Hughes’ THE IRON MAN – I think it’s called THE IRON GIANT in the US (and I’m talking about the book, not the movie, which is quite different). For those who don’t know, in the book the Iron Man is something of an enigma: ‘Where did he come from? Nobody knows’. But as soon as he stepped off that cliff on page one I was hooked — and by the time he squared off to defend the human race against the annihilating space-angel-bat-dragon (a creature so colossal that it sat on the whole of Australia!) Mr Hughes’ book had started an obsession that would last the rest of my life. I love monsters – all kinds. But from that book I can trace a love of /giant/ ones, specifically, that has sustained and fed me through (to name a few) all three versions of King Kong, the wonderful work of Ray Harryhausen, innumerable Japanese ‘kaiju eiga’ such as Gamera and (naturally!) Godzilla – right up to this year’s CLOVERFIELD.

Sometimes, I’ll admit, I’ve felt a bit silly about it. Sometimes – especially when I was trying to convey my excitement to other people! – I would wonder what it was I loved about giant monsters so much. ‘But it’s blatantly just a guy in a suit,’ they would say (for example). ‘I know,’ I would answer, ‘but…’ ‘That building he’s just stepped on is about six inches tall. It’s totally unrealistic!’ ‘I know,’ I would flail, ‘but-!’ But the thing was, I didn’t know where that ‘but’ came from – why I loved these stories so much. Not until just a few years ago, when I was asking myself that question again. Then, at last, it hit me.

A lot of the satisfaction to be had from these stories… comes from imagining you’re the monster.

Take me, for instance. I’m six foot two, I’m a little clumsy, and when I get excited I tend to wave my arms around like a big blond baboon. I had to give up learning Wing Chun Kung Fu recently when I realised that all it was doing for me at this stage (even Wing Chun, one of the tidiest and most short-range of all martial arts!) was to make me knock things over even more than I did already. Well: imagine the destruction if, like Tim, I was a HUNDRED METRES TALL!

What would it be like, say, to wade through a multi-story car park? What would it be like to be stuck trying to walk around in a city that’s built on a vastly smaller scale to you, even if you didn’t want to destroy it? What if every time you opened your mouth, people ran screaming in terror? And what if, like the Iron Man, you found you then had to face a threat that was even more powerful, and frightening, and seemingly indomitable, than you?

In his brilliant book of the craft, ON WRITING, Stephen King describes the germination of the seed of a book as the ‘What if?’ stage. That’s where writers get their ideas from: by asking themselves ‘What if…?’ The combination of that, giant monsters, and Lee Child’s advice, and there you have it: TIM, DEFENDER OF THE EARTH. And as with THE BLACK TATTOO, if you have even a quarter as much fun reading it as I had writing it, then you should be in for a pretty good time. HEE HEE HEE HEE! 🙂

Have you seen the Q&A pages on my Black Tat and Tim sites? For about eighteen months now I’ve been doing my best to answer every question that comes in on my websites’ Guestbooks. If you have a question about me or my writing (and I haven’t answered it already!) then drop me a line on the Guestbook of your choice, and I’ll see what I can do – here on the blog first, then it’ll wind up on those Q&A pages.

If it takes me a while though, like this one has (sorry, Amin!) you’ll have to forgive me. After all, I’ve got more cool stories to write! ;p


Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. 😉