Interview with Mike Sims, author of “Vic/Tim”

A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?

I am sure some express themselves through their art either directly or vicariously as they live or wished to live. Not sure the statistics of one way or the other.

Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?

I have a high school education and I am sure my editors dream about working me over at times. It is the story that is most important to me.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

Easy to say Harry Potter books because it made the author a billionaire. But I am content with my own.

What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?

Adult drama allows me to explore serious issues that face real people and introduce in a comedic way preposterous resolutions to these issues.

How important is research to you when writing a book?

I question people of various disciplines. In my book Vic/Tim for example I had the benefit of knowing a famous astrophysicist and getting a behind the curtain look at their life for one of my characters. Because the subject matter deals with psychological trauma and addiction issues, it is necessary to show factual consequences of actions that happen to these type people.

What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?

I type everything extremely fast on computer. I need the speed because when the story comes it plays in my head like a movie and I am merely dictating.

When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

When I was very young. I wrote short stories since my teenage years. Been told many times I needed to publish them but always thought people were being nice to me. It wasn’t till I won fourth place in a writing contest in 2003 that I started to believe I had something to contribute.

What inspires you to write?

It is an escape for me. Some escape by watching movies or reading books, I write.

How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?

Not hard for me. However when I get my mind focused and cleared to write the story, the characters all interact with each other and I have no idea till they communicate what will happen. Like I say it is like watching a movie and I am just writing what I see.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

Making sure that your narrative and continuity are correct. Spelling and grammar are easily fixed but making sure the story flows and has the peaks at the right times are hard. You get distracted driving certain story points in and forget that you may have lost the reader.

Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?

I daydream all the time about a new story I am about to write. I think of scenarios and conversations of characters. Eventually I am chomping at the bit to get it written down and there is little stopping that.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

Actually I am not a big reader like some avid people. I do read some but find it hard to do because I am always afraid I am going to inadvertently copy someone.

Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?

I scan it over mostly for continuity and narrative issues. My wife reads it and gives me a harsh review about it and gives corrections. I have trusted family and friends that also sometimes will participate in giving their input. After their input I give it all one close look over.

Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?

Actually in 2005 I wrote Vic/Tim my first novel but it was just a short story then. I meant it to be a short story to share on a blog for my friend’s enjoyment. It was meant to be a dark comedy but as I wrote it, it began to turn dramatic. After it was done I realized this is a real story and too big for a short story. I had no idea how to write a full novel so it sat for 8 years before I finally knew what to do with it.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?

I first tried to self publish before I found an publisher. So I had to design my own covers which I can do. When my publisher introduced several cover options on my first book I printed them side by side to my own. People liked the impact mine made but their eyes kept going to one of the ones the publisher made. So I went with the publisher’s. It is not about ego but doing it right. It has to make an impact. Title is important, most of mine are one word or short. Vic/Tim my first book is a play on the word “victim” but the two main characters Vickie and Tim hence Vic/Tim.

Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?

If you are writing for fame and fortune it is like movie acting, only a hand full of people make it. Write because you enjoy it and to put yourself out there in print. But if you do want to make a career out it, keep plugging away.

Which book inspired you to begin writing?

Can’t really point to any one in particular but there were some I have seen that did well and said to myself that I could write stuff like that easily.

Did you ever think you would be unable to finish your first novel?

After two years I thought it would never end. That was just laying the story down, it still needed to be proofed and polished.

Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers?

Other writers are much more technically proficient. They almost write things as if already proofed and follow an outline or program of ideas. Mine is very dynamic.

How much of yourself do you put into your books?

Some of the characters have beliefs or thought processes of mine. I have shared some personal experiences in there too.

Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?

My wife is instrumental in keeping me on track and my daughter motivates me because she is writing her own stuff now.

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