In The Spotlight: Novelist, Tim Hemlin


Joining me today, is an author who’s up at 4 am every morning, runs 30k marathons and has been evacuated from hurricane Rita – so it’s no wonder he took up running!

His fabulous book, ‘The Wastelanders’ is a brand new read which incorporates big themes, intertwining storylines and more importantly, it’s action packed! So stick around and you will learn much more about Tim, his books, and what he plans doing next!

 Tim’s Biography:tim

Tim Hemlin is the author of six novels, the latest of which is the dystopian-cli-fi The Wastelanders, available now as an e-book on Amazon and to be released in paperback in late 2014 through Reputation Books.  (This is the second release of The Wastelanders so don’t be confused by the dark cover version.)  He is represented by Kimberley Cameron of Kimberley Cameron & Associates literary agency.

The Neil Marshall mysteries are culinary who-done-its set in Houston, Texas and include If Wishes Were Horses, A Whisper of Rage (nominated for a Shamus Award), People in Glass Houses, A Catered Christmas and Dead Man’s Broth.  He has also published short works of fiction, most prominently in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

Currently he is working on a young adult urban fantasy that has taken on a life of its own.  When he’s not writing, he teaches secondary English, reads anything he can get his hands on, and runs marathons.

The Wastelanders

Target audience: Sci-Fi and Cli-Fi fans, dystopian and post apocalyptic, mainstream fiction.



Book Blurb:  America is controlled by a corporate oligarchy known as the Water Cartel and warrior-priest Joey Hawke finds himself trapped between a mysterious geneticist amassing a clone army and a group of political fanatics convinced that a dead president will rise from his tomb to lead them to salvation.

Caught outside his spiritual haven when the Cartel moves against the Wastelanders, Joey is aided by Bear, an enigmatic weapons runner, a lovesick Scrapwoman, and Bernie Hawke, his estranged father. But against the Cartel’s military strength, led by the power hungry Rex Fielder, Joey’s only hope may be Si-Ting, a young woman with prescient abilities—a woman who not only holds the key to his heart but also to an American conspiracy to crown its future with the withered laurels of the past.

The Neil Marshall Mysteries (out of print but still available on Amazon).  If Wishes Were Horses, A Whisper of Rage (for which I was nominated for a Shamus Award), People in Glass Houses, A Catered Christmas and Dead Man’s Broth.


Let’s Delve A little Deeper …


Q1.     Tell us something about you as a person.

A1.     Life interests me. I enjoy learning new things and doing new things. I have a hard time sitting still, which might sound funny coming from a writer, but I consider writing a bit of a contact sport anyway because it challenges the mind. Besides writing, I am a runner, having completed a number of marathons, half-marathons, 25 and 30Ks. I’m also passionate about the environment and often blog about it ( I trail run, fly-fish, and simply enjoy being outdoors. Because of this I feel it’s my duty, in the words of Dr. Jonas Salk, to be a good ancestor so future generations can also enjoy nature. Finally, I recently earned my master’s degree in counseling and plan in the near future to transition from the classroom, where I’ve taught English Language Arts for the past twenty-two years, to a school counseling position.

Q2.     What gives you inspiration?

A2.     My characters inspire me. I know a story is working when they spring from the page and have a life of their own. For instance, the two main characters in the young adult urban fantasy I’m now working on seemingly stepped out of thin air and invited themselves into my life. It was as if they sat down in my study and said, “Here we are, Tim. Now what are you going to do with us?” The same happened with The Wastelanders. I knew the characters needed to be well-rounded, in that the antagonists couldn’t simply be cardboard representations of evil and the protagonists needed to have their flaws, but I didn’t expect to like the antagonists as much as I did, particularly the president’s manipulating, power-hungry wife. On the flipside, I couldn’t wait to write about each of the protagonist’s story line. Strangely, though, it wasn’t Joey, Bernie or the Bear but the young Time Witch who kicked the novel into another gear and raised it beyond what I had originally imagined.

Q3.     Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

A3.    For me, every day is an idea for a story and every person and everything within that day contains the seed of a story. Not all take hold, of course, but I constantly come face-to-face with potential ideas. Sometimes it’s in the big picture, such as climate change and drought, which sets much of the backdrop of The Wastelanders. Often it’s in relationships. This goes back to what I said about characters. If a character doesn’t interest me then the story won’t work. I like to write about love in its different forms—father-son, husband-wife, young lovers. And when I can connect these themes together, the story takes off. Cocteau famously said there was an angel in him he was constantly shocking. For me it’s the opposite, my angel provides me with constant surprises, for which I am very grateful.

Q4.     What is your aim when you write a story?

A4.     I want to entertain the reader but ideally I also want him or her to come away thinking about a topic differently. The Wastelanders came about because of my concern for the environment. Yet in the novel I also deal with power, political corruption and mass movements and cite often from that unique, American blue-collar philosopher Eric Hoffer. I like stories that mine for feelings and explore complex themes. There’s nothing like being immersed in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove. That’s not to say I don’t also enjoy lighter reads. The young adult novel I’m now working on is less complicated than The Wastelanders in that it’s more direct. It’s a love story and a coming of age story that focuses on good versus evil, and I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent with those characters.

Q5.     What do you find the hardest thing to write about?

A5.     I think the hardest thing to write about is romantic love because it’s easy to either go over the top or to fall into cliché. The irony is that I enjoy writing about romantic love and have done so all my life. I’d like to think I’m better at it now. Maybe I’ve written all the over the top and cliché out of my system. It also took quite a bit of practice for me to capture a woman’s perspective honestly. One writer I admire who I feel writes well from a woman’s point of view is Larry McMurtry, whose memorable characters range from Karla Moore in The Last Picture Show and Duane’s Depressed to Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment. His women are strong, well rounded, and have their share of flaws, something I’ve tried to emulate.

Q6.     Do you have a set time of day in which to write?

A6.     I’m a morning person. Most days I’m up at 4 am and at the computer working. I write for two hours before getting ready for school. Occasionally I’ll work on a piece in the evening. On the weekends I often put in more time, especially if I’m deep into a project that’s going well. My young adult novel has practically taken over my life. It’s been so much fun to write that most weekends I work on it a good five or six hours on Saturday and the same on Sunday. If I didn’t need to shop for groceries or do the laundry or tend to the yard I would spend even more time on it.

Q7.     If you had to choose only one, what would be your favourite book?

A7.     Tough question. I read constantly (As Stephen King says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”) and there are so many books I love. But I will stick to the spirit of the question. A number of years ago we evacuated for Hurricane Rita. This was shortly after Katrina had hit New Orleans and people around here were skittish. When you evacuate your home you discover very quickly what things are important to you because you can’t take everything. I grabbed a handful of books that for one reason or another meant a lot to me. One of those books was Grendel by John Gardner. In addition to being a writer, Mr. Gardner was a scholar of medieval literature. Grendel is a retelling of Beowulf from the monster’s point of view (“And so begins the twelfth year of my idiotic war.”). It is Mr. Gardner’s shortest and most tightly written book, but the imagery is brilliant, the dialogue crisp and the first time I read it I thought wow, what an imagination. Grendel introduced me to Mr. Gardner’s work, and I went on to devour his whole oeuvre, which includes October Light, The Sunlight Dialogues, and Nickel Mountain among others. Unfortunately Mr. Gardner died at the much too young age of 49 in a motorcycle accident. Had he lived I would have applied to study with him. I chose Grendel in part because there are very few books I re-read. Grendel is one of them. I’ve delved into it a half-dozen times or more by now, and I still discover new riches within this fine novel’s pages.

Q8.     Tell us something about what made you want to start writing your latest novel.

A8.     I approached The Wastelanders—a dystopian Cli-Fi—with a bit of a George Lucas attitude in that I wanted to write a novel with big themes, intertwining story lines, interesting characters, and a lot of action. I began the novel with a bang, literally, when a desalination plant is bombed. The conflict then carries the story. This is one of the few novels I have written where I knew how it would end when I wrote the beginning. At the time I didn’t know how I was going to connect the two, but I felt confident it would happen. As I said before, I also wanted to address the issue of climate change. By the way, Cli-Fi, an offshoot of Sci-Fi, is a growing genre that addresses global warming, usually in a dystopian, apocalyptic manner. Al Gore was right when he called global warming an inconvenient truth. A lot of people don’t want to talk about it, perhaps because they feel they can’t do anything about it. I agree with the Dalai Lama when he said if you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. We can make a difference, but only if we speak up. One other thing about The Wastelanders I want to mention is how I came up with the main male characters. A number of years ago I had the good fortune to meet Janwillem Van De Wetering, author of the Grijpstra and De Gier mysteries. I always felt that Mr. Van De Wetering’s characters were different aspects of himself—the dashing young De Gier was how he’d like to be, grumpy old Grijpstra was actually how he saw himself, and the wily Commissaris was his intellectual self. I liked the idea of that and translated it into young Joey Hawke, his father Bernie, and the enigmatic Bear in The Wastelanders. From there I knew I needed strong female characters to balance the story and came up with Sister Rachel, who spars with Bernie, and Si-Ting, Joey’s young love. As for the Bear, well he’s in a world of his own.

Q9.     Tell us something about your latest story.

A9.     Right now I’m working on three different projects. First I’m in the planning stages for a sequel to The Wastelanders. I actually picture two more books. As with most second acts, the next novel will be darker and place the main characters in peril before giving way to hope and redemption in the third book, an apt way I believe to wrap up the series. Along the same lines, I am preparing to send out a related short story that introduces a new character to The Wastelanders. I have high hopes that I’ll find a home for it in the sci-fi/ fantasy community. Finally, I’d like to talk about the young adult novel I’m currently writing. When I was in my twenties I worked for a high-end caterer in Houston, Texas. The whole time I was there we had a kitchen witch hanging from one of the air vents as a sign of good luck. I’d always wanted to write a story about a kitchen witch but could never make it work. Then last winter a librarian friend of mine suggested I try writing a young adult novel. For some reason the image of the kitchen witch returned and an idea took hold. It was further enhanced when I ran a 30K with my seventeen-year-old son, who ran alongside a young lady friend of his all pinked-out in her running gear, and I realized I had my two main characters. I wrote the first five or six chapters with ease.

The novel is titled Son of a Kitchen Witch and it is an urban fantasy.  It’s about young love, music, running and all things magic, everything that makes life worth living.  Part of the excitement in writing this book is that it is so different from anything I’ve ever written.  As I’ve said, the characters have taken over and all I’m doing is following them around and recording what happens.  I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, as I’m still working on the initial draft.  I will say it feels like a breath of fresh air.

Q10.     What advice would you give someone who said they had just finished their first book and didn’t know where to go from there?

A10. I had the good fortune to publish a series of mysteries with Ballantine Books in the 1990s.  I met the man who became my editor at a small writer’s conference in Texas.  I still believe that conferences are a valuable resource, especially for new writers who are looking to publish.  So are writer’s groups, both online and face-to-face, and reading clubs.  But the book business has changed so much since I first published.  It used to be that once you found a publisher they helped with marketing and publicity.  For my first mystery, I was asked to sign over 1,300 copies of the book for distribution around the country.  My hand ached by the time I’d finished, but it was still pretty exciting.  Now, unless you are one of the lucky, a writer has to do so much of the work himself.

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll say they’re shocked that I’ve been diving deep into social media.  I’d resisted for a long time.  Now I see the value.  My wife says I know how to work a room, and I guess I do because I like meeting and talking to people.  Well, social media is the same.  It’s networking, and that’s what a writer must do like never before.  Network with other writers, with readers, with editors and publishers, with people who will review your work and interview you.

So my advice to a new writer who has just completed a book is to get out of the house and go to a conference.  Join a writer’s group.  Get an author’s page on Facebook.  Join Twitter.  Join online book clubs.  Start a blog.  Mine is on Word Press at  Offer to review other writer’s books.  Make an author’s page on Amazon.  Look into the Indie scene.  There are a ton of resources for independent writers.  Use them.  It’s a lot of work, but so was writing that novel.  And don’t you want people to know about it and read it?

Please tell us what you are up to and add any dates of book signings/event that you might be attending soon.

A list of upcoming events will soon be found on the Reputation Books website at, on my Facebook page at and at my blogger page  Please leave a comments if you would like to get in touch via Lynette or you can contact me direct through my email:

Excerpt of The Wastelanders

In this scene, warrior-priest Joey Hawke and his unlikely ally Moonshine Graves, in route to Sophia Settlement, encounter members from one of the more ruthless and dangerous groups of The Wastelands.

Joey Hawke and Moonshine Graves saw the Rads before the Rads saw them.  Joey wanted to circumvent.  Moon courted other ideas.

Her taut face went flinty and the green eyes that had looked at Joey with such hunger and desire turned flat and hateful.  Her hand brought out her cutter.  Joey touched her wrist.

“It’s true we have the upper ground, but there are six of them.”

From the dullness of her expression it was if she’d forgotten he was there.  “Are you afraid?”

“Yes, but not the way you figure I am.”

“I did not take you for a coward, Joey Hawke.  I didn’t think you’d run from a fight.”  Voice cold, matter-of-fact.

“There’s a difference between cowardice and discretion.  Where I live we don’t kill people unless we absolutely must.  Our lives have to be in immediate danger.”

“Their being alive is a threat, Joey Hawke.  I thought you knew that.”

“If you do this then you’re no better than the people who bombed us.”

“How can you say that, Joey Hawke?  Where I come from—”

“Where you come from malice is a social faculty,” he interrupted, though he was unable to tell if the blank reaction was indifference to what he said or incomprehension.

“Look,” he went on, “we can accuse others until the sand beneath our feet crackles like popcorn, but in doing so we are really excusing our own actions.  A wise man once said the more we need to justify ourselves, the greater will be our self-righteousness.  And that is how we become like the people who bombed us.”

“I like the way you use words, Joey Hawke.  The words you use sound so important.”  Moon smiled and for a fraction of a second Joey felt her soften some.  Abruptly that crack sealed hermetically.  “But they robbed me of my mother and my father.  And they didn’t use words.”

“Moon, we have far more power over ourselves, over our world than most people even imagine.  Everything we touch forms, if just a little, in our image.  You have a choice of what image you wish that to be.”

“My uncle was right.  The brothers are different from the rest of us.  He said the weakness of your compassion will kill you all.”

“Do you really believe I’m weak?”

“I don’t understand why you won’t fight.  That confuses me.  But I can feel the strength behind your words.  Look, they are almost finished eating, Joey Hawke.  The time to strike is now, before they get onto their speeders.  You don’t have to go.  I’ll not call you a coward again.”

“We don’t have to fight.  You pick your battles—”

Moon straddled her speeder, cutter in hand.  “I pick this one, Joey Hawke.”


Follow Tim via Twitter: @TimHemlin

Facebook page:

Tim’s Amazon Author Page:

Tim’s Publisher’s Page:

Tim’s Goodreads Page:

2 comments on “In The Spotlight: Novelist, Tim Hemlin

Comments are closed.