Some Thoughts with ... Timothy Wolff

13 Oct 2023

The Author/s

Timothy Wolff

Timothy Wolff

Timothy Wolff lives in Long Island, New York, and holds a master’s degree in economics and a career in finance. Such a life has taught him the price of everything but the value of nothing. He enjoys pizza bagels, scotch, karaoke, oxford commas, and spending the day with family and friends. The obvious culmination of the past 35 years was to write a 400+ page fantasy novel where a drunk teams up with a swordsman, two mages, and lizard-people to oppose god. Why do we write these in the third person?

Strength without honor—is chaos!

The Interview

1.- What made you choose self-publishing?
It wasn’t the original plan. I hate to say it, but as I was writing my story, I wasn’t fully convinced self-publishing would be a valid route. I had the naive dream of writing and letting someone else do all the other work while I sat back and sipped tea. Evan Winter (author of Rage of Dragons) was my biggest influence on going self-pub. He had an incredible interview with Daniel Greene that went into great detail about all the layers of choice, control, and business decisions that go into publishing your own book. That and Gunmetal Gods were my gateway books into the world of self-pub. Now, it's almost primarily what I read, and that's not by design. One of the things I constantly heard while writing was that VERY few people actually finish their book. I have lost myself in the TBR of self-pub so I have to wonder how true that is.
Now that I’m locked in as a self-pub, I have come to enjoy the control aspects of it. I have a finance/business background, so the monetary side is familiar. It's also nice (and stressful) to set up all the collaborations with other professionals to create the final product. It's bewildering how many hands touch a book before its release. I honestly thought books had 2 or 3 passes and then they were released. Somedays I had my alarm set to 5am so I could speak with my cover artist who's in Oxford, which is a 5 hour difference from EST.

2.- How did the idea of Platinum Tinted Darkness appear?
I had fragments of this story in my head forever. I am heavily influenced by old school RPGs and then MMORPGS, so I always pictured it as a turn-based game, which explains why the characters have specific roles and the limited number of people in the battles. (Pyith=Tank, Serenna=Support, David/Zeen= Melee, etc etc)
Covid was a rough time for me. I had personal issues going on, and I needed some sort of distraction or passion to dive into. I figured quarantine was the perfect time to write a story, not knowing thousands of other people had the same idea. I wrote most of the rough draft in a dimly lit room, sipping scotch and abusing adverbs. To be honest, that may have been when writing was the most fun. There was no quality control, the plot made no sense, and all the characters were exactly the same. But little by little, the words came and something resembling a story began to appear. It was when Sardonyx first showed up that it felt like I was learning who everyone was.

3.- What inspired you to create the world of Boulon?
To be honest, I don’t know. I am much more of a character writer than a world-builder. It was an incredible relief when my map-builder took my ridiculous descriptions and created an actual world. I tried using an outline at first but the details were laughably vague. Nuum was the desert kingdom, Alanammus was the magic kingdom, Boulom was the ice kingdom, and so on. Looking back, the world is heavily influenced by Final Fantasy X. Zanarkand and the fallen kingdom of Boulom have similar backgrounds of being technologically advanced fallen kingdoms. I also find the concept of time/travel consistencies to be intimidating and…boring. Portals helped me out there.

4.- Could you tell us more about the Gods in this universe?
The gods and their relationships to each other are one of the most important aspects of my world. They started off as ultra-generic—Death in particular was just an evil bad guy trying to destroy the world. I was worried in the later stages of editing that naming gods after things like Death, Fear, Strength was such a tired concept, but I think (hope) it worked out. Wisdom and Fear are probably the most interesting ones. For a while, I had no idea what to do with Fear. I didn’t want to have two generic evil baddies and after I realized I had no women gods, her story began to make more sense. I can’t discuss her arc without spoilers but I’m proud of the character as a whole and most importantly her growing comradery with one of the Guardians. She also ends up with one of my favorite lines in the whole trilogy:
“Welcome to the world that lies beyond reality and dreams, between regret and desire. Perfections, in all its temporary glory.”
Wisdom is one of my favorite characters. There is so little I can say without spoilers but I’m thrilled with the character’s direction. One of the best things about pantsing is that I didn’t realize where he was going. He starts off as a seemingly unimportant god but hints are dropped throughout the story that maybe there is something deeper.

5.- Which aspects of writing would you consider more challenging for you?
I have several regrets with my first book. I think I overdid it with the italics and semicolons, and the beginning was too confusing for several readers to get immersed. I wanted to go Malazan style, where the reader is dropped into a world with no context and they figure it out as they go along. Beginnings are tough. Even now, with two books under my belt, I worry about where I will begin the next story. There was a big draw in this year’s SPFBO with first chapter reads. I severely underestimated their importance, but will gladly admit I learned the lesson.

6.- What does Timothy Wolff likes to do in his free time?
Free time has become a scarce commodity in my older years. I spend most of my time working, and when I’m off I read and write as much as I can. Before writing I was big into music, playing guitar as much as possible. I just don’t have the time to juggle everything anymore. I put down the guitar and picked up the google docs. That being said, some days I like to disconnect completely and do nothing productive. I’ll lay around, doom scroll, and do some karaoke

7.- What part of self-publishing would you consider the most difficult?
There is an endless struggle to remain relevant. New books are released every single day, and getting anyone to read your work when there are thousands upon thousands of other options is a daunting task, especially when authors like Sanderson/King can pump out a masterpiece every couple of months. It can feel hopeless, fruitless, but the community really makes it better. I had no intentions of having a social media presence. Having author friends who deal with the same struggles is really a blessing. 

8.- What can we expect from Tim Wolff in the future?
Happy to say Book two: Tears of the Maelstrom is completely edited, proofread, and set for an early December release. I’m quite excited for this one, beta readers have had a lot of passionate feedback. Hopefully, it shows my growth as a writer. I’m confident with the final product and hope others will feel the same. Looking farther ahead, the finale, Book three: Age of Arrogance is about 80k words (275 pages) into its first draft. I have a target of December to finish that, then hopefully, a July release. After that? I don’t know. If the series performs well I have a prologue in mind that follows the gods in their mortal years, but there is a part of me excited to begin writing a whole new world.