TIM PRATT: PATIENCE WITH MONSTERS
Tim Pratt, a returning judge for the BookLife Prize (in the SF, fantasy, and horror category), may spend a long time thinking about an idea, but, once he sits down to write, he needs only a weekend to complete a story.
“I almost always know how it’s going to end,” says Pratt, who publishes a new short fiction work every month on Patreon. “I’ve been doing this professionally for 15 years now, and I spent my whole childhood trying to figure it out, so I’ve broken past the process of having to write pages over and over.”
Pratt is a hybrid author, self-publishing as he deems fit, but also publishing the traditional route. On November 7, Angry Robot released The Wrong Stars, a novel that Pratt enthusiastically describes as “a sci-fi space opera battle.”
Though fantasy, sci-fi, and horror are distinct categories, Pratt finds their readerships tend to overlap. An avid writer and reader of all three, he doesn’t cherish one over the other, but there is one aspect that he values above all. “I’m a character person,” Pratt says. “I want characters who are psychologically believable no matter how unbelievable their situation is; I want the way they deal with it to be convincing.”
Pratt is also a sucker for a turn of events that he didn’t see coming yet at the same time makes total sense. It is for all these reasons (character development, intense situations, and great yet fathomable surprise) that his pick for the BookLife Prize finals is Transference by Kate Jonuska.
“The main character is a terrible person. I was waiting for him to be eaten by a monster,” Pratt says. “He’s irredeemable, but you end up understanding why he became the way that he is.”
Though it is easy to root for an obviously heroic character, Pratt adds, it’s always more interesting to fall for characters such as Jonuska’s, who “struggle with darkness.” And yet, such darkness can be a hard sell when it comes to traditional publishers.
“A lot of publishers who receive this manuscript could be turned off by this character and not stick with the novel long enough to know why he is the way he is and that he is capable of growth,” Pratt says. “I hope this author knows she’s on the right track and that she keeps writing weird characters and taking chances: that’s a big advantage of self-publishing.”
Wow! How’s that for praise? I am honored to have such an established, creative author connect with my work.