the Little Red Reviewer

Talking Sand and Scavenging with Tim C. Ward

Posted on: March 4, 2015

tim-wardYou probably know today’s guest from the podcast Adventures in SciFi Publishing, SFSignal, and his social presence on twitter.

Timothy C. Ward is a former Executive Producer for Adventures in SciFi Publishing. His debut novel, Scavenger: Evolution, blends Dune with Alien in a thriller where sand divers uncover death and evolution within America’s buried fortresses. Sign up to his author newsletter for a free ebook copy of Scavenger: Evolution before it releases, March 31. His first printed story, “The Bomb in the President’s Bathroom,” released in the Amish SciFi anthology, Tales from Pennsylvania. You can find reviews to the books mentioned above on his Goodreads page.

If you’re a fan of Hugh Howey, you’re sure to be interested in Scavenger: Evolution, as Howey is allowing fans to write in his Sand world.  Tim was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about his new novel. Scroll to the bottom for information on a give away!

LRR: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your debut novel, Scavenger: Evolution. What’s the quick pitch for the new novel?

TCW: In an America covered in sand, a sand diver will find treasure in a buried military base which will force him to evolve or lose everything.

LRR: Scavenger: Evolution takes place in Hugh Howey’s world of Sand. Isn’t that fairly unusual, to be able to write in someone else’s universe? How did you go about getting Howey’s permission to use his world?

TCW: Yes, very unusual. Sand is now part of the Kindle Worlds program–an Amazon supported fan fiction program where you submit stories based on the previously published worlds they’ve chosen. I got the idea to write in his world when I read a scene in Sand where sand divers are scavenging for treasure after a terrorist attack. I knew Hugh through reading his book Wool and having him on my podcast, AudioTim. He had people publish stories in his Wool universe, so I sent him an email to see if he’d mind me publishing a story in his Sand universe. Hugh is one of the best people I know–not just because he let me write in his world, but because he’s so encouraging and selfless. He said go for it, so I did. He didn’t ask for royalties or anything. It’s an incredible gift.

scavenger evolution

LRR: What inspired you to write Scavenger: Evolution, and did writing in someone else’s world create any unexpected challenges?

TCW: I sort of answered the first part, but to add to what I said, I knew I wanted to write about a scavenger sand diving for something. I decided that something would be his wife. I then had to create a backstory that would add depth to their lives before the event and make me care about if he succeeded in his dive for her.

I read Sand four times before I started writing, twice via audiobook. My main tasks, since I don’t use any of his characters, were to figure out the scope of the setting and how his sand diving technology works. Both were pretty hard in the note taking of my read throughs, but really increased in difficulty as I expanded on the technology and world history as I went off into my own writing. I deal with nanotechnology, nuclear fission power, a military base and its computer systems, a despot who wants what they’ve discovered and what his world looks like, etc. I’m not an expert in any of those areas, so I had to do some complicated research, mainly in the nuclear fission. This isn’t hard scifi, but the tip of the iceberg that readers see has to have a stable base to continue to work as I write more books in this series.

wool hugh howey

LRR: Without giving us any spoilers, what’s your favorite scene in Scavenger:Evolution?

TCW: The one that made me cry at least four times.

LRR: You’ve also been heavily involved with the Adventures in SciFi Publishing podcast, which has been going since 2007(Wow!). Tell us a little about AiSFP, and how you got involved with it.

TCW: AiSFP has been an inspirational companion for as long as it’s been around. Summer jogs listening to that show while daydreaming about my own success story are some of the best memories I have as an author. In 2013, the creator, Shaun Farrell, went through a dry patch of shows. Having produced podcasts for a few years with AudioTim, I offered to give him a few interviews. A few months later, he asked if I wanted to take over as Executive Producer. I was in awe that my favorite podcast wanted me to run the show, and learned a ton in the year at the helm. Ultimately, I had to resign because my nine month old son was becoming more aware and needing of my time (which I was glad to give). On top of that, as an author, you really have to balance community time with writing time. With the advice that you need to have five or so books published before you can start making “good” money in this biz, and considering I had yet to publish one book, I felt too much of a burden to write and be with my family. Podcasting had to be put on hold.

LRR: Who are some of your favorite authors?

TCW: I had a year, 2013, where my top three books were Wool by Hugh Howey, Germline by T.C. McCarthy and The Explorer by James Smythe. I could list dozens more that deserve “favorite” status, but…okay, Fiend by Peter Stenson and Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith are a few more. Those are my top five authors and why. All of those made reading better than any other form of entertainment.

LRR: What were some of your favorite SF/F books, graphic novels, TV shows or movies of 2014?

TCW: Fiend by Peter Stenson is a book about a zombie apocalypse survived only by meth addicts. I was amazed at the thrilling engagement he created from start to finish. The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey was a bacterial zombie novel that carved a new path in a crowded genre and did so with amazing skill. For graphic novels, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll surprised me with how scary she could make a picture book story. I’ve been a fan of Walking Dead graphic novels, but they never really scared me. TtW did. Not with gore, but ghosts and monsters coming out of the shadows. That book, and her career, deserve the utmost attention.

As for TV shows and movies…Breaking Bad, Justified, Walking Dead. Sure most people know about them. But really, what incredible story telling. I read and write to discover stories that hypnotize me like they have. As for movies, I’ll just mention Interstellar. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say it brought me to tears thinking about what we can miss in the lives of those we love doing what we feel is necessary for those same ones we love, whether or not they appreciate our sacrifices at the time, or ever.


LRR: Thanks so much Tim!

Interested in winning a copy of Scavenger: Evolution? Head over to SFSignal and enter in their give away (sorry, US only)!

5 Responses to "Talking Sand and Scavenging with Tim C. Ward"

Writing in others’ universe is an intriguing idea – and a difficult one to make it happen. I often wondered how it would be. (I guess I would select the Xeelee Sequence, but then, how to write something comparable to the rigour and the beauty of Stephen Baxter? Intimidating). You managed to get me definitively interested in Tim Ward – which I didn’t know before. Thanks, I’m going to ready something 🙂


hey Stephen,

Thanks for reading! If you pick up S:E I hope you dig it. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Also, if by “ready something” you mean write fan fiction in the Xeelee Sequence, make sure you get permission first if you plan to publish it. Just wanted to make sure. Hope to chat again sometime.

Liked by 1 person

Hello Tim, thanks for that! I had the pleasure to talk to Stephen Baxter during Loncon 3 and I was in awe. Definitively not going to write anything about that, it was just wishful thinking 😀 I look forward to reading you and will write a review on my blog when I’m done.

Liked by 1 person

Hugh and I met in person at Chicon. You never know how meetings like that can influence your life.


Liked by 1 person

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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