Tim Nickels has been writing for over 20 years. His short stories have been appearing in British fantasy magazines and anthologies that include The Third Alternative, Neonlit: The Time Out Book of New Writing (Vol. 1), Scheherazade, Midnight Street and many others. His first collection of short stories, The English Soil Society, was published by Elastic Press in 2005.
Tim Nickels spoke about his writing and his concerns as a writer.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? And, who would you say has influenced you the most?
I expect a number of your interviewees might re-phrase the question to: "When did writing decide it wanted you?" My first story was a 10-page novel called "Timehunt" and concerned the exploits of Cap'n Badun, a golden hearted space pirate. My wonderful primary headmaster not only typed it out and made the whole thing into a book — but also left spaces so I could draw the pictures.
My primary influences have not always been literary. I love Powell and Pressburger, for instance — those magic, almost stolen, moments that they manage to slip into their work. I love the way Kubrick and Lynch light their films. I like the artist Thomas Hart Benton even though people tell me he's a bit unfashionable. I enjoy Edward Keinholz, the installationist - he had quite an effect during my art school years. And sometimes I might be sitting in a dentist's waiting room and just hear a snatch of conversation and I'm away and running, pen in hand.
Literary influences (but I look upon them more as inspirers): Ballard, Aldiss, David I. Masson, Keith Roberts, Margery Allingham — essentially geniuses of the Old School. I'm pretty bad at keeping up with the trends.
What are your main concerns as a writer?
To keep the reader reading. Or to make the reader go out and write a story of their own. But ultimately it's a desperately selfish activity. A good writer friend of mine tells me he writes to impress his 14-year-old self.
How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?
I've always divided the critics: some consider me irretrievably obscure - while kinder souls think I might be On To Something. After attending art school, my life has mostly been spent as a hotelier - but for the last five years I've turned the throttle down and now work as a paper conservator and part-time undertaker.