AP: Hi, Tim! Please take a seat. I want to thank you so much for permitting ALL PULP and myself the opportunity to interview you. Would you care for a cup of coffee or tea, a tall, ice-cold glass of lemonade, loganberry or sweet tea? I’d offer you an espresso but the diminutive alien that lives in our machine has invited some friends over to convert it into a transtemporal spaceport!
TS: You know, I have that same problem and have just given up on espresso. By the way, the little buggers are called Pithians, and there is an interesting anecdote about them in my book. I’ll have a small shot of Satchel’s Fire Water if you have any. I just love the flavor, and the little flames that burst out of your mouth after each sip are a real hoot.
AP: Salber? Is that French? How did you meet Tim Storm? Are you old school chums?
TS: Salber is actually of German origin and means “Salve Maker.” My early ancestors must have been alchemists of sorts. I’ve used the stage name “Tim Storm” for many years as a musician, as my pen name, and also when signing my artwork. I started singing for a rock band during my high school years, and our drummer enjoyed doing things to get my dander up. When I would get angry he would tell me “Calm down, Stormy.” I eventually realized that he was simply having fun with me, somewhat like the friendly rivalry between Monk Mayfair and Ham Brooks, so I took it all in good humor and started using the name. It sounded more like a name worthy of a pulp hero, or rock star than my given surname.
AP: Are you a native of Florida? Where were you born and raised? Could you tell us little about your family as you were growing up?
TS: My father worked as an engineer for NASA during the Apollo program. Having grown up and lived most of my life near Kennedy Space Center, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to view countless launches of the Apollo and Saturn rockets, and eventually the Shuttle missions from my own back yard. Naturally, I became interested in the exploration of space and how it might play a role in mankind’s future. The space program stimulated my imagination, and I eventually began to wonder and speculate about the grander mysteries of the universe, such as the relationship between time and distance, as well as the anomalies of space, so these are some of the elements that are crucial to the plot of Magenta Zephyr and the Universe Bender. To quote from the book; “The universe is populated with phenomena that defy human understanding and challenge the laws of physics as we understand them. It is a boiling cauldron of cosmic soup peppered with unique singularities that blur the distinctions between matter and energy and distort the very fabric of time and space.”
I have one brother and three sisters and, although we all pretty much had our own interests growing up, we are a very close family as adults and we try to get together as often as possible. I am happy to say that my family members are some of my closest and most respected friends, though I am really the only one of my immediate family who is so immersed in the arts. Neither of my parents and none of my siblings have had the inclination to follow that path. I don’t really know why I seem to pursue all of the arts with such fervor. I’m always thinking creatively and just seem to view life as one big opportunity to continually create something interesting and unique. Maybe it’s because I so admire the great creative minds that have contributed in a positive way to our culture.
AP: What kind of books did you read when you were young? What led you to start writing fiction? What were your favorite TV shows? Did you participate in school sports? Do you remember the first movie you saw?
TS: As a boy I was first inspired by reading Mark Twain’s works featuring Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. My friends and I would build our own rafts and travel through the canals and swamps throughout Brevard County, FL and I began to realize that you can create your own adventure simply by exploring the world around you. Around the age of nine or ten I began to develop an insatiable desire to read everything I could get my hands on, and decided that I would like to create my own adventures to share with others.
During my teenage years I was deeply moved by the themes and style of Ken Kesey’s book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Other authors whose writing had a deep impression on me are Tom Robbins and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. I really enjoyed their unconventional writing style and it helped me to understand that you can really create your own unique voice as an author. Some of my favorite authors are Robert A. Heinlein, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Rice Burroughs. As far as modern authors, I love any well-written mystery or thriller with a unique protagonist.
I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and wrote my first novel at the age of fourteen. It was a detective novel set during the Great Depression and featured two young friends who had a penchant for solving crimes. Since then, I have developed a great number of story outlines and intend to develop them further in the future. Right now, I’m focusing on promoting Magenta Zephyr and the Universe Bender, but hope to get back to spending more time focusing on my writing soon. Many people have inquired about the sequel, so I suppose I really need to get cracking on that . . .
Some of my favorite shows while growing up were Star Trek, Night Gallery, The Twilight Zone, Night Stalker, and (believe it or not) Leave it to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show. Though most of these were older programs and in syndication at the time.
AP: What inspired you or Tim Storm to create a female pulp hero like Magenta Zephyr? What gave you the idea for Magenta Zephyr & The Universe Bender?
TS: Since most famous fictional heroes are male, my intent was to create a strong iconic heroine that people could identify with. I wanted to write an adventure that would be fun and entertaining to read, whether the reader is a fan of science fiction or not. Being a musician, it seemed natural to incorporate some of those experiences into the novel as well, so the title character, Magenta Zephyr, is a musical superstar and an iconic heroine in the mold of the old Pulp Fiction heroes. The story features quirky characters, unique plot elements, and a healthy dose of humor. Along with presenting some of the deep questions posed by the mysteries of the universe, the book also deals with themes of human spirituality and other issues confronting humanity in a manner that is intended to stimulate the reader’s imagination. I wanted to write a book that has universal appeal and rises above the classification of a science fiction novel, in the same way that the Harry Potter novels have wider appeal among readers than books that are classified as “fantasy” novels.
AP: What is Magenta’s connection, if any, to the Wold Newton family of pulp heroes?
TS: I’m a huge fan of iconic fictional heroes such as Sherlock Holmes, Ellery Queen, and the old Pulp Fiction heroes, The Shadow, The Avenger and my all-time favorite Doc Savage. Magenta Zephyr is a larger-than-life heroine modeled after some of those old pulp magazine heroes and she is a direct descendant of Doc Savage and Tarzan, as presented in Philip Jose Farmer’s Wold Newton family tree. Many of the characters in the book are descendants of famous fictional characters linked to the Wold Newton universe, which is my way of paying tribute to the pulp genre.
AP: What was your weirdest childhood experience?
TS: I used to have extremely vivid dreams and terrifying nightmares. My bedroom windows faced a densely wooded area and I actually believed that I was visited by spirits that would drift out of the forest. I would wake up and I could feel them touching me and one time even seemed to be embraced by one of these ethereal creatures. I would try to scream but could neither move nor make a sound. As I grew older, I learned that these experiences are called “Sleep Paralysis” and are common for some people. It is a dream-state in which one is not fully asleep, yet not fully awake either. It is believed that these experiences are the origins of the Incubus and Succubus myths, and I can tell you first-hand that they are truly terrifying. I recently saw a documentary in which people were subjected to magnetic fields around certain areas of the brain and this state was induced. Many of the subjects experienced the presence of strange beings, and the doctor who was directing the study hypothesized that these might indeed be actual interdimensional beings, or possibly what we call “angels.” (Insert scary music here) It’s an extremely interesting phenomenon that has always intrigued me. Perhaps a subject for a future novel . . .
AP: Did you keep in touch with your childhood friends? Did any of them encourage you to be an artist, author or musician? Who introduced you to the Man of Bronze? What was the first Doc Savage story you read? Was Doc the first piece of pulp fiction you read?
TS: Interestingly enough, I still keep in constant contact with my closest boyhood friend, the person who introduced me to Doc Savage when I was about thirteen years old. His father was a huge fan of Doc Savage and my friend, Chris, would give the Bantam paperbacks to me after he and his father had finished reading them. I believe the very first adventure that I read was “Red Snow,” and I was instantly hooked! I began collecting them and buying them myself, and eventually acquired the entire Bantam catalog. I still own the entire collection as well as every other Doc related item I can find. I have about 20 of the original pulps, as well as all of the Street and Smith hardbacks. I probably have one of the most extensive Doc Savage collections in existence and still think that Doc is the greatest literary hero ever. I really tried to create a similar iconic character with Magenta Zephyr and think that I succeeded on many levels. Although, Magenta is more sensitive and artistic — much more able to relate to people on an emotional level than the stoic Doc. My friend Chris also introduced me to some of the great music that I grew up on . . . I owe him a huge debt for introducing me to the world of Doc Savage and influencing my taste in music.
AP: Where did you go to school? Were you a member of the drama club or school band?
TS: After the Apollo program ended, my family moved to Daytona Beach, where I attended my first year of High School. Then we moved to San Jose, California where I finished out my High School years. I was heavily involved in the Drama Clubs during high school and my most exciting and memorable times were with the crazy, creative people who tend to gravitate toward the performing arts. My proudest achievements during those years were playing the starring role as Randall McMurphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and writing and producing a play for children, based on my first novel, which was presented to numerous elementary schools in the San Jose area. I played the alto saxophone in the school band during my junior high years, but eventually dropped it and took up the guitar.
AP: Where did you get your graphic design training?
TS: I am a self-taught artist, spending much of my time in elementary school daydreaming and drawing cartoons. I had the opportunity to hone my skills as a graphic artist during my eleven years working for the newspaper, FLORIDA TODAY, based in Brevard County. I worked as a Creative Services Graphic Designer, developing and designing advertising campaigns for local businesses, as well as large national corporations. I’ve been employed as a writer and graphic designer for the past 15 years, and I enjoy helping people translate their ideas into reality, but my illustration and fiction writing give me the freedom to express my own creative ideas.
AP: What instruments do you play? Have you ever been the frontman for a band? Can we listen to music you’ve written somewhere on the internet?
TS:I play guitar and sing, and have been the frontman for a group called Shadowfax during the late 70’s and shared the spotlight with my songwriting partner, Barry Hicks, in a band called The Imposters during the 80’s and 90’s. I have a CD of my own original songs available online at:
I’ve been working with my partner, Barry, to mix some of the studio tracks that we recorded through the years and we hope to release a CD of the Imposters’ music sometime in the next year.
AP: Would you say that Magenta’s first outing in MAGENTA ZEPHYR AND THE UNIVERSE BENDER is speculative fiction or an outright tribute to space opera of times gone by?
TS: I would say that it is an equal measure of both. Although it has many of the elements of a traditional pulp story, it is written in an unconventional style and is unique in its presentation of those elements. I consider it to be a tribute to the pulp genre, but written for a modern audience.
AP: What books are you, currently, reading? Was there a summer blockbuster of a movie that you savored?
TS: I am a voracious reader, at least 2 or 3 books a week. I’ve been reading a lot of Clive Cussler, and I love the writing team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child and their Agent Pendergast novels. Agent Pendergast is an eccentric FBI agent whose eccentricities rival the great Sherlock Holmes. Also, love James Rollins and anything by Dean Koontz. I am really enjoying reading a lot of the new authors who incorporate historical elements with modern adventure and intrigue.
As for movies, I am thrilled by the proliferation of superhero-based films and I’m really looking forward to all the new Marvel hero movies that are planned for release in the coming years. Modern computer animation has made so many things possible on film that just couldn’t be done before, and I really enjoy any film that incorporates some of that amazing imagery. Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, The Transformers, X-Men . . . I just love all that stuff!
AP: Speaking of blockbusters, not only have you written one but you’ve also created something that no else has done before! What can you tell us about THE GREAT COSMIC BOOK?
TS: That’s one of my favorite parts of the novel. I use quotes from the Great Cosmic Book throughout the novel and actually incorporate it into the storyline. It’s an enigmatic book of irreverent universal wisdom that appears mysteriously throughout the universe. Its source is unknown and it is often found in hotel rooms, in place of the Gideon’s Bible. How the book is distributed is unknown, but it often appears in place of lost or stolen personal items and trinkets of negligible value.
I’ve created an online version intended to be an eternally expanding collection of new and original quotations; simple adages with profound insight into the mysteries of the universe, whether sublime or mundane. All visitors to the site are encouraged to submit their own contributions, as well as to browse through the existing entries. A couple sample entries:
“In the beginning one infinite spark ignited all of this divine madness.”
“When it starts to rain save the fire.”
I hope some of your readers will visit
AP: Do pigs fly?
TS: Not yet, but in the Universe according to Magenta Zephyr, famed geneticist Dr. Lunden Fogg, a descendant of the renowned adventurer Phileas Fogg from Jules Verne’s classic “Around the World in Eighty Days,” eventually creates the world’s first flying pig, a momentous achievement which has unfortunate consequences.
AP: Are there any book shows or comicbook conventions that you’ll be attending soon or in the year ahead?
TS: I am planning to attend some conventions in 2012, do some book signings and promote Magenta Zephyr, but it all depends on my work schedule.
AP:Is this your first published work of fiction?
TS: I’ve previously written and illustrated two children’s books; Monkey See, Monkey Do and Way Over Yonder. Magenta Zephyr and the Universe Bender is the first book that I’ve had published for more mature readers. It’s intended for an audience ranging from young readers to adults. (Side note: I also created the cover art for the novel.)
AP: Best part about writing?
TS: Writing is a form of therapy for me. It’s a great way to escape from the daily grind, vent my creative energy, and express myself. It’s a fantastic way to reach out and connect with people. It’s my hope that Magenta Zephyr and the Universe Bender will entertain people, stimulate their imaginations, and perhaps, on a deeper level, contribute to our culture in a positive way. Since this is my first full-length novel, that may be too much to hope for, but I believe those are the ultimate goals of most authors, and what motivates those of us who express our ideas through creative fiction.
AP: Biggest challenge in writing it Magenta Zephyr and the Universe Bender?
TS: The biggest challenge in completing the book was finding the time to write while
working full-time and keeping up with other daily obligations. It’s also difficult, as an author, to find that fount of inspiration and maintain enthusiasm for writing while dealing with the pressures that we face in this modern world. They’re the same challenges we all face, day to day, in motivating ourselves, setting priorities, taking care of our responsibilities, and making time to do what’s most important to us.
AP: What did you learn about writing you didn’t know before?
TS: I suppose it’s the same in any field, but I didn’t realize that writing is an art that requires an immense amount of dedication and personal discipline. While writing a book, an author has to really immerse himself in the characters and the world he is creating in order to maintain continuity in plot and style. If you’re not already a successful novelist, time is a precious commodity, so an aspiring author has to sacrifice leisure time and curtail their social life if they really want to fulfill their aspirations and complete a book. In learning how much effort it really takes to maintain focus and complete a full-length novel, I developed a deep respect for authors and professional writers.
AP: What’s next for you as a writer?
TS:I am currently working on an outline for the sequel to Magenta Zephyr and the Universe Bender, and I intend to write a series of books chronicling her adventures. I am also writing and illustrating a children’s book titled, Linus Hart, Private Eye, featuring a young lion in the title role and a cast of animal characters that I’ve developed over the past few years. In this particular book, I plan to include puzzles and educational elements, such as vocabulary and math exercises for young readers. I have numerous other projects in development including some treatments for animated cartoon series.
AP: Any parting shots? Someone you would like to say “Hello!” to? Something you’d like to unabashedly promote?
TS: Magenta Zephyr and the Universe Bender is published by iUniverse and is available at iuniverse.com, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, and other online retailers. Anyone interested in learning more about the book or purchasing it can visit the official web site at www.greatcosmicbook.com or the Magenta Zephyr web site and leave some quotes of their own.www.magentazephyr.com. Also, anyone interested in hearing my music can listen to clips and purchase tracks at www.cdbaby.com/cd/timstorm http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/timstorm
AP: Thanks again, Tim, for graciously allowing us the opportunity to interview you on behalf of ALL PULP! Good Luck and God Bless You on your current and future endeavors!!
TS: My pleasure, Sarge! I really appreciate the opportunity to share my love of the pulp genre and shamelessly plug my book!