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Tim Jones

Website: TimJonesBooks.blogspot.com

Tim Jones has published two volumes of poetry, a novel and an earlier collection of short stories, Extreme Weather Events. He is a writer, editor, web-content manager, husband, father, political activist and lover of cricket, music and many other fine things. He lives in Wellington, New Zealand. 

Short story collections

Transported (Vintage, June 2008)

Longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award 2008 

Reviewed by Majella Cullinane

Extreme Weather Events (Headworx, 2001) 

Interview with Tim Jones

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Tim Jones: The literal answer is, 22 years. That’s because one of the stories in TransportedGoing to the People, was written in 1986. But most of the stories in this collection date from the period 2000-2007. (This is my second published collection; my first, Extreme Weather Events, was published in 2001. Going to the People didn’t fit with the theme of that collection.)

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

TJ: Not at first — except in the sense that I enjoyed having my first collection published, and thought I’d rather like to have another one published in due course. The theme, or at least motif, of transport which runs through these stories presented itself over time, rather than being chosen in advance – but then again, most of the stories in Extreme Weather Events features journeys of one sort or another, so perhaps that is simply my subject.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

TJ: Answering that requires a bit of back-story. I was already thinking about putting a collection together and submitting it to publishers when a story of mine, Win a Day with Mikhail Gorbachev! (included in Transported), was selected for Volume 4 of the annual Best New Zealand Fiction series. I asked Random House New Zealand, the publishers of Best New Zealand Fiction, if they’d be interested in looking at a collection from me. They said Yes, and I put together an initial selection and sent it to publisher Harriet Allan. She said Yes again – a magic moment! – and then we got down to some serious negotiation over the composition and ordering of the book. My initial selection was a bit shorter than Random House wanted, and they didn’t think a couple of the stories included in it worked, so I ended up by adding some extra stories and writing two new ones: Jim Clark” and “Going Under”. It’s a diverse collection, but the order we chose is designed to highlight the inter-relationships between the stories as well as their differences.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

TJ:  The straight-faced answer is, a fictional prose narrative. Soon after I started to write fiction, a friend called Dan McCarthy commented that I wrote two sorts of fiction: stories, which were character-driven narratives, and “stroys”, which were short, strange, sometimes surreal pieces in which character took a back seat to the joys of pure narrative. I still like writing both types of short fiction.

TSR: Do you have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?

TJ:  No. Funnily enough, I often have a reader — or perhaps, rather, a listener — in mind when I write poetry. When I write stories, it’s often in response to a little voice inside my head which says “what sort of story would it make if you put this idea and that idea together and shook them up a bit?”, or “this is so bizarre you have to write it down”; yet some of them aren’t like that at all, and arise from that old staple, emotion recollected in tranquility.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
collection, anything at all?

TJ: Did you laugh?

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your books?

TJ: To quote C. Montgomery Burns, “Excellent!” I go past Unity Books, a fine bookshop here in Wellington (NZ), and it’s a great feeling when I see that their pile of signed copies of Transported has got smaller. Mind you, I’m also very happy when I see Transported making its way into libraries. It’s the reading, as well as the buying, that I like.

TSR: What are you working on now?

TJ: I’ve returned to an unpublished novel I completed in 2004. I’ve concluded that the first half of it needs only cosmetic changes, but the second half requires major surgery. I’m nipping and tucking the first half at present.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

TJ: Alice Munro, Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You. Alice Munro never fails. Tatiana Tolstaia, On the Golden Porch. One of the books I first read for my Russian literature degree. Irrelevant fact: the band Okkervil River is named after one of the stories in this collection. James Tiptree, Jnr. (aka Alice B. Sheldon), Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. A collection of her greatest stories. Marvellous, despairing.