Interview with Tim Miller

Meet Tim Miller, an independent horror author from Texas in the USA.

Independent horror author, Tim Miller.
Horror author, Tim Miller, at a local comic con. Photo: Tim Miller

Tim Miller is an independent horror author who currently has over 40 books in print in both the United States of America and Germany. Additionally, Tim has released multiple audiobook versions, as well as, eBook editions of his titles.

Residing in Texas (USA), with his dog Sancho by his side, has provided Tim with horrific settings and ideas for many of his terrifying novels. In addition to writing, Tim also frequently attends local comic conventions where he can meet and engage new readers and interact with people who are already fans of his work.

Currently, Tim is writing his new release titled Hell House, which is available for pre-order here. Also, he offers signed copies of many of his books and horror-inspired pendants available for purchase either on his web-store or in person at a local comic con.

Please enjoy our chat with Tim, we were intrigued to hear his thoughts on the current state of the horror genre and what it is truly like to be an independent horror author!

Lauren: How did you start getting into writing? Have you always written within the horror genre?

Tim: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I got into horror when I was a teenager, maybe 14 or 15, and always wrote horror stories in notebooks I carried around. When I made my first attempt at full-on writing (back in around 2000 or 2001) I wrote two books, but they were more crime thriller/serial killer fiction. I guess it’s a type of horror, but it’s what was extremely popular at the time.

Lauren: What are your inspirations for your books? Where do you get the ideas for the ‘monsters’ of your stories?

Tim: Oh wow, lots of things. Everything from road trips I’ve taken to creepy parts of Texas to strange things I see every day. I worked as a corrections officer for 6 years, so I have lots of crazy experience from then. Plus, just random things I hear about on the news. The world is a scary place right now, there are no shortage of things to take and twist into a scary story.

Lauren: You’ve written a few series so far such as the Nikki Blade and April Almighty series; Do you prefer adding to the series or would you rather start a new novel, and why do you prefer that?

Tim: I tend to prefer new stories and stand-alone novels, although I sometimes include small crossovers where characters show up in different sets of stories. It’s fun for the readers and fun to do. Series are okay, but I get many new ideas so fast, I usually don’t take a series past 3-4 books before I move onto something totally new. I may keep some characters around though. Personally, I know a lot of series I’ve read tend to get stale after 4-5 books and I don’t want to do that to readers.

Lauren: How do you feel the horror genre has changed? Is it at its most popular now? Do you think the horror genre peak has yet to come?

The book cover for Satan's Highway.
The book cover for Satan’s Highway. Photo: Tim Miller

Tim: Yeah, horror has changed a lot even in the 5-6 years since I’ve been writing it. It’s kind of going through a ‘renaissance’ right now, which is great. There are lots of mainstream movies making a big splash turning more and more people onto horror.

Things really took off for me when I started writing more ‘extreme’ horror with lots of gore, graphic sex, and sexual violence. But with the current state of the horror genre and even the [United States] country, I’ve tried to dial some of that back. Maybe not so much on the gore, as people will always like blood and guts, but I do try to make it more strategic and not as gratuitous or over the top like my older stuff.

I also try to produce a variety and not every book I write is extreme anymore. With a lot of new people coming into the genre, they may not want to read about people getting strangled with their own guts, they just want to be creeped out, spooked, or experience some fun action. So, I’ve tried to mix things up to reach as many new readers as I can.

Lauren: What do you think it is that draws people to read horror books?

Tim: Most horror fans I know are incredibly kind and gentle people. I think it’s a violent escape for folks. They can’t and don’t want to hurt anyone but reading a book about a bunch of college kids getting chopped up is a fun escape for them. Some just enjoy the adrenaline rush of the action and seeing what will happen next.

Lauren: Why do you think comic conventions are important for independent writers? Do you feel that it helps cultivate a strong community for readers and artists/authors alike?

Tim with a fan at a local comic con.
Tim with a fan. Photo: Tim Miller

Tim: I think comic and horror conventions are great.When I first started out as an indie author, I couldn’t get booked for a signing anywhere. Stores and even book/author conventions and festivals would only take authors with traditional publishers. So, someone suggested I checkout a local comic con that had popped up. My first show I only sold around 10 books but had a blast and was tickled to death that people were curious about my writing.

Since then, I’ve gotten a much larger setup, more titles and do way bigger shows now, but I still do lots of small ones and even little paranormal shows and such. The people at these shows are excited to find new authors and people who already read my books are happy to meet me and take pictures. It’s just a lot of fun and if you’re outgoing and engage people who come by, comic and horror cons are a great way to make connections and get your name out there. More so than book fairs and author conventions in my own experience.

Tim's stand displaying his many novels at a local comic convention.
Tim’s stand displaying his many novels at a local comic convention. Photo: Tim Miller

Lauren: Are you self-published or crowdfunded? How do you think being an indie horror writer differs from being an indie mass market/young adult novelist?

Tim: I’ve never crowdfunded, I pay for my own stuff. I have two editors who go over my books. I either do my own covers or pay someone to have them made or some combination of the two. If you’re smart and learn todo more stuff yourself, it doesn’t take thousands to release a book. Each genre is different and has its own audience and own way to market. Young adult has significantly more readers but is also far more saturated with authors. Plus, each genre has its own rules and formulas for the type of things a story should contain, how the covers should look, etc. It’s always good to research whatever genre you hope to publish in.

Lauren: You’re quite active on social media, do you find that interacting with horror fans, readers and fellow writers benefit you and your novels? Do you compile reviews/feedback from them on characters and does that influence your future writing projects?

Tim with cosplayer, Dominique Skye, who is also one of his cover models.
Tim with cosplayer, Dominique Skye, who is also one of his cover models. Photo: Tim Miller

Tim: Yeah, I probably spend too much time on social media! I think it does benefit a lot of things. Readers like having access tome and that my posts aren’t purely marketing. So many authors are on social media doing nothing but posting links to their books over and over. Readers don’t want to feel like a number or a marketing target. So, I try to make everyone feel like they are important. Even doing little polls and stuff as to which story I should do next, what the cover should look like, and other things. Let people feel like a part of the process.

Lauren: What are your experiences with audiobooks? Do you think it is an interesting way to consume horror literature?

Tim: Some people really love audiobooks. I have several audiobooks out, but it’s hard to get a producer to create them. So, it’s kind of hit or miss when I can get a book into audio. Personally, I can’t concentrate enough to listen to an audiobook, but I know for some people that is the only way they ‘read.’

Lauren: Lastly, how do you decide on the covers for your novels? Do you tend to lean more towards gruesome images or a more simplistically creepy photo?

A particularly creepy book cover for Tim's 'Coulrophobia' title.
A particularly creepy book cover for Tim’s Coulrophobia title. Makeup and cover model credit to Jacquie Lantern. Photo: Tim Miller

Tim: It just depends on the story. I use a lot of models, many of whom are friends of mine. That way you don’t run into the issue of seeing another book with the same stock image, which has happened from time to time. Sometimes I may use a stock photo if it fits the story. It all just depends on the story itself and how I envision it in my head.

Stay up to date with Tim’s work: Follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook, or visit his official website!

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