Tim McGuire has enjoyed telling stories since childhood. Born in Elmhurst, Illinois, he was three years old when his family moved to Texas, where he grew up in Midland surrounded by the state's frontier heritage, fueling his fascination with history. He later moved to Irving, outside of Dallas. An active imagination formed an early ambition to be a story-teller. Teachers and relatives encouraged him to be a writer. He completed a novel at age 22 while building a career in the automotive industry.
He lives in Grand Prairie, Texas
Frequently Asked Questions
When did you start writing?
A lot like most kids, I was told to write stories when I was in grade school. That led to inventing characters and situations that would be fun to experience, so I wrote them down. I remember one teacher who thought my stories were too long and wordy, She was right, so I've been working on that ever since.
What do you attribute as your greatest influence in your writing?
There are many things I could point to, but the one answer is my first job working in a movie theatre. Certainly I'd seen many movies, and TV. and had played 'let's pretend' games with friends when I was a kid. But, without a doubt, it was the experience of watching the audience during the show that had me admire the craft of good story telling. I've had people tell me that my books seem like they are reading a movie. That's not by accident, due to I see things normally in terms of film. I also must credit my writer friends at the DFW Writers' Workshop. I'd still be unpublished if not for their guidance. Not only do they teach the techniques of putting it on the page, the importance of point of view and other things, the experience there prepared me for dealing with editors and the marketing of manuscripts.
Why Westerns and where did 'The Rainmaker', Clay Cole come from?
First, the Western question. As I've admitted many times, when I grew up in the 1960's, that's all that was on television. Like all kids, we imitate what we see on TV. My brother and I would practice fast draws in front of the screen. One of the reasons, we saw so many Westerns was due to my mother's love for them. It was a dead heat between John Wayne and Randolph Scott in her scorebook. 'Rawhide' and 'Gunsmoke' reruns were on every night. So, as I fantasized about living in those times, I thought up a character I wanted to be. Later, as I became more fascinated with history,( my father's gene,) I came up with a past, where and how the character learned the things that were a part of his life. None of it happened overnight. The name 'Rainmaker' came from a popular song at the time, the name Cole was a favorite since I heard Carroll O'Connor speak it in a gravely voice in 'Waterhole No. 3', and Clay came from a man who had an impact in my life at the time. If you read 'Nobility' close enough, you might figure it out.
Who are your favorite authors?
I can't claim a favorite author, but I do have favorite novels. I admit I don't read a lot of fiction. Most fiction authors don't, but I do read some novels on recommendations from friends. I do have memorable reads. One, maybe the top of the list is 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. As far as Westerns, I enjoyed 'True Grit', and 'Shane', and an obscure book, 'Jory' I reread after several years. Also, I've read a few 'Doc Savage' books in my youth. Mostly, as a reader, I confess I was a comic book kid. ( I didn't have the foresight to keep them.) I still have others on my 'to read list', but normally feel guilty, due to the fact if I have time to read, then I should be writing.
Where do the inspirations come from?
Mostly right out of my wicked imagination. But, I will confess I get great inspiration from music. I own a healthy inventory of movie soundtracks as well as classical instrumentals. Like anyone, I get a great influence of the story from a film score. I just let my mind wander while listening and some vision pops into my head. I call it my mind fuel. I also like to take note of certain historical events not usually that well known. The Little Bighorn is an exception, but I like to leave little hints of famous surrounding events not normally occurring in the main story.
What is essential for a good story?
I think you must have a story about interesting characters. I try to advance the plot through their eyes. That is who I think the readers bond with and follow. I am not a historian and am not qualified to write a history of the west 'primer'. My approach is to put people in unusual if not dangerous conditions and think of a way out of them. I also try to put men and women characters together with a bit of conflict. Since more women tend to read fiction than men, I think it important to have both genders represented with strong personalities. Of course, you must have a plot which keeps moving and an end which satisfies. It doesn't always have to be a happy one, but I think all the questions have to be answered. I've heard it said that a good story begins with a great ending. I try to keep that in mind.
What are you working on now?
I'm revamping a spy thriller I started when I was a kid. A lot has changed in the spy world since then, but I'm determined to see it through. Also, I have another Western story in the works, and a personal book about my own experiences.
Worth Star-Telegram Columnist Jeff Guinn's article 6/7/98
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