Tim Ewins is the author of We Are Animals, published by Lightening Books on 2 March 2020.
Tim kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about We Are Animals.
I’ve been told We Are Animals is contemporary fiction and I’ve been told it’s comic fiction, so I’m not 100% sure what genre it is. It’s probably one of those though. It’s about a traveller in his mid sixties who meets a teenager on a beach in Goa. He begrudgingly tells the teenager his life story even though the teenager doesn’t want to hear it and then they both go to a silent disco. Many of the book’s characters are animals, and the animal characters sort of mirror the human characters.
2. What inspired the book?
The traveller in his mid-sixties was inspired by a traveller I met in Malaysia who was, well, he was in his mid-sixties. He’d visited the same beach each year and he spent the night complaining to me about how the beach had changed over time. When I suggested that he could visit a different beach next year, he sniffed at the idea. ‘There’s nowhere better than here,’ he told me. I liked that man and we spent a few nights after that chatting on a balcony. I hope that Jan, the main character in We Are Animals, is equally as grumpy, and equally as likeable.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
We Are Animals had a definite shape from the get-go, but the plot itself only happened as I wrote. I knew what would happen at the end, and I knew which countries they all needed to end up in, but I didn’t know how I was going to get them there. I accidentally wrote myself into Soviet Russia at one point and then spent months researching. Oddly, the animals were never planned. I realised by about chapter five that I kept writing side stories about different creatures and only then decided to make a thing of it.
4. Having been through the publishing process, is there anything about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
Before I found a publisher, I thought that the publishing world would be a terrifying place full of powerful people all wanting to destroy my work (I mean, let’s be honest, it’s a story for adults in which a cow learns to dance. They’d be well within their rights).. I don’t know why I thought that now. I think maybe there seems to be an invisible screen between publishers and the unpublished author. Now, having worked closely with my publisher and various other people through the different stages of the publishing process, I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Everyone I’ve worked with in the industry has been lovely, and everyone has a passion for books and a desire to get more out there. It’s a very likeable world.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I play trains and fire stations with my little boy. Sometimes we draw chalk towns on the floor and then push cars around them. To be honest, I tend to write to relax and get away from it all. It’s just my hobby. When I find I don’t have time to write (lockdown with a toddler and full time job, for example) I really miss it!
Oh, that and Love Island.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
That is a hard question! Can I keep Netflix? All of a sudden I wish I was religious. I’m trying to think of a really long book. I quite liked Shantaram and that took me ages to read, so maybe that? Can I keep audiobooks?
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
No one has ever asked me ‘Tim, if you weren’t the bestselling author of a hugely successful series, now transformed into several big screen blockbuster adaptations, what would you be?’
Now, I know that the answer to this is ‘I’d work in finance because once I temped in a wealth management office and then I never left,’ but, if ever there was a reason for someone to ask me this question, I’d look pensive for a while and watch the Caribbean sea outside the new fully glass wall which I’d have installed in this scenario. I’d sip on my Crystal champagne and dust my suede jacket. Then I’d stare straight into the camera and I’d say, ‘I’d be a contestant on Love Island.’
Love Island was always the dream to be honest.
About the Book
A cow looks out to sea, dreaming of a life that involves grass.
Jan is also looking out to sea. He’s in Goa, dreaming of the passport-thief who stole his heart (and his passport) forty-six years ago. Back then, fate kept bringing them together, but lately it seems to have given up.
Jan has not. In his long search he has accidentally held a whole town at imaginary gunpoint in Soviet Russia, stalked the proprietors of an international illegal lamp-trafficking scam and done his very best to avoid any kind of work involving the packing of fish. Now he thinks if he just waits, if he just does nothing at all, maybe fate will find it easier to reunite them.
His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…
But maybe an annoying teenager is exactly what Jan needs to help him find the missing thief?
Featuring a menagerie of creatures, each with its own story to tell, We Are Animals is a quirky, heart-warming tale of lost love, unlikely friendships and the certainty of fate (or lack thereof).
For the first time in her life the cow noticed the sun setting, and it was glorious.