Evil?, by Timothy Carter is one of the underrepresented Young Adult novels being featured and competing in this year’s Nerds Heart YA Tournament. Timothy was nice enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to chat with me about the tournament, the books he writes about and about Evil?, the story of a gay teenager coming to terms with faith, sexuality, and battling demons in a conservative Christian town. To follow the tournament to its conclusion check for updates at the Nerds Heart YA Website, or alternately you can also follow along on Twitter.
I’m an English-born, Canadian-raised author of far-fetched fiction. I write stories with elements of the fantastic (sci/fi and fantasy), usually with a lot of humour involved. And yes, I said humour, not humor. Like I said, I’m English-Canadian.I have a particular interest in metaphysical concepts(the afterlife, spirituality, Angels & Demons [not the Dan Brown book]), and most of my work involves elements of it. My upcoming book, The Cupid War, is set almost entirely in the afterlife, which required quite a bit of world-building. I’m also keen to point out the downsides of religion, which was one of the themes of Evil?.Most of all, I like to have fun. Writing is my playground, and characters are my toys. We tell stories to each other, and some of those stories make their way to you.
Had you ever heard of Nerds Heart YA before? Were you surprised to see Evil? pop up in an online tournament like this one?
I’m afraid I hadn’t heard of Nerds Heart YA before now. The web is an awfully big place, after all. I’m still trying to get my own sites noticed! I wasn’t surprised so much as delighted that Evil? became part of this online tournament. Any time anyone takes notice of my work, I am overjoyed. Self-promotion is a lot of hard work, and I appreciate all the help I can get.
Was Evil? and its issues something that you had been kicking around in your mind for a while or was it something new that you wanted to do?
The issues were kicking around, as you put it, for quite some time, but the premise for Evil? popped into my head sometime in the spring of 2007. It made me giggle madly, and when I told my wife Violet that premise, and my intention to write it as a YA novel, she said, “Yeah, good luck with that.” While still a supernatural comedy, it nevertheless quite a bit different from my other books.
I try to avoid messages and concentrate on simply telling a good story. However, messages have a way of working their way in if they really want to. And, given some of Evil?’s subject matter, a few messages sneaking in were inevitable. ‘Think for yourself’ is definitely one of them, and of course ‘don’t believe something just because it’s in a book.’ And yes, I am aware of the irony of that one!
I’m hoping to reach as many readers as possible, of course. Still, if there is one type of reader I’d most like to reach, it would be the reluctant church-goer. I’m talking about the teens who go to church because they’ve always gone, but no longer feel that it’s right for them. I hope they pick up Evil? and realize that someone out there gets it.
I am really interested in banned books and the reasons that they are challenged or banned, and you touch upon quite a few hot button items here. Was that ever a concern for you, and how do you feel your book has been received? Did it find its audience?
You know, I’m kind of disappointed that nobody’s tried to ban Evil? yet. I was hoping there’d be at least a bit of outrage. Instead, people actually seem to like it! I suppose I shouldn’t complain; being liked is a good thing, right? Still, I don’t think Evil? has quite found its full audience yet. If only someone would accuse me of trying to destroy family values and poison the minds of our nation’s youth… I can dream, can’t I?
A lot of characters in Evil? are influenced by larger, more powerful entities and some of their behavior is not within their control, how prevalent do you find that to be in religion and life in general?
I like doing stories about entities messing with humans (look to my next book, The Cupid War, for more of that) because sometimes it seems as if a supernatural cause is the only logical answer. When, for example, a group of ‘believers’ stages a protest outside of a funeral, telling the grieving family that their slain child is burning in Hell, you’d think they must have been controlled by a powerful force. The truth, however, is that nobody is being controlled by any force other than themselves. People choose to do the things they do for all kinds of reasons, but influence from a divine or demonic entity is not one of them.
Thanks Timothy! I’ll also have you know that the author absolved me the sin of my favorite character being one of the demons in the novel, Fon Pyre. He chalked it up to my not being able to resist all those snappy one-liners. 🙂