Author Interview: Timothy J. Bradley!
Posted by Stephanie Whelan
Welcome readers! Time for my next interview! Timothy J. Bradley, the creator of the Sci Hi book series was kind enough to answer a few questions from this curious blogger.
Bio: Tim Bradley is an award-winning, self-taught author/illustrator in the field of children’s literature, published in both fiction and nonfiction. Tim has been fascinated by the distant past and the far future from a young age, and filled many sketchpads with drawings of dinosaurs, robots, and spaceships.
As a professional artist, Tim has had the opportunity to work with amazingly talented artists like Syd Mead (Blade Runner, Tron, 2010, Aliens), and companies like Hasbro (Tim worked on Transformers, Star Wars, and Jurassic Park toys). Lately, Tim has been writing and illustrating fiction and non-fiction books for children, with compelling text, and the dynamic, colorful renderings he has become known for. Tim’s books have earned awards and accolades from reviewers (The Horn Book, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist), and he has been invited to hold author signing events at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, The Field Museum, and the National Aquarium. Tim’s most recent projects are middle-grade, illustrated “hard” science fiction novels, in the style of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, whose books inspired Tim’s imagination as a child. His first novel, Infestation, debuted in April, 2013 from Scholastic.
For more on the author’s latest titles, Hive Mind (2013), Ripple Effect (2013) and Time Jump (published just this month!) check out my reviews in the links! And now, without further ado–to the questions we go!
Q: What were your favorite books/authors to read when you were growing up?
A: My favorite books growing up were “hard” science fiction, for the most part. Arthur C. Clarke was my favorite author, followed closely by Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and H. Beam Piper. The two books that probably had the biggest impact on me were Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, and The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov.
Q: What science fiction stories inspired you/ sparked your imagination? (this can be either now, or in the past)
A: Stories with huge ideas based on really weird and interesting science phenomena are still my favorite kinds of books. “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury was a great story in that it combined a bunch of things I was interested in: dinosaurs and time travel. The first time I read the ending of that story, I felt like my brain exploded. I think the contemporary author that has that effect on me is Robert Charles Wilson. His stories tend to revolve around some really huge and very interesting concepts. I have re-read his books a lot.
Q; What was it that inspired you to create the Sci Hi series?
A: A couple of things. When Teacher Created Materials asked if I’d be interested in writing a sci fi series, I wanted to construct a story framework that would let me explore the kind of weird science concepts I find interesting with the sort of adventure stories (like the Tom Swift Jr. series) that I loved to read growing up.
A movie I had really enjoyed as a kid was called “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes”(1969), and it took place at a college. The characters were all involved with the science and computer labs. I thought that looked like a great place to study and hang out. Also, there is a special high school here in Orange County, California for kids that are interested specifically in the arts. I’ve often thought that there should be a similar school that is focused on science. I came up with several concepts that might make a good series, but I felt that the “Sci Hi” concept was the strongest. It allowed lots of opportunities to touch on the sort of wild science stuff I find fascinating.
Q: Is Sci Hi the kind of school you’d have wanted to attend, like Sid?
A: Absolutely! The outburst Sid has at his school in Hive Mind is pretty much the way I felt all though my years at school. Science education was not considered a priority during the 60’s and 70’s, and the result was that students weren’t introduced to a lot of the awesome information that was actually being discovered at that time, in natural history and biology. Space exploration was in the news a lot–there was a lot of coverage of the Apollo space missions, and I remember the feeling I had watching Neil Armstrong step on the Moon. Fantastic. Unfortunately, none of my science classes ever discussed space or space exploration. Thank goodness for “Star Trek”.
Q: If you could have any cool science fictional invention from one of your stories, what would it be?
A: I would have a lot of fun with the type of jetpack Sid, Penny, and Hari use in Time Jump. Flying around like that would be a blast.
Q: There’s a lot of conversation these days regarding girls and science fiction, you present a strong science-positive image with Penny in your books. What would you say to those girls considering going into science and engineering?
A: I would say: GO FOR IT!! The challenges facing our planet at this time will only be solved by responsible use of new technologies. We need as many girls and boys involved in science and technology as we can get; especially now, in the anti-science climate we are confronted with now. A career in engineering or the sciences, discovering new things that may eventually help all of us would be a very challenging and rewarding life, on both a personal and professional level. Gender should not keep anyone from pursuing a career in the sciences. That’s the great thing about science—it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from. If you have a passion for the work, you should go after it.
Q: You’re not only the writer of these books, but the illustrator as well. Your illustrations are wonderfully helpful in bringing the stories and tech to life. Do you start with a vision of the art prior to writing? Create the writing first? Or both in tandem?
A: Once I have the basic idea for a book, I start thinking about specific things that could happen and I draw lots of little thumbnails of possible imagery and gadgets that I could include in the story. I tend to think of things in pictures, being a visual person, and writing the story is like watching a movie of it in my head, and transcribing it into words.
Q: Sid and his friends have been through quite a bit in their first three adventures. Any hints on what’s in store for them in the future?
A: Oh, my gosh—I have a bunch of ideas that would make good Sci Hi installments, based on my own interests in science topics. The characters haven’t gone into space yet, or to the Earth’s core. The question of the future of Sci Hi rests with readers. If the series finds a readership, then the continuation of the series will make sense. I would have no problem continuing the series from an author’s perspective! That would be a lot of fun.
Tim, thank you for your time and participation!
About Stephanie WhelanI'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.
Posted on November 19, 2014, in General Posts, Interviews and tagged Authors, Books, Children's Books, Children's Literature, literature, MG Books, Middle-Grade Fiction, Reading, reviews, Science Fiction, series, SF. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.