Interview: Tyler Omichinski
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Name: Tyler Omichinski
Latest Release: From The Desk of Elizabeth Cooper & Other Stories
Tyler Omichinski is a writer from the great wilds of Canada. He is a regular contributor for several publications, and can be followed at omichinski.com or on twitter as @Tyler_roi. He lives with his significant other and a gargantuan black dog.
Interview by: Stephanie Ayers
- What is your name (real or otherwise)?
- Describe your writing style in three words.
Just, all over.
- How long have you been writing?
Off and on since I was a kid, but attacking it with a real purpose in the last year and some change. That’s where I’ve been getting publications, experience, and really starting to build some momentum with it.
- Which type of writing challenges inspire you the most?
I’m a bit weird in that, well, I don’t really like a lot of the writing challenges that get posted. I love Writing Excuses for example, but I never do their challenge of the week. I’ve got too many things on the go – whether it is blog posts or articles, or I’m starting to get more success with contracts where I need to write a specific thing – in those cases I can’t fit a lot of those challenges in.
What I tend to do the best with is trying to pit myself against writers from the past. I read a book recently about a guy who’s name escapes me but challenged himself to write a book in a short period – I think it was 40,000 words in a twenty-four hour period. So, I set myself against that recently and got my butt absolutely kicked by it. I managed to get an awesome idea set out and get about a third of the way through. That’s still a great piece of progress and I’m going to be continuing to build on that novel and hopefully have it doing something soon.
- Describe one way in which you could improve your writing.
Oh wow – there’s probably a number of ways. It’s not a thing that you’re ever really done improving – always just a matter of being good enough for the project you’re working on. My current task is trying to tune up and improve my dialogue. I always feel a little self-conscious about it and making sure that the reader can tell who is speaking even without dialogue tags. Developing those really cohesive and powerful voices are a big part of it while still having complex characters who aren’t relying on simple crutches.
- What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t quit, just keep working on it. If you get a rejection, learn from it, and just keep getting better. Keep failing and keep doing a little better. Forever.
- Who is your favorite author?
Neil Gaiman probably – he keeps pushing himself and striding across and between genres. He’s also confident about putting things out there that aren’t supposed to be selling well, and just trying to absolutely rock them.
- How do you make time to write?
There’s no option not to for me – I’ve set myself up for a position where it very much is write or fail.
- When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I spend most of my time writing honestly – when I’m not I tend to be doing one of four things. I’m either walking the dog (and thinking about writing), reading, playing videogames, or watching TV. I’ve also got myself some interesting gigs – like doing commentary on comics over at the Comix I Read website and co-hosting that podcast.
- How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Usually recommendations or I find something based upon something specific that I’m looking for. I’ll get a hankering for something really specific sometimes – for example recently I wanted an anthology of short stories in the same theme as Robert Chambers and his work like The King in Yellow. One of the awesome things about this changing industry is all sort of niche works are able to get tested and find real success at times.
Occasionally I’ll pick one up based upon a recommendation from someone famous/established. That’s how I learned about Kris Straub’s work, and I fell in love from there.
- Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yeah I do actually – my parents still have it. It was called A Winter Story and was a picture book that I wrote when I was about seven. Looking back, my parents and I all joke that it suffered from some major problems at the climax and a total deus ex machina to fix everything. I’m sure glad that I’m a better writer than I was then.
- What are your five favorite books, and why?
You know – it occurs to me that every time I’m asked this question my answer is going to be different. Right now though –
Name of the Wind – this is one of the most poetic pieces of prose that I’ve ever seen. It totally changed how I looked at writing and kind of brought back some older ways of doing things and reminding me that a solid story really has this timeless and everlasting sense to it.
American Gods – In my opinion, for what it’s worth, this is one of the best novels ever written. Its this gigantic meandering thing that is about so much and you can keep discovering things in it every time you return to it.
Small Gods – This was one of my favorite Pratchett books, and it really conveyed to me that you can do all sorts of things with books that aren’t necessarily what you’re supposed to do. You can have a fantasy novel that is funny, and weird. Irreverent and strange.
Three Day Road – This one has both some personal weight to it – it’s one of the first books my significant other and I read together and talked about it as we went. On top of that, it’s this beautiful and haunting book that talks about the history of Canada, the terrors of war, and just manages to encapsulate so much within those pages.
Murder of Roger Ackroyd – I remember the first time I read this book. There’s a twist here, one that I won’t ruin for you, but it was this strange breakthrough for me. Things could be approached in different ways, and authors can do some amazing things if you let them.
- Describe your desk/writing space:
Honestly – usually lying on the couch or in a cafe. I need noise around me when I’m writing. I’m like the sole person that wants my work space to be as chaotic and noisy as possible. I’ve also got this old kitchen table that my fiance and I share for our work space – it’s where I usually handle my emails and editing from. Something about sitting upright just makes it easier to do editing things.
- Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up all over the place – my parents were young when they had me and we moved around quite a bit. It sort of instilled me with this sense of wanderlust and exploring. That resulted in me continuing to push and try to find more places to explore and learn more about the world around me. It took a long time to come to fruition, but it created this sense of continuing to push to try to understand and learn new things. I had a chance to travel and see the world, which in turn kept pushing this desire and intent to learn and see new things. I try to include that sense of exploration and discovery into my writing.
- When did you first start writing?
Probably when I was really young – even before I was ten I was trying to write things and tell stories. Something in me was slightly off because I always knew that context was super important. When asked about why a lamp was broken or whatever, I would tell them a long and complicated story about motivations and reasonings that had lead to the end state. It was this weird just natural need to give context for the overarching plot that had happened.
They didn’t enjoy that very much, but I started to move it to better areas. I had some success in High School with some publication credits out there. I took a bit of a break, trying to get a normal career, but now I’m pushing my way towards trying to get more publications out there, doing all that work and building up a personal brand.
- Do you prefer to write long stories, short, flash? What is easiest for you?
I’m honestly all over the place. In my first year I wrote a few novellas, a novel, and a ton of short stories. On top of that, I also developed a few comic scripts. Already this year I prepared a radio drama script, some more comic scripts, and started an entire second novel. For me, it really depends what the story is and what kind of mood I’m in. Flash fiction has always been one of my biggest weaknesses though. I’ve got to keep improving at it.
I find once I get things figured about what works best for the idea I have – it becomes a lot easier. One project I’m working on right now started as a short story, but it ended up working a lot better as a comic. Once I made that transition, it was so much quicker to write and develop the plot for it.
- Share one writing goal you have yet to meet.
I’m not sure if this counts, but my big goal for this year is to get an agent. I’ve got the novel that I wrote last year out with beta readers right now, and I’m excited to put it through its paces and see if I can get someone interested in repping me and it. I’ve had more success than I thought was possible in my first year of really pushing at this.
- What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Creating something and seeing that end product that people then enjoy. Seeing or hearing from people who’ve enjoyed it is one of the best feelings in the world.
- What do your fans mean to you?
I’m still in early days yet, but I don’t think that this weird sense of gratitude is going to change. I don’t mean it is weird like – “why would I feel this way” but more of a sense of “I can’t believe they’re letting me do this, don’t they know I’m making it all up?” I’ve had a few different publications out there and when the royalties are coming in or I’m seeing the sales numbers there is this real sense of “people are digging what I’m doing here”. That feeling is just this almost otherwordly sense of joy that’s somewhere deep inside.
I think all of that was my weird and meandering way of trying to express gratitude that goes so deep, and that I’m just so thankful for every single person that supports me with a review, or a share, or anything.
- What are you working on next?
Hahah – quite a few things. I’m more than a little bit of a workaholic. I have a novella that I wrote last year that is with a publisher who has expressed interest in publishing it, a full length novel that is with beta readers, a second novel that I’m about halfway done the first draft, a bunch of short stories that are in different stages of production, and then I’m in talks about some other things that I can’t quite talk about yet.
I know that coming up very soon is editing for my short work Ultimate Conspiracies Guide (with the publisher now) which is in the same series as the Ultimate Celts Guide that I wrote. They serve as these great one-stop shops for people interested in playing RPGs with those materials, but they really can work as a great starting resource for writers or gamers of any kind looking for a crash course in that material. There’s a whole series of them that I’m honoured to have been a part of.
You can purchase Tyler’s books below.