Once upon a time: Tim Hehir


Images: Text Publishing

As part of our on-going feature in which we talk to previously published authors, here’s a brief interview with author Tim Hehir. Tim’s short story ‘God Bless Us One and All’ appeared in the magazine back in issue seven and you can read it online here. His début novel, Julius and the Watchmaker, is out now from Text Publishing in Australia.

How did you come across Structo? Why did you choose to send your story here?

I do not recall how I actually found Structo. I somehow came to the magazine via a circuitous route on the internet while I was searching for somewhere to send one of my short stories. I chose to send my first story to Structo because of a line in the submissions criteria. You stated that you liked things that “made us smile”. I enjoyed the succinctness and honesty of the statement and thought I would give it a try. The first story I sent to the magazine was rejected but the rejection note I received was very encouraging so I gave it another try some time later. I was with a bunch of writer friends, renting a house for the weekend in a seaside town outside Melbourne and we had a conversation about trying to come up with the craziest horror film idea we could. I came up with the ‘Zombified Dickens Characters’ idea and ‘God Bless us One and All’ was born.

Is there much of an Australian literary magazine scene?

Literature here is the colonies is alive and well and chomping at the bit. There are magazines, festivals, writing courses and events happening all over the place. The city of Melbourne, where I live, is teeming with literature and writers. We have a magnificent State Library with a domed reading room that Hogwarts would be jealous of and in the same building is a State sponsored organization called The Wheeler Center. This houses other writing organisations and provides rooms for writers, a library, courses and has a year round stream of events for writers of all kinds. Aside from that there are at least three major literary/writing festivals or conventions in the city each year and almost every suburb and regional town has its own festival. So yes, literary magazines, large and small, known and unknown are awash in Melbourne, and long may it continue.

9781922079732_large_coverWhat was the genesis of Julius and the Watchmaker?

I came up with the idea for the book in 2004, while meditating on a Buddhist retreat in a beautiful valley in Spain. The idea of a time-travelling pocket watch and a frightened boy in a dark Dickensian London popped into my mind unbidden. All sorts of ideas were then ignited in my brain, so that particular meditation was ruined. I wrote the ideas down and spent about six years mulling it over in my head before beginning to write it in late 2009 or early 2010, I can not recall exactly.

Had you written any novels before Julius?

Yes, between the years 2002–2010 I wrote my first novel. I did about 12 drafts but it never got to publishable standard. I regard it as my ‘apprentice piece’. Only two or three people have read the manuscript, and that is too many.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am writing the sequel to Julius and the Watchmaker. I think Charles Darwin might get a look in on the next adventure. He would have been back from his voyage on the Beagle for a couple of years by then—plenty of time for a young man with a head full of disturbing ideas to get into trouble.

Julius and the Watchmaker is available in print and various ebook formats from Text Publishing, with an Italian translation due in 2014.


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