author interview: Tim Foley with Sue Staats, March 22, 2019 performance at stories on stage
Tim Foley is way too modest to label himself a renaissance man, but I don’t share his reluctance. Just take a look at this bio. He’s an attorney (degree from Harvard, works with the State Public Defender’s office, teaches at UC Davis) a writer and playwright (numerous publications here and in Britain, recent production of his play Special Request at Theatre One in Sacramento) a publisher (the late lamented Farallon Review, 2008-2015.) Rumor is that he was even in a band, once upon a time. In an exchange of emails, I asked him about how he juggled his professional and writing life, and if his law specialty (he’s the attorney for the defendant in death penalty appeal cases) shows up in his writing.
Sue: From your bio, it looks as if your career path has been focused on law. Yet you’ve earned an MFA, had a play produced, founded a literary journal. When and where did the writing bug bite you? And, if you could, would you be a full-time writer?
Tim: I’ve always written creatively, an endeavor inspired by a love of reading and books. I published a couple of short stories when I was in law school, and tried to write a novel when I was in my twenties. I enjoy my career in the legal field, and I like teaching as well, but I do have a creative side and the muse must be honored when she sees fit to visit.
Sue: She. Hmm. What writers/writing inspires you most?
Tim: Any good writing inspires me. My particular favs include Poe and Bierce for fantasy, Orwell and Steinbeck for social commentary. I like certain genre writers like Raymond Chandler and Shirley Jackson. Beckett and Isherwood for their fearlessness. Alistair MacLeod and George Mackay Brown for the rustic beauty of their prose. Kazuo Ishiguro and Russell Banks for technique.
Sue: Does your law practice, and its focus on death penalty cases, inform your writing?
Tim: I write as a break from my casework. There is some emotional spillover, I suppose, but the legal work exists separately.
Sue: You’ve been published a lot in the UK. They seem to love you! Why do you think this is?
Tim: I spent a semester at Durham University in northeastern England when I was in college and have maintained some connections with Britain ever since. English editors tend to like my stuff, for whatever reason.
Sue: What was the inspiration for the story being read at SoSS, “Nineteen-sixty-five Ford Falcon?”
Tim: It's a story about longing and loss within a ghost story format, with some suspense and a dash of humor. I wanted to explore the way that certain physical things seem to soak up the energy and emotions of their owners. And it's a bit of a homage to a friend I had who owned a sixty-five Falcon. Great car.
Sue: It is indeed. Worthy of a photo.
By Sue Staats
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