Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Interview: Tim Atkinson on Fatherhood: The Essential Guide

I have been very fortunate to have meet Tim Atkinson on many occasions, including a very long journey to Bognor Regis and back.

Tim is actually a hero of mine (just don’t tell him). When a creative writing course I was supposed to be taking was cancelled Tim jumped in ran a Creative Writing e course. This lead to my first short story  being published in an anthology called Tiny Acorns and that I will always be very grateful.

If you have not heard of Tim Atkinson then you are missing out. He writes the award winning blog Bringing Up Charlie and is author of Writing Therapy.

Tim’s new book is called Fatherhood: The Essential Guide.  It guides the reader from the very first stages of planning a family, through the nine months of pregnancy, labour and the birth itself. It then deals with the practicalities of caring for your baby from the first hours, days and months with the new arrival right through to the first three years of a child’s life.

I had the chance to ask Tim a few questions on writing, here are is answers.

 When did you start writing/Have you had anything published before?

When I was twelve I had a model railway – scenery, houses, landscape, the lot. In fact, it was a miniature model world; my pride and joy. I wrote a letter to ‘The Railway Modeller’ magazine asking if they’d like an article about it. They said ‘go ahead’ and so I sat down at the dining room table and began to write. I got paid £12, and I’ve been writing ever since!

 How long does it take you to write?

Writing Therapy – my first book - took the best part of five years from first ideas to completed manuscript. It was very stop-start at the beginning, because I knew what I wanted to do but didn’t have the confidence or skill to see it through. But it gets easier the more you do. I actually polished off ‘Fatherhood’ in about five months!

Can you say a little about your development as a writer?

Flushed with the success of my ‘Railway Modeller’ commission I did what all teenagers do and started writing poetry. I actually had a couple of things published in small arts magazines, and went to Hull University just to breathe the same air as Philip Larkin. When he stopped breathing (he died in my third year there – which had nothing to do with me, I hasten to add!) I started doing bits and pieces of freelance journalism, and was a regular contributor to a column called ‘This World of Ours’ on the Yorkshire Post. In fact, when I graduated I was going to be a journalist. But then I’d also quite fancied teaching, and someone said I’d better do a PGCE before Mrs Thatcher closed down all the teacher-training colleges. Twenty-one years later, I was still in the classroom. 

Any tips for people wanting to be published?

Buy a model railway! Seriously, there’s probably some connection between making model worlds and writing stories. I was once told by a teacher at school that my essay-writing technique resembled throwing as much muck as possible, in the hope that some of it would stick. And he added, ‘it seems to work’. I think that’s my philosophy of writing. Just do it, and – you never know – some of it might ‘stick’!

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just started ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ by Jennifer Egan. I like the idea of doing something ‘different’ with fiction. Why write a book if someone else (already published) could have done it, and probably done it better? That was certainly the idea behind ‘Writing Therapy’ and I like the fact that Egan combines all sorts of different types of writing into her novel – there’s even a chapter in the form of a PowerPoint Presentation!

Where can people get hold of ‘Fatherhood’?

It should be in your local bookstore. If it isn’t, ask them for it! It’s also on Amazon as well as on the publisher’s website and if you’re going to Cybermummy I’ll be signing copies of it there, together with some of my other books.   

I have copy of Fatherhood: The Essential Guide to giveaway to one lucky reader.

All you have to do is tell me what the best thing about your dad is.  

Closing Date Sunday 19th June

Please leave a twitter ID if you have one.

Anyone posting as anon will not be entered into the giveaway. 


  1. Thanks Carol. I'm not entering a competition to win my own book, but stopping by to say I'm very grateful.

  2. ... and did I really say that would-be writers need to get themselves a model railway?!!

  3. The best thing about my Dad is that he is always there to listen to me and never judges/interupts/gives unsolicited advice. It always feels like he's on my side, no matter what.

  4. My husband's dad is a real dad to me as I didn't have one. He is so loving and supportive!


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