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Life & Work with Tim Cummings

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tim Cummings.

Hi Tim, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
In 2015, I decided to pursue my MFA in Creative Writing. Definitely something I’d long desired to do, but couldn’t find the time or energy with which to do it. For 35 consecutive years, I worked professionally as an actor, having amassed close to 200 projects across theatre, film, TV, dance, new media, voice-over, etc. It just felt like it was time for me to evolve.

I graduated from Antioch University Los Angeles’s excellent program in 2018 and experienced a total explosion: got a book deal, got an agent, won an award for an essay, started teaching private writing workshops, coaching writers, and was recently hired by UCLA Writer’s Program to teach.

That is where you find me now: on the verge of the release of my debut novel, ALICE THE CAT, a funny and weird, sad and spooky coming-of-age adventure (think Neil Gaiman meets Kate DiCamillo) from Fitzroy Books/Regal House Publishing (recently named Foreword’s Publisher of the Year 21/22). The book comes out May 23, 2023 and I’m in the process of launching it into the world and readying my follow-up books.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I have always been curious, hungry, interested, passionate, emotional, and a really hard worker. So, as an artist, those are the traits you want. In that respect, yeah, it’s been smooth.

But as far as the life of the struggling artist, I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve had to maintain full-time survival jobs since graduating from NYU in the mid-1990s.

Being an artist is unique and infuriating that way: feast or famine. Rarely a well-balanced middle-ground. People are poor as dirt and then they’re rich af and it’s so weird to watch it happen, either to yourself or someone you know.

I’m working toward the middle-ground, to find that balance, be at peace, and just keep getting better at being a Storyteller, helping others do the same, and building a positive community along the way…

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I write novels, primarily middle-grade and young-adult, but also adult literary fiction, horror, essays, short stories, and poetry. I run private Writing Workshops, 5 or 6 a year, do individual writing coaching, and I teach for UCLA Extension Writers’ Program as well as other local storytelling platforms, like The Townies, Inc in Ojai.

I am not sure what I am most known for as a writer…remains to be seen, I suppose. But I won an important award in 2019 for an essay I wrote about playing the character of Ned Weeks in a successful production of “The Normal Heart” at The Fountain many years ago. It explored the notion of ‘being in service’ as an actor, and putting everything you have on the line, tasking huge risks, and also taking huge hits. Oh Lordy. That process–writing that essay–was an interesting amalgamation of my skills as an actor and a writer. I felt very proud of when it got published and later when it received the award. It felt like a confirmation that as an artist, I wasn’t just screaming unheard into the void, haha.

I feel that what most sets me apart from others is probably my bizarre fascination with spiders, octopuses, and colored lighting.

What was your favorite childhood memory?
I used to go to the woods to hunt for snakes, turtles, toads, and bring them home and name them and keep them in my backyard and take care of them. That, and I guess my profound love for horror movies, ones I should probably not have been watching at so young age–but that’s Gen X in a nutshell. Ha. By the time I was 12, I could successfully reenact scenes from The Exorcist, Carrie, The Omen, Halloween, Alien, The Changeling, The Thing, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and ALIENS. I still do it, just FYI. Right in my kitchen. Come over and see.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
– Ken Sawyer Photography – F(r)iction Magazine

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