D.L. Timmerman: A Superhero of Epic Proportions
What do superheroes and characters in a novel have in common? Both usually have deep backstories and often, the origin stories are similar. In this week’s Author Spotlight, we tackled a veteran novel writer who also writes graphic novels, while also holding a love for Batman and Superman, two of the most famous comic book characters of all time.
“It’s funny because I vividly remember writing my first story at five,” recalled Dana Lucas Timmerman, author of Creed, a novel available on Amazon. “It was the tale of swamp beasts, a downed airplane, and an evil corporation trying to destroy the swamp. The twist at the end: the evil corporation wins.”
Timmerman attributed a lot of his inspirations to cartoons such as the D.C. Animated Universe shows that included Batman, Superman and Justice League, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“My Dad had a giant collection of comics from the late 1960s-early 2000s,” he added. “So I grow up engulfed in stories. I would take action figures and make my own movies. So yeah, I’ve been a writer almost my whole life. I think the inspiration is simple - just a passion for storytelling and an imagination that never stops. Storytelling is my way of tackling the ebb and flow of life itself.”
Like a comic book character, a back story and an overarching plot is vital to the story. When Timmerman creates a character, he visualizes the entire scenes in his head.
“I’ll do this a few times until the scene is perfect and then I’ll write it down,” he explained. “I typically write my outlines with a pen in a journal. In fact, anytime I’m stuck on a scene, I’ll start writing it in a journal. I wrote the entire Vehemence script in a journal (outline and the script) before transferring it onto my laptop.”
His outlines are fluid and dynamic and he often changes it depending on the story. He breaks his story into characters, world and plot.
“I rely on a whiteboard and wire-framing for brainstorming, and I use scrivener as a database for my ideas and characters,” he highlighted. “However, my go-to writing software is still MS Word. Characters...they come along the way as I shape the story together. They don’t come alive until I give them a history, a personality, and some conflict. The rest of storytelling is similar to music: there’s a rhythm, a beat, an ebb and flow to the writing. It’s understanding things like pacing, structure, and tension. I believe a writer is a lifelong learner and only gets better with experience. I should note that all of my stories begin with a single idea: a cool concept, a crazy character, or some wild thought.”
His original novel, Creed, was a lengthy process for Timmerman and came from a lot of real-life dilemmas.
“Creed was tough on three levels,” Timmerman explained. “First, it was my first novel. Generally, your first novel is going to suck. Secondly, I was used to doing journalism (articles and reviews), screenwriting (comics, indie films, and comic strips), a few short stories and poetry. This made the transition into novel writing difficult. Third, it was born out of pain. My wife left me and kidnapped my child, and that became the foundation for which I wrote the book. I started writing it at the end of my time in film school.”
He won a 24 hour film festival and was fresh off of making a second indie film when he wrote the novel. There was a conflict for Timmerman on whether to work on a novel or an
extra film project. He recalled his professor encouraging him to follow his passion, so he became a novelist and transferred schools to study professional writing.
His current project is a graphic novel called Vehemence. A studio picked up the story and offered him a publishing deal.
“I originally wrote Vehemence fresh out of high school,” he recalled. “It was my first stab at my very own superhero. I polished it up a few years later in an attempt to publish it, but not much came of it. Years later, I have a publishing deal and recently finished a completely revised version of the script for the first volume. The hope is for an ongoing series. It’s that coming of age superhero tale that takes place in a near future world, think Batman Beyond or borderline Bladerunner, but is set in the middle of a political thriller. It still has one of my favorite villains I have ever created, and the action scenes are so much fun. Honestly, this revised script is something I’m very proud of and I can’t wait for the world to see it.”
Timmerman has come a long way from the five-year-old that talked about swamp beasts and a downed airplane. He summarized what he would tell future writers.
“Read a lot. Write a lot. You don’t need a degree in writing. In fact, that may hurt you more than anything. Get a business degree - that would be more helpful. Because you are a business. Your product - the manuscripts you produce. You are the brand. Find your method and run with it. You’ll find most writers, even the most famous and professional, to be incredibly nice. Learn from them what you can.”