Tim Dittmer is a gentleman in the true sense of the word—gentle, kind, and gallant. You may wonder how I can possibly know this having only interacted with Tim on social media. Let me put it this way—I just know.
I’ve never been a fan of people who come on too strongly. To me, it speaks volumes when someone screams at me to get attention. As with many of the finer things in life, less is more, so although Tim’s words and actions speak softly, they carry a lot of weight.
I had the pleasure of connecting with Tim in the latter half of 2012, and he’s now a wonderful, supportive part of my social network. I’m currently enjoying his book, The Valley Walker. It’s not normally something I would pick up, but knowing about the author makes a huge difference in what I read, and Tim is the type of man who draws readers to him.
It’s my great pleasure to welcome Tim Dittmer for an interview.
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Buy the ebook at:
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Read a blurb about The Valley Walker
“Yeah, though I walk through the valley… “
Special Investigator Teri Altro is a hard-case member of the Drug Interdiction Task Force. Cold and aloof, there is no room in her life for personal entanglements. No one is allowed to call her by her first name. No form of physical contact is acceptable. Altro is a driven woman, and people who work with her learn to keep up or stay out of her way. She carries a gun in her shoulder bag.
When Altro first notices the man staring at her, he doesn’t seem like anything special… just some guy in the drugstore. But when three men walk in the door to assassinate her, he kills them all with fluid ease, so quickly that she doesn’t even have time to pull her own gun. The confrontation is so eerily violent that it leaves Altro wondering just who… or what… the man is.
Over the next four days she learns that the man is John Walker Michaels, a man known to the Hmong of Laos as the Valley Walker, a man the army has classified as a deserter. He is an openly emotional man who draws her out of her shell and into the world of Hmong mysticism. At the end of this time… even after talking to him, learning his history and meeting his family… Altro can only shake her head when asked about him.
She had touched him and felt his warmth. She knew he was real.
Or was he?
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Inside Tim’s Mind
Thanks so much for asking me to do this, Eden. I mean, I really am just a guy. It’s truly an honor for a common man like me to be associated with such a refined lady.
[eden] I’m thrilled to have you here Tim, and I’d never in a million years describe you as common. Let’s start with a question about your writing process.
What turns you on creatively? Just about anything can cause a spark. It might be music, a movie, a phrase I hear, a book I read, or just some random thought. That spark gets something lit, and it sits in there and smolders while I pace or stare out the window, fanning the embers. If nothing else gets the fire to break out, washing the dishes just about always does it. Yes, Eden. Washing the dishes. By hand.
[eden] I get ideas from mundane tasks too, like vacuuming.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? To me, it’s just knowing that you’re doing the right thing. That’s not so easy in this world, but if you manage to pull it off, it can bring a warmth that’s better than a hot toddy on a chilly night. It’s very important to my happiness… that and coffee… and ice cream… and potato chips.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I try hard to avoid repetition and overuse in my writing, but variations of heart and feel are a couple of my weaknesses. I’m often trying to convey to the reader what’s going on inside a character, and can fall into the tell-more-than-show trap. In everyday conversation my most overused phrase would be “Shit the bed, Irene.”
[eden] Wow, that’s one I’ve never heard before!
What quality do you most admire in a man? I AM going to be serious about this. Yes, really. What I most admire in a man is tolerance of other people’s beliefs, chosen lifestyle, and social standing. That tolerance will be naturally evidenced by polite behavior.
What quality do you most admire in a woman? The quality I most admire in a woman is…. Wow. I like just hearing a woman’s voice, or smelling her hair, or looking at the dimples as she smiles or… Sorry, Eden. I just got sidetracked. Like I said, I’m just a guy. But what I was going to say is that the quality I most admire in a woman (when I’m not sidetracked, that is) is the same quality I most admire in a man. Tolerance.
What is your greatest regret? Right now my greatest regret is that my socks don’t match. I don’t know how that happened. Okay, Eden. I’ll get back on subject. Yes, I’ve done things that I shouldn’t have, not done things that I should have. I regret that. But my greatest regret? I don’t talk about that. To anyone. Ever.
[eden] It’s a very personal question, I understand.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’m pretty happy with who and what I am. This is it, folks. Take it or leave it. Oh come on, Eden. Give me a break here! Okay, okay. I guess I’d like to be taller.
What is your greatest fear? Sometimes I lay awake at night worrying that the toilet will quit working. Then when I finally doze off, the nightmares will start. I’ll wake up covered in sweat and calling for my mom. All right, Eden, but you’re going to be pissed. My greatest fear is something else I don’t talk about.
[eden] Tim, you’re tough! I fully respect your answer.
Which living person do you most admire? This one’s easy. My mother-in-law. She’s sweet and kind and caring and hard working. Not anything like I am. This woman stood by me when I really needed somebody, when I was just about to crash and burn. AND she makes the best pot roast I’ve ever tasted.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Hmmm. I’d like to be an heir. You know? The person that didn’t have to do a lick of work in their life, never had to fight and claw their way to the top, but just fell into a ton of money? Yep, I’d like to be a rich idler… ridiculously, filthy, stinking rich. I’d be good at that job.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? A mongoose. You know those rodents that chase down snakes? Rikki-Tikki-Tavi? I’d have to live in Hawaii, though, so I wouldn’t have to chase snakes. I could just hang out by the beach all day and get fed by the tourists. Hopefully, ice cream and potato chips.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? I once chewed the same piece of gum for two days straight. What, Eden? You’re not accepting that?
[eden] Nope, and I’m hoping to get an answer here :)
Okay, I’ll tell the truth, but it’ll sound pretty corny. My three children are my greatest achievement. They didn’t turn out anything like what I had planned, but they all turned out to be people I like to be around. I have no idea how that happened.
[eden] What’s that “Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” expression?
What is the trait you most deplore in others? If there’s anything I hate more than people that waste toilet paper, it’s people with shit under their fingernails. Come on, Eden. Did you think this was going to be easy?
[eden] Ha! No, not easy at all.
Okay. I can’t stand people looking down their noses at others, like something the dog left on the rug, any person who thinks themselves superior to others of a different societal strata.
What is your greatest extravagance? Besides coffee? I’m a simple guy, but I guess my greatest extravagance is keeping the heat turned up higher than necessary in the winter. It’s wasteful and contrary to good sense, but I’ve never been a cold weather person.
[eden] I’m with you there. I hate the cold too.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? Really, I’m doing the things I want to do. There’s not much I would change. No, wait a second. Now that I think about it, I’d like to learn to speak French. That language sounds SO cool.
[eden] Do it, Tim. It’s not that difficult a language. Mind you, I learned it when I was ten … Okay, never mind.
Who is your favorite writer/musician/film director? This is a tough one, but I’ll give it a shot. And I’ll be serious, I promise. My favorite writer varies with what mood I’m in, but my favorite book of all time is Hannibal, by Thomas Harris. I’d have to go with Eric Clapton as my favorite musician. The man can play! I don’t care much about true films and who directed them. I’m not very artsy. But Kelly’s Heroes is, no doubt, my absolute favorite movie.
What are some of your favorite curse words? There can be only one favorite curse word, Eden. Mine is the F word, of course. We studied it quite extensively in the army, until we could hold entire conversations using the F word exclusively. I’ve learned to use it well over the years… with all its different meanings and subtle nuances. It’s the one art I’ve excelled at.
[eden] Oh, you mean fart? Yeah, I like that one too ;)
What is your motto? Two salt tablets, a canteen of water, and push on, Grunt. I adopted that as my mantra long ago, in the days when the army thought that salt tablets cured everything.
[eden] Tim, I said you were a gentleman at the beginning of this interview, but I had no idea you were such a jokester! I like this side of you too.
Readers, please say “hi” to Tim and show him some love — Don’t forget to connect to him on all his social networks too.
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Connect with Tim
T. W. Dittmer’s full name is Timothy Watson Dittmer. His friends call him Tim.
He was raised in Gary, Indiana, the son of a steel worker who later turned to preaching the Gospel. After high school he joined the army and volunteered for service in Vietnam.
He started writing music and poetry in high school, and has carried the love of those arts through his life. That love shines through in his prose.
He lives quietly with his wife in Michigan, where he is busy working on his next book.