Tim Jones is a fiction writer, poet, and editor. He is the author of two collections of short fiction, four collections of poetry plus a chapbook, one novel , and one novella. His latest book is climate fiction (cli-fi) novella Where We Land (The Cuba Press, 2019).
He was co-editor of Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand (2009) with Mark Pirie. Voyagers won 'Best Collected Work' in the 2010 Sir Julius Vogel Awards, and in the same year, Tim Jones won the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature. The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry was published in 2014 and is co-edited by Jones and P.S. Cottier, and his latest poetry collection is New Sea Land (Mākaro Press, 2016). Tim Jones is available to visit schools as part of the Writers in Schools programme.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jones, Tim (1959 –) writes literary fiction, science fiction and poetry. He is also the editor of several significant literary anthologies.
Jones was born in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, UK and emigrated to Southland, New Zealand in 1962. He has a BSc from Otago University, Dunedin and a BA from Victoria University, Wellington.
His short fiction and poetry have appeared in magazines and anthologies in New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Australia, Canada and Vietnam. (See links at the bottom of the page to read a selection of his writing.)
Jones was editor of two anthologies, one of short fiction and another of poetry during the 1990s. The anthologies are What on Earth (1992) and Electroplasm (1993). Jones' first short fiction collection, Extreme Weather Events, was published in 2001.
The writing in Extreme Weather Events was described by North and South as taking 'a satiric eye to the future, when the new right is old news and the environment is punch drunk. These vignettes of black humour are the work of an original talent.'
His first poetry collection, Boat People (2002) contains poems of journeys and returning, of separation and reunion. The Otago Daily Times said 'Boat People is full of tough, emotional content but there is also a purr and twinkle in Jones' poems.'
Jones' poetry has appeared in North and South, the NZ Listener and New Zealand Books. His poem 'The Translator' was selected for inclusion in Best New Zealand Poems 2004. He has been a frequent contributor to the literary journal JAAM.
A second poetry collection, All Blacks' Kitchen Gardens (HeadworX, 2007) has poems that range from Southland to Iraq. Reviewing All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens, The Otago Daily Times said 'His poems are quite compelling and infectious…. These are deliciously understated poems that offer something challenging and fresh.' And, in the New Zealand Herald, Graham Brazier said 'Each poem stands on its own merit, a polar opposite to its predecessor …. this man is surely one who should be watched with an excited eye.'
Tim Jones’ first novel, Anarya’s Secret: An Earthdawn Novel, set in the universe of the Earthdawn role-playing game, was published by RedBrick Limited in 2007.
Tim Jones' second short fiction collection, Transported, was published by Random House New Zealand (under its Vintage imprint) in June 2008. The 27 stories in Transported range from satire to science fiction, from mishaps in the mountains and at sea to an eager lover who isn't good at recognising faces. Transported was longlisted for the 2008 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. In New Zealand Books, reviewer Isa Moynihan called Transported 'dazzling and highly entertaining', and at Booksove.com, reviewer Mike Crowl said, 'None of the tales have that kind of super-seriousness about them that's typical of NZ short stories. Instead, they're an intriguing mix of tongue-in-cheek, subtle humour, history turned inside out, and sci-fi.'
‘The New Neighbours’, a story from Transported, was selected for inclusion in The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories (2009).
In 2009, Interactive Press (Brisbane, Aus) published Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, co-edited by Mark Pirie and Tim Jones. Voyagers contains poems by A.R.D Fairburn, Fleur Adcock, Louis Johnston and Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, together with younger poets. In showcases a long tradition in New Zealand of writing poems on science fiction themes.
Voyagers received favourable reviews. David Larsen wrote in the NZ Listener, 'The double take involved in reclassifying the likes of Marshall and Fairburn as science fiction writers is one of the least important of the many pleasures this intelligently organised, well-designed volume offers. ...The editors push the boundaries of the field out to their properly far-flung limits, which, for many readers, will be a revelation.'
Voyagers was listed as one of the NZ Listener's '100 Best Books of 2009' and won the 'Best Collected Work' award at the 2010 Sir Julius Vogel Awards. More information about Voyagers, including sample poems, is available on the publisher's website, which can be found in the Media Links and Clips section below this entry.
Tim Jones' third poetry collection, Men Briefly Explained, was published by Interactive Press in September 2011. Men Briefly Explained explores all aspects of contemporary manhood, the humorous and not so humorous, where men are in relation to women and to society in general.
Commenting on the collection, author and poet Mary McCallum says: 'Tim Jones' new collection holds men up to the light with poems that are intimate and playful, smart and satirical. He focuses on the rituals and carapaces of men and the relevance of that gender in the future. Men Briefly Explained is an engaging and provocative read.'
More information about Men Briefly Explained, including sample poems, is available on the publishers' website, which can be found in the Media Links and Clips section below this entry.
Tim Jones co-edited The Stars Like Sand: Australian Speculative Poetry (2014) with Australian poet P.S. Cottier. It anthologises Australian science fiction, fantasy, horror, and magic realist and surrealist poetry from the 19th century to the present day. It includes poets such as Les Murray, Diane Fahey, Judith Beveridge, Samuel Wagan Watson, Peter Minter, Dorothy Porter and Dorothy Hewett, as well as many newer poets. More information about The Stars Like Sand, including sample poems, can be found on the publishers' website, referenced in the Media Links and Clips section below.
In 2015, Tim Jones’ novella “Landfall” was published as a stand-alone ebook and included in the Shortcuts: Track 1 anthology (Paper Road Press, 2015). Reviewing Shortcuts: Track 1 for Booksellers NZ, Angela Oliver said ‘We begin with ‘Landfall’ by Tim Jones, a chilling near-future tale. New Zealand has become a distant haven for refugees escaping a world altered by climate change. However, it is not, truly, a haven, for the beaches are patrolled, and outsiders − and those who aid them − are greeted with guns and hostility.’
Tim Jones’ fourth poetry collection, New Sea Land, was published by Mākaro Press in 2016. New Sea Land addresses the relationship between the land and the sea, and the changes in that relationship as the sea rises up to claim the land.
New Zealand Books called New Sea Land a ‘lively, assured new collection from versatile Wellington poet’, while reviewing the collection for Booksellers NZ, Elizabeth Morton said ‘The sea and the land couldn’t care less about where we’re heading. Jones writes so well, you might lose sight of the fact you’re getting cold water thrown at you. You can lick the salt off this poetry, by all means. But Tim Jones doesn’t give you halcyon coastlines or ice-lollies on the beach. This is poetry that knows what’s coming, and insists you ‘keep your life raft close at hand’.
In Landfall Review Online, reviewer Kay MacKenzie Cooke said ‘Jones has lightened the load of concern and care that the subject of ecological disaster engenders, with welcomed measures of humour and well-constructed, imagined worlds, both past and future. Poetry with an obvious agenda can erode originality and freshness, but not in this case: master strokes by a poet who knows what he is doing has removed this work many degrees away from the soap-box.’
In 2017, Tim Jones was the guest poet in takahē 89, with a selection of poems about music and musicians that focused on the lives of working musicians. Tim Jones’ poetry chapbook Big Hair was Everywhere: Music Poems (ESAW, 2019) includes these and other poems about music.
In 2019, The Cuba Press published Where We Land, a revised print edition of Tim Jones’ 2015 novella “Landfall”, featuring an Afterword by the author. Reviewing “Where We Land” for SpecFicNZ, Tabatha Wood said ‘Jones talks in depth about human resilience and the determination to survive. The ability to keep going even when all seems lost. He examines our humanity; how we respond to threats and challenges, but ultimately how we, as a global species, behave to one another. The tension is high, the characters relatable, and Jones deftly manoeuvres you into bearing witness to the unfolding plot. He places you squarely in both Nasimul and Donna’s shoes. What would you do if…? he asks.’.
Find teaching resources for Where We Land here.
Tim Jones lives in Wellington.
WRITERS IN SCHOOLS INFORMATION
Jones is available to participate in the Book Council's Writers in Schools programme. He is able to discuss writing poetry and short stories, writing climate change fiction (CliFi), and the process of getting published. He is happy to speak to students 7 years and above, though would prefer to speak to students aged 13-18. He can also run workshops by prior arrangement. Please continue down the page to see Jones’ answers to a list of questions provided by school students:
KAPAI: Kids' Authors Pictures and Information
Where do you live?
I live in Mt. Victoria, Wellington.
What books do you read?
I read all sorts of books but I especially like science fiction, poetry, biographies, and books about travel and adventure, especially in cold places like Antarctica.
Who is your favourite author?
My favourite author of books for children is Shirley Hughes. My favourite authors of books for adults are Ursula LeGuin (who also writes for young adults), J.R.R. Tolkien, Jorge Luis Borges, and Kim Stanley Robinson.
How do you think up your ideas?
I often think them up while walking. Sometimes I think them up just before I got to sleep, and I have to make sure I write them down right away because if I fall asleep first, when I wake up I’ll remember that I had an idea but I won’t remember what it was.
What is the best thing about being an author?
The best thing is being able to create a world – whether it’s a world just a little different to the one we live in, or one completely different – and show that world, or a part of it, in a novel, a story, or a poem.
Some questions from primary school students
What sort of pets do you have?
We have a pet cat called Astra.
What is your favourite colour/food/movie/game?
My favourite colour is green.
My favourite food is toast and honey.
I like some old movies but my favourite modern movie is Guardians of the Galaxy.
How do you make books?
My publisher makes a master copy of the book from computer files I send him, then the printer makes lots of copies, then the publisher and I encourage people to buy the books.
Where do you go for your holidays?
I like to go to the South Island, especially Southland, where I grew up, and Dunedin, where I have lots of friends.
What was the naughtiest thing you ever did at school?
When I was in Year 10 I used to light the gas coming out of the gas taps in our school science lab. That wasn’t just naughty – it was really stupid as well!
Some questions from secondary school students
How did you get started?
I started out writing stories and poems for the Gore High School magazine and people seemed to like them (well, the teachers did anyway!) so that
encouraged me to keep going.
Who inspired you when you were getting started?
We had some really good English teachers at high school who gave me a lot of encouragement. One of them said my poems reminded him of James K Baxter, who was one of the best-known New Zealand poets at the time, and that sounded pretty good to me!
What advice would you give to an aspiring young writer?
I would advise them to read a lot – both the types of books and stories you’d like to write and others you wouldn’t usually read – and to write a lot. Then, when you’re ready, show your writing to people who can give you helpful comments.
Is it difficult to make a living writing in New Zealand?
Yes, I manage by writing part-time and working at another job part-time. If you want to be a full-time writer you may need to do a lot of magazine writing, teaching workshops, and so forth as well as doing the writing itself.
What were you like as a teenager?
I was pretty quiet. I was a year younger than most of the kids in my class and it took me a while longer to figure out what this whole boy/girl thing was about. Writing was far less confusing!
Why do you write fiction about climate change?
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face – and it’s great to see the way that the School Climate Strike movement is leading the way in responding to it. Climate change isn’t just about percentages of emissions and metres of sea level rise, though those things are very important – it’s about people and how we do or don’t respond to crises, especially when their interests and values are in conflict. So that’s what I write about: people put under pressure by the climate crisis.
Is there anything else you could tell the children about yourself?
I grew up in the South Island, in some pretty remote places. When I was four years old I lived with my mum and dad in Haast, on the west coast of the South Island where there was the beach, just a few houses, and then miles and miles of bush. I once ran out of the bush yelling that I was being chased by a lion and shortly after that an elderly sheep wandered out after me. I suppose it’s an easy enough mistake to make, and it can’t have put me off too much, because soon after that we moved to Southland.
MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS
- Tim Jones' blog and website
- Tim Jones’ Amazon author page
- Tim Jones on Facebook
- Tim Jones on Twitter
- Information about Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand
- Information about Men Briefly Explained
- Information about The Stars Like Sand
- Information about Landfall
- Information about New Sea Land
- Information about Big Hair Was Everywhere
- Information about Where We Land
- 'The Translator' on Best New Zealand Poems 2004
Selected Tim Jones poetry available online:
- The Aliquot Brothers; Return to Nussbaum Riegel
- Angela Carter
- The Last Days of the Coastal Property Boom
- All That Summer
Selected short fiction by Tim Jones available online:
Updated September 2019.