Author name: Simon Williams
*Please tell us about your publications.
I’ve written the five-book Aona series, as well as two novels for all ages (Summer’s Dark Waters and The Light From Far Below) and Embers Drift, a standalone metaphysical fantasy work.
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?
Definitely a pantser- I start with a collection of concepts / ideas and situations, a few characters, and then I work on it and see where it goes. The plot is determined by how it all turns out, not the other way round.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?
Don’t bother trying to get noticed by the big publishers and well-known names. Unless you’re incredibly, unbelievably lucky, they won’t notice you and they won’t care about you. If you believe in your work and your creations, stick at it and carve your own destiny.
What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work?
Whilst I don’t think authors should (or need to) offer all their works for free, there’s nothing wrong with offering a few of your books (e.g the first in a series) for free if it helps readers to discover you.
What are your views on authors commenting on reviews?
One word: don’t! Everyone is entitled to their opinion and not everyone is going to like your creation.
How do you deal with bad reviews?
Generally, it isn’t for authors to “deal” with reviews at all, good or bad. If a review is misleading, offensive or makes categorically untrue statements then you can contact the people who run the medium, whether it be Amazon, Goodreads or whatever else, and ask that it be removed. But if a review is simply by someone who doesn’t like your work- leave it alone. I refer you to my answer above.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing?
To keep going until you’ve found your “voice” i.e your particular style and method- and if you’re comfortable with it, then stick with it.
Which authors have influenced you the most?
Alan Garner, Clive Barker, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, C J Cherryh, Tad Williams,
Tell us about your latest piece?
Embers Drift is a standalone novel of metaphysical fantasy / mystery with elements of sci-fi and psychological horror, in an industrial / slightly dystopian setting. But although it bridges many genres, it’s conceptually consistent and is really about the lives of four main characters- specifically, the parts of their lives that they’ve forgotten.
I’m happier about the result than I’ve been with any of my previous works. I reworked it a number of times until I realised that- at last- I was telling the exact story I wanted to tell. So I’m relieved to have finished it but also very satisfied.
The process of creating was different to the Aona books, largely because they were more complex on a practical / logistical level. But at the same time the process required more effort in other ways- because there’s an overarching concept to Embers Drift which requires some explaining, and my goal was to do this through the lives of these four main characters. It wasn’t easy but in the end it was very rewarding.
What’s your next writing adventure?
So many! Well, several.
I’m part of the way through writing the first in a new dark fantasy series which will probably seen as more “traditional” fantasy but which will have a number of unique features to it. It explores the nature of magic and of conflict and there isn’t going to be a clear-cut “good vs evil” thing going on- I’m not a fan of such absolutes, I want to explore characters’ motivations, whether or not most people think of them as acceptable. What made them this way? Are they able to change- either for the better, or worse? It’s that aspect that interests me.
I also have another standalone book in progress- this is more a sort of cosmic horror about three demonic beings who have existed in a vast city for hundreds of years, weaving mischief and woe wherever they go, and a young man from an ancient family of magicians and thieves, who is the only one to suspect their existence.
Lastly, I’m also working on a somewhat leftfield YA magical realism novella- I’m not entirely certain how this one will turn out but I’m pleased with some of the concepts involved so this may see the light of day shortly.
What was the last book you’ve read?
The last book I finished was Scar Night by Alan Campbell, which I greatly enjoyed. Industrial, violent fantasy with angels. I’m currently reading The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams and it’s as good as all his other books.
Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline?
I think shops of most kinds are in decline, but in my experience, the number of paperbacks sold has stood up pretty well. I think about a quarter of my sales are paperback, which I don’t think is too bad.
How important is writing to you?
Very. It’s the only thing I’m any good at really, so if I didn’t do it I would truly be a non-entity.