I’d like to welcome back author Simon Williams, who was the first author I interviewed a year or so ago. What has changed for Simon? What is his news?
Please recap briefly about your books: My main works are the Aona series of dark fantasy novels, of which the first three books have been published.
What has changed since you last visited? Tell us your news! I’ve been working on two main projects, both of which should be released shortly. “The Spiral Heart” is the fourth Aona book, and my other work at the moment is “Summer’s Dark Waters” which is a supernatural / sci-fi kind of story mainly for kids between 10 and 12 although older kids and adults should also enjoy it. It’s the first book for children that I’ve written, and I have no idea how well it will be received- it’s really an experiment and it all came into being originally because of an idea that my niece had. It’s changed quite a bit since then but a few elements remain the same.
Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) They’re pretty much already in order. I always say it’s the characters that make a decent book. Technical perfection, on the other hand, adds nothing to the soul of a work of fiction, and I’m not aware of many books that are technically 100% perfect (and if they are then their authors don’t seem to be shouting about it)
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I go over it again and again so I have several drafts, and when I’m happy with the general gist of what I’ve written I get it proof-read. I do my own editing and changes as at least then if there are any issues or things readers might not like, it’s all down to me rather than someone I employed who suggested adding something or removing something.
I also feel that if I let someone else hack my work apart or add their own ideas and pieces, it’s no longer 100% my own. That aside, I certainly don’t have the money to employ someone to do the job for me!
Do you read work by self-published authors? I read at least as many self-published authors as I do traditionally published ones, and if they’re good then I like to tell people about them.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? I generally do read the reviews if it’s by an author I haven’t heard of or read before, but I tend to read the reviews to find out what kind of work it is rather than seeing how many points or stars it’s got. If it sounds like my kind of thing then I might pick it up anyway even if it hasn’t got the best ratings.
Looking back what do you wish you’d known when you started writing? I started writing when I was about five, so I’m not sure any advice from my future self would have been heeded. However one thing I would have said to my teenage self would have been “Don’t bother with the career”… I could have saved myself quite a few wasted years if I’d listened to such advice.
Do you have any unpublished novels under the bed/in a folder anywhere which you thought were awesome at the time, but now will never see the light of day? Oh yes. Actually I’m not entirely sure if I still have the manuscripts, which is probably a good thing. I wrote an epic fantasy called “White Morning” back in the early 90s, which was such a derivative piece of poo that it reduced me to tears of laughter when I re-read part of it (while clearing out) about ten years later. My excuse is that I was too young to know what the hell I was doing.
How have you progressed as a writer since you started? Well I’ve ditched the crayons, so I would hope so. Seriously though, at least I’ve found a style that I’m entirely comfortable with, a voice that works for me, and although it took a while it’s always less of a struggle when you know how you want your work to sound and feel.
Do you have a favourite movie? Blade Runner is the greatest film of all time in my opinion- a perfect chronicle of what it means to be (or not to be) human. Although my Aona books weren’t consciously influenced by any other books as such, as it turned out they were influenced (if only a little) by some of my favourite films. Anyone who’s read as far as the end of Book 3 will begin to see what I’m getting at hopefully.
What are your plans for the future? When will we see your next book? Tell us about it. Summer’s Dark Waters should be out next month. I’ll be publicising the launch date in due course. This is the book for “all ages 10+” I mentioned earlier. As I say I have no idea how well it will be received, but I hope it sells loads of copies- because all of the royalties from it will be going to local charities (not just half as I originally put on my website). I figured I might as well give it all away- I’m not going to make a fortune from it so it might as well go somewhere where it can be of real benefit.
If you had to pick five books to have on an island which five would you pick? Most of my favourite books are all parts of series, so I’m going to blatantly cheat and pick some series along with single books:
Cecilia Dart-Thornton’s Bitterbynde Trilogy
C.J Cherryh’s “Fortress” books, at least Fortress In The Eye Of Time
Clive Barker’s “Weaveworld”
Ian Irvine’s Geomancer books
And just for something a bit different, anything by my favourite non-fantasy author- John Irving
How do you think fantasy is portrayed in the media? I think it’s actually portrayed more positively these days, a lot which has to do with the success of franchises such as Lord Of The Rings and Game of Thrones. Before then it seemed that fantasy was almost universally considered (by the “mainstream”) to be the domain of unhealthy, light-avoiding outcasts whose weapon of choice is poor personal hygiene, but I think the general public are more accepting of it these days. I think there will always be people who avoid it because of one prejudice or another.
Website and blog: http://www.simonwilliamsauthor.com
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Simon-Williams/167649143291810