Author Interview Number Fifty Five – Simon Williams revisited

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.


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Author Interview Number 1

Hi and welcome to the Library of Erana, a place of words and of their magic. Words are power, they are knowledge and they are freedom. Welcome to author Simon Williams.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a writer based in the UK who hopes one day to make enough money from writing to live on (don’t we all?!)

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.

I write predominantly fantasy, although I’ve also written a number of short stories that don’t seem to fit into any particular genre.

My main works are the Aona books, a series of novels which most people tend to describe as dark fantasy, although they contain elements of other genres- particularly sci-fi and horror. The first three books have been published, and I expect the series to run to five books in total- that’s the plan anyway!

Where can readers find your book?

The first three Aona books are available in Kindle format and in paperback on and on Amazon, as well as various other resellers and online bookstores.

How long have you been writing and what, if anything, made you choose the genre in which you write?

I’ve been scribbling down stories pretty much from the time I had actually learned to read and write. I never really wanted to do anything else for a living, so I would love to be able to do it “full time” as it were- I’ve never been much good at any other professions so that’s a clear sign to me that this is what I’m “meant to be doing”.

As to why I chose fantasy- when I was ten years old I read Alan Garner’s celtic fantasy masterpiece “The Weirdstone of Brisingamen” and that book profoundly changed my life. It was an amazing experience- I know that people often say they’re “immersed” in a book, but I really was, to the extent that I spent many hours lost within its pages and unaware of anything around me. There are very few books that can do that totally. From that point on I was determined that I was going to write fantasy- and although I’ve written works in other genres, it’s still the genre that appeals the most.

Who or what are your inspirations/influences?

I don’t consciously try to write like any other author, but I particularly like the works of Clive Barker, the aforementioned Alan Garner, Tad Williams, Ian Irvine, George R R Martin and Cecilia Dart-Thornton as well as many others. Oddly enough, some films inspired the Aona books as much if not more than books.

Can you name a positive experience from your writing and a negative one?

The main positive experience is really the satisfaction that comes from writing and completing a work, and also that wonderful feeling when you’re “in the zone” and you can suddenly write pages and pages that you’re instantly happy with.

 I guess the negative side is the flip-side of that, when you can struggle for many hours and no matter how hard you try nothing of what you’ve written is satisfactory. That’s the time when I really push myself to keep writing, regardless of how terrible I feel that the results are- because it’s through plodding on that the inspiration eventually comes flooding back. It can take a while though!

With the rise of e-books do you still publish in print as well? Is this medium important and why?

My books are available in print as well as digitally. I think that’s quite important- I’m a fan of physical copies of books, and although I’m aware of the convenience of digital versions I don’t think anything beats the feel of a real book- or indeed the scent of a real book (which I know might seem a little odd to some people!) And although most people prefer digital copies (mainly because they’re cheaper as well as more convenient) I know there’s a minority who, like me, prefer actual physical books.

Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write?

I can’t watch TV and write at the same time, but I do usually listen to music. I find that it can really help sometimes. The music can be any genre really (except that awful “gangsta” type music, or whiney country & western)- I like quite a few artists and bands in most genres of music, in fact I like particular artists and bands rather than particular genres.

Books are important, why is this the case? What can a book provide that say a video game cannot?

A book is an entire world that bloomed from out of someone’s mind, a creation that took dedication and hard work- and there’s something deeply comforting about a book, perhaps the knowledge that you can dip back into it and sink back into that world and meet those characters again, instantly and at any time.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself?

Oblivion’s Forge, the first Aona book, actually took thirteen years to write, whereas the second and third books took less than a year each. I seem to be getting a little more focussed.