My next guest on Simon’s 10 Q Interviews is one of a highly charitable nature. All royalties from his latest book are going to the worthwhile charity The adopting and fostering charity, TACT. For that alone he deserves a huge pat on the back.
But Simon’s 10 Q Interviews isn’t directly about the charities, though raising the status of any worthwhile cause is always a bonus of the job. But primarily we want to know what is behind the author and what makes them tick… Perhaps for my next guest this presents a very large hint!
So, let’s find out who my next guest is and what we might expect from this interview…
Looks a tad spooky doesn’t it. Well, that maybe as Simon’s main genre is that of fantasy, or one might say fantasy thrillers… We might have to ask him for the correct genre type in due course.
As with most he has always been a writer, but having written a number of magazine articles in the 1990’s he suddenly became aware that people were actually reading his work and that perhaps he should get back to hitting the QWERTY for something greater than the odd article! What followed was the AONA series of books, a form of experimental fantasy one might say, or indeed one might ask!
Here are the covers of his other books from the series; Oblivion’s Forge, Secret Roads (Aona Book 2), The Endless Shore and of course, his latest offering for the benefit of TACT, Summer’s Dark Waters.
Simon has been churning the books out at a rate of one per year, which, given the complexity of plots, the twists, turns and original nature of these books, is no mean feat!
So, what did we expect of our next guest? An author with such an imagination, who knows where we ended up, or more to the point, where he ended up! *Mu-ha-ha-ha*… What was the name of that Jurassic island?
Let’s find out as Simon has now been blogging with me, so before we give too much away…
Welcome Simon to Simon’s 10Q Interviews…
SD Q1: Let us first talk about your involvement with TACT and your latest book Summer’s Dark Waters. What can readers expect from the book and what has motivated you to donate all proceeds to the charitable organisation TACT?
SW A1: Summer’s Dark Waters is quite a deviation from the path trodden so far with the Aona books. For one thing it’s geared towards all ages 10+ (roughly speaking) and the two main characters are eleven-year old kids. It’s actually the first book I’ve written which is aimed at kids as much as adults. It bridges a number of genres- fantasy / sci-fi / supernatural, some elements of horror. I enjoyed the challenge of toning down elements that might have been “a bit much” but still making it (I hope) a creepy and atmospheric read.
I wanted to make the donation to TACT because they’re an adoption charity and it’s a subject that’s close to my heart (to coin a corny phrase). I can think of few things that provide potentially more benefit, not just to the kid being adopted but quite possibly to society at large- turning around someone’s life to the point of even inspiring them to do likewise for others. Which reminds me of something that one of the characters in Summer’s Dark Waters muses at one point- the positive ripple effect causes by small acts of kindness.
SD Q2: You will hopefully excuse me for this, but you have quite a dark / cult image, which stands up through your appearance and the wonderful covers that you have produced for your books; Oblivion’s Forge, Secret Roads and The Endless Shore. What inspired that stream of creativity? Is it deliberate in terms of marketing to your readers, or simply the way things have always been?
SW A2: I think deep down I always knew the Aona books were going to be “cult” in the sense that they light up a road less travelled. I quite often hear from readers that they’re challenging but rewarding, which to me is great- I don’t set out to write difficult prose, but I guess I’m after readers who appreciate and even devour complexity, who aren’t easily satisfied and who have the imagination to visualise my universe. I’m also not afraid to cross the “boundaries” of genre (I don’t normally realise that I’m crossing them to be honest).
I deliberately developed some minimal, non-genre specific covers for these books. The last thing I wanted to do was have a cheesy typical fantasy / sci-fi depiction- partly because I want readers to decide for themselves how they imagine a character or scene to look. It’s my universe but it’s their interpretation. I don’t believe in imposing a specific look and feel, certainly not with adult fiction. That said, it’s different with TACT and your latest book Summer’s Dark Waters as I feel the opposite is true- kids love to have illustrations in their books, it helps with the whole process of introducing and then warming to the characters.
I’m not sure I’m the best at marketing as such, but one thing I’ve finally figured out (since 2011 or thereabouts) is that I know exactly *how* I want to write- I think it’s called “finding your voice”. So I’m in the position of knowing exactly what I want to do, what feelings and emotions I want to evoke. That doesn’t make it easy- but it makes those *YES* moments signature mileposts along the journey. In other words I don’t stray from the road because I always know where I’m meant to be going.
Of course, not targeting a mass market means a somewhat smaller readership, but that isn’t something that bothers me unduly- because I’m writing for the right people, who appreciate this kind of work. I can count some pretty cool and special people amongst my fan base.
SD Q3: Your work is highly original, I believe you have deliberately not followed the cliched route of conventional fantasy authors. What are the most exciting of characters dreamt up in your fantasy novels and do they exist throughout the series or are you always conjuring up new and more exciting creatures for each installment?
SW A3: Firstly- thank you! Yes, I wanted to write something that hadn’t been done quite like this before, and it was by concentrating on the characters more than anything else that that became possible, rather than any specific “eureka” ideas (although I hope I’ve included enough of those through the books as well).
To me, the most exciting characters are the ones whose skin you can slip into, the ones who you can write an entire conversation for whilst barely thinking about it, because you already know them so well. Of mine, the one that springs to mind is Nia, who makes an appearance in the first book but becomes a more and more important character as the series goes on. She starts as a quite reprehensible character- but as readers always discover with my characters, nothing is quite that simple or straightforward.
SD Q4: Who were your three biggest influencers as you were growing up, what did they teach you and how has each of them developed you into the man you are today?
Influencer 1: Alan Garner
What they taught you: How to write fantasy that can be both horrifying and exhilarating
How that helped your personal development: Quite simply, he was the author who made me decide I wanted to be a writer
Influencer 2: Clive Barker
What they taught you: To try and emulate his boundless imagination- and how to carve my own path
How that helped your personal development: I might have not have had the courage to persist with the type of works I write, were it not for him
Influencer 3: Cecilia Dart-Thornton
What they taught you: She writes words that sing from the page- almost every sentence is like beautiful poetry
How that helped your personal development: Helped me to be unafraid of writing “big, epic” prose as and where needed
SD Q5: I have recently been developing the Simon’s 10 QI Time Machine and the upgraded machine is ready for a test drive. Assuming you are up for the challenge, we would like you to test the surreal mode for us. You can go to three places and times that already exist within the fantasy world but not of your own making (be it legend or a.n.other!) To which three times will you go, where, for what purpose and what will you bring back as evidence of your journey?
Firstly – When Tiaan first makes her exciting discovery regarding the crystals
The city of Tiksi
To see what that amount of magical energy looked like
The crystal… what else?!
Secondly – The execution scene right at the end of the books
To intervene and possibly change history
A record of how that history changed- a retelling of the story perhaps
Finally – The time of the opening of the portal allowing the Lyrinx to escape to a world where they can possibly) be safe
To be able to view two worlds at once no matter how far apart they may be
A photograph of the view through the portal
SD Q6: What would you say is your biggest achievement in life to date, what made it so and what do you plan to do to better it in the future?
Biggest achievement? I don’t honestly feel as if I’ve achieved much as yet- more as if I’ve got it all to do! I guess wider recognition for my work would be the main “work” goal.
What made it so? It’s what I’ve been working towards for a long time!
How will you better it? I’m not sure I can – guess I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it…
SD Q7: I have been racking my mind to consider an appropriate place to send you for the next question within today’s world. I am constantly reminded of Matt Pallamary and his trips to the Amazon rainforest. So, Simon, we will send you into the murky depths of The rainforest in order to gain inspiration for your next novel. Way farther than anybody has previously ventured. Once there and with no compass or knowledge of how to get out again, you settle in and start evolving a MS for your next fantasy novel. But what are the three things that you will miss from back home (other than family members) and what is it most that you will miss about them?
Item 1: MP3 player
Why? I almost always write with music echoing through my head
Item 2: A selection of books (or is that cheating?!)
Why? Reading books that chronicle insane worlds might just keep me sane during my tenure
Item 3: Satellite phone or some other device to communicate
Why? To remind me that there’s a world out there that isn’t inhabited by foot-long centipedes and poison arrow frogs
SD Q8: You are currently producing one novel per year. Given the complexity of the plot lines that you weave this is fairly understandable! If you could choose any single author throughout time to assist you in co-writing in order to speed up this process, who would it be and why?
SW A8: I think I’d like to collaborate with Ian Irvine. He’s fairly prolific, and his vision of fantasy worlds bears a few similarities to my own- so it would be possible, perhaps- if a little overwhelming for me.
SD Q9: What are you currently working on, without giving out any spoilers, what is there in it to draw in new readers and when can your existing readership expect to see it hit the shelves (or virtual shelves as most are these days?)
SW A9: I always have a number of projects on the go. If the inspiration isn’t there with one project then often it’s a little easier to work on one of the others.
I’m writing the fourth book of the Aona series, entitled “The Spiral Heart”. It’s nearing completion but it’s a bit bigger than the previous three so needs some further hammering out and shaping.
Other works in progress include an as-yet-unnamed sequel to Summer’s Dark Waters, a compilation of short stories (some fairly new and others from way back in the 90s- they make a very odd collection so I need to make sure I pick the right ones as best I can), a reworking of a *very* experimental novella I wrote in the late 90s, and a brand new fantasy series which may or may not see the light of day. But The Spiral Heart and the sequel to SDW are my top priorities right now.
SD Q10: It’s almost time for me to close up shop for now, but I would like you to have the last word. Firstly, if you were to become the interviewer at Simon’s 10QI, who would be the first person you would invite to interview, why and what would be your opening question….and then finally, allow me to not only thank your for taking part in Simon’s 10 Q Interviews, but also let me wish you the very best with your charitable and other works and please feel free to have the final word! From one Simon to another…..It’s been a pleasure.
First Interviewee: Not an author, but film director David Lynch
Why: His works are my favourite films / series – nothing else I’ve watched makes me feel the same way
Opening question: “How do you manage to create these works which are 45 degrees to reality?”
The Final Word(s): Thank you for choosing to spend time with me, I guess!
If you would like to learn more about author Simon Williams and his exploits then why not use the links below to see his books on Amazon;
For US Readers;
Secret Roads (Aona Book 2)
The Endless Shore
Summer’s Dark Waters
For UK Readers;
Secret Roads (Aona Book 2)
The Endless Shore
Summer’s Dark Waters
If you would like to know more about TACT, Simon’s charity of choice, please click on the following link to go to their site; TACT Website