Things are pretty slow on my end lately. Health both physical and mental have been a fair struggle the past few weeks, and it’s really cut in on what I like doing best: blogging and writing. So expect some delays in content for a while, at least until I feel a bit better. It’s unfortunate but I’m sure anybody with health problems, be it physical or mental, can relate. I will try and get up blogs when I can, I still have interviews to do so if anyone wants one, don’t hesitate to message me!
Today is an interview with Simon Williams, author of the Aona book series, a pretty cool guy. I hope you all enjoy!
1. First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Some people are more polite than others when describing my “niche” but I would probably describe my novels as lean, mean dark fantasy run through with veins of sci-fi horror. Most of my short stories (which I don’t write many of these days) probably defy description- file under experimental?
2. How do you develop your plots and characters?
The plots seem to just come to me in sudden bursts of inspiration and enlightenment- I can be struggling for ages and suddenly I’ll come up with an idea, or a way to bind two parts of a plot together and tie up loose ends (although I often deliberately leave some ends untied… I like to think “What if…?” about my own work, maybe revisit it at some point or just idly ponder what might have happened to one or more of the protagonists after the curtain falls. For me, the world I created continues in my mind forever- in a way the closure of the book or books is really just the end of a chapter in a wider saga which may or may not ever be written. There are more potential stories out there than atoms in the universe, after all.
3. Tell us about your current project.
I have several at the moment. I’m writing the sequel to my YA fantasy / sci-fi book “Summer’s Dark Waters”, set a year and a half after the events in that book. It has a slightly different feel as the two kids who are the main characters are that bit older. Another I’m working on is a book for younger children (I believe the Americans call it “MG”- there seems to be quite a fad for initialised genres at the moment), I’m not sure if this will see the light of day yet- it depends very much on the opinions and feedback from a small trusted circle of beta readers. Writing for such a young readership is far more challenging that most people probably expect or believe.
Finally, I’m working on a standalone novel which at the moment isn’t fantasy or sci-fi or really anything else as far as I can work out from the notes I’ve written so far. Early days yet but I’m moderately excited about what I’ve written so far (even if it’s only 6000 words)
4. Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
It depends on the book, but in the Aona books a fairly large cast make an appearance. Some are more important than others but by the fifth and final book “Salvation’s Door” all the key characters are in place and ready to perform their final acts. Some of the more prominent ones include Vornen, a man cursed by being drawn helplessly to geomagical portals (as well as an on-off drug habit), Nia (who is introduced as an assassin but is soon shown to be a far more complex character than people expect), and Jaana (a young witch who finds that she needs to choose a radically different path in her life).
5. What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Don’t do it for the money- unless you’re very, very lucky there isn’t any to be had. Ask yourself if you love what you do. Write if you love the art, the work, the effort, the inspiration. If it just feels like another job to you, go and get a better paid job. Pretty much everything else is better paid after all. If you don’t love doing something, don’t do it- as simple as that.
6. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
None, really- with it being set in a fantasy universe (at least, it appears to be at first) I didn’t need to draw from “real life” as such. In fact I don’t use “real life” as any sort of inspiration- my ideas and inspirations come from some other, mysterious place in my head.
7) What inspires you to write?
I’ve always enjoyed the feeling of being able to create something, be it a story or an entire world- particularly as a means of escape from our increasingly unpleasant and bleak world. Given my subject matter that might seem anachronistic but in fact I derive a lot of comfort from creating the stories and characters that I do- and no matter what I write, I’d find it very difficult to write anything as gruesome and unpleasant as the endless stream of woe that we’re fed daily through the news channels. I’ve often toyed with the idea of disconnecting from media / society / humanity and just disappearing to a remote hovel somewhere, but unfortunately I can’t sell books to the animals of the forest.
Aside from that, I’ve never had much talent for anything else, nor any success in any other area of life so the fact that I can “do” this is itself a source of inspiration. I ask myself- what else would I do? And the answer is “nothing of note” so I keep going. I have to believe in what I do and believe in myself- who else will do it for me? It’s a matter of mental survival as much as anything else.
8. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Keeping at it when the inspiration wasn’t there. Oblivion’s Forge took a number of years to write and re-write- happily the other books have all taken about a year, which is actually prolific for me. I’ve never understood how some people (such as those who do this Nano-Wrimo thing) can churn out thousands of words a day every single day. Maybe they just have more time than I do, I don’t know. Maybe they just find the inspiration easier to find.
9. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The final chapter of the final book in the Aona series. I wrote it shortly after completing the first chapter in the book, so I knew where I was headed even if the journey still lay shrouded. I never write in a linear way- different ideas for different phases of a work come to me without warning so I write them as I can and link them up later. It’s a bit like throwing ink on a wall until the surface is completely black. All I need is a title, a beginning and possibly an ending, and I don’t worry about the cohesion, because I know it will come.
10. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
It depends on the book- I found my “voice” or the style I was most comfortable with during my re-writing of Oblivion’s Forge, and that was important for me as it made the following books easier to complete.
11. It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
Imagination and a degree of empathy I suppose. I have no idea if I’m particularly empathic or understanding (never been told one way or the other) but I guess I try to put myself into the shoes of the various characters and imagine how they feel, what they would say, how they would act in each situation, and just work from there. I think integrity and consistency with characters is essential.
12. What are your future project(s)?
I only have sketchy ideas for the various long term / future projects. Due to various changes and challenges in my life I’ve abandoned all thoughts of planning long term, and just concentrate on what I’m doing at the moment.
13. If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
I’ve never been a particular fan of employment. I don’t believe we were put here or brought into existence just to do someone else’s bidding in order to have access to food and a roof over our heads- but then, that’s idealism for you.
My flippant answer would be a job where I don’t have to do anything and can just read or listen to music all day or go wandering in the woods, and didn’t have to “work as part of a team” [shudder]. Again, that’s idealism for you.
14. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
I’m happy for people to get in touch via my website or Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter- whatever works for different people.
Amazon page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00P0ZZYS8
Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/simonwilliamsauthor
Summer’s Dark Waters:
Oblivion’s Forge (Book I in the Aona series):