Friday, August 28, 2015

Continuing with my series of interviews, today we have Simon Williams answering my questions. He is the author of the Aona series, as well as  Summer's Dark Waters.

1. What genre(s) do you write in and why? Do you write flash fiction, short stories, novellas and/or novels? If you do multiple genres and/or lengths, which do you prefer? Have you ever written any poetry?

My work has broadly been described as dark fantasy, although Summer’s Dark Waters, which is for a younger audience, is really more a sci-fi / fantasy adventure. I’ve written a number of short stories, but these are generally very different to my longer works- I struggle to define them in terms of genre but perhaps “experimental fantasy horror” might be as close as I can place them.

I tend to write longer works as it allows time for characters to develop and plots to sort themselves out.

I have written some poetry but I don’t intend to publish any of it- it’s really quite awful!

2. How do you pick character names?

With difficulty! I do find it a struggle at times, but recently I’ve found that using simpler names in fantasy works well. There are, for example, a number of contemporary names that work well in the fantasy genre- and of course a lot more that don’t. For example, I think names like Jon and Daniel are fine, but it’s impossible to get away with using Wayne or Sharon. ;)

3. How long have you been writing?

I started writing (very basic) stories from the age of five and it just went from there. But in terms of “serious” writing- all of my adult life. Unfortunately it took me a long time to find the right “voice” so that meant years in a kind of literary wilderness. Hopefully I’m making up for it at last now.

4. What kind of support do you get from your family and friends?

My parents and my girlfriend are very supportive- as far as anyone can be to a writer- and I get important help with initial feedback / proof-reading etc.

5. What social media do you use to spread awareness of your work?

Mostly Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. I really don’t have time for any additional networks, those three take up a huge amount of time as it is. I created an account on Google+ but the whole look and feel of it is awful and I haven’t really worked out what to do with it. I also created a LinkedIn account, but LinkedIn appears to cater mostly to suits and business types so again I’m not convinced of its usefulness for me.

6. If you had unlimited funds, how would you advertise your work?

I have absolutely no idea- I try not to think about actually having funds! I guess I would advertise on major websites, or even newspapers (although I’m not sure how many people read them anymore). But I try not to think too much about what life would be like if I had a load of money. I’m a daydreamer but I do have a certain level of realism, and I don’t think imagining great wealth is actually the healthiest thing to be doing with one’s time.

7. What are you working on now?

I’m writing the sequel to Summer’s Dark Waters and I’m hoping to have it completed by the end of 2015. My artist friend Ankolie has agreed to do the illustrations for this as well.

I’m also working on the fifth and final Aona book, “Salvation’s Door”, which brings to an end the Aona saga.

Another project which should be finished shortly is my collection of short stories- some old, some new. My stories don’t really belong in any genre (maybe some of them could be loosely labelled as “fantasy horror”) and I’m not sure putting them together in a single volume is the best idea- but I don’t believe in selling something that small individually and at the same time I’d like to think they’re worth a few pence.

Last but not least, a new book for kids around ages 7 to 9 (roughly), a fun but thought-provoking contemporary fantasy about which I can’t (or won’t) give any more details yet, mainly because I’m amused and enthused in equal measure about the whole plot and concept.

8. Have you sold your work at book fairs or conventions? What kind of experience did you have?

Sadly I don’t really have the funds to set up stalls and try selling books at conventions. I’m not much of a salesman anyway, and I find doing the whole marketing / sales thing over the Internet is about the best I can do. Trying to sell my books in person sounds like quite a potentially humiliating experience if I don’t manage to sell any!

9.What's the one piece of advice that has helped you, and where did you get it? What advice would you give a beginning writer?

Probably to not give up, and that advice has come from a number of sources. I would probably say to any beginning writer- “Would you do this even if you never make any money from it, even if you’re never recognized for it?” If the answer is yes, then they’re maybe cut out for it. If you treat it as an attempted business venture, rather than a labour of love, then I would say maybe not.

10. Which do you find hardest: coming up with a story idea, writing, revising, or marketing?

Coming up with ideas and writing them down come fairly easily to me. Revising and editing is a chore, but one that must be done- so I just grit my teeth and get on with it. Marketing I detest, because it always feels as if it has that edge of desperation to it- and it feels very much like an admin job, totally unlike the creativity of writing a story or novel.

Also, there are some authors- mainly the “traditionally published” ones- who seem to frown upon self-published authors marketing themselves. My response to that would be that they have to- more often than not, they don’t have anyone else to do the work for them- not everyone can afford the rates of marketing professionals! I do agree that some self-published authors can be a bit pushy, it’s a matter of trying to let people know about your work without shouting too loudly about it, which can be tricky sometimes.

16.Are you a plotter or a pantser or a hybrid of the two?

Pantser, almost always. I never work my way methodically from beginning to end- I write some set pieces, scenarios that just pop into my head, and somehow the whole plot just ends up sorting itself out. My approach is incredibly random and I have no idea how it all comes together really.

18.What's your solution to writers' block?

I usually have several things on the go, so if one project isn’t really “happening” for me then I’ll pick one of the other ones up and work on that. And if nothing seems to be working then I just plough through and keep writing. Eventually things click once again. The importance of just going through the motions can’t be overstated, even if you end up never using the piece you wrote.

Twitter: @SWilliamsAuthor

Summer’s Dark Waters:

Oblivion’s Forge (Book I in the Aona series):

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