10 Minutes With… is a monthly interview on my Blog, where I spend the said amount of time with a fellow writer, to find out about their writing and inspiration.
To kick off this new feature, it was only fair that I sit down with one of my favourite scribes, Simon Williams again, to find out about his new projects and share some news about his latest giveaways.
10 Minutes With… Simon Williams, Author
Welcome back, Simon. For readers not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about yourself and your writing projects to date?
I’m a UK-based author of (mainly) dark fantasy. I haven’t been the most prolific over the years but I’ve written the five-book Aona series, two YA fantasy / sci-fi works (Summer’s Dark Waters and The Light From Far Below) and my new standalone novel Embers Drift.
Can you tell us a little about your recently released novel, and the wonderfully titled, ‘Embers Drift’?
For anyone who’s read the Aona books, it’s a bit of a departure- leaner, fewer characters and more of an alternative industrial / partly dystopian feel. Essentially it’s about the interconnected lives of four main characters and the things that make them special, but it also explores themes such as the nature of immortality, the cycle of life and rebirth, the possibility of escape from hell, and probably above all else, transformation (physically and metaphysically).
So in a sense it’s quite high-concept but I’ve also made an effort to make it easy to get into an understand. I think different readers will get different things from it, depending on their world view and their personality. I’m particularly happy with how it’s turned out- I’m probably more satisfied with this book than any of my others.
Lockdown has been a different experience for everyone to cope with, how has it impacted your writing?
Oddly enough, it’s had a slightly positive effect. I’ve written a little more than I probably would have done otherwise (not that it stirred me into writing many thousands of words each day or anything like that).
The main distraction in the early days of the lockdown was in fact due to the likelihood (at that point) of running out of food due to there being no online deliveries available! That was an obvious interruption- the real possibility of not having enough food to eat. Luckily the situation improved and… well, I got back to writing with fewer distractions.
Some writers meticulously plot their novels, others like to explore their tale as they write it, to see where it takes them – how do you go about writing your novels?
The method is, frankly, a mess. I begin with an idea which I scribble down. I expand the sketchy characters I imagine in that scenario. Other ideas / possibilities take root and bloom, and eventually there’s enough going on for me to write some chapters. But I very rarely have any idea how it’ll all turn out. Everything changes, and frequently. Often the finished product bears little resemblance to the starting point. But it’s all about the catalyst- the spark- which is the original idea. Its difficult to describe, but it gives me a vision of the sort of thing I want to write, and then it’s a matter of doing the hard yards, i.e the details. The plot falls into place, things click, and eventually I’m looking at the literary equivalent of a completed jigsaw.
But even I find it very hard to describe the how of all this!
A lot of authors are obsessed by them and their daily tally – but do you even consider word counts when writing a novel?
I try to set aside a few hours purely for writing most days, and I do keep a note of word counts, but I don’t get too precious about it. After all, when I start rewriting chapters I often scythe my way through parts I don’t like or that don’t work, so sometimes my word count can go DOWN by several thousand in a day! So I don’t think it’s something to be bothered about. I also don’t understand the appeal of these “Nanowrimo” competitions where the goal seems to be to simply write as many words as possible over a period of time.
What’s the thing you enjoy most about your writing process?
Being “in the zone”- those times when things just click and I can write for hours without noticing anything around me
What’s the thing you dislike?
Marketing! I don’t have the charisma for sales and marketing and I feel uncomfortable asking people to buy my books (However, do please buy my books).
If there was one piece of advice you would pass on to someone starting out on their writing journey, what would be?
Ask yourself if you would continue to do it if you never made a penny from your work. If the answer is an emphatic yes, carry on. If you’re doing it for some perceived cash reward, you really are in the wrong line of work.
Can you tell us a little about your favourite character form your latest novel, Ember’s Drift, if you can choose one?
Lena is a gifted engineer and mathematician, who ostensibly lives an ordered, structured life- but under her surface frustration and disappointment seethe. I think a lot of people can identify with her on an emotional level- she appears at first to be somebody who doesn’t really “deal in emotions” but as her life begins to tumble into chaos, we see that this isn’t really the case at all. There are a few characters over the years who I’ve developed a real attachment to- and to steal a phrase from a certain pantheon, “the force is strong with this one”.
Authors are always thinking about their next work? What’s next for you?
I’m part of the way through writing the first in a new dark fantasy series which will probably seen as more “traditional” fantasy but which will have a number of unique features to it. It explores the nature of magic and of conflict and there isn’t going to be a clear-cut “good vs evil” thing going on- I’m not a fan of such absolutes, I want to explore characters’ motivations, whether or not most people think of them as acceptable. What made them this way? Are they able to change- either for the better, or worse? It’s that aspect that interests me.
I also have another standalone book in progress- this is more a sort of cosmic horror about three demonic beings who have existed in a vast city for hundreds of years, weaving mischief and woe wherever they go, and a young man from an ancient family of magicians and thieves, who is the only one to suspect their existence.
Lastly, I’m also working on a somewhat leftfield magical realism novella- I’m not entirely certain how this one will turn out but I’m pleased with some of the concepts involved so this may see the light of day shortly.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do most?
I read, listen to music, follow sports (cricket, tennis and snooker mainly…), keep fit… and sleep occasionally. I used to travel a lot when finances permitted, but those days are probably gone now as I doubt the world situation is going to improve.
The pen or the sword – which is the mightier?
If the pen is four feet long and sharp, then the pen!
Final question for now. If you had to choose one, which of your novels are you the most proud of, and why?
Definitely Embers Drift, and that’s because it’s exactly what I wanted to write and more importantly, the characters are exactly who I wanted to create. I smile every time I glance at my display copy- which I know sounds distinctly weird- but that’s how glad I am that I wrote and managed to finish it.
If you enjoyed this interview, check out the author’s links below, and grab a free copy of his brilliant offering Summer’s Dark Waters which I have 5 stars to last year in a review. And hop on over to my other new feature “In Review of…” where I share my thoughts on Oblivion’s Forge by Simon Williams, the first book of his afore mentioned Aona Series.
Free full copy of illustrated fantasy novel Summer’s Dark Waters: https://www.simonwilliamsauthor.com/freebies.php
Embers Drift on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088WF28QN/
Embers Drift on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088WF28QN/
Author’s website: https://www.simonwilliamsauthor.com