This week I'm pleased to feature fellow dark fantasy author Simon Williams onto The Fiction Factory. This is the first in a new series of interviews with authors, indie and traditional. My hope is you can find some new talent, and get an insight into the authors' careers and processes. Here we go!
I'm a British author of what most people like to call "dark fantasy" or more accurately a fusion of fantasy, sci-fi and horror with a character-driven narrative.
The first book, Oblivion’s Forge describes the start of a major upheaval in the world of Aona, which is about to be the prize in a war between two great evils- the implacable, unknowable marandaal, and their ancient enemies the choragh, who were also once the masters of the Younger Races such as humankind. Although the scene is an epic one in a sense, I made a conscious effort to ensure the world and the horrors it faces are seen through the eyes of the people caught up in these events, struggling to survive, and to understand the unravelling of hope and sanity that happens through the course of the series.
I honestly don't know what inspired me- the original version of Oblivion's Forge was written a long time ago, although the next four books took a lot less time to complete. Oddly it wasn't any of my favourite authors- not consciously at least. The Aona Series was just something I had to write, and I feel a considerable sense of relief at having at least done that- even if I never achieve anything else.
Since about the age of 5 or 6, yes- which is about as good as always. I guess I had an overactive imagination and I just used to write stories about anything and everything when I was a kid- obviously most of them were nonsense, but I remember being quite proud of them at the time. As time went on and I struggled into the grey miserable world of adulthood, I also discovered that I didn’t really have any particular talent for the world of “proper work” so I guess that made me even more determined to stick with it.
I don't meticulously plan a plot- I write particular scenarios for characters, I write a beginning and quite often an ending, and I find that sooner or later the plot works itself out as ideas come to me. It isn't really a method at all- it sounds like madness- but it works for me.
Physically speaking, I write at a desk in front of a computer usually, but quite often I’ll just grab a pad of paper and a pen and write in another room (as in write, instead of type) or even outside depending on the season. It often seems to help the creative process, getting up and physically going somewhere else- and the less time spent in front of the screen the better. Obviously it all has to be typed up later, but typing from an existing part of a manuscript is quicker than typing original work- a totally different thought process involved as well.
The inspiration for my writing really comes from my “inner world” rather than anything else- as mentioned above I’m not consciously influenced by other authors, although there are some who I wish I could write like- so they provide a certain incentive and impetus which might not otherwise be there. So I suppose you could say I just dream things up and write them down. I don't really know where they come from, I'm just glad that they turn up.
I wanted to remain the master of my own destiny, in short. I didn't want to be in a situation where I had an editor telling me to remove certain scenes or chapters or characters from a book, and hacking and reshaping at it until eventually it became more a collaboration rather than my own work.
I also think that publishing with a traditional publisher or even a small press is a lot easier if you're one of the "in crowd" and you're lucky enough to have meaningful connections with the right people. I've tried my best with social media but I'm still very much an outsider and expect I always will be- which is fine, because I've already resolved to do my own thing and just do it to the best of my ability.
The Aona books are not what you'd call "easy reading" or geared towards a mass audience in any way, which is another reason why traditional publishers wouldn't be interested in them. Their interest is a purely financial one (which is ok- they're a business after all) and they look to shift units first and foremost. So that's another reason for my following the path I've taken.
I used Completely Novel for the paperback versions of my books and set up the electronic versions on Amazon Kindle. I'm also looking into adding the electronic versions onto Draft2Digital.
I don’t consider myself as successful in any meaningful way, so I’ve no real idea what it looks like! I imagine it would be being able to live solely off my writing, being well-known and respected within my genres (mainstream attention is neither realistic nor something I think most people really should wish for) and I guess that's about it. Total fame and ridiculous amounts of money are things that just turn me cold- which I realise is far easier said than done- but I like to just quietly get on with my writing and the rest of the world can do whatever it's going to do anyway.
The sequel to my YA sci-fi / fantasy novel Summer’s Dark Waters, currently titled The Light From Far Below. This is a challenge of a quite different sort for me- it’s become a pre-apocalyptic tale of urban paranoia which makes uneasy reading even for me, so it needs to be shaped appropriately for its intended readership- those poor folks who will have to contend with what remains of this world in the decades ahead.
Secondly, my book for younger kids, which I’m reluctant to give any details about at this point in case it doesn’t see the light of day. It’s a big leap into the unknown in terms of writing style, and depending on what the beta readers think, it may be shelved. But I’d like to think it has some potential- so I’m aiming to complete it and then we’ll see if it wilts or blooms in the light of scrutiny.
I also have a standalone book in progress- it isn't really fantasy in any conventional sense but I'm pleased with what I've written so far.
Finally (although this will probably be out first), I'm collecting together some short stories for a digital-only anthology. Some were written a long time ago and others more recently. This is something I've been planning to do for a while, and finally got around to doing.
You can find me at my website - www.simonwilliamsauthor.com.
Thanks again to Simon for his great insights! We'll be back soon with another interview with another author. Stay tuned.