Today I’m excited to host Simon Williams, author of “Oblivion’s Forge”, on my blog. Thanks for agreeing to the interview!
Leigh: Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an author of dark fantasy and some sci-fi and horror, based in the UK. So far I’ve written the Aona series (five books in total, of which Oblivion’s Forge is the first), Summer’s Dark Waters (for younger readers- a sci-fi / fantasy adventure) and Disintegration (a collection of short stories new and old).
Leigh: What draws you to this genre?
Well, I read a lot of books that fired my imagination when I was a kid- particularly Alan Garner’s wonderfully evocative celtic fantasy, Clive Barker’s wild imagination, CJ Cherryh’s grimly beautiful fantasy / sci-fi mashups, and Tad Williams’ epic scope and worldbuilding… and many many others.
I was probably influenced just as much by film though- movies such as Blade Runner (my all time favourite), and (again) so many others that I can’t possibly list them all here.
Leigh: Was it difficult to switch between so many perspectives, and keep the plot consistent and moving forward?
You might think so, and if I hadn’t had such a clear idea of the characters- what they looked like, their psychology, their mannerisms, even their accents- then it would have posed a challenge. But I had a very clear vision of each of the major characters and switching between them wasn’t an issue at all.
The Aona books do have a large cast of characters, some more important than others- by contrast my new standalone novel I’m working has a cast of, well, three basically. But then it is very different.
Leigh: Do you identify more strongly with one character in the book over the others and if so which one and why?
Not one but perhaps several. I always found Vornen easy to “invoke” if that’s the right word, but there’s a character who appears towards the end of Oblivion’s Forge who is probably my favourite in the whole series, and that’s Nia. She becomes a central character and as the series goes on the reader begins to see that she is a very complex individual- reprehensible and wonderful, dark and light… the sort of character I love working with. In fact I’ve even thought of writing a few short stories about her (such has been her effect on me!)
Leigh: How do you select the names for your characters?
I tend to start with an initial, add some letters and sound the variations in my head a few times. The name has to sound right for the character, so it can take a while.
Leigh: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I don’t have any money to spend on it! Even if I did I don’t believe in paying people to read or publish my work. In fact I’m astonished that people still go for vanity publishing these days with all the self-publishing options available. There are also a lot of resources and blogs to help people along the path, and most of these are free, so luckily one doesn’t have to be wealthy in order to do this.
Leigh: What are some of your literary influences? What book are you reading currently?
Alan Garner, Clive Barker, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Neil Gaiman, Poppy Z Brite, George R R Martin, Tad Williams, Ian Irvine, C J Cherryh, Aldous Huxley, CS Lewis, Richard Adams, Mervyn Peake and some contemporary / non-fantasy authors (favourite of them would be John Irving). Currently reading Tad Williams’ “Shadowrise”…
Leigh: Do you write to an outline or just see where your ideas take you?
I tend to start with a concept, an idea, maybe some fragments and characters from a dream, then I build on those- and if I’m lucky it blossoms out into the beginnings of a plot. I never worry too much about the plot as sooner or later it works itself out and then I just sort of sanity-check it later on.
I also quite often write the ending of a novel, or late-on parts, before I’ve even touched some of the earlier parts. It’s definitely a non-linear exercise, and that’s probably the only consistent thing you can say about the whole approach.
Leigh: What do you do to relax? What are some of your hobbies?
I like to read (I’m always rummaging through charity shops for second hand books), and listen to music (quite often while I’m writing, although funnily enough I never listen to music while reading). Apart from that I try to keep fit (running, weights, walking, cricket and tennis). Maybe this humdrum existence is why I chose to write fantasy!
Leigh: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Simon-Williams/e/B00P0ZZYS8/
Oblivion’s Forge (Amazon US) – https://www.amazon.com/Oblivions-Forge-Aona-Book-1-ebook/dp/B0082XW04G/
Oblivion’s Forge (Amazon UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Oblivions-Forge-Aona-Book-1-ebook/dp/B0082XW04G/
Summer’s Dark Waters (Amazon US) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summers-Dark-Waters-Simon-Williams/dp/1849145008/
Summer’s Dark Waters (Amazon UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summers-Dark-Waters-Simon-Williams/dp/1849145008/
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
I’m the author of the Aona dark fantasy series, of which four books have been published so far- Oblivion’s Forge, Secret Roads, The Endless Shore and The Spiral Heart. The fifth book, Salvation’s Door, is due out either late 2015 or early 2016. It all depends on how disciplined I am- but I’m getting better at that.
I’ve also written a sci-fi / fantasy / supernatural book, Summer’s Dark Waters aimed at younger readers. It’s always difficult to give a minimum / maximum age as I believe kids should be allowed to read to the best of their abilities and really stretch their skills, but roughly 10+. A sequel is being written and should be out late in 2015.
All the royalties from sales of Summer’s Dark Waters go towards TACT (tactcare.org.uk), an adoption and fostering charity. So for about £2 / $3 you get to help a good cause and you get a fully illustrated book which has already gathered some nice reviews.
People sometimes ask me why I write books. I suppose I feel like I’ve always been a writer, but there are authors I’ve read (mostly when I was a kid) who deeply influenced me to the degree that I didn’t really want to be anything else. In the end this worked out just as well, because I never really had much of a gift for anything academic as such- and although I did try to have a career at one point, I quickly realised it wasn’t for me. Maybe I just hated commuting and office politics even more than other people?
I’m not sure which of my influences show through most in my books, but the author who made me decide to become a fantasy writer was Alan Garner, so he was certainly the most profoundly influential writer during my childhood. Others (at various stages) have included Clive Barker, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Tad Williams, C.J Cherryh and Ian Irvine.
In terms of how it captured my imagination and changed the course of my life, still has to be Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and its sequel The Moon of Gomrath.
The response from readers has encouraged me to keep going, and to increase my rate of output. There’s nothing like a rave review or even just an encouraging comment to help me kick on and get moving on whatever my current project happens to be. It’s fair to say it’s the comments, reviews and encouragement from fans that has helped me keep going more than anything else.