In an interview with Linda Nightingale you mentioned you’re satisfied with the final result of Embers Drift, more so than past works. What are you most proud of in this book?
Probably that I was able to work on a complex concept and difficult ideas and present them in a way that (I’ve been told) explains just enough without drifting off into nebulous philosophy at the expense of the story. So I was somehow able to give it a straightforward structure and work with a limited cast of characters. As some of your readers will know, the Aona books are more richly complex- which is fine as they were meant to be, but I knew early on that Embers Drift had to have a simpler structure even though it stirs up all manner of ideas and concepts.
On a conceptual level, how do you use narrative tools to communicate the ideas you work with in this book? To what extent do you prefer the reader to fill in the gaps?
I like to present scenes and dialogue and rather than continue them exhaustively, bring them to a conclusion with some things unsaid, some deeds undone- which kind of answers the second question. I’m the sort of reader who likes to fill in the gaps where needed, and I guess I’m the sort of writer who assumes a certain level of intelligence in his readers. I don’t believe in spoon-feeding my readers absolutely everything- far from it. For me it’s about the characters and the scenes, and if you can make them evocative enough then you certainly don’t need to relate every little thing. In this way I feel it also makes the journey unique for each reader.
After working on the Aona series and having experience writing standalones do you have a preference in writing one over the other?
They both have advantages and disadvantages. A standalone book can be easier to market than a Book 1 (not that I’m an expert in marketing- far from it). But writing a Book 1, though often difficult and convoluted, can sometimes result in an easier run when one comes to the following books in the series. For example, I’m about 100,000 words into a new series I’m writing, and I’m sure at least a third of those will end up in the second book. Quite apart from that, you become more familiar with the characters and they become easier to write- I guess I slip into their skin much more easily as I get to know them. They begin as ghosts; they end as fully fledged people.
From your first book, Summer’s Dark Waters (published in 2014), and this year’s release, how have you grown as a writer?
Well, my first was Oblivion’s Forge (2011) but that aside, I guess the main change is that I’ve honed my author’s “voice” – in other words I now know the style that fits me best, I know how to write with it and it feels “just right.” It’s difficult to explain but I think every writer has to find their best style and way of expressing their work, andhone it as best they can. In other words, don’t try to be something you’re not.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I guess this would be a good point for mentioning my works in progress.
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 YA 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.
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
Photo credit to the author.