Friday, May 8, 2015

Feature: Simon Williams, author of the Aona Series


Ilumor soon learned that the city was devoid of any sort of life that he might comprehend. It had no citizens, no overlords. Law and reason had no presence here, no reason to exist. And yet as he walked the dimly-lit and oppressively silent streets, he saw entities that bore vague resemblance to creatures, moving swiftly from place to place as if carrying out unknown errands. All of these mysteries kept their distance. He saw shadows deepen until they became gaping holes from which he hastened away. Sudden light flared up for brief moments, pouring from the windows of buildings or from cracks in the ground. He shied away in fear, recognising its nature- for it was the same unspeakable illumination that had become a part of him, casting itself upon the darkest recesses of his body and mind.

Eventually even the silence was broken, and he heard a rhythm that might have been thunder or the crushing fall of a thousand great boulders. It shook the ground. It forced open great chasms in buildings and the ground on which he walked. Somehow it sounded portentous. The noise became chaotic, urgent, and the rhythm broke into random thumps and vast groans that emanated from out of the fissures torn along the streets and the dim sky above at the same time. Ilumor had a sudden urge to run, to leave behind the awful sights and sounds of this place, but he knew that fleeing was not possible. In all likelihood the city perimeter would widen at the same rate that he tried to rush towards it.


What inspired you to write this book?

The Spiral Heart is the fourth book in the Aona series so the inspiration wasn’t too hard to find as I already “knew” most of the characters from the previous books. But I wanted to expand on some of the themes covered in the previous Aona books- ideas such as redemption and salvation (as personal concepts, not in any organized religion standpoint), and the things that drive people to behave the way they do. The Spiral Heart is the biggest book in the series so far and covers a lot of ground- not just in terms of the plot, but bringing together a number of threads, and hopefully making the readers think.

How did you choose your title?

The book explores the concept of the “inner world” as in a part of the world where the Aona books are set, which is effectively extra-dimensional, in other words it exists outside the known material world but is also “inside” it. The previous books have hinted at the concept of this planet being special and unique, and The Spiral Heart is an oblique way of referring to that concept- which is also topical as it’s discussed and explained a little bit more in this book.

Did you self-publish or publish traditionally and why?

I have self-published all my books, in the knowledge that my works are not and never really will be “mass market”. I can’t see any publisher thinking they could make a load of money from them- and let’s face it, publishing is a business like any other. Aside from that, I have always been protective of being able to control my destiny. The last thing I want, as a creator, is to have to go through editors and publishers who insist that certain chapters or characters or storylines be removed from a book. That path eventually leads to a work which is no longer the work of the author / creator but instead a patchwork and a compromise, and therefore not true to the author’s original vision.

What do you consider the most important part of a good story?

Characters that the reader can care about. Without them, any story is pointless.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was about five, believe it or not, although I became a lot more serious about it from around the age of nine or ten.

What kind of music do you like to listen to while you write?

I can listen to any sort of music- whatever takes my fancy at the time. It depends on my mood. I’m also into particular bands and artists rather than particular genres so I have a wide selection to choose from.

Who is your favorite author?

I have several who’ve definitely shaped my work and helped me to keep going. 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 include Clive Barker, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Tad Williams and Ian Irvine.

What is your favorite book?

In terms of how it captured my imagination and changed the course of my life, it still has to be Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen.

What advice would you give an author just starting out?

If you don’t love doing it, don’t do it- and don’t expect *any* serious money from it. Everyone hears about that very small proportion of authors who make a serious living from their work, but the vast majority struggle financially. So you have to get into the mindset of not caring about the money too much.

Have you had anything else published?

I’ve also written a novel Summer’s Dark Waters aimed mainly at a younger audience- although so far a lot of adults have been enjoying the book as well. Summer’s Dark Waters is quite a deviation from the path trodden so far with the Aona books. For one thing it’s geared towards all ages 10+ (roughly speaking) and the two main characters are eleven-year old kids. It also bridges a number of genres- fantasy / sci-fi / supernatural, with some elements of horror.

What's your next project?

I’ve started writing the sequel to Summer’s Dark Waters. It’s set a year and a half after the events in Summer’s Dark Waters, and things are different in all sorts of ways (although I don’t want to give any spoilers). I’m a bit surprised that I’m writing it, but then again I was actually surprised I even finished Summer’s Dark Waters- it was the first children’s book I’d written and it was quite a departure for me, but the positive response has made me continue with this line of work.
The other main focus at the moment is the fifth and final Aona book, Salvation’s Door. I’ve figured out the last few chapters already, now it’s just a matter of finding my way there.
I also have some notes written for a new fantasy series. This will be quite different to the Aona books (in fact it may turn out not to be fantasy at all- I have a distinct vision of the setting for it, and it doesn’t really fit into any recognised genre). I also have a collection of short stories which I’m still putting together (it’s taking more time than I hoped as I keep tinkering with some stories, and changing my mind about which should be included at all). I may also add a few new ones, so that keeps changing all the time.


Simon Williams is a UK-based author of fantasy, sci-fi and speculative fiction. The Spiral Heart is the newest book in the Aona series of dark fantasy novels. He has also written Summer’s Dark Waters, a sci-fi / fantasy adventure aimed at all ages 10+, and a number of short stories which are due to be published as an anthology later in 2015.

Twitter: @SWilliamsAuthor

Summer’s Dark Waters:

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

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