Carma: I thoroughly enjoyed the Heretic's Tomb and I liked the way you got Annie into the past and out of the walled up room at the abbey. What was your source of inspiration for The Heretic's Tomb?
Simon: I'm pleased you enjoyed the book. It was inspired by my own love of history and I have always enjoyed time travel stories. Many novels have medieval settings, but to me some historical periods, such as the era of the Black Death or the mystery of the Princes in the Tower depicted in the Sorcerer's Letter Box, for example, are the most fascinating and the most suitable settings for a good adventure story.
Carma: What are your writing habits? Do you work on an outline before starting the actual story?
Simon: Yes I do. I always work extensively on an outline, determining all the twists and turns of the plot, before beginning the actual novel. This outline is usually at least one paragraph for every chapter and can be up to 5000 words.
Carma: What goes on inside the mind of the fantasy writer?
Simon: All kinds of things – ancient mysteries, the unexplained, the paranormal, science fiction themes, time travel ideas, parallel universes, alternate realities, weird and wonderful characters and a whole lot of 'what if' scenarios.
Carma: What advice would you give to aspiring writers who are trying to break into the fantasy genre?
Simon: Try to be as original as possible and not copy something else, even if it has been popular. Write about what interests you in this particular genre rather than jumping on any bandwagon.
Carma: Who is Simon Rose? Describe an ordinary day in your life.
Simon: I'm not sure there is an ordinary day. If I'm not traveling or at a local school or library, I do spend much of the day working on the current book project, as well as on marketing, correspondence and so on, but also have children to take care of, pets to feed, household chores to do and so on.
Carma: What type of books did you read as a child?
Simon: I became immersed in science fiction as a boy and read a lot of science fiction novels and collections of short stories, as well CS Lewis, Tolkien and other fantasy writers. At high school, I studied a great deal of history and have retained my interest in the subject up to the present day. I also read a tremendous number of comic books as a child. Pure escapism perhaps, but comic books were great for the imagination. On TV, the original Star Trek series springs readily to mind, along with many other influences.
Carma: How do you set about promoting your novel? How many hours a week do you spend on book promotion?
Simon: I do some form of promotion every day, whether for the books or for myself, usually online though the website, blog or via e mail correspondence regarding author visits, summer camps, writing services, festivals and other events.
Carma: How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?
Carma: There are lots on resources on line and elsewhere with regards to publishers, but a good thing to do is to research which houses are publishing the same type of material that you are writing. If you are writing fantasy for ten year olds, see who is doing that and then check their website to see if they are accepting submissions, Similarly, if you are writing teen fiction, see who is doing that and again be sure to check out their submission policies. There are also publishers who only deal with non fiction, prefer to specialize in regional issues, those who only do picture books or who do picture books, but don't accept stories about animals and so on. It can be a long process, but is well worth it.
Carma: What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you? Any special strategies you'd like to share?
Simon: All authors have to be prepared to do as much as they can to promote their own work. Get a website or blog or both, even before your first book is published, forge a good relationship with your local bookstores in order to secure book signing events, look into ways to talk about your work at festivals, other events and especially at schools and libraries. You may produce the greatest book ever written. However, no one else is going to see it if your book does not become known to potential readers.
Simon is available for presentations, workshops, Author-in-residence programs in Canada and the United States. Simon's upcoming book due in Spring of 2009 is Doomsday Mask.
Thank you for this interview Simon.