Welcome back to Writing Wednesday! Today I have for you another collaborator from last year’s “First Love” Anthology. All the way from the United Kingdom is Simon Dillon. Who mainly writes in gothic mystery horror/thriller and Sci-fi books. I could go on about this guy, but I’ll let him do the talking.
- Please introduce yourself before we begin.
I’m Simon Dillon, a UK based author living in south-west England; a stone’s throw from Dartmoor, where Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson encountered the famous Hound of the Baskervilles. I am mostly known for my gothic mystery horror/thriller novels Spectre of Springwell Forest, The Irresistible Summons, Phantom Audition, The Birds Began to Sing, and The Thistlewood Curse, and for a dystopian science fiction memoir Children of the Folded Valley.
- Every writer has an origin story to tell, what’s yours?
I’m pleased to say my life has been an incident packed cocktail of good, bad, terrifying, and surreal that has left me permanently scarred, traumatised, and with a very dark sense of humour; not to mention a wealth of inspiration to draw on in my twisted desire to entertain. The specifics of my so-called origin story remains strictly classified, but there are hints at the truth of it in Children of the Folded Valley.
- What was the first story, poem or novel you ever worked on?
The first story I remember writing in any significant detail is a lengthy, derivative Robinson Crusoe type story about being marooned on a desert island, survival, and so on. I think I must have been about nine or ten at the time. The plot featured a Friday type character, and in the end the protagonist’s father came to rescue him. I’ve no idea what became of it. Probably my mother has it in her loft, gathering dust in a box.
- What’s the hardest thing about writing?
I don’t know if this is the hardest part, but certainly one of the most frustrating things is living, sleeping, and breathing your novel; being incredibly excited about it, and desperately wanting to talk about it. But you can’t, or you’ll spoil it for your readers. Then, when it’s finally over, and the novel is released, people want to talk about it. By then you’ve moved onto your next novel and next obsession, so talking about past work feels oddly out of date.
- What Genres do you write in and do you have a favorite?
I have mostly written in two genres: children’s adventure novels, and gothic mystery horror/thriller. The latter is my favourite, in terms of writing, as I seem to have a knack for it. I have dabbled in other things though, including romantic drama, animal fiction, and science fiction.
- Why do you write?
Comfort, challenge, and catharsis. In that order. Also to silence the voices in my head by putting them on paper. It gets very noisy in there, but these days I force them to form an orderly queue.
- Favorite author and/or book series?
Impossible to answer definitively, but I’ve read and re-read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings more than any other novels, so let’s go with JRR Tolkien. Surely no explanation is required as to why I love these masterpieces.
- Okay, the tough question here. It’s no secret that Mental health is important for writers. Seeing that I want to be more of an advocate for it, is there any advice you like to give to people to keep fighting, whether you’re dealing with it personally or know someone that is?
I know several people who have mental health challenges, but I don’t think I’m qualified to answer this question in general terms. I would say, however, that I think it’s significant and encouraging how mental health issues are being destigmatised, and taken a lot more seriously these days.
- Before we leave is there anything you’re working on now or anything you have released?
I’m currently working on my next gothic mystery (title still classified), which explores a number of universally relatable themes; for instance, difficult and traumatic sibling relationships, and fears that parents have about their children as they grow up. With a gripping, spooky, and sinister central mystery at its core, the novel will be a must for anyone who has enjoyed my earlier novels of this sort; particularly those with rug-pull twist endings. I’m also polishing up drafts of some of my fantasy novels, which are in various states of disrepair, one of which I may well try to submit to the big publishers. Wish me luck!
- Finally, anything you want to say to new writers/artists? Find a great ending and work backwards from that point. Don’t waste your time on anything less than an ending that you personally are absolutely blown away by.
Don’t overcomplicate the narrative but have a single, ideally sympathetic protagonist, who is easy to relate to and root for – even if they make poor choices.
Be aware of genre conventions and master them. Don’t break an honoured convention unless for this reason: to replace it with something better. Working within a formula is fine, but don’t be predictable. Agatha Christie worked within a formula, with consistently unpredictable results. Give the reader what they want, but not the way they expect it.
Finally, whatever you do, don’t consciously insert any kind of heavy-handed “message”. Grinding the religious or political axe is for preachers, politicians, activists, and so on. Instead, simply concentrate on telling a good story. Whatever is important to you will then be inherent in the text. What’s more, your beliefs will come over far less finger-waggingly and far more convincingly.
Thank you, Simon, for coming by and I wish you luck on your writing. As for everybody else. Be sure to check out his work on his website here. As well as his podcast “The Tanget Tree,” which just started its new series. If you’re looking for some new gothic books to read here’s a link to his author page on amazon. But for now that is it for Writing Wednesday and I’ll see you guys on Monday.
Until next time friends, happy reading, writing, or creating whatever it is you’re creating. Have fun doing it and to quote Buzz Lightyear “To infinity and beyond.”