It is my great pleasure today to have Simon Williams on the site, author of the Aona series. As part of a two-stop visit, today I feature an interview with him. Tomorrow, we’ll get a chance for a sneak peek into his novel, Oblivion’s Forge.
Gwen: It’s good to have you here today, Simon! Tell us a little bit about the Aona series.
Simon: It’s a series of what may well end up being five books- the first two are completed and pubished and I’m working on the third. Hopefully I’ll have to available by the end of the year. The series could be described as “dark fantasy” but is also technically futuristic (albeit very distant future) – although this becomes apparent quite gradually.
Rather than a standard chronicle of “good versus evil”, the Aona books are really more about what happens to the characters that make up the story when faced with the threat of evil on all sides- two great forces preparing to do battle. As one such character points out bleakly: “Light and dark, but all of it evil.”
So it’s also about survival and battling against seemingly insurmountable odds, set in a fantasy world which also has elements of “tech” in it (particularly as the story moves on and we learn more about the actual nature of this world and how the various races came to be here).
Gwen: Your first book, Oblivion’s Forge, is about what happens when a race of beings find something that they’ve been searching for for a long time. It’s a classic theme of literature but I’m wondering, was there anything in your own life that sparked the choice to write an exodus story? Any personal anecdotes behind the creation of Aona?
Simon: Not personally as such, but to an extent, although I wasn’t consciously influenced by any pre-existing works of fiction, I was influenced to an extent by films such as Blade Runner and Terminator 2. That may seem a little odd given that they’re much more sci-fi than fantasy, but anyone who reads the books will see soon enough that the influences are there (somewhat tenuous influences but there nonetheless!)
Gwen: Your world is decidedly dark, with weakening wizards and characters who must make difficult choices. The story is beautifully written but as a writer myself, I know how wrenching it can be to tell these kinds of tales. Were there any moments that you struggled with as you wrote Oblivion Forge and Secret Roads?
Simon: Oddly enough I have no trouble at all writing the dark / disturbing scenes, but I struggled a little for a time when I was putting the characters together and developing their relationships. It wasn’t a major obstacle, but in the third book, The Endless Shore, some of these relationships become more serious, and I need to find a way of making them real, making them work with the story. By this time, with the relationships having become more involved, “deeper” if you will, I’m hoping that they will be easier to visualize. But it’s a part of writing that doesn’t come especially easily, perhaps because of its complexity. The solution is simply to write it, write it again, write it a third time- and keep writing and keep visualizing until it’s there and until it works.
Gwen: With that in mind, as you worked on these stories, did you find that writing them affected your own view of the world or of the people around you?
Simon: It’s the other way round really. I think every writer’s view of the “real” world (and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish what is “real” or “true” from what isn’t, given the ever-increasing pace of information) helps shape their works, whether they’re a fantasy writer or not.
Gwen: To talk a little about the book’s mechanics, I know that you’ve recently made the choice to make the Aona books available for Kindle and it seems to have been a hard decision. Tell us a little bit about that.
Simon: It was one of those “if you can’t beat ‘em…” decisions. I’m still a fan of physical books, and I do find it a little sad that authors have been often reduced to selling their books for next to nothing via Kindle, or even giving them away- but that’s the way the world is, and there’s no going back, so I decided to make Oblivion’s Forge available on Kindle- and Secret Roads will also be available soon.
I guess also I like the idea of physical books in that they linger on long after a writer has ceased to exist; somehow, the idea of someone in some future time coming across a hard copy and reading it seems a nice one than thousands of free copies floating pointlessly around in cyberspace…
Gwen: That is a sentiment I definitely agree with. It does make one wonder what books will linger three generations from now.
Switching subjects a bit, do you have any new projects on the horizon?
Simon: There are *always* new projects on the horizon! Aside from the third Aona book, which is progressing well, I’m compiling an anthology of short stories- some older ones that were published a while back, but also some new ones- although I haven’t a clue what to call it yet.
And my other project is a book called The Spiral, which is an experimental work that I can’t even adequately describe as yet! But I’m quite excited about it.
Gwen: How can readers find out more about you and your books?
And there are tasters of both Oblivion’s Forge and Secret Roads available on Completely Novel.