- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Energize mostly, I think. I can write for very long periods and get a lot of the story down in a single writing session. Of course, at other times as well I can spend hours trying to work something out and at the end of the process have only completed a short paragraph, so it does vary. It can be exhausting at times but I’ve been writing for many hours in the day and well into the night for many years now, so I guess I’ve got used to the fatigue.
- What is your writing Kryptonite?
Probably the very complex plots and themes that I include in many of the novels. There always seem to be very intricate issues to resolve as the story takes shape or at the end once the main plot has been completed. It’s my own fault of course since I do tend to write about time travel, parallel universes, alternate realities and that kind of thing. Any of the novels without those elements have usually been written more quickly, if I recall correctly. However, the very complicated storylines are often what I prefer to write, so this particular brand of kryptonite will probably be with me for some time to come.
- Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Not really. I’d probably consider it if I wanted to write and publish in a radically different genre, such as horror, romance, or thrillers for adults, for example, although that can be a tricky proposition if your main genre is books for children and young adults. After all, even if it were supposed to be a secret, the true identity of the author would probably get out somehow. I have written eight guides for aspiring writers that are for adults rather than young readers, but these aren’t under a pseudonym.
- What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m friends with many authors, both here in Calgary, elsewhere in Canada, and around the world. I’m also the founder of Children’s Writers and Illustrators on Facebook, which now has around 8,000 members. I’m not sure if any of them have influenced my writing, but some of them have been a great help with things such as marketing and promotion, working with ebooks, and self-publishing.
- Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Some of the published novels have had sequel potential but I was usually too busy with the next project to explore that potential fully. The most recent novels, such as the Flashback series and the Shadowzone series, have been trilogies, and I’ll probably continue in that direction. I’m also working periodically on more adventures in the land of Koronada, which features in The Sphere of Septimus, published in 2014, and two sequels to Future Imperfect, which came out in 2016.
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I would say either the writing course I took years ago with the Institute of Children’s Literature, which started the ball rolling, or Guerrilla Marketing for Writers, a book I bought to learn more about sales and marketing when I first became a published author. The book appeared before self-publishing, ebooks, and social media were well established but at the time it provided invaluable advice.
- What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
That’s an interesting question, but apart from listening to bedtime stories as a child I’d probably have to say comic books, which I read all the time when I was growing up. Although they were of course filled with illustrations, the stories, particularly in Marvel Comics, were so good and often had such elaborate and grandiose themes, often spread over several issues.
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I wish I had an answer to this one, but I can’t think of a novel that would fit this description, my apologies.
- As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A dog of some kind, I think. I’ve had both dogs and cats throughout my life but have valued dogs as companions for many years and will most likely always have one or more in my life.
- How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I don’t have any full finished books that haven’t been published yet and the only partially finished novel is the current work in progress. I do however have many files of varying sizes with reasonably formed story ideas, crammed with notes, ideas, and full or partial outlines, along with other documents containing just a vague story idea and so on.
- What does literary success look like to you?
It’s always a great feeling when people enjoy my work and tell me that, especially in person. I’ve met people in their late teens or early twenties that read one or more of my books when they were younger and it’s wonderful to think that I had some kind of an impact on their lives when they were growing up.
- What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It depends on the book. For the time travel novels, I’ve had to conduct extensive historical research in the time period in which the story is set. The Sorcerer’s Letterbox involved extensive research into medieval England, the Tower of London, Richard III, the Wars of the Roses, and the mystery of the Princes in the Tower. The Heretic’s Tomb involved research into both the Black Death and medieval medicine. For The Doomsday Mask, I investigated the legend of Atlantis and the many theories about where it might have been located, if it existed. The current novel I’m working on takes place in the turbulent period at the end of the English Civil War in the late 1640s, so at the moment I’m researching that time period and the trial of Charles I. I don’t really research before I begin a historical novel since I have a history degree, so I’m already familiar with most of the historical eras that I’m interested in featuring in stories. However, once the novel is in the process of being written I spend quite a lot of time doing research and making sure that everything is accurate.
- How many hours a day/week do you write?
I don’t really keep track but I write all the time so that encompasses much of the day and the week. This isn’t always on novels as I often edit books for other authors, write nonfiction books and articles, create content for the business market for websites, social media and other online locations, and prepare workshops and lesson plans.
- How do you select the names of your characters?
For the young characters in the novels, I have a list of names I like that I think would be a good fit for a novel. For adult characters, such as the lead villain of the story, I just seem to be able to think of a name that works.
- What was your hardest scene to write?
I can’t think of a particular scene from a novel, but the toughest writing I’ve had to do so far has probably been for the Flashback or Shadowzone books, mainly because the plots were so complicated.
- Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I have many story ideas for adults but the best thing about writing for young adults is that it allows me to write about the kinds of things that used to fascinate me when I was growing up. And of course, the stories can be very imaginative if they’re for younger readers, which makes writing them so much fun. My first novel, The Alchemist’s Portrait, was published in 2003 and I began writing on a serious basis a few years before that. When my children were small, I starting reading children’s books again for the first time in many years. This made me wonder if I could write stories of my own. I started thinking that I should write fairy tales and picture books for younger children but after reading the first three Harry Potter novels, I realized that I wanted to write for the age group that those books are aimed at. I wasn’t interested in writing about the same things, such as magic, wizards, and imaginary creatures, and instead focused on themes that I was interested in, such as science fiction, fantasy, time travel, history, comic books, ancient mysteries and civilizations, superheroes, other dimensions, and the paranormal.
- How long have you been writing?
The first novel came out in 2003 and I began writing seriously a few years before that.
- What inspires you?
Ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere. Out walking the dog, in the car, something in a conversation, a newspaper story, a billboard, an item on the evening news, books, historical events, other people’s stories, movies, or something out of the blue. I often find myself wondering ‘what if?’ Sometimes the challenge is to stop having ideas. Some may never be used, but I try to record as many as I can. I never know when they might fit in with a story I’m writing. Even ideas that don’t seem to work right away may provide a spark of inspiration in the future.
- How do you find or make time to write?
I don’t have a problem finding time to write since I’ve been doing this full time now for many years. I do struggle to find time to work on my own novels at times, since I’m so busy editing those written by other authors or I’m working on something to do with marketing or a project for a corporate client.
- What projects are you working on at the present?
I’ve just published the second part of The Children’s Writer’s Guide, which like the first book provides tips and advice for all authors, not just for those that write for children and young adults. The third part of the Flashback trilogy will be published in the spring and I have a few edits to do for that one. The current novel project is the one about the English Civil War, which I’m hoping to get finished by the end of the summer. I’m also working on several children’s nonfiction books for educational publishers over the coming months.
- What do your plans for future projects include?
I have many ideas for future projects and hope to be able to publish all the novels over the next few years.
- Share a link to your author website.
You can learn more about me and my work on my website at www.simon-rose.com or online at the following social media sites:
Apart from the above, Simon also offers a wide variety of presentations, workshops and author in residence programs for schools and libraries, covering such topics as the writing process, editing and revision, where ideas come from and how writers turn them into stories, character development, historical fiction and historical research, story structure, the publishing world and more. He works as a creative writing instructor throughout the year, is an instructor for adults with the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University and Chinook Learning Services. And offers a variety of online workshops for both children and adults, including editing, writing workshops and coaching, plus copy writing services for the business community.