My guest today is Calgary author Simon Rose, who has published eighteen novels for children and young adults, eight guides for writers, more than a hundred nonfiction books, and many articles on a wide variety of topics. Today, we’re looking at his latest release, Royal Blood, the second novel in the Stone of the Seer series.
So remind us about the Stone of the Seer series. What’s it all about?
The Stone of the Seer is an exciting historical fantasy series for young adults, primarily set during the English Civil War in the mid-seventeenth century. The Stone of the Seer, is the first book in the series. At Habingdon House, Lady Elizabeth Usborne, Kate, and Tom discover a magical black stone, mysterious ancient manuscripts, and the tempus inpectoris, an incredible time viewing device. They are also in grave danger from Daniel Tombes, who has a fearsome reputation as a witchfinder.
And without giving too much away, what can readers look forward to in the second novel?
In Royal Blood, Lady Elizabeth, Kate, and Tom move to London in the middle of the Civil War, experiencing the great political changes taking place at the time, including the
trial and execution of Charles I. They are also still under threat from Tombes, who is also in the city. The story has many twists and turns, and I doubt if any of the readers will expect the novel’s cliffhanger ending.
And then they’ll have to wait for the third book?
Yes, they certainly will. I’m hoping that Revenge of the Witchfinder, the final novel and the conclusion of the story,will be published later this year. After that, people will be able to buy all three books in the series.
And what’s the story behind the story?
The story, main characters, and some of the settings in Royal Blood are fictional, but like in The Stone of the Seer, they’re based on real events and historical characters, such as King Charles I, appear in the story. The English Civil War broke out as a result of the struggle between Charles I and Parliament, regarding how the country should be governed. The king’s defeat in the war was followed by his trial and execution in January 1649. The monarchy was abolished and replaced first by the Commonwealth of England and then the Protectorate. However, although the monarchy was restored in 1660, in the person of Charles II, his father’s defeat confirmed that an English monarch couldn’t rule the country without the consent of Parliament. This was eventually legally established in 1688 after the Glorious Revolution.
Did you conduct extensive historical research for this book, as you did with the first one?
Although the English Civil War is a time period I’ve always been interested in, I still engaged in lots of research. I needed to study what life was like in seventeenth century London, the political and religious beliefs that were around at the time, the influence of real witchfinders such as Matthew Hopkins and others like him, and of course the trial and execution of Charles I. The trial itself was very well recorded and I was able to ensure that the words spoken by both the king and his accusers were accurate. There were also many witnesses to the execution, so I was able to include established facts about that aspect as well.
As I did in The Stone of the Seer, I’ve included a glossary at the end of Royal Blood, where readers can learn more about the events, settings, and leading characters from the era, locations that are mentioned in the text, life in the seventeenth century, and about other historical periods that are featured in the story. On my website, there’s also a page with details about the historical background behind the books, with links to online sources about the time period.
Do you have any current projects?
Right now I’m working on another historical fantasy novel series, this time set in the early years of World War II. I’m also working on another series of paranormal novels, in the same genre as my previously published series that includes Flashback, Twisted Fate, and Parallel Destiny. You can learn more about those books at www.simon-rose.com. In addition, I’m in the early stages of another couple of historical projects, and am also working on some screenplays, including adaptations of my Shadowzone series, and on several other topics.
Do you still work with other authors as well?
Yes, I offer coaching, editing, consulting, and mentoring services for writers of novels, short stories, fiction, nonfiction, biographies, inspirational books, and in many other genres, plus work with writers of scripts and screenplays. I’m also a writing instructor at the University of Calgary and served as the Writer-in-Residence with the Canadian Authors Association. You can find details of some of the projects I’ve worked on with other authors, along with references and recommendations, at www.simon-rose.com.
So where can people buy Royal Blood and The Stone of the Seer?
The novel can be purchased at most of the usual places, as follows:
Thanks Simon, for being my guest here today and the very best of luck with Royal Blood and the Stone of the Seer series. I hope the books sell thousands and thousands of copies in the coming weeks and months.
You can learn more about Simon and his work on his website at www.simon-rose.com, where you can also link to his social media sites and other locations online.
Mandy Eve-Barnett is a multi-genre author writing children’s, YA, and adult books full of adventure and surprising twists in plot and genre. Her passion for writing emerged later in life and she is making up for lost time. With nine books published since 2011, she indulges her muse in creative fiction as well as freelance writing, which you can learn more about at https://tailoredthemedtosuit.wordpress.com/
Mandy regularly blogs at www.mandyevebarnett.com and is a writing community advocate. As secretary of her local writers’ group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, and past secretary of the Alberta Authors Cooperative, as well as past-president of the Arts & Culture Council, she lives her creative life to the fullest. She hosts the WFSC monthly writing meetings and also creates writing prompts for their website. She has presented on various writing topics at conferences and seminars. Originally from England, Mandy now resides in Alberta, Canada. You can find Mandy across social media and her books through all the online purchasing sites and her publisher, Dream Write Publishing.
What genres do you write in?
I write multiple genres, as I follow the story rather than a genre when I write. As the characters and story develop it becomes clear which audience and genre the narrative fits into. This is a personal approach, as I have to feel my way through a story rather than conform to a structure.
Tell us a little about your work for adults
I use my life experience and interests to give my writing authenticity even though it may not seem evident within the story itself. For example, my novella series, The Rython Kindom and Rython Legacy are set in medieval England. I regularly visited historical sites when I lived in England so can draw from those experiences and learnt history. Another novel, Life
in Slake Patch, is a speculative fiction story set in an alternative future with a matriarchal society. The seed of the novel idea came from a heated discussion on the perceived place of a woman in our patriarchal society. I feel these themes not only draw in but allow my readers to relate to the story’s basic theme even if they are not consciously aware of them.
What about your books for children?
I have always been fascinated with the magical and mysterious – fairies, dragons, fantastic creatures, as well as the natural world. These two themes are the foundation of my children’s and young adults’ stories. I want my younger readers to love the world they live in, to cherish the flora and fauna within it and to experience a sense of magic. No matter the setting of the story, or the characters within it, there is always companionship, and the message to be true to yourself and those around you.
What are your sources of inspiration?
Goodness, as I have said earlier, everything and anything. It might be a conversation, a photo, something I read or interests I want to explore within a narrative. Dreams also give me ideas or topics, or even a scene I can use within a story. I keep my mind open to influences around me.
Are you involved with your local writing community?
Very much so, physically (when we could!) and virtually. I am the current secretary of my local writers’ group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. We host three monthly (currently virtual) meetings – writing circle, kids creative writing workshop and Poets in the Park. I host the circle meetings, create the Saturday Writing Prompts on the website, and assist with the planning and organization of our two main annual events. Our Spring Writers Conference and our Fall Words in the Park – author and artisan sale and promotion, in conjunction with Alberta Cultural Days. Within this group I found my people, so to speak. I am also a writing community advocate on social media supporting and encouraging other writers. I am happy to share my experiences and knowledge to help others.
What are you currently working on?
I am in the midst of a detective trilogy, The Delphic Murders. I have book one in third draft and am writing book two. Most of my writing is free flow but with this current project I learnt to become a plotter planning separate and multiple arcs, which has been an enlightening exercise. The trilogy spans three Canadian cities and a elusive killer.
You also offer a variety of writing services, don’t you? Can you tell us a little about those?
I am versatile freelance writer drawing from a wide-ranging life experience from twenty-six years as a business owner, working within the medical field, parenting and relationships, extensive travel, and beginning a new life on another continent. I am able to communicate ideas, notions and information on a wide and unlimited range of subjects to ensure I deliver clear, creative, and compelling communications for my clients. It has been a pleasure to create projects for my clients from a magazine article to ghost writing a hybrid marketing book.
So where can people find out more about you and your books?
My blog is the best place to find everything about me and my writing: www.mandyevebarnett.com. I am also across multiple social media sites so I’m easy to find.
My guest today is Calgary author Simon Rose, who has published eighteen novels for children and young adults, eight guides for writers, more than a hundred nonfiction books, and many articles on a wide variety of topics. Today, we’re looking at his latest release, The Stone of the Seer, the first novel in the Stone of the Seer series.
So what’s the new series all about?
The Stone of the Seer is an exciting historical fantasy series of adventure novels for young adults, primarily set in the turbulent period of the English Civil War.
The Stone of the Seer, book one in the series, features the Vikings, Leonardo da Vinci, and the political turmoil of the 1640s. At Habingdon House, Lady Elizabeth Usborne, Kate, and Tom encounter a magical black stone, mysterious ancient manuscripts, and the incredible time viewing device known as the tempus inpectoris, all while under constant threat from the murderous witchfinder, Daniel Tombes.
The other novels in the series are Royal Blood and Revenge of the Witchfinder, which will be published in the coming months. There will be a box set including all three novels at some point in the future as well.
And what’s the story behind the story?
The story, main characters, and some of the settings in The Stone of the Seer are fictional but are based on true events and the story features real historical characters, such as King Charles I. The English Civil War was a series of conflicts in England, Scotland, and Ireland in the 1640s and early 1650s. The war originated in the struggle between Charles I and Parliament, regarding how the country should be governed.
The king’s defeat in the civil war led to his trial and execution in January 1649. The monarchy was abolished and replaced first by the Commonwealth of England and then the Protectorate, before the monarchy was restored in 1660. However, the defeat of Charles I confirmed that an English monarch could not rule the country without the consent of Parliament, although this wasn’t legally established until the Glorious Revolution in 1688.
You must have done quite a lot of historical research for this book.
Yes, it’s a time period I’ve always been interested in, but it still involved considerable research. I’ve included a glossary at the end of each of the three novels in the series where you can learn more about the historical events, settings, and leading characters from the English Civil War, locations that are mentioned in the text, life in the seventeenth century, and details from other historical periods that are featured in the story. There’s also a page on my website all about the historical background behind the books, with links to online sources about the time period.
What are you currently working on?
I always have a current project or two and right now I’m writing another historical fantasy novel series set in World War II. I’m also working on sequels to the Flashback series of paranormal novels, which includes Flashback, Twisted Fate, and Parallel Destiny, which you can learn more about on my website at simon-rose.com. In addition, I’m working on screenplay adaptations of the Shadowzone series and have also completed a number of picture books for younger readers, which I hope will be published soon.
You also work with other authors, don’t you?
Yes, I do quite a lot of that these days. I provide coaching, editing, consulting, and mentoring services for writers of novels, short stories, fiction, nonfiction, biographies, inspirational books, and in many other genres. I also work as a writing instructor at the University of Calgary and have served as the Writer-in-Residence with the Canadian Authors Association. You can find details of some of the projects I’ve worked on, along with some references and recommendations, on my website.
So where can people buy The Stone of the Seer?
The novel can be purchased at most of the usual places, as follows:
My guest today is Simon Rose, author of many novels and nonfiction books for children and young adults. His latest novel, Parallel Destiny, has just been released.
So tell us about the new book
Parallel Destiny is the third part of the paranormal Flashback trilogy. The first instalment, entitled Flashback, was published in 2015 and the second, Twisted Fate, was published in 2017.
The trilogy features ghosts, psychics, alternate timelines, parallel universes, and Project Mindstorm, a secret operation involving deadly mind control experiments, as Max and Julia investigate events concealed for over twenty years.
Parallel Destiny takes place immediately after the events depicted in Twisted Fate. Project Mindstorm no longer exists and Kane and his associates no longer represent a danger. However, Max and Julia now have to contend with the sinister Alastair Hammond and his experiments into the existence of parallel universes and alternate realities. Marooned within a bewildering series of multiple universes, Max and Julia are forced to fight for their own survival and to save the very fabric of reality from Hammond’s deadly scheme.
Will there be any more books in the series?
I’m not sure. Right now I’m not planning on any more since the story has reached a logical conclusion. However, Flashback was originally going to be a single novel and I didn’t consider sequels until later, so you never know. I think there’s certainly some potential to write something else in this genre featuring the two main characters, but I guess time will tell.
You don’t seem to have any shortage of ideas. Where do you get them all from?
Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere really. Books, movies, TV, online research, out walking the dog, dreams, an overheard conversation, friends and family, history, mythology, and so many other sources. I have a few ideas that may never come to anything, but I still keep them anyway. It’s always a good plan to save them because you never know if, or when, an idea might fit into a story. My first four novels were all very early story ideas and were the first books to be published. However, more recently published novels, such as The Sphere of Septimus and the Flashback series, were also very early ideas for novels. They just took longer to develop as novels. Flashback was also one of my earliest ideas but again it took a while for me to develop the initial story, and consequently the rest of the series. Even if the ideas don’t work right away, they might in the future and you just never know when you’ll get another piece of the puzzle.
What other novels have you written?
I’ve written fifteen novels so far, since the first one came out in 2003.The Sorcerer’s Letterbox and The Heretic’s Tomb are historical fiction adventures set in medieval England, – The Alchemist’s Portrait is a time travel story, The Emerald Curse is all about superheroes and comic books, The Doomsday Mask is all about the legend of Atlantis, and The Sphere of Septimus involves the characters traveling into another world and is in the same vein as the Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, or Lord of the Rings. Future Imperfect is a technology-driven story featuring mysterious messages from the future and The Time Camera about a myserious device that captures images of different historical periods, and The Clone Conspiracy features secret experiments into human cloning. The Shadowzone series featuring Shadowzone, Into The Web, and Black Dawn, was published last year. The series involves the discovery of a grim dystopian version of Earth that’s ruled by a totalitarian dictatorship, the threat of a deadly virus, and a race against time to save the lives of millions.
Are these your favourite genres in which to write?
Yes, there are certain genres that I like. When I first read the Harry Potter books, I knew that they were written for the age range, style, and had the level of danger and excitement for young readers that I was aiming for with the many story ideas that I had at the time.
However, as much as I enjoyed all the Harry Potter books, I wasn’t interested in writing my own story ideas on themes like folklore, mythology, magic wands, witches and wizards, or mythological creatures and monsters. Instead, I wanted my stories to be about the sort of things that I enjoyed reading about. These included time travel, fantasy, history, science fiction, lost cities, superheroes, other worlds, parallel universes, and the paranormal, and those are the types of stories I’ve been writing ever since.
So is it true that authors should write what they know?
In some ways yes, although this might sound a little odd because no one actually knows how to travel in time, attend a wizard school, visit other dimensions, have super powers, or go to the edge of the universe, at least as far as we know anyway. But what this term actually means is that it’s much easier to write about what you know or about what you’re interested in. You’ll have far more ideas about your own favorite topics and you’ll also decide exactly what you want to write about and not just try to do the same as everyone else or follow a hot new trend, whether it’s teenage wizards, vampires, zombies, or something else. If you write about unfamiliar topics, you’ll have to do more research for a story or perhaps plan out the story a lot more, rather than letting the ideas from your imagination flow into the computer or onto the paper as the story keeps coming to you. Writing about things that you’re not passionate about will seem much more like work, when writing is supposed to be fun. Write about what you know and love and it’s going to be a much more enjoyable experience.
Have you worked with lots of other authors?
Yes quite a lot over the last few years, in many different genres. This has involved both substantive and copy editing of completed novels, but I also work as a coach for writers with works in progress. Some of the projects I’ve worked on that have subsequently been published are here on my website. You can also see some of the references and recommendations from other clients that I’ve worked with.
What are you currently working on?
I’m always working on something but currently I’m writing a number of nonfiction books and doing quite a lot of editing and coaching work with other authors, helping them with their novels, short stories, or works in progress. I’m also working on a historical fiction novel set in the turbulent era of the English Civil War in the 1640s and I hope to be able to focus on that a little more in the coming months.
Where can a reader purchase your latest book?
Parallel Destiny is available in paperback and as an ebook worldwide on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Indigo Chapters in Canada, and at many other locations online. Your local bookstore should also be able to order a copy.
You can learn more about Simon and his work on his website at http://www.simon-rose.com or online at the following social media sites:
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:
Simon is a regular presenter at conferences and festivals, and served as a juror for the Governor General’s Literary Awards for Children’s Literature, the Saskatchewan Book Awards, the Parsec Awards and the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. He is the founder of Children’s Authors and Illustrators on Facebook and was the Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI Western Canada.
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.