Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Simon Kewin - Speculative Fiction Writer

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing science fiction and fantasy writer, Simon Kewin. He's also a fellow Brit.

Q:  Hello, Simon. Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, and what do you do when you're not writing short stories or novels? 

I was born and raised on the Isle of Man, which is the one that sits in the middle of the Irish Sea, mid-way between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. However, I’ve lived in England for many years and my family are all English, so I feel I belong in both places. When the England cricket team is doing well, I’m definitely more English. When it isn’t, I tend to remember my Manx origins…

I’m a software designer and developer by profession. That and the writing and the family take up most of my time, but when I can I love to go walking, or to the theatre. Or to try and play my guitar. 

Q:  On your blog you describe yourself as a ‘writer of fantasy, science fiction, mainstream, as well as some stories that can’t make their minds up’. Do you have a favourite genre, and how far out of genre boundaries do those stories that can’t make their minds up go? 

I suppose fantasy would be my favourite genre if I had to pick one, but I see no reason to limit myself either as a writer or a reader. I write (and read) quite a lot of mainstream fiction, for example. Much as I enjoy a good magical adventure yarn, I do like fiction that blurs the boundaries: fantasy based in the gritty real world, for example, or stories that could be interpreted as either magical or as delusional depending on your perspective. 

Q: You are a prolific writer, with a publishometer standing at 235 last time I checked. How do you ensure you find time to write on a regular basis? 

It’s difficult at times. My family are very good at giving me the space to pursue my writing, but obviously there are many competing demands. Partly, I’ve become used to just sitting down when I get chance and writing there and then, without wasting half an hour circling and looking out of the window. Which is all too easy to do… 

Q:  You have two novels coming out in 2013. Tell us about them. 

One is called Hedge Witch, which will be published by Morrigan Books. This is a fantasy novel, with its action divided between our world and another. It follows the story of Fer, from Andar, and Cait, from Manchester, and their struggles with the sorcerous horrors who are pursuing them. Here’s the cover Morrigan have produced for the book:

Hedge Witch is the first volume of a trilogy. 

Engn, meanwhile is to be published by December House in July. No cover art yet, but here’s the blurb:

Engn follows Finn as he, like many before him, is plucked from his idyllic childhood in the Valley and taken to Engn; the vast steam powered city / machine that lies across the great grass plain. But whilst set to work maintaining the great workings of Engn, Finn has other plans, a vow of trust he once made with his two closest friends, a promise that if they were ever taken they would join the mythical wreckers and destroy Engn once and for all.

In Engn Simon has created a truly immersive world. From the Valley where Finn grows up to Engn itself, you can't fail but imagine yourself there as you read the gripping pages of Finn's journey of struggle, discovery and determination.

Engn was originally conceived as a single volume, although we are now discussing a couple of possible sequels… 

Q: How difficult is it balancing two impending novel publications? 

I have absolutely no idea! Having two novels appearing isn’t by design; it’s just the way things have worked out. But I haven’t had any novels published before, so I don’t really know what to expect. What could possibly go wrong? 

Q: You have self-published several short stories, short story collections, and a serialized novel through Amazon’s KDP programme. How have you found the experience? 

It’s been fun, although the formatting and the marketing can be very time-consuming. Partly I’ve done it out of technical interest, with my software developer’s hat on, and partly because I had all these previously-published stories gathering dust on my computer, so collecting them together and putting them out via KDP seemed the logical thing to do. I quite like the thought they will most likely remain there long after I’m dead and gone…

The serialized novel is a different kettle of fish. These are the Genehunter stories – five linked novelettes that I’ll collect into a single-volume novel at some point. These were written with one eye on a possible computer-game tie-in (something that may still happen). They’re cyberpunk detective stories, set in the near-future. Here’s the blurb for the first of the five, The Wrong Tom Jacks 

Simms is a genehunter, paid by megarich collectors to track down the DNA of the famous for their private zoos. He's employed to locate the genetic code of Tom Jacks. But not the rock star Tom Jacks, just an unknown namesake.

The job bugs Simms. Something about it is wrong. Someone is playing him. Problem is he doesn't know who or why. None of the illegal plug-in technology filling his brain is much damn use. The one person who can help him is an ex-lover, but she's also the one person on the planet who never wants to speak to him again.

The last thing he needs is Agent Ballard of the Genetic Monitoring Agency pulling him out of the jump network to interrogate him about someone he's never even heard of.

Someone called Boneyard...

It’s on Amazon if anyone fancies a read! 

Q:  Would you like to share an excerpt from one of your collections with us?

This is from The Standing Stones of Erelong, which is the opening story in Spell Circles, my fantasy short story collection:

Elian picked her way among the stones, stroking the glassy rocks towering around her. They felt cold despite the heat of the suns on them, remembering the winter. She wondered whether her mother or her father had once touched them. Whether brothers and sisters she would never know had climbed upon them in their games. She closed her eyes, working her own magic, feeling into the stones for buried memories, ghostly presences. Nothing. 

They troubled her, though, the standing stones, and not just because of her history. She didn’t understand what they meant, what they were for. They weren’t even a perfect circle. Great effort had been expended to move them, site them, but some had been placed within the circle, for no reason she could see. One even lay on its side. Her family would have been able to explain their purpose to her. Now, no-one could. 

She wandered among them, trying to understand. Mayve sat on a collapsed wall edging the field and ate red apples. When the light started to fade, the twin suns dipping behind the western peaks, she called over. 

‘We should leave here, Elian. This valley feels unquiet. We’ll be safe back up in the hills.’ 

‘A few more minutes.’ 

She felt reluctant to leave. She’d begun to daydream about building a house here one day, coming back to Erelong to live. Could she do that? Among the ghosts of her family? She sat on the single, fallen stone and tried to imagine herself living there. 

The murmur of memory from the stone shocked her so much she leapt up as if burned.

Q:  What would be the key piece of advice you would offer someone considering self-publication? 

Have a go. There are obviously a lot of people doing it, so it’s hard to stand out, but it isn’t like you have to choose one publication model or another and stick to it. My novels are being put out by publishers, but that doesn’t stop me self-publishing other things, so long as I have the relevant rights. You never know where it might lead… 

Q:  Now for the compulsory random question: if you could live in any Ray Bradbury novel, which would it be and why? 

Great question. It’s dystopian, obviously, but I’d probably pick Fahrenheit 451. I’d try and join the exiles so I could help memorize the books before they all get burned… 

Thank you, Simon. I love how you have immersed yourself in all aspects of eBook publishing, including the formatting. As someone who is just starting on the epublishing path, it is heartening to see how hard work and dedication can pay off. Congratulations on your two novels - I'm looking forward to their releases.


  1. 235 written pieces published? Whoa...

  2. Great to meet you, Simon. Hedge Witch sounds awesome! I love how you describe finding time to write on a regular basis. I have four busy children and at times writing takes place in the car, at a doctor's appointment, or simply in my head. LOL

    1. Thanks! Delighted you like the sound of Hedge Witch. I write in my head too, and live in fear of forgetting things before I can write them down...

  3. I LOVE this extract from the Standing Stones of!! Can this man write or what?!?!?! Yes he can!!!! I can't wait for his Hedge Witch to come out!!! I'm really looking forward to it!!

    Now for a lesson in how to pronounce Engn!!! LOL! take care

    1. Thanks, Old Kitty, your enthusiasm is wonderful. As to the pronunciation, I'm pretty sure it just sounds like "engine". But what do I know?

  4. Many thanks for having me on your blog today, Ellie. It's a great honour and a great thrill.

  5. Great interview, Simon and Ellie.

    That total number of publications is amazing! And I've always liked your approach to writing and reading across genres.

  6. I really admire writers who are so prolific and can develop stories so quickly. Just coming up with concepts is so time-consuming. Great interview Ellie and Simon-- so nice to meet an author new to me.

  7. I'm a big fan of Simon's work, and I can't wait to read his novels!

  8. Very fun to find out more about Simon! I look forward to the release of his novel!

  9. Hedge Witch sounds great I'll be looking out for it. Thanks for sharing some of your writing experiences with us, Simon.

  10. Wow, Simon. That's an impressive number. Congrats!

    Waving at Ellie.

  11. I'm a big fan of Simon's. I'm looking forward to his releases enormously.

  12. Impressive interview, with thoughtful questions and answers.

  13. You are a busy writer. Great that you have so many publications, and so much more in the works. keep it up Simon.

    PS to Ellie: Am I on your Passing time tour? I think I've lost a few e-mails.


  14. Hi Ellie - what a great interview with Simon ... I loved the sound of Gene Hunter ... and also fascinating to read your approach to publication etc ..

    Also good to know you're another Brit - with three legs in various places!! Settled now I note ... happy writing and lots of success ... cheers Hilary

  15. What a great interview! Thanks for posting. It can be hard to find time to write, even when it seems like you might have plenty of time. Funny how that works out.

    I love the cover for Hedge Witch, and it sounds very interesting, as does the other novel. Best wishes to you, Simon!



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