Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Simon Ward about his career, what inspires him, and the creative writing process that went into his new book, Awoken In 2046.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m Simon Ward, I’ve spent most of my career as a process improvement contractor/consultant helping manufacturing companies to solve their issues and improve efficiency. I started writing short stories for myself some years ago, but it was not until I worked with BMW in Hams Hall, Birmingham, that a colleague suggested entering a writing competition. And that’s where it all started.
When did you take a step to start writing?
The writing competition pulled my out of my comfort zone and set me on the path I’ve followed since. Although the competition called for “Twisted” horror which was not my thing at all. I would much rather have written something with some romantic or comedic elements but I created a horror which made readers cross their legs.
When I was selected for the final round and received a provisional contract, my confidence received a further boost.
As it happened my short story didn’t get published in the final cut, but the feedback I received was very positive and gave me the confidence to carry on.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
It took me four years to reach the stage where I was happy to publish, Finding Love in 2045. I had joined a writing group and we shared 10,000-word submissions every month. The feedback helped to sharpen up the story, but before the group had completed the whole story the group broke up. Knowing the benefit I’d received from the group, I started my own writing group, the “Shark Tank” and had my manuscript reviewed again from the start.
Many would think after four years I would have been fed up with the story, but on my final read through before publishing I still got emotional reading it. Not for finally finishing it, but for the lead character, Mia.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
The follow up, Awoken in 2046 was significantly quicker as my process had been established, I’d used NaNoWriMo to get the first draft done and then worked through my editing with feedback from the Shark Tank. I published Awoken in 2046, almost 12 months to the day of my first.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Awoken In 2046?
My forthcoming release, Time to Click is the extended version of the twisted short story. One of the main characters in my first two books needed more, so combining it with the twisted story gave it an extra bite. Without the provisional contract it would have been written sooner, but with the delay in the judging process, I had started on Finding Love in 2045, I also thought that for the Click story I needed more time to develop my craft and do it justice.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Awoken In 2046?
The medical details (don’t want to spoil it for your readers), took a lot of research. Some stuff you need to find out isn’t openly on internet searches.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
The protagonist is a good guy like me, but perhaps gets led astray more than I would hope to. Thankfully, I didn’t experience his troubles for real.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
I’ve come across many women who at first glance appear to be angels, but beneath the surface they’re far from it.
What is the inciting incident of Awoken In 2046?
The lead Character, Ethan has his penis chopped off and he is dumped in a ditch and left for dead.
Although this happens around 25% into the story, the book opens with him in the ditch and tells the story of how he got there and what happened after.
What is the main conflict of Awoken In 2046?
The main conflict is the decisions Ethan needs to make, from personal temptations, career progression against his love life and classic fight or flight scenarios.
Did you plot Awoken In 2046 in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I started off as a pantser but now I’m more of a plotser. I have a general plot in my head with a loose ending scenartio but as I’m writing the story changes as twists come into my head.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Awoken In 2046 need?
My first draft is a royal mess but getting the story down is the main focus. When I start to edit, I use Pro Writing Aid, which is my first pass of editing before I send my submission to the Shark Tank. After the Shark Tank reviews, I will make any necessary changes and then conduct a deeper PWA edit.
When the post review PWA edits are all complete, I’ll read through (with Read Aloud), when I’m happy with that I’ll send it out to my proof-reading group and after taking on board comments, I may make some small adjustments before having another full read through.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Short stories are a good start, but most importantly you need to start writing and get the first draft done. Don’t worry about errors and style just get it down.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I do have one non-fiction project that’s nearing completion. It’s a book targeted at parents/teenagers, “Why you should teach your kids about gambling.”
I have several ideas for more fiction, but my next series is going to be the life of Billy Spark. In essence a gypsy gave his parents a life book for him when he was a baby and his life is following the book until something changes and the print disappears only to reappear with a much worse future. The series will look at different stages of his life from his teenage years, marriage, working life and his older age challenges.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
My first book, Finding Love in 2045 had some great feedback, but as my writing improved, I look back at it and wanted to re-edit it. I’d been advised to leave it alone, but I did re-write the first chapter.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
The Awakenings Series is available on Amazon, as paperback, ebook and Kindle unlimited.
Finding Love in 2045 https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B085TR828X
Awoken in 2046 https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08YRWK31W
Time to Click Out soon (January 2022)
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