I’d like to introduce to you the eighth interviewee in my ‘Meet the Author’ series. He is Simon Swift.
Question: Hi, Simon! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
Answer: I have always been a writer. My earliest memories contain the writing of stories. As a child, I had dreams of being a film star, a spy or an author. It was clear that of the three, writing was my real passion, and dreams aside I was never going be cut out to be the next James Bond or Marlon Brando! Every opportunity I got, I would write whether it be stories, poems, reviews and I am sure, quite a lot of nonsense along the way.
For a while, life took over and writing took a back seat to playing the doting husband and father, kicking a football around on a Saturday afternoon, and bettering the lives of young children as a teacher. I suppose during this time I became more of a reader, devouring heaps of great books, from Ellroy’s LA Noir to Haruki Murakami’s awe-inspiring work. Old detective novels from the likes of Spillane, Chandler, Hammett, Max Allan Collins and Bill Pronzini were constant companions. It was clear, that soon I would return to my own writing, although the writing of Black Shadows was a very slow and steady process…
Question: Your debut novel, Black Shadows, was a Gold Star Winner on Authonomy, an online writer’s community run by HarperCollins. How did you come across the website? What was your experience like?
Answer: Upon hearing about Authonomy, a new website for aspiring authors, I gave Black Shadows a thorough edit and decided to upload. Authonomy was a rollercoaster journey, but did introduce me to many great people, some offering invaluable advice. It wasn’t all good, but what it did do is give me the opportunity to polish and improve the novel. Black Shadows attained a gold star from authonomy in January 2010, on the way to becoming the all time top ranked crime novel and generating a record of over 1000 reviews.
Question: The Casablanca Case is your second novel in the Errol Black Trilogy. Both Black Shadows and The Casablanca Case were published by Wild Wolf Publishing, but your third book, Kiss Him Goodbye was published by a different publisher in August of 2012. Why did you decide to switch publishers?
Answer: My novella, Kiss Him Goodbye was published by Taylor Street Books, a small San Francisco based publisher. The reasons for this are quite simple – Wild Wolf only publish full length novels not novellas AND I had been promising to work with Tim Hewtson the CEO of Taylor Street and a man a man I respect enormously for some time. It seemed like an opportune time!
Answer: An incredibly talented lady, called Sessha Batto designed it for me. She also did the covers for BLACK SHADOWS and CASABLANCA.
Check out her work: http://sesshabattousai.com/Book_Covers.html
Question: Your debut children’s book, Come Home Errol, written under the pen name of Harvey Rooster, will be released this month. You wrote it about your family’s cat, and for your own children? I read an advance-copy, wrote a review which is posted here on my blog, but can you tell us about the story? Did your children help in any way with the story? What made you decide to publish it?
Answer: Here’s the blurb–
Errol is a sleek, black cat with soft, velvety fur and small, pointy ears. His eyes are as green as emeralds and his nose is like a little, pink button. Errol loves nothing more in the world than eating tuna.
Errol Come Home is the story of Errol’s rooftop ride from being number one in the household to ‘paw’ relation when the ‘little ones’ arrive. Errol soon discovers his quiet life of sleepy cuddles and full bowls of tuna has changed forever. So he journeys next door to find the lady with the red finger nails who has turkey chunks in her gravy. Will he continue to ignore the sad calls from his loving little ones? Will he reunite with his family? Or will he stay next door, tuna-less forever?
It’s a little story I have written primarily for my own kids – one of my early New Year resolutions – about our own cat. The goal was originally to have it published and available for them to enjoy but through popular demand I have decided that it will also be available on kindle and for the wider world.
The kids didn’t sit down and help me write it, but without them it could never have been written. I am so excited to see their faces when they pick up the first copy!
Question: Do you plan to write any more children’s books? If so, will Errol the Cat be in them?
Answer: The second Errol book (ERROL’S CHRISTMAS) is already written and is currently with Jacoba Dorothy, who illustrated the first book. I also plan at least one more, with hopefully a whole stack of them. Time will tell!
Question: How does it feel to be a published author? How are you dealing with marketing and advertising? Do you get to meet a lot of your fans in person?
Answer: As far as being published is concerned, I don’t think there are any lows. As long as you are realistic and believe in your work, the ups and downs of the kindle market is simply a sideshow. It is great that one day I find myself outselling Chandler, Hammett and Spillane, but am well aware that the next week could see a dip and then another rise and then another dip and so on (just like the wonderful rolling hills outside my window!!!)
The major high so far, definitely has to be my debut signing at Waterstones in Huddersfield. I have also had successful signings in Leeds, Harrogate, Manchester, Sheffield, Bradford and London. It is great to meet people and talk to them about the book in person (although it does feel strange to think of them as fans!!)
Other highlights include being a part of Kirklees Libraries’ Month of Crime and doing a talk at the local Library. This was a great experience and being on the same bill as Andy McNab was awesome. Also sharing a Waterstones Promotional flyer with Lee Child and James Corden was amusing, before I had my signing in Manchester. Upcoming projects include a talk for Bradford University students about the future of British literature. At times I still pinch myself and it is events like these that do make it all see a little unreal.
In spite of all the fun I am having, I have no plans to give up my teaching, which will always remain my passion. If Hollywood comes calling, I may need to utilize the Summer Holiday to the full, but until then I will continue the day job whilst devising new mysteries in the midnight hours.
Question: Are there any books or writers who have especially influenced your writing?
Answer: That’s a difficult one. For Harpercollins to compare me to Chandler and Hammett is an unbelievable complement. I guess there is plenty those guys in there, as well as a splash of Spillane. More recent authors that have influenced my style and panache would be the amazing Max Allan Collins and the legendary James Ellroy. If I have got even close, I am a very happy man.
As far as writing under the guise of Harvey Rooster my main inspiration is definitely Judith Kerr and her amazing MOG series!
Question: What books are you currently reading?
Answer: I am on the last Roy Grace thriller, written by the fantastically talented Peter James (since I have been published he and I regularly swap emails!) And of course I am reading to the kids every day, with The Secret Seven the latest faves!
Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!
Children’s Works As Harvey Rooster
Errol Come Home: https://www.facebook.com/ErrolCameHome
Amazon links to follow!!!
Crime works under Simon Swift
Publishers website: http://wildwolfpublishing.com/SSwift.aspx
Amazon paperbacks (UK): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Shadows-Simon-Swift/dp/1907954082/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1301345022&sr=1-11
Amazon paperbacks (US): http://www.amazon.com/Black-Shadows-Simon-Swift/dp/1907954082/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1301345022&sr=1-11
Amazon kindle: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Shadows-ebook/dp/B004TAFNCM/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=A3TVV12T0I6NSM&qid=1301345022&sr=1-11