Welcome to Author Thursday hosted by Never Too Old For Y.A. Books group on Goodreads!
June is MALE AUTHOR INTERVIEW MONTH for us! We're very excited to be featuring some of your favorite male authors for our interviews!
Today we welcome author Philip W. Simpson to the group and blog to tell us a bit about himself and how he writes!
The Rapture has occurred, just as the Bible predicted. The faithful have risen up to Heaven. Those left behind are in a living hell.
Earth burns, hell-like in its oppressive heat. Every volcano in the world has erupted, and tsunamis and earthquakes continue to devastate the planet. Clouds continually rain ash onto the scorched landscape, sparking fires all around. Plants and animals are dying. Food is scarce. The night sky is devoid of stars, and the moon - when it can be seen - is the colour of blood.
The remnants of humanity fight for survival. Most have fled the cities and now hide in caves deep in the mountains. By night, demons stalk the Earth, capturing the remaining humans and killing them - if they're lucky. The less fortunate are converted to worship of the Devil, and ushered into endless hell.
Eighteen year old Sam is unable to rise up because he is half demon. Hikari, a Japanese sword master and demon expert and his beautiful daughter, Aimi, have been all the family Sam has ever known. Now they're gone, and Sam must set out on the mission Hikari charged him with long ago: to help all the humans left behind. Armed only with his beloved Japanese swords and his wits, Sam wanders the post-apocalyptic world alone, separated forever from everyone he loves. Cursed by his demonic heritage, he must now embark on a quest that will take him across the US to the City of Angels.
There he will confront his destiny. There he must fight to save a friend ... and the souls of the living
Halfway through the desolate Tribulation, half-demon Samael is still alone, with only his Samurai swords and memories of the dearly departed - especially his beloved Aimi - to sustain him. Fighting for the innocents who remain behind, Sam has thwarted the plans of the Antichrist once before. Now, having already conquered Europe, America remains a thorn in his brother’s side. At the head of a massive invasion fleet, an army of demons, and his sights firmly fixed on New York, he will not be denied again ...
Beset on all sides by adversaries, aided by friends old and new, Sam must stop his brother before America falls. And if that means killing him, then so be it. He failed once before; this time he will succeed - or die trying
For the last seven years, the half-demon Samael has battled his inner demons as well as the very real demons that inhabit the desolate, ash-shrouded Earth. Betrayed by Heaven and Hell, cursed by the surviving humans that he strives to protect, separated from all those he loves – Sam’s existence is filled with death and despair.
Now he must make a choice. Continue to fight for those he swore to protect or leave them to their fate and join his father in Hell. The Apocalypse is coming and it isn’t going to wait for Sam to make up his mind.
So let's hear what Phillip told us!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Since I was a boy but seriously - possibly about 10 years ago when I took the time off to write my first novel. It was a steep learning curve and I don’t think I was terribly successful. I’ve got better since (I hope). It taught me one valuable lesson, however – writing is a discipline. Anyone can write books, you just have to be dedicated. That means spending a certain amount of time each day doing it.
How long does it take you to write a book?
If I write for a whole day, I’ll usually get about 4,000 words done. That’s 20k a week. You do the math – you can have a whole novel written in about 4 weeks. Of course, it may be terrible, but that’s what the editing process is all about. Generally speaking, if I write full-time, I'll have a novel written in about 2 months (not including a couple of weeks planning and thinking time).
What do you think makes a great story?
Good world building and an engaging character or characters that the audience can relate to or empathize with.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I teach during the day and my wife and I have a baby boy (Jack), so I don’t have much time during the week. To be honest, I’m too tired when I get home to summon up the creative energy you need to write a novel. During school terms, I write in the weekends. Usually both days from 8am until about 4pm. I can get on a bit of a roll then. In the holidays, I’ll write every weekday for about the same time. I have the weekends off.
How do you balance family and writing?
See above. Family time is after school and the few months I have off between novels.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I read a lot and I like to do research (a product of spending almost 10 years studying at college). I watch the news religiously and watch far too many movies (when my son is in bed). I'm always thinking 'what if?' and surf the internet obsessively.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That no-one had done this before. The left behind series covered the Rapture but nothing like this - not this amalgam of fantasy and religious dogma.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
About 50 books for young readers (almost all with an educational bent). Five novels, 2 chapter books, 2 picture books, a host of short stories and numerous articles. My wife's favorite is the 'Unseen Country' but I personally love Tribulation, the second book in the Rapture Trilogy.
Are your characters based on anyone you know?
Adam, the leader of the Black Ridge survivors is based on one on my friends. His name is, well, Adam. He’s solid and dependable, too. I killed off quite a few of my other friends in the book too. Grace’s Aunty and Uncle (Greg and Linda Muller) are good friends in real life. I killed them off without giving them a scene. Lots of friends have asked to be included in the next book (their names in any case), but I keep warning them that they will probably die.
Do you have a favorite place you love to write?
Anywhere where my son can't find me. If he does, I have to pick him up which makes it impossible to type. He, of course, is able to and has almost succeeded in deleting several pieces of work with his busy fingers. I generally hide in the garage now.
Tell us one thing we wouldn’t know already know about you.
I play drums in the school band. I’ve been playing for years but I’m still pretty rubbish.
What do your family and friends think about your books?
Most have been very supportive. My wife is my biggest fan and reads everything I write. My brother is not much of a reader. He's very supportive but I don't think he's read any of my novels.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Are you implying that I have free time? Sleep mostly. Family time. When I can, play football and golf. Go fishing. Read. Drink single malt whiskeys. Read some more.
Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring writers better themselves and their craft? If so, what are they?
This sounds trite because every author says it but it’s true – write, write, and then write some more. Read lots. Write in the genre you love. I’ve become a better writer because I read and write a lot. Practice makes perfect.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
An archaeologist. I trained to become one and worked as one for a while. It didn't quite live up to my expectations (Indiana Jones lied to me!). I would've liked to have become an astronaut but I don't think I could handle the G's (I tend to scream a lot on rollercoasters).
What are your favorite books and which authors inspire you?
Like many, I got into fantasy because of Tolkien. I must have read the Hobbit when I was seven. Jack Vance is my all time favorite author. He is just such a wordsmith. His writing is magical and has a timeless charm. Effortless. He is very descriptive though and I really wanted to try and get away from that with my latest works (I have been guilty of it before) because it has a tendency to slow down the narrative. I wanted this to be very fast paced. I’d read a few of Lee Child’s books (Jack novels) just before starting Rapture and I really liked his pared down, thrifty approach to his prose. I think he has definitely influenced my writing style.
In terms of favorite authors, I love Jack Vance, Iain M. Banks, Peter F. Hamilton, China and Tolkien of course. My favorite book of all time though is The Forever War by Joe .
For an aspiring writer what do you feel are certain do's and don’ts for writing a successful book?
You've probably heard it all before but show, don't tell. Let the characters tell the story (it can be hard when you only have one main character). Don't be over descriptive - let the audience picture the scene. Do your research. Figure out what your target demographic is and make sure your idea hasn't been done before.
What are you working on now?
I'm having a little hiatus at the moment. I wrote three novels (not including some education books) in two years and I feel a little drained of creativity. I'm going to have 2013 off in terms of novels. I have a few writing contracts to complete this year including the possibility of a rather large textbook but 2014 is going to be all about the novel. I've already started one and the plan for the second is all but complete in my head. So hopefully, I'll write two novels next year.
Thanks so much for stopping by to chat with us today, Phillip. It's been great having you here and learning about you and your writing process!
Currently, I am a full-time elementary (primary) school teacher, a full-time writer, a full-time husband and a full-time father. Before becoming a writer, I tried several other career options. I joined the army for a bit, gained a Masters in Archaeology, owned a comic shop, became obsessed with martial arts and oriental weapons and turned down a job at the British museum.
All told, I have over fifty books published. Most of these are children's books for publishers that include Macmillan, Penguin, Pearson, Oxford University Press and Cengage.
My YA novel RAPTURE (the first in the Rapture trilogy) was released Sept 1st, 2011 by Pear Jam books. RAPTURE is a dystopian/post-apocalyptic story about the end of the world featuring demons, angels and a half demon protagonist caught in the middle. RAPTURE was shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel award for best Youth novel.
Book 2, TRIBULATION, is scheduled for release in October, 2012. The final book, APOCALYPSE, will be out in late 2012/early 2013.
I have recently become an indie author after getting my rights back from my publisher for the Rapture trilogy. All five of my novels are now available.
On a personal note, I'm married to Rose, we have a son (Jack) and two border terriers, Whiskey and Raffles. I love fishing, reading, football (soccer) and single malt Whiskeys.