by Simon Williams
I had the basic idea floating around for some time and decided to see how it would turn out if I turned it into a full-length novel.
At the time (this was many years ago) I had been mostly writing short stories—in fact I hadn’t completed a longer work for years.
The main problem was that I was trying to develop an epic fantasy / high fantasy novel very much in the “traditional” style, but as more ideas came to me (including a number of sci-fi / horror elements that I wanted to bring to the series—even then I was planning far ahead and knew that the story would change radically) I became more and more convinced that I had to really change the structure of the book, and also the narrative, which really didn’t work with the gritty, more realistic approach that I wanted to use.
Changing the Structure of the Narrative Inspires a Series
Coupled with this was the fact that I had very little spare time and inspiration at that point, working in various admin jobs to try and pay bills—i.e a lot of wasted time spent being bored in uninspiring places.
When I eventually changed the book completely, however, that in turn gave rise to a burst of inspiration which pretty much lasted for the rest of the series.
To give that some context, Oblivion’s Forge took something like ten years to write (which is an appalling rate of output) but each of the next four books in the series, all of which are longer, took roughly a year each.
Not prolific by any means, but considerably better.
My Self-Doubt Disappeared When I Found My Voice
I often wondered if I was ever going to finish it [the book].
Certainly there was considerable self-doubt, but now I know that it stemmed almost entirely from the fact that I hadn’t found my “voice” for longer works—I was writing in a style that deep down I wasn’t entirely happy with, which spurred me on to change it completely.
In so doing, I found a style with which I WAS entirely happy, and which I persisted with for the rest of the series.
I did get a few “Are you still writing that stupid book?” comments along the way, but I’ve learned to only care what readers / interested people think of my work.
I couldn’t care less what the rest of the world thinks.
Find Your Natural Writing Style and Stick With It
Finding my “voice” or natural style not only enabled me to write a large five-book series, it has meant that I now know exactly “how” to write any future fantasy works.
That would be my advice to others—once you’ve found that natural style (and it’s different for everyone) just stick with it.
Don’t write in a way that you’re not comfortable with—your readers will notice.
Taking the First Step on a Road I’d Been Looking For
I don’t think [writing the book] did change me in terms of any outer life / “real life” (whatever that is) factors.
As a writer, however, without a doubt Oblivion’s Forge acted as a launch pad for everything else.
The discoveries I made while writing the book have enabled me to push on and write more quickly, more comfortably, more evocatively—I’m far happier with the work I produce now, and Oblivion’s Forge was very much the beginning of that.
The first step on a road I’d been looking for all my life, you could say.
What Would I Do If I Couldn’t Write?
I wouldn’t say writing is a “spiritual” thing for me.
It is, however, the only thing I do that I’m any good at (at least I hope I am—and reviews have been encouraging so far), so it is of immense importance because of that.
What would I do if I couldn’t write? I expect I would do nothing, and in time fade away entirely.
Taking On a New Challenge in a Standalone Novel
My current work in progress, which I started recently once the Aona series had been completed, is a standalone novel.
It’s a challenge on many fronts, but one of those is that it doesn’t sit within any particular genre. There are elements of it that will seem familiar to readers, but also some that will be bizarre.
It weaves together fantasy, sci-fi and horror as the Aona books did, but is written very much in a “human drama” point of view, with three central (and very different) characters.
It “feels” different, original and quite exciting, and progress has been swift so far.
(Read more about Simon on his previous Writing and Wellness post.)
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Simon Williams is the author of the Aona dark fantasy series, of which four books have been published so far. He’s also written a sci-fi / fantasy / supernatural book, Summer’s Dark Waters aimed at younger readers. All the royalties from sales of Summer’s Dark Waters go towards TACT (tactcare.org.uk), an adoption and fostering charity.
Simon names Alan Garner as the author who made him decide to become a fantasy writer. Other influences have included Clive Barker, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Tad Williams, C.J Cherryh and Ian Irvine.
Now, at last, Aona has been found.
The younger races of this world will all be swept up in a struggle for survival, as their ancient, malevolent masters, guardians of all Aona’s secrets, rise to do battle with their foes, remorseless destroyers of world after world throughout the known Existence.
Available at Amazon.
Caught between the destroying light of the marandaal and the malign influence of the choragh, ancient masters of Aona, are the men and women who will shape the destiny of this world: wielders of the Old Powers, and their protectors.
Secret Roads continues the chronicle of malevolent forces and violent upheaval that began with Oblivion’s Forge.
Available at Amazon.
The Endless Shore: The marandaal spread throughout Aphenhast, and in the bitterly divided land of Harn a small group of men and women seek to bring the unity without which the entire world will perish. Nia, former spy and assassin for the Watchers, flees north, carrying with her a terrible secret about the Watchers themselves.
In Mirkwall, Ilumor presides over the kin and prepares to fight the marandaal. But some other power has been stirred within the Mirk; something not even his masters the choragh know about.
And in Luudhoq, Yui and her companions must avoid capture by the immortal Seven at all costs.
Available at Amazon.
The Spiral Heart:
As the marandaal draw ever closer to Harn, Inerdyr is intent on crushing the renegade Watchers and mercenaries who have banded together in the name of a unified resistance to the starspawn.
In Luudhoq, the Seven fight and plot as cracks appear in their ancient empire.
Ilumor prepares to lead the defence of Mirkwall against the marandaal, but an unexpected fate awaits him.
And those few who walk the Green Road find that something terrible lurks within the very heart of the world…
Available at Amazon.