WHO ARE THE KINDLE ALL-STARS?
Short conversations throughout November with the stellar talent behind the revolutionary short-story anthology THE KINDLE ALL-STARS PRESENT: RESISTANCE FRONT
May I present Simon John Cox, a Resistance Front contributor who funnily enough lives just up the road from me (well, a few miles, but not too far from Brighton & Hove). I have to say that ‘Perks of the Job’ is one of my favourite stories from Resistance Front. I’ve also read his Kindle offerings Totentanz which contains one of the most disturbing stories I’ve ever read, and The Restoration Man which is one of the most beautiful short stories I have ever read and left me breathless with admiration. Sounds over the top doesn’t it? Well why don’t you go and grab The Restoration Man for yourself and challenge me back about it?
I know what’s going to happen. You’re going to be coming back saying “Yeah, you were right.”
Anyway, on with the interview. And Simon, if you decide to take that novel of yours and get it on the Kindle I’ll do you a cover for free.
FS: How did you come to hear about the Kindle All-Stars project?
Simon: Bernard posted a request for submissions on the Kindleboards forum under the title “Looking for a few good writers” or something like that, and in a flash of arrogance I thought “hey, I’m a good writer!” so I read the discussion thread and sent him something. He liked it, and here we are.
FS: What’s your contribution called?
Simon: Perks Of The Job. It was originally called A Perk Of The Job, but Bernard wanted to change it and I didn’t really care what it was called so I said “yeah whatever” and went with it.
FS: And without giving too much away, what’s it about?
Simon: It’s either a by-the-numbers romance between two angsty emo vampires or it’s an exploration of the existential impact of temporary genetic enhancements on the human brain, set in Shanghai in the future. Actually I intended that of those two examples it would be obvious which one was more ridiculous because I wanted it to be a funny comparison, but now I read them I realise that they both sound ludicrous and as a result I hate myself. It’s the second one.
FS: What was the main inspiration behind it?
Simon: I think I watched a TV programme or heard something on the radio about how new genetic technologies would enable us to manipulate the genes of unborn babies in order to treat hereditary diseases from inside the womb, but also to tailor things like muscle development and IQ. Or maybe I dreamed it. Anyway, I thought the whole idea of “cosmetic” genetic manipulation was terrifying, so I thought it would be interesting to write a story that looked at that kind of thing – how you might feel when a temporary genetic enhancement that you’d taken wore off.
FS: Did you write it specifically for the Kindle All-Stars, or was it written prior?
Simon: It was written prior – it’s a subject that I find interesting so I wrote it simply because I enjoy using fiction to explore these themes. It was good luck that Bernard thought it was a good fit for KAS.
FS: Obviously the primary goal behind this anthology is to make some money for disadvantaged and abused children. But secondary to that, it is to promote fresh, new writing talent – the punk rock of literature – and show that Indie writers are out there, dedicated and working hard to produce Class-A work.
If people take notice of what you’ve written for this anthology, what do you hope the outcome is of that attention?
Simon: I suppose I’d just like them to read more of my writing. And enjoy it, hopefully.
FS: How do you write? Are you a plotter? Do you fly by the seat of your pants? When do you write, and where? I write at night, at the dining table, when the kids are in bed and the place is finally peaceful and quiet. And I work everything out on paper before I sit down to write. What have you found works best for you?
Simon: Good question. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but it was only when I was about 25 that I learned that the only way I will ever be able to finish a significant piece of writing is if I know the start and the ending before I write a single word; that way I’m just joining the two together. The ending doesn’t have to be set in stone – and in fact it often changes as I’m going along – but if I don’t have an ending in mind then I’ll just meander off on a tangent and the narrative will dribble away to nothing. In terms of finding time, I mostly write during my lunch hours at work. I’m very much a morning person – I’m usually too tired to write in the evening.
FS: How did you find the editing process with Bernard? I found it to be like a smack in the mouth and a pat on the head at the same time, saying “I like this” at one point, to a specific sentence, and then “You need to stay in Active Voice!” the next. I learned a lot, and I think I have a much stronger piece of writing now than I did when I submitted it. What was your personal experience?
Simon: I think I’d agree with your experiences. I think I’m a pretty good self-editor, but I would never consider a piece of writing to be finished until at least one other person had read it and commented on it, simply because as the author you’re probably too close to the writing to see it completely objectively. Bernard’s comments were great – I think I agreed with at least 80% of them. He was very good about compromising; it wasn’t a case of “this is wrong and must be changed”, most of the edits were presented as suggestions rather than mandates, but I could see that they would improve the narrative. As a result the end product is definitely much improved.
FS: Is there anyone in particular who’s contributed to the anthology that you’re excited to be included alongside?
Simon: Apart from Harlan Ellison and Alan Dean Foster, you mean? I didn’t know any of the other KAS writers before I got involved in the project, and I think that is the most exciting thing – as a result of this project I’ve come into contact with all these talented but unheralded writers, and being a part of this community feels inspirational, motivational and supportive.
FS: We know that there will be a KAS 2 at some point. Plans are already afoot. Is there a dream name you’d like to see involved in it the next time around? Me personally, getting published in a book that includes a story by Alan Dean Foster is one of those “Wouldn’t it be great if one day…” things that I can now tick off of the list.
Simon: I can’t wait to find out what the theme for KAS 2 is. KAS has been such a positive experience I definitely want to try to get a story done for the next iteration. In terms of dream names, well, I suppose it would depend on the theme. Is this a “favourite living authors” question? If so, then I’d say Magnus Mills, Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell, Salman Rushdie…good luck in signing them up.
FS: So when you’re not helping to fight evil, what do you get up to in real life?
Simon: I create evil. By which I mean I work in marketing.
FS: Are you working on anything now? Anything you’d like everyone to know about?
Simon: Well, I have a novel that’s finished and in a bit of a no-man’s-land between wanting to get it published by a traditional publisher and not wanting it to sit on my hard drive forever gathering dust, then I have another that I’m about halfway through…I’m working up a short story for entry into a literature competition run by the people who operate a particle accelerator facility, then I have a few others that are in various stages of completion and which I’ll probably package up and put out as an ebook when they’re done.
FS: And to your readers – both potential and existing – is there anything you would like to say? They might be reading this months after Resistance Front has landed, wanting to know more about you. What would you like to say to them?
Simon: Thank you for taking the time to read my writing, and I really hope that you enjoy it. Don’t stop reading, and don’t stop taking chances on unknowns – there’s a lot of quality writing out there that the mainstream publishing houses aren’t picking up.
FS: Thats it! Time’s up! Hopefully we’ll the chance for a much more in-depth chat at some point in the near future when KAS is out on sale!