“It’s not going to be a war, it’s going to be an annihilation.”
Today marks the return of Simon Birks, who has been good enough to allocate a little bit of time to sit and chat about his newly released novel ‘The Ballad of Broken Song Book One – Death and Resurrection’. Simon, welcome back it’s great to see you back to discuss your newest literary work which we only touched on the in last interview. As we have more time today why don’t you kick off today’s interview by expounding a bit more on what is ‘Death and Resurrection’.
Set on three different, but neighboring worlds, ‘Death and Resurrection’ is the first book in ‘The Ballad of Broken Song’ series, which chronicles the epic lead-up and battle that takes place for the planet of Whate. It follows many people, as slowly their fates begin to entwine in the unfolding events.
How did the initial ideas for the events within this book unfold in your mind?
My wife was talking about some ideas for a book, and from that, I wrote a passage which became the germ of this book.
In the last interview you mentioned that you didn’t necessarily set out explicit themes in your work to build on the initial idea germinated but instead they pop-up while you were writing. Did this hold true for this book?
Yes, in the past few years themes have almost naturally started to present themselves in my writing.
Did you have one central idea that you really dominated this book?
One of the major themes in this book is the way technology affects societies.
That’s a really big question to answer and one that I think is becoming increasingly topical as we are living more and more aspects of our lives through technology? Did you try and put in your own direct experiences into the book?
Not really. Thankfully I’ve never had to have a sword fight (apart from when I’m acting), and have never had to experience coming face to face with weird creatures.
That’s a shame about the weird creatures. You never know how much those encounters may have advanced your book :). Maybe you need to go on a sword wielding quest to investigate the next instalment of this trilogy. Fantasy doesn’t really lend itself to book research does it?
Not really. This book is a fantasy story set on another world, so most of it is made up. I spent the most time on trying to envisage the world, to make sure it would look right.
What steps do you take to make sure the world and the players inside of this are envisaged and appear correctly?
A lot of the time they come straight from my brain, through my fingertips and onto the (digital) page there and then. I don’t do a lot of planning.
As you’re not doing alot of planning do you find your characters still stick around in your head? For example do they follow you into your dreams?
Fair enough, I think you might loose some sleep if they start having sword fights in your sleep. Did you at least form some favouritism with a few of your characters?
Hoep and Orsa turned out to be two of my favourite characters, though in truth, I liked them all.
Any in particular you’d like to socialise with?
I think they’d all be cool to have a beer with, though you’d have to watch what you said.
*Laughs*. When you look back on the time that was this book, what do you feel was the most fulfilling point that you keep coming back to?
I enjoyed writing a book that I would pick up in a bookshop to look at. My first book, The Ostrich Race, was a mystery, and whilst I loved writing it, it wasn’t my usual genre. So, it was nice to complete a book that I’d read.
Are you working on something that you are more likely to read yourself?
I’m currently editing an unreliable narrator horror book called Songstrom, which I wrote during NaNoWriMo last year (2015).
I’m intrigued by the idea of an unreliable narrator, it sounds pretty cool. From what I’ve heard from many authors editing a NaNoWriMo project tends to be more work than the original writing. Do you do anything in particular in the editing process to improve your final output?
For this book (‘Death and Resurrection’), I used an editor, and that will be the norm going forward, now.
Was ‘Death and Resurrection’ also written at NaNoWriMo speed, or did you take a little more time to get in on paper?
I wrote the first two parts in a couple of months. Then I left it for a year before returning to it and writing the final third. Redrafting took a few months, too.
Are you doing the writing and redrafting by hand or digitally?
I write my books on a laptop into Word, and then back it up every day.
Now that is a tip that I don’t believe that I’ve heard before – back up your work! I like the good solid IT tip from the IT worker. Catastrophic crashes don’t seem to be as commonplace as they seemed to be in the past, but that’s no excuse not to backup. Other than backing up your work do you have any other tips?
Just publish it. Editing is very useful. Plus, make sure you’re happy with how it reads. No point rushing the last bit.
How it reads is what is it all about :). What the cover looks like is also a nice to have, but the readability does win out. But speaking of covers yours has been done really well. Who did it?
My good friend and artist Lyndon White (@lyndondraws) created the cover. I gave him a couple of details that he included on the design.
You will have to get him back to do the next instalment in the trilogy as he has done well. Now last time we chatted we did go through most of my quick fire question block, and since the new block of questions hasn’t been released I don’t have anything too different from what I had last time. So I though that we could give them another whirl and see if we can get better responses from last time. Let’s start with:
What are you reading at the moment?
Listening to Necronomicon by Lovecraft. I listen to audiobooks nowadays, so have been able to catch up on some of the classics.
Audiobooks are amazing. You can read and do the washing the same time. Efficiencies abound :). What was your favourite book as a child?
As a teen, I enjoyed reading Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Who is your favourite literary character?
Cat in the Hat
If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
A cat with another cat – I’d call it a Megacat.
The big question I think now is does the Megacat wear hats? What is your favourite quote?
‘Let go, Luke.’
Is there a question that you haven’t been asked that you’d like to be, or anything that didn’t come up?
This question actually, so I’m thankful you asked it.
*Laughs*. The most powerful question in my interviewing arsenal, as you liked it so much I will make sure it survives the upcoming interview question set change. Simon, thanks for joining me today and I wish you the best of luck with ‘Death and Resurrection’ and your progress on ‘Songstrom’.
Want to find out more about Simon? Connect here!