I then invited Simon to include an extract and he chose the following from Abolisher of Roses by Gary Fry:
* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), including author spotlights, guest posts, book reviews, flash fiction or poetry - new items posted 6am UK time Monday to Saturday and writing exercises at 6pm very weekday.
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
Interview no.143: publisher Simon Marshall-Jones (revisited)
Back in October 2011, I interviewed publisher Simon Marshall-Jones for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
I’m thrilled today to bring you the one hundred and forty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more because today’s is with a publisher – on my blog’s 6-month anniversary! A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. Today's guest is Simon Marshall-Jones, editor of Spectral Press.
Morgen: Hello Simon.
Simon: Hello Morgen, nice to be here!
Morgen: Ah thanks, great to have you here especially as you’re my first publisher, so I’m hoping you’ll start a flood of enquiries. :) You were a writer before becoming a publisher, please tell us something about your ‘journey’.
Simon: In some respects, the journey to becoming a publisher and editor has been more complicated than most. I always loved writing as a child, especially after one of my cousins wrote an academic treatise for his PhD thesis (on Welsh regional dialects), which was subsequently published as a ‘proper’ book.
Morgen: Wow. I’ve heard so many times that Welsh is becoming a less-used language so it’s great that he’d want to do that… that you’ve always loved writing so you’re doing what you want. :)
Simon: Plus, I’ve always been something of a voracious reader – I first read Lord of the Rings at six, and by the time I was eight, I’d progressed onto adult science-fiction, fantasy and horror (whether I fully understood what was going on in them is a different matter entirely, however!). I suppose I should have thought about pursuing a career either in writing or journalism, but I ended up, firstly, studying art (I still paint even now) and then, much later, computer multimedia, neither choice being all that successful, if I’m being honest.
Morgen: Oh dear.
Simon: However, all that was moot when I suffered a stroke fourteen years ago.
Morgen: My goodness…
Simon: So, for the best part of the last decade and a half, I’ve mostly been concentrating on recuperating and getting healthy again. It’s only within the last six years that I’ve been putting all my energies into creating a ‘career’ of some description: just before I took up editing I ran a record label for two years and when that failed to take off, I threw myself into the writing. I can write fairly well, but oddly I found that I was better at looking at and advising on other people’s work, so the editing quietly and surreptitiously replaced any ambitions of becoming an author. And, I have to qualify that by saying that I’m enormously happy that I appear to have discovered a forte from which I derive immense satisfaction.
Morgen: Yay! :) You publish quarterly quality chapbooks (trying saying that when you’ve had a few Southern Comfort & Cokes), can you please briefly explain the process from selecting which story you are going to use, to the chapbook being published.
Simon: Generally speaking, I ask a writer to send a story (or stories) in, preferably either an unpublished or specially written one, and to a specific brief i.e., something in the ghostly / supernatural / dark fiction vein. I put an emphasis on atmospherics, suggestion and implication, rather than gore and in-your-face horror, although if it’s a justifiable element within the story, then I’m certainly not averse to it. After selection and deciding when to publish, I’ll then work very closely with the author on any edits that need to be made and then both of us will work with the cover designer to create something special to adorn it with. What I’m looking for is a complete package, in other words, a totally holistic approach: I’ll often look at commissioning a specific artist whose work will match the story perfectly, for instance just like I asked Daniele Serra to create a painting for the cover of Cate Gardner’s Nowhere Hall. It’s this approach I think that gives Spectral its uniqueness and certainly makes the publications stand out. Once everything has been decided upon, I send it to the very capable Neil Williams who puts it all together into a PDF file and then it’s off to the printers.
Morgen: Attention to detail definitely. This is probably an obvious question but has being a writer first helped with deciding which projects to take on?
Simon: It has, but mostly I would say that it’s all the reading I’ve done – I’ve read thousands of books (across multiple genres as well as non-fiction), plus I also used to review books for a couple of websites, so I am already familiar how stories work and also with the output of many of the writers I invite to contribute to Spectral Press. Over the years I suppose I’ve developed a sense of what makes a ‘good’ story and of those that just don’t cut it. It’s more of an instinct than a skill, I think, although there are elements of the latter involved too. Additionally, there’s just the simple gut reaction to the story itself: emotional and personal involvement, engendered through effective characterisation, creation of atmosphere, suggestion and tension. Also, a writer being able to ‘say’ something without necessarily actually writing it down in the story – those subtleties that work their way into the imagination and fire it up.
Morgen: Ah yes, the classic ‘show not tell’ in a minute form. You don’t accept unsolicited submissions, how do you find the stories that you publish? Would you consider unsolicited in future?
Simon: I know quite a few of the writers I’ve asked to contribute on a personal level after having read their work and attended cons here and there. Plus, being involved in publishing you often get to hear ‘buzzes’ about certain writers, both new and established. The advent of the social networking site has been an absolute godsend in that respect, making it a great deal easier than of yore to hear about and contact authors. I also occasionally get people asking me whether they can send a sample tale in to me, with a prospect of a possible chapbook somewhere down the line.
As for unsolicited manuscripts, well, it just so happens that next year I’ll be making an attempt at reviving the old tradition of the Christmas Ghost Story, so popular during the Victorian era, and I’ll be making the anthology open to anyone who cares to submit something. I’ll be looking to publish 20-30 tales that truly encapsulate the idea of the ghost story set around the Yuletide season.
Morgen: Ooh, noted. :) The $64,000 question: out of all the stories you see, what makes one stand out for all the right reasons?
Simon: That’s a difficult one to answer, as I find it’s more of an ‘instinct’ than an actual science. For me, it would have to be something along the lines of effortlessly creating atmosphere and steadily-mounting dread, through believable characterisations, plots that don’t rely too heavily on exposition, a story that doesn’t necessarily tell you everything but lets you fill in some of the blanks, or ones that sometimes leave you guessing as to whether everything was ever satisfactorily resolved – of course, not all the stories I choose contain every one of these elements, but certainly the vast majority of them, I would say. Above all, however, they have to be well-written and engaging.
Morgen: That would work for me. And then, without naming names, what makes a story stand out for all the wrong reasons? :)
Simon: Putting my editing hat on for a moment, I’ve come across a few examples of what I would call ‘bad’ writing – jumbled tenses, mangled grammar, spelling mistakes and tedious repetition of a single word to describe something or the same action. Add to that any story that fails to ignite my imagination, is pedestrian, is derivative and completely lacking in originality (an author can rehash an idea, but rewrite it from a new angle, thereby making it original), or leave you with a distinct ‘so what?’ feeling at the end of it. And yes, I’ve had one or two of those cross my virtual desk in the last year or so....
Morgen: One or two a year, I think you’ve been lucky… or you’re just being kind. :) You publish ghostly and supernatural stories only, which does seem an incredibly popular genre, what made you go with those themes – is it a style that you love reading?
Simon: One of my favourite authors is HP Lovecraft – he was a master at creating worlds of unseen terror and dread, at delineating the uncaring cosmic element that lurks behind the everyday. I’ve also read a few of the stories of MR James, tales that remind us that, even in our most familiar environments and most comfortable of surroundings, there’s the possibility that an invisible world exists alongside that of our own that could be inimical to humanity.
Morgen: ‘inimical’, I like that (and I learned a new word) :)
Simon: Both these writers relied on the power of description to build up a picture of absolute terror, and broadcast the ever-building sense of dread through subtle implication. These are the kinds of stories I was reading when I was younger, and I am only just beginning to rediscover them. I some respects then, as far as ‘horror’ is concerned, this is where I started and I suppose this is where I feel most comfortable. It’s also something that I want to use as a reminder that a good ghostly tale needn’t be full of blood and violence in order to frighten and scare.
Morgen: Although he doesn’t class himself as a horror writer (everyone else does), I used to read a lot of Stephen King in my teens (under the duvet with a torch, which I reckon is why I wear glasses – or contact lenses which I had at the time of my photo) and he’s great at implience. :) Is there a plot that’s, pardon the pun, been written about to death?
Simon: Ahhh.... now, here’s a thing! I suppose you could truly say that all plots have been done to death in some sense: what makes particular ones stand out is how they’ve been written, or the angle from which it’s been explored. On a personal level I would have to say that, rather than a plot per se being diluted and ravaged, it’s a particular subgenre. The current vogue for vampire literature and paranormal romance is now getting to the point that it’s inevitably going to implode. That, however, is the nature of the business – you’ll get a Stephenie Meyer-type coming along, who creates a hugely successful series of novels and then, within months, publishers are all clamouring for books of the same type. Most, I would wager, are just average works, neither good nor bad, while others are deservedly successful and yet others shouldn’t even have been published. But I do think that, right now, the whole vampire thing has been overcooked to the point of being unpalatable. I absolutely love the original conception that Bram Stoker made popular – however, some of the recent ‘re-imaginings’ of the creature have left me with a distinctly bad taste in the mouth.
Morgen: I do too and when I see people (on the likes of LinkedIn) asking for help with an aspect of their vampire novel my heart sinks. Apparently angels are the next big thing but then they’ve always been around. Are you involved in any competitions, do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Simon: I’m not involved in any competitions myself, but I am thinking of running very occasional contests under the Spectral banner, wherein a lucky writer will win a chapbook of their own as the prize.
Morgen: Ooh great, yes, brilliant idea. :) Let me know if you do and I’d gladly tout it for you.
Simon: I do think that they’re a good way of making people aware of writers – plus there’s the competitive element, forcing the author to write the very best story that he or she can. If I do run such a contest, I’ll say right now that I have very high expectations and standards – a mite pretentious to some maybe, but Spectral Press has already started to gain a very good reputation for itself, and I have to maintain that. That’s not to say, of course, that I’m not interested in new writers – just that I’d like them to reach a certain level before I’ll consider them for publication.
Morgen: Absolutely, a good reputation is hard to get and vital to maintain. Another semi-priceless question: do you think an agent is vital to an author’s success? How would you suggest an author gets one?
Simon: I don’t think an agent is necessary per se for an author, but I think it would help enormously if he / she wants to garner a more mainstream profile. I certainly don’t go through an agent when I look for stories – the turnover and market position of my company, at present, definitely wouldn’t allow that!
As for finding one, I would suggest looking for possibilities on the internet, honing in on those agents who deal in your particular genre (as not all agents do) and sending them query emails. Also, if you can, try and net some feedback about specific agents (or agents in general) from other authors – on social networking sites and writer’s forums, for instance. After all, you need someone who will get behind your novel / story / whatever, and will take an interest in what you do. Above all, do your research! Don’t send either a query email or a horror manuscript to an agent who deals specifically in romantic fiction, for instance – it won’t even get a look-in. Don’t continually harass a prospective agent, either, after you’ve sent them something – wait a while, and if you’ve not heard back from within a month or two, maybe send them a short reminder but no more. If they don’t answer any of them, it’s could be because they’re very busy or just not interested – but, even if an agent isn’t taken with your novel, just try someone else.
Morgen: Yes, keep going (says she who tried 7-8 and is now going the eBook route… with an editor behind me). :) Now for, in theory, a simple question: what’s your opinion of eBooks, and do you read them? Are your chapbooks available in eBook format?
Simon: I have to admit I’m not a big fan of eBooks – unless I’m reviewing them for a website or a writer has sent me a submission. I’ve grown up with ‘real’ books all my life and, while I’m more than willing to embrace new technology in other areas, books are ‘sacred’ to me, and I will always buy the real thing.
Having said that, I recognise that the technology exists and that others have embraced it, so some of the publications planned in Spectral’s future will be published in an e-format. The chapbooks, however, will only ever be published in physical form (but, again having said that, there will be a collected edition published at some point which will be available as an eBook and possibly a paperback – they won’t be signed and numbered, however, as the chapbooks are), although I’m looking into the possibility of making them into audiobooks, thus preserving the exclusivity of the chapbooks themselves but still making them available to all.
Morgen: Ooh I love audiobooks – I tend to listen to more of those than read paper / screen as I can multi-task freeing up valuable time… plus they make a routine dog / work walk more fun. Short stories and poetry are, in my opinion anyway, the two most hard done by genres… what do you see as the future for them? Do you think the eBook revolution will help, given that eBooks seem to be getting shorter?
Simon: In recent years certainly, there seems to be a perception in the mainstream publishing industry that short story collections and anthologies ‘don’t sell’ – yet, from where I’m standing, all I see is a vibrant scene where this particular literary format reigns supreme and is very much appreciated.
Morgen: Oh yay <does a happy dance> being a short story author, that’s music to my ears. :)
Simon: I do think that mainstream publishers are missing out but, conversely, I am also glad that there is a smaller publishing industry that’s more than willing to cater for short-story enthusiasts. And eBooks, given their current, growing popularity, are an excellent arena for promoting them.
Morgen: They are (and I’m certainly hoping so with mine :)). Do you have to do a lot of editing to the stories you accept or is the writing more or less fully-formed?
Simon: Luckily, all the writers who have contributed so far have required little editing, just some here and there. It depends entirely on their writing method – some like to splurge it all out while others will write, edit and line edit until they’re satisfied. Most editing I do is minor, mostly for style and the odd inconsistency they may have missed, which doesn’t happen very often. That doesn’t mean that I don’t scrutinise the manuscript very closely, however: I go over it with the proverbial fine-toothed comb, not just once but a few times, just to make sure that everything’s there and it’s all complete.
Morgen: Understandably as you’re printing rather than eBooking. Have you had any surprising feedback about any of your chapbooks?
Simon: I’ve mostly been surprised at the success of Spectral, to be honest – it’s taken me completely aback. I only launched the imprint in January this year and already it’s gained a good reputation in that short span of time. All the feedback has been very positive, noting in particular the high quality of not just the stories but of the presentation as a whole and the editing.
Morgen: I think that deserves another “yah” or shall I go mad and say woo hoo? Yeah, go on then “woo hoo!” :)
Simon: The other thing that’s quite heartwarming, is when a reader writes to me and says that they enjoyed a particular chapbook so much that they’ve bought the author’s other works – and this has happened with all three so far published. There’s nothing better than receiving an email like that...
Morgen: Oh great. I met one of my Monday nighters (who has since become my gardener!) at Oundle Lit Fest’s Reader’s Day March 2010 and we were both given a goodie bag, her contained a Jo Nesbø book which she gave her teenage son who went out and bought (and I think still does) everything he’d written. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Simon: Simple: to keep on writing, every day if possible, and to keep submitting to magazines and anthologies. Short stories are great training grounds for aspiring writers, as you need to compress a whole story, or an element of a longer one, into a short space. If you get a rejection, send the story back out to somewhere else. Develop a thick skin too – not everyone will like your work. PLUS, and this is VERY important, take the advice of those who have more experience of these things than you do – they’re there to help you. I’ve heard horror stories of new writers saying to an editor that not a single word should be removed from their work – the fact is, all authors get edited, even people like Stephen King and Clive Barker.
Morgen: They do. Stephen King released the unedited version of The Stand (a doorstop of a book) and apparently it had more holes than a colander, but it was an early work so I guess we can let him off.
Simon: Editing is part and parcel of the process from the story being written to the book getting published. Furthermore, if you prove to be a ‘difficult’ author, unless you’re absolutely brilliant, editors will let it be known to other editors that you’re an awkward customer – very easily done these days with electronic communication.
Morgen: Indeed… I know (well, friend of a friend) a blogger, and continuously submitting writer, who blogs (successfully and popularly) anonymously to not get on the wrong side of editors although from what I’ve seen of the blog it’s all good stuff. Given that more emphasis these days is put on the author to market their published works or indeed themselves as a ‘brand’, how involved are you generally with your authors post-publication?
Simon: I very much keep in contact with the author afterwards, as there’s always the possibility of new projects emerging in the future. Plus, I also encourage the writers themselves to get involved: Cate Gardner held a competition recently, with a personally signed copy of the #1 of the limited run of her chapbook and a subscription to Spectral for the runner-up. I’m hoping that more of this kind of thing will happen in the future.
Morgen: Ooh, again let me know and I’ll tweet etc. Apart from your website, how do you market your Press and your chapbooks? Are your authors involved in marketing for you / themselves?
Simon: I send PDF review copies to all and sundry, getting them out to as many relevant book-blogs and websites as I can. For the last two chapbooks, I was in something of an odd situation: both had sold out before publication, so reviewers were doing write-ups on books that actually weren’t available anymore.
Morgen: Although that sounds awkward it’s the best way round to be, I guess…
Simon: It’s still entirely necessary to do that: the ‘brand’ of the imprint is still very important, and making people aware of it is THE top priority. Even if a book is sold out, if it still receives great reviews that’s priceless in terms of promotion as people will start to sit up and take notice. I am almost sold out of Spectral Volume IV, Paul Finch’s King Death, already, with fewer than 20 available even though it isn’t due to be published until December.
Morgen: Wow, sounds like you need to up your print runs. :)
Simon: I’ve also started having book trailers made for each chapbook, courtesy of my good friend and future Spectral author Mark West – those are uploaded to both my website and Youtube.
Morgen: I’ve seen a few discussions on LinkedIn about book trailers, apparently they’re worth doing. Although novellas are probably the longest pieces I’ll eBook (I’m working on three) I wouldn’t rule them out.
Simon: I also attend a convention or two every year, and get to as many book-related events as I’m able to. At this year’s FantasyCon (being held even as you read this), for instance, I was originally planning to launch Cate’s book, but I can’t do that now as I haven’t got any of them left! Instead, postcards of the front cover of Volume IV are being included in the attendees’ goodie bag.
Of course, the authors themselves will very often talk about the book on their own website and that never fails to bring more people in.
Morgen: Yes, FantasyCon started yesterday – how timely. :) And being held in one of my favourite places (Brighton, Sussex) – the picture on the homepage is a must-see. :) In which country are you based Simon, and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about, or distributing, your chapbooks?
Simon: I live in the UK, and these days geographical location is no longer any sort of bar to making people aware of what you’re doing. Most of my authors are UK-based and already have a fanbase, plus I distribute entirely from here, so I don’t have to worry about those kind of logistics. When I start publishing hardbacks, it’ll be a different story altogether, no doubt.
Morgen: Hardbacks… another venture. :) What do you think of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and more business-related such as LinkedIn? Do you think they’re invaluable or waste too much time?
Simon: Facebook and Twitter are the two social media sites I use most – through those two places have come the majority of my customers and all of my authors. So in that sense, yes, they’re invaluable. I’m on LinkedIn as well but, in all honesty, I have yet to find it of any use.
Morgen: I think you just have to find a thread (or start your own) that is relevant to what you want to talk about and / or learn. There’s so much going on that it’s a bit of a maze but I’ve gleaned some wonderful eBook-making tips and many of the people on there have become interviewees (so yes, I guess I’m biased). They don’t tolerate overt touting which is good as it keeps it grounded (although we invariably go off at tangents – one of my weaknesses, although I just tend to follow theirs most of the time). I belong to over half a dozen purely writing-related groups so that may be a start. Apart from the stories in your chapbooks, :) what do you like to read? Any authors (including those you’ve published) that you’d like to recommend?
Simon: My favourite current authors are China Miéville and Clive Barker, both of whom I would heartily recommend, in particular Perdido Street Station by Miéville and either Weaveworld or Imajica by Barker. I also like Umberto Eco, whose The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum enthralled me. I would also recommend Spectral author Gary McMahon’s Pretty Little Dead Things and its sequel Dead Bad Things, especially if you like unrelenting grimness. At the other end of the spectrum, I would heartily recommend the wonderfully inventive story collection Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits and Other Curious Things, by another Spectral author, Cate Gardner. Finally, The House of Canted Steps by Gary Fry, author of Spectral’s Abolisher of Roses, is a brilliant take on the theme of a haunted house.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not working? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
Simon: My main hobby is making model WW2 tanks, especially the unusual ones that emerged from Germany at the end of the war in an effort to stop the Allies. Some of these possess a strange, almost elephantine, beauty of their own – Hitler kept promising the ‘secret’ weapon that would end the war with an Axis victory, but instead all his manufacturers ever produced were a series of eccentric and bizarre under-performing vehicles in too few numbers to have any impact.
Among the other things I enjoy is wine – I actually have a diploma in Intermediate Studies in Wine and Spirits from the WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust), in which I gained a Distinction. I also paint from time to time – I’ve recently been commissioned to do a couple of book covers and a portrait, amongst a few others. Travel is always a biggie, although, with a business to run and promote it’s often very difficult to get away – so I’m looking forward to FantasyCon and also to visiting the Shetland Isles in January for the Up Helly Aa Festival.
Morgen: One of the country to the other…
Simon: Collecting tattoos is another ‘hobby’ of mine, if it can be called it that. I already have the majority of my upper body covered (including my head), and I am planning on getting the rest done when time and money allow. I also like to annoy the wife occasionally... :)
Morgen: :) Do you still write?
Simon: Occasionally, yes – I sometimes get the urge to write fiction, but not very often these days – I still have a lot of ideas bouncing around my head, and maybe one day I’ll get around to putting them down on paper. I write a couple of regular columns, though, for Read Horror webzine and Morpheus Tales Review Supplement, and a weekly wine column for The Clumsy Eater.
Morgen: ‘The Clumsy Eater’ I love that (I’m a title fan). Where can we find out about Spectral Press?
Simon: The best place to start would be to visit the website, which can be found at http://spectralpress.wordpress.com - everything you need to know is there, from subscription details, forthcoming publications, news and links to authors and reviews. People can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if there’s anything further they’d like to know about.
Morgen: Wonderful, thanks Simon. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Simon: Next year, Spectral is expanding – at some point I’ll be launching Spectral Visions, a series of novellas which will be longer than the chapbooks but not quite fully-formed novels, and still with the same high production values as the chapbooks. These are likely to be issued in limited signed and numbered hardback, 100 only.
Simon: In 2013, I’ll be publishing the first of the Spectral Signature Editions, very handsome hardback single-author, signed, numbered and illustrated story collections, issued in two versions: the ‘Deluxe’ in an edition of 100 and the ‘Special’ version in an ultra-limited edition of 10. For the first one, from World Fantasy-Award-nominee Simon Kurt Unsworth, each of the ‘Special’ Editions will feature a handwritten flash-fiction piece inscribed by the author, and possibly accompanied by hand-drawn illustrations as well – all ten of those have been spoken for already.
Morgen: Ah yes, you mentioned the hardbacks earlier, they sound lovely (if that’s the right word?).
Simon: Beyond that, nothing’s been planned – but, whatever it is, Spectral has an exciting future ahead!
Morgen: Thank you so much Simon.
I then invited Simon to include an extract and he chose the following from Abolisher of Roses by Gary Fry:
I then invited Simon to include an extract and he chose the following from Abolisher of Roses by Gary Fry:
Peter glanced forwards and began heading for the further, darker reaches of the wood.
It was now getting on for the late-afternoon and the sky way above all the intermeshing, spider-leg branches overhead looked like a great blue-green shell, as fragile as a human heart. From up ahead, Peter suddenly heard something moving . . . though maybe that was just a trick of the strange acoustics in the area, because at that moment he thought he saw something stir to his left – something bulky and headstrong, determined to overtake him. He was put in mind of his last glimpse of Patricia, before he'd turned and left her. However, in his floundering mind, his wife had now become an animal, hunting the earth with predatory stealth . . .
Peter shook his head with confusion and then moved on. Just because he was alone and relying on a map, there was no reason to feel like the solitary schoolboy he'd once been, the apple of his strict parents' eyes, and grimly eager to get on in life as a consequence of his stunted height and the presence of so many uncommonly aggressive peers in his neighbourhood. If all those early experiences had led him to become a little domineering as an adult, what was the real harm in that? He'd done well for many others in his wake: provided jobs for innumerable, otherwise unemployable louts and lasses; supported his two boys through all the anxieties of childhood; offered his wife enough slack and tacit encouragement to enjoy her life, despite his own dishonourable lapses of fidelity . . .
At that moment, just as he considered what crazy old Geraldine might be doing this weekend down in Sheffield, Peter spotted the first of the final three artworks.
Simon Marshall-Jones is the editor / publisher at Spectral Press, and also a writer, columnist, artist, book & occasional music reviewer and blogger: born in Wales in the early sixties, to parents who absolutely loved and cherished books - needless to say, HIS love of books was instilled by such a positive influence. Simon attended art college, where he nurtured dreams of being the next HR Giger. After a space of seven years, mostly spent travelling, he then went back to university in Plymouth, to study computer multimedia, the only reward for which was managing to have a stroke. Since then, he has had a much better time of it: Simon now has one wife, one stepson, seven cats, a dog, two rabbits and two guinea-pigs, lives somewhere in the East Midlands and doesn’t have enough tattoos.
Update from Simon July 2012: "Ten months doesn't seem like an awfully long time, but in publishing it is. Since doing this interview all that time ago, much has happened: Spectral Press has grown into something of a well-respected imprint, garnering even more praise for its publications and kudos from bloggers, reviewers and readers alike. It even expanded slightly with the introduction of a new line of novellas in Spring this year, starting with Gary Fry's The Respectable Face of Tyranny. At the end of 2011 it made several bloggers' end of year 'Best of 2011' lists, too, won the chapbook of the year in the inaugural This Is Horror awards with Gary McMahon's What They Hear in the Dark and Paul Finch's story King Death was selected to appear in Paula Guran's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2012 anthology. It continues to receive brilliant notices and respect from both the community and industry alike, such that I am happy to report that it has received two nominations in the British Fantasy Awards for 2012, in the Short Fiction category for Paul Finch's King Death and in the PS Publishing Independent Press Award for Spectral Press itself. It's been a great eighteen months for Spectral Press, but I can assure you that the best is yet to come."
Yay, congratulations. :)
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.