Author Interview with Simon Pearce
Everyone is a storyteller. We make up scenarios in our heads, we replay memories of the past, and we dream of the future. A writer, though, takes the time to write down these moments of inspiration. Then, we go through the grueling task of building worlds and characters and connecting situations until they form a coherent story on the page that anyone can read and visualize. Sometimes two disconnected thoughts can grow into a completely new tale. This is what happened to Simon Pearce one night a few years ago, and the result is his debut novel, Mo, the first in a series titled The Spotlight Tales. Below, Pearce answers my usual questions about his history, his process, and his hopes for the future. Be sure to check out the link to his book, and follow him on social media.
1. How many books have you written and where can you buy them?
“Mo” is my first book. You can buy it from Amazom, and if you happen to be on the Isle of Wight, also from the Isle of Wight Traders in Newport.
2. Summarize your book(s) in one or two paragraphs.
This story is ultimately about the grooming of young adults into Islamic extremism, and uses main character 'Mo', a young British Muslim boy growing up in the UK, who has just started at his local comprehensive high school, to tell the tale.
Mo, is a young man who is simply trying to figure out who he is and where he fits in with society. He feels the normal pressures from his parents to do well, and to embrace the plans that they have for him - like it or not - and also the pressures from his friends to behave a certain way, or become the butt of their jokes and ridicule. On top of this, he has two new voices pulling him in different directions. One is calm and soft spoken; the other, harsh and demanding. Will Mo lose his way before he’s even had a chance to truly find it?
3. Quote from a positive review of your book.
This is an excellent debut novel, very well-written and easy-to-read, a story that totally absorbs the reader from the start. The main character 'Mo' is plausible and highly likeable and the author conveys brilliantly the innocence of his character and shows just how impressionable young adults can be; a great amount of empathy is captured for Mo from a reader perspective and this story certainly contributes to our understanding of how and why children/young adults can become disillusioned with the world.
4. How long does it take you to write a book?
I remember having the idea one October night in 2016, when I was out walking and saw a moth flitting about a street light. When I came home I read an article in the newspaper about a young man who had been killed fighting for the Islamic State. After lots of research I was able to publish the book in August 2017. So, if you count the moment of the initial idea, it took ten months to write it.
5. When and where can you be found writing?
Usually very early in the morning, between 4 am and 5.30. Then I have to get ready for work!
6. How autobiographical are your books?
There are moments when I draw on personal experience. For example, the setting of the story is somewhere very special to me, although I have left it deliberately obscure as I want the story to have a more universal message.
7. What has been your greatest moment as a writer so far?
Definitely when I received my first ever review, and it was 5 stars.
8. Where do you get your covers?
I have an idea, which I propose to an artist I know. He then completely changes it and coverts it into a much better design!
9.What is next for you?
I have just finished my second book, “Exit Velocity”. This one, and “Mo”, form the first two of the Spotlight Tales series. I am just doing a final check on the book before I publish it. I have the third book slowly materialising in my mind and on scraps of paper. I hope I will be able to publish that one by the end of the year.
10. Provide a quote (from one of your books, a favorite quote by someone else, or one that has been on your mind recently).
“Just keep on driving, and you’ll get there”. This was said to me by my son, who was two at the time. I was in a hired car and completely lost on a country road, and I seemed to be going round in circles. It was about 2am and I knew I had at least three hours of driving ahead of me. He fell asleep soon after saying that, but it gave me heart to “keep driving”, and I think it is an encouraging maxim for all kinds of situations.
11. What is an interesting fact about one of your characters that cannot be read in your book(s)?
Some characters appear in more than one of the Spotlight Tales. You need to be alert to spot them!
12. Where do you get your reading material (libraries, book sales, flea markets, eReaders, etc.)?
My loft. I have so many unread books!
13. Do you prefer old books or new books?
I don’t mind either way. So long as I can lose myself in it as I sit on the bus for an hour on the way to work, I’m happy.
14. What’s your take on eBooks/eReaders?
I think they are amazing. Personally, I don’t have one, but then again, I didn’t have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram until recently. I have read a book which I downloaded to my mobile phone, and it seemed to work fine. Screens are here to stay, and if the screen has words on it rather than pointless video games, then that is to be encouraged.
15. What is your handwriting like?
When I was at school, my teacher commented on how neat my handwriting was. I don’t think she would recognise it now! You can generally make out the first letter or two, but then it goes a bit awry. I can still read it, and if I write for other people, it’s either in typed or I try to make it more legible, not always with success, unfortunately!
16. What famous author, living or dead, would you like to read a copy of your book?
As I had to read William Blake’s poetry at university, and didn’t get on with it at all, I would make him read my stories. We can then share our mutual disapproval!
17. Who would you cast to star in a movie based on your book? Who would direct?
Morgan Freeman as the Moth Man / Old Moth. I was thinking of him as I wrote some of the words this character speaks.