Friday, January 30, 2009


Five books into the series and it's finally time for a Hal Spacejock novel with flashback scenes.

I wrote a sequence of flashback scenes for this novel during NanoWrimo 2007, but until five minutes ago I didn't think I'd be using them. Now I've changed my mind. (Until I decide not to use them again.)

At the very least I'll get a blog post out of them.

I'm a very linear writer, and I like cause and effect. This minor thing happens, which causes that other slightly more alarming issue. A character overreacts and creates a much bigger problem which then leads to ... you get the idea.

Hal 5 is a mystery steeped in earlier events, and I have to choose between having characters in the present gradually uncovering what happened, or writing scenes set in the past, so the reader experiences the events as they happen.

Let me tell you that reading scenes where characters recap past events can be pretty dull. You can lose immediacy (and readers) very quickly.

On the other hand, if you jump straight in and throw flashbacks at the reader you run the risk of alienating them with a sudden change of location and a new batch of characters they've never met before. Overwhelm your readers and they'll feel like they're starting a whole new novel every time there's a flashback, and that can get tiring too.

What's the answer? Stuffed if I know. I'm not going to leap around all over the place, just flash back to one set of characters at a fixed point in time, based in the same location each time. I'm hoping I can cue the reader in to the flashback pretty quickly, and not by using strange dates or times in the chapter headings. (Those are useless unless you remember what date & time the previous chapter was set in. I'd rather authors just came out and said "Twelve years earlier ..." than put Jan 1958 instead of April 1970.)

I think it'll work, but I won't know until the first draft is done. It should be interesting to try it out, though.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The plotting treadmill

I'm working on the fifth book in a series, and I think I'm slowly gaining an understanding of how to actually plot and write a novel.

Each book has a tortuous gestation period, which consists of me machine-gunning ideas at endless sheets of paper, then gathering up the smoking ruins and attacking them with a mental machete. My plot outlines get printed, scrawled on, stuffed back into the computer, printed and reprinted until (and I believe this is the key), I've memorised every nuance in the three to four page outline.

It makes sense, doesn't it? How can you insert foreshadowing for chapter seven events in chapter three, if this foreshadowing conflicts with events in chapters 19, 27 and 30? You can't be scanning and re-scanning pages of text to test the ramifications of every new idea.

I reckon it's 4-6 weeks before the general shape of the plot sinks in. This means not only the 4 pages of short scene titles, but the 10+ pages of lengthier descriptions too. Actors who regularly memorise parts for entire plays will be scoffing at this, but don't forget the plot of a novel is an ever-changing thing. The bits I remember most clearly were probably written out three weeks ago. Characters go missing and new ones take their place. A previously friendly sidekick is now a mortal enemy.

Once I have a finished outline I print it off and read it fresh, as though I'd never seen it before. Is it clear? Consistent? Does everything make sense? No, usually not. I may see the first mention of 'the robot', and so I scrawl an answer to the question "Which robot?" in the margin. If there are minor details I underline them, and later on I'll move those to the broader scene descriptions rather than the focused lines of summary.

After entering these changes I'll print off the summary again, and repeat the process until I'm happy.

Eventually this four page document will contain a clear and precise outline of the novel, with motivations and decisions explained rationally. That's the document I send my editor for comment, and the real work begins when she emails me back.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Electronic Hal

Newsdate: Mid-February 2009
What: Hal Spacejock books 2-4 released as low-cost ebooks.
Where: Right about here
Why you should care: Can't buy them in the shops, can you? (Outside Australia)
What you should do: Repost this news.

I'm facing several months of hard work on Hal Spacejock #5, and if you want to motivate me you can really help by making the upcoming ebook release an Earth-shaking, record-breaking event.

I want to show my publisher they made the right choice in releasing the entire Hal Spacejock series in ebook format, and that means generating publicity, bringing traffic to the Hal Spacejock website, and ultimately selling copies of the three new releases.

So, if you can blog or twitter or stand outside and shout about Hal Spacejock's new ebooks, it would be most welcome.

The news page for the release is below, and I'll be updating it regularly:

I'm also happy to guest-blog about ebooks, publishing, the Hal Spacejock series or my writing software.

So, let's bring on the electronic Hal!

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Congratulations to the winners in all categories - it was a hell of a field, and the judges must have been working themselves to the bone to come up with a shortlist and then the eventual winners.

Commiserations also to those who didn't quite make it to the finish, which includes Hal & Clunk.

I bought myself a box of cherry bakewells to be eaten in the event that H&C didn't win, so I'm full up with icky goodness now ;-)

Now my focus shifts from awards to the upcoming ebook release of Hal Spacejock books 2-4, and I'm still writing Hal 5, adding new scenes and plot tweaks every day.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Interview with David B. Coe

David B. Coe ( is the Crawford Award-winning author of ten fantasy novels and several short stories. A refugee from academia, David has a Ph.D. in history and has taught at the university level. In a life prior to that prior life, he was a political consultant. The Horsemen's Gambit is the second book in his Blood of the Southlands trilogy. It was published on January 20, 2009, which is good because there wasn't anything else of importance happening that day to draw attention away from the book's release....

Read the interview here

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Subscribe and win

Just a quick note to let you know that my publisher, Fremantle Press, is about to launch an e-newsletter and are offering a freebie as per below to encourage people to

The newsletter will be released monthly and will feature:

*author, poet, photographer and artist interviews for both new and backlist titles
*news items regarding our authors and their books
*author and illustrator events
*a spotlight on interesting author blogs and websites
*new release titles for each month

Subscribe to the Fremantle Press e-newsletter before 20 February 2008 for your chance to win. Ten subscribers will get to pick any book from the Fremantle Press catalogue.

The monthly Fremantle Press newsletter features news, author and artist interviews, author events and more.

Just enter your email address into the "Join our mailing list" box on the home page. Winners will be notified by email.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Which beginning?

If you've followed the Hal Spacejock series you'll know that each book opens with Hal in the flight deck sipping a coffee. This gives me a chance to introduce the regular characters over the first page or two, which helps bring new readers who may not have seen the earlier books up to speed.

It's also a nice bit of calm before all hell breaks loose.

With book five I have a killer opening (A) which sends up the usual one, but if I use it I'll need to come up with a link (B) to the current dramatic opening (C), which involves driving rain, fog, and a soggy sofa.

If I do this, B will need to be as short as possible.

Unfortunately, C starts in the middle of a lengthy job, on a planet, while A is best suited to an in-flight situation. B could turn out to be a bunch of arriving and job description scenes, which I really want to avoid. Otherwise A could be on the planet, but then Hal should be doing something else, not sitting in the flight deck.


The other problem with the sendup opening is that it's heavy on the double-entendres, and I don't want to give Parents/TLs/booksellers the wrong impression if they skim page 1.

What to do, what to do? I suspect I have to write a really good pair of Bs before I can decide.

EDIT: Four sentences. That's all I needed for B, and it's turned out just fine. Isn't it funny how a scene you've written seems to be set in stone, when in fact it's only cast from jelly?

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Interview with S. C. Butler

S.C. Butler is a former Wall Street bond trader who always preferred Middle-earth to the Chicago Board of Trade. Currently he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and a whippet. His website is

What was your inspiration for writing Queen Ferris?

Queen Ferris is the second book in my Stoneways trilogy, which includes Reiffen’s Choice, and the third book, The Magicians’ Daughter, due out in April. The trilogy’s name says it all. I always liked Dwarves more than Elves, so I decided to write a book that way. With caves.

Who are your favorite authors now and when you were growing up?

My favorite authors are Heinlein, Trollope, Tolkien, Lewis, Austen, Flaubert, Van Vogt, Vonnegut, Niven…

What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?

Fantasy and science fiction interest me for different reasons. I read fantasy for the story and the characters – it’s not that much different from why I read any sort of book. Science fiction is different, however. Science fiction I read for cool ideas and a sense of Wow!

Why did you decide to make Reiffen a Mage?

Because the Stoneways trilogy is a story about power, and what’s more powerful, in any tradition and at any time, than a magician?

What sort of research did you do to write this book?

Since it’s a fantasy, I did very little research. I checked out a few technologies to see if they were appropriate to the level of some of the cultures – in Queen Ferris, different cultures have different technological levels. The Dwarves, for example, have gas filled airships for traveling beneath the bottom of the world. The humans don’t.

Reiffen and his friends and love maple candy. Is that your favorite too?

Nope. Just syrup on waffles.

What are you writing now?

A story in which one of the main characters from Queen Ferris comes to our world. The working title is Avender in America.

Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it?

I always wanted to write. My earliest juvenilia dates back to when I was about ten years old. (Boy, is that stuff awful.) But it took me a long time to sell anything. 28 years from my first submission to my first sale. Of course, that will happen when you only write novels and get busy with a job and family. The job and my family were always my first priority.

What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?

My typical writing day depends on what part of the wip I’m working on. If it’s rough draft time, I try to write a minimum of 1200 words a day, which can take anything from two to ten hours, depending on my mood, how well I’ve imagined the scene, or whether I’ve burned myself out writing too much the day before. Rewrites, however, tend to be more predictably productive, running about four to six hours of work. I find writing to be exhausting.

Where do you write?

At home at my desk, on my laptop, with anything from punk to classical on my boom box. However I get many of my ideas while taking long walks, and often write a book’s songs and poetry while walking as well.

What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?

It’s all hard. The only easy part is being done.

What is the purpose of fantasy/science fiction, if any?

In my opinion, it’s the same as any other fiction: for readers to enjoy. Readers can enjoy books in many ways, from the cerebral and intellectual to the escapist and just plain fun. The point is in the enjoyment.

Both Reiffen’s Choice and Queen Ferris are available in hardcover and mass market paperback from Tor books. You can find them at most bookstores specializing in spec fic, or at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hal Spacejock ebooks ahoy

I had a meeting with my publisher just before Christmas, where we discussed a few things about the Hal Spacejock series. The main topic was ebooks.

I'm a strong believer in DRM-free ebooks, and I also believe the price point should reflect the fact there's zero cost required to pump out each copy of an ebook. I put this to my publisher, and they were happy to go along.

You may not be aware that the first book in the Hal Spacejock series is available as a free download. It was released as a freebie when book 4 (Hal Spacejock No Free Lunch) hit the shops, and to date it's been downloaded over 40,000 times.

However, there are two questions which land in my inbox again and again:

1. When can I buy the Hal Spacejock books in (insert country here)?

2. Can I buy the rest of the series as ebooks?

The answer to question one is ... no idea. Sorry.

The answer to question two is ... next month.

Yes, Hal Spacejock books 2, 3 and 4 will be released as low-cost, DRM-free ebooks in February 2009, barring any last-minute hitches.

Text, RTF and HTML files will be included, and most likely a Mobireader PDB as well.

As for the price, the target is A$5 or so, which translates to US$3.50 at the current exchange rate. (Don't hold me to that - it might be a little bit more depending on payment processing costs.)

So there you go - both of my ebook goals met. Now I just have to pray people buy the things so my publisher doesn't see me as a deluded idiot with the business sense of a certain inept freighter pilot.

However, with all three books selling for less than the cost of one paperback, anyone with more business sense than an inept freighter pilot will see that it's going to be a pretty good deal.

(While you're waiting for the Hal ebooks, why not pick up the latest issue of Andromeda Spaceways as a very low cost PDF?)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Plotting, plotting, plotting

Question: How do you take three half-completed attempts at a novel, half a dozen plot outlines and a folder full of ideas, and distill it all down to a two page outline?

Answer: Very slowly.

The secret is that you have to be prepared to throw out anything which doesn't fit, even if you consider it the best chapter/scene/piece of dialogue you've written in your entire life. If you try and work that stellar scene into a novel where it doesn't belong, the next thing you know you've had to add half a dozen chapters around it to make it fit. Bad author, bad.

For example, I have 50,000 words of 2007 NanoWrimo novel just begging to be used, and after the latest update to my Hal plot outline I reckon I'll only be keeping around 3000 words of it. That chunk will need to be rewritten too, with a different location and different characters.

Worse, there's a 25,000 word chunk from 2004, which was originally intended to be the framework for Hal 4. I'll be ditching nearly all of it, and keeping just one or two ideas.

THIS plot outline is what matters. I don't care how many months I spent grinding out tens of thousands of words, and all those false starts are just distractions. THIS is the novel I'm working on now.

You have to be ruthless. That's all there is to it.

As for practical advice, the way I come up with a plot is like this: Over a period of several weeks I write and rewrite the entire outline from scratch, from memory. I start each version small and add more and more detail, until I end up with a 2500-3000 word document. It's liberating to start anew each time, because it allows me to bypass problems with the previous iteration. I can experiment with different ideas too.

It usually takes me a dozen versions of the plot before I can even approach some kind of ending to the novel, but I'm not fussed because the real ending never comes out until I've written 70-80% of the first draft. (I do a lot of drafts, so it's easy to rewrite earlier events to suit the ending I've decided on. I always know who the bad guy is and why they're doing Bad Things, but the actual resolution is never set in concrete.)

Once I'm happy with the outline, sans ending, I convert the whole thing into a yWriter document with empty scenes and chapters. Then I just start writing scenes in whatever order takes my fancy, updating them from Outline to Draft in the scene settings as I go. I can print off an outline any time, and the work schedule tells me how many scenes I need to write each day.

How long to write the novel? About 2-3 months on and off. But that's another blog post.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Interview with Jim C Hines

Last year, Jim C. Hines finished his humorous goblin trilogy with GOBLIN WAR, which made the Locus Bestseller list the month it came out. January 6 marks the release of THE STEPSISTER SCHEME, the first in a new series of butt-kicking princess tales. This one has earned advance praise from the likes of Esther Friesner and Jane Yolen, and was a January Top Pick from Romantic Times. Jim is currently in full book-release freakout mode, but took some time to answer a few questions about the new series.


A) I think just about every author does a fairy tale retelling at some point. It's a membership requirement or something. But the thing about fairy tales and so many of the retellings is that our heroines often end up being symbols rather than fully developed characters. I wanted to make my three princesses real people, with strengths and flaws and depth and personality. I've described the book as Charlie's Angels crossed with fairy tale princesses, but more than that; it's a story of three women learning to work as a team to save a prince, fight evil, and generally kick ass. Also, it's got the best use of silverware in hand-to-hand combat of any book I've ever seen.

Q) Can you introduce us to these characters?

A) Danielle Whiteshore (Cinderella) is our viewpoint character. She's a little overwhelmed by all the changes in her life since she married Prince Armand. She's in heaven with a loving husband and a family who doesn't treat her like a slave ... even if the palace staff look at her a little funny for chatting with the doves and the rats. Talia (Sleeping Beauty) and Snow (White) both came to serve Queen Beatrice after fleeing their respective homelands. Snow is a bit of a flirt as well as a bookworm. She inherited her mother's gift for magic, as well as the magic mirror, making her quite the powerful magician. Talia is the fighter of the group, both physically and emotionally. She's learned to use her fairy gifts of grace and dancing to become one of the deadliest warriors in the kingdom.

Q) What sort of research did you do to write this book?

A) Mostly I read a lot of fairy tales. There are so many versions of the different stories, which allowed me to pick and choose elements from each when building my characters and their backstories. Then there were all the details: castle blueprints, wardrobes, medieval glassmaking, how far a horse can travel in a day, fairy myths, weapons, 16th century houses, hazel trees, and everything else you don't think of until you're midway through a scene and realize you have absolutely no idea how to describe what your characters are seeing.

Q) Are there any interesting scenes or ideas that didn't make it into the final book?

A) Snow White wears a choker of gold wire and small glass mirrors. In her original incarnation, Snow was blind and used those mirrors as her eyes. To be totally honest, I don't remember exactly why I changed that, except that it just didn't feel right for her character. I posted a deleted scene on my web site that shows Snow as she was in that first draft.

Q) What's next for your princesses?

A) I turned in the revisions for book two, THE MERMAID'S MADNESS, a month or so back. If you read the Hans Christian Anderson story "The Little Mermaid," the mermaid's prince chooses another, and she's faced with a choice: either allow the sea witch's spell to kill her, or take her prince's life to save her own. In the Anderson story, the mermaid oh-so-nobly gives up her life for her prince. My mermaid makes a different choice. I'm currently working on the third book in the series, RED HOOD'S REVENGE.

Q) What do you really think about "happily ever after"?

A) In real life, your story doesn't end until you're dead. Even then, your actions and your life continue to influence other people's stories. The idea that these three women could go through what they did, with murderous mothers (and why is it always the mothers?) and curses and poisons and betrayals, but then they have a good night at the ball and suddenly everything is happy from then on? That's the real fairy tale.

Q) Who is your favorite author?

A) The answer changes from day to day, depending on my mood and what I've been reading. Today, I think I'm going to say ... Snoopy. His prose isn't always the greatest, but he's quite the inspirational little beagle. He never lets rejection slow him down, and he knows the most important thing is to drag that typewriter back onto the doghouse and just keep writing.

Q) Any closing thoughts?

A) Thanks to everyone who read this far! I hope folks will take a look at the preview, or at the very least, check out the cover art Scott Fischer did for the book. I absolutely love the image he came up with. I have a larger copy at Scott actually used my daughter as a model for Talia, the princess on the right. Best. Cover. Ever!


Read the first chapter of THE STEPSISTER SCHEME at

Jim's blog:

Jim's home page:

Purchase link:

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Interview with Joshua Palmatier

1) What was your inspiration for writing The Vacant Throne?

Well, The Vacant Throne is the sequel to The Skewed Throne and The Cracked Throne, so part of the inspiration was to continue the story already begun. But the main idea behind The Vacant Throne—that there’s a second magical throne out there, one that’s twin to the Skewed Throne seen in the first two books—actually came out of discussions between me and my editor while we were discussing the revisions to the first book. I’d already written about the existence of a second throne at the end of the first book, and my editor began asking me about particulars regarding that throne: Where is it? What is it for? How does it relate to the Skewed Throne? She got my mind working on the back story of the second throne, and that back story ended up giving me the setup for the plot behind The Vacant Throne.

2) Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?
My favority authors while growing up were Andre Norton (who was my introduction to fantasy and science fiction), Terry Brooks, and Katherine Kurtz. I didn’t have a particular book from either of them that I’d rate as a favorite. I loved Brooks’ “Elfstones of Shannara” and the Camber books by Kurtz. Currently, I’d say my favorite authors are Tad Williams, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Stephen King.

3) What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?

I think it’s the boundlessness of it all. In fantasy and science fiction, you can do anything. There are no limits. You can push and push the bounds of believability, and then you can push it some more. Of course, you have to structure the fantasy or science fiction so that the reader is willing to push along with you or you won’t have any readers, but that’s part of the challenge. I think that an excellent writer can craft any story, no matter how unbelievable, so that the majority of readers WILL take that trip with them, and I think that most writers in SF and F are trying to become such an excellent writer.

4) Why did you decide to make Varis an assassin?

The initial vision for The Skewed Throne had Varis on a boat in the harbor of the city of Amenkor, a common person, someone living the ordinary life, and suddenly this mysterious White Fire—obviously magical in nature—sweeps out of the west and touches her. However, when I sat down to write the book, I’d started thinking about Varis, about her situation and where she came from, and realized that she needed to be in more dire straits if I was going to make her story believable. At that point, she became someone trapped in the slums of Amenkor—like many others in the city—and fighting to survive, fighting to find a way out. Her desperation to escape her situation is what drives her to become an assassin when given the chance, and it’s what pushes her to do things that she wouldn’t normally do, perhaps. Her being an assassin was also a way to take a common person in the society and get them involved in the world events—the politics and maneuverings—that are going on at the same time. Also, I’ve always wanted to write about an assassin; one that actually kills people during the course of the book. *grin*

5) What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

Besides writing and reading, I also teach a spinning class at my local gym and take other spinning classes as a way to keep fit and get some exercise (something writers don’t have a tendency to do as part of their job). I also collect crackle glass and go to numerous flea markets and antique shows looking for cool and interesting pieces, mostly related to the 1950s and the Art Deco era. And for real fun, I try to get friends together to play board games such as Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, and Alhambra. Puzzles can also be fun.

6) What sort of research did you do to write this book?/What kind of preparation do you do when you are writing?

I generally don’t do any research ahead of time for my novels . . . but that’s because I don’t know what I need to research yet. The way I write novel s is more or less by the seat of my pants. When I start, I have a vague idea of what I think the book is going to be about. This usually amounts to one or two scenes scattered throughout the book, including something near the end and a scene or two in between. (I always have the initial scene in mind.) Then I start writing. I keep notes along the way, and write down things I need to research as I go. Sometimes, if I hit something that’s important to the plot, I’ll pause in the writing and do research on that at the time, but most of the time I save the research until the book is finished and I’m getting ready to do the revisions. So the amount of research varies with each book, and depends on where the book decides to take itself. In The Vacant Throne, most of my research involved ships and in particular, how ships fought while at sea.

7) Varis loves her knife. Is that your favorite thing too?

Um . . . no. For Varis, having her knife close at hand is a security issue. She feels safer when touching the knife, knowing that with it handy she can protect herself. It comes from living in the slums of the city and knowing that at any moment someone or something bad could happen. I (thankfully) don’t live in that kind of world and so I don’t feel the need to have a knife handy. *grin*

8) If you were a character in The Vacant Throne and had the option of touching one of the thrones (and thus gaining access to its power), would you do it?

I don’t think so. Obviously it would depend on the need for that power at the moment. If there is no dire need, then why would I want to accept the power along with all of its consequences? For example, if you touch one of the thrones, then you’re tied to the throne, which means that you can never leave the city (or at least never pass outside the influence of the throne itself). That’s a fairly strong restriction, and I don’t think I could handle being tied to one place like that. There are other consequences of touching the throne that I couldn’t live it as well. So, assuming no dire need, I think I’d pass on having access to all of its power.

9) What are you writing now?

I’ve handed in the first book—called Well of Sorrows—that’s the start of a new trilogy set in the same world as the Throne of Amenkor books, but at a different time period and involving different characters. The new series will eventually connect up with Varis’ storyline, although how it will connect up won’t be obvious in the first book. So I’ve got the two sequels to that new series that I’m working on. I’ve also started the first book in another fantasy trilogy that’s not associated to the Throne of Amenkor books and hope to have the proposal for that finished (and hopefully sold) in 2009.

10) Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since the eighth grade, when an English teacher wrote on a short story that the story was good and I should continue writing. That was the first moment that I realized that all of those books I’d been reading were actually written by someone. And that someone could be me! From that point on, I started working on short stories and eventually started a novel. The first draft of that novel was HORRIBLE, but it taught me how to be a writer and I hope that it will eventually see print (although a completely revised version of course). As to how I got to where I am now . . . lots of hard work, numerous drafts, lots of rejection, and a metric ton of persistence.

11) What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?

My writing days fall into two categories: days when I have to work (I teach mathematics at a local college), and days when I don’t. On Days when I teach, I usually only get an hour or two maximum to work on writing, if I get any time at all. Basically, I sit down and write for that hour, usually brand new material, without looking at the old material, because my time is limited. On days when I don’t have to teach, I start writing in the morning and reread the old material, making minor changes/revisions, and then get on with new stuff. I break for lunch, and write after lunch until I have to head to the gym. On these days, I get in about six hours of writing. If I have errands to run or other writerly activities (such as answering interview questions, emails, talking to my agent, talking to my editor, etc) then I try to get at least four hours of writing in.

12) Where do you write?

I write on my laptop at a desk with a notebook to one side for writing down any plot thoughts that strike me, as well as to keep track of names of characters, places, things, etc. I also have a stack of CDs that are “writer friendly,” meaning I can play them without the music interrupting the writing flow. Other than that and a glass of water, there’s not much else in my writer space.

13) What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?

The hardest part of writing is just getting myself to sit down and write, damn it! *grin* Seriously. Once I’m writing, the hardest part is to work in the emotions of the characters without those emotions sounding stilted or fake or over the top. I also have to work very hard at the dialogue, since it has to sound real, and yet it can’t actually BE real, since if you listen to most conversations, they’re long and boring with lots of unnecessary wordage. The easiest part of the writing for me is probably the world itself. I can sink myself into the character and their situation enough that the descriptions take little effort, yet still get across the effect of having the reader there, living that particular scene.

14) This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there?

I have three books out and available in stores at the moment, all in both hardcover and paperback. They comprise the Throne of Amenkor series which consists of, in order, The Skewed Throne, The Cracked Throne, and The Vacant Throne. The new novel, Well of Sorrows, which starts a new trilogy, will be released sometime in late 2009, although I don’t have a set release date yet.

15) What is the purpose of fantasy/science fiction, if any?

I think the purpose of fantasy and science fiction is to keep our imaginations alive. In order to keep advancing scientifically, you have to be able to dream and the SF and F field allows writers and readers alike to dream big, to dream the impossible. Some may think this only applies to science fiction, but I think it’s true for fantasy as well, since both ask the reader to open their minds and consider other possibilities, other alternatives, even those that might not initially make sense, and that ability is necessary to keep ourselves from falling into the same rut.

To summarize, GO FORTH AND BUY THE VACANT THRONE! *grin* The entire “Throne of Amenkor” trilogy is now complete in paperback, so go check it out and see if it’s something you might like. It’s full of assassins and thieves, murder and mayhem, cats and dogs living together . . . er, well you get the picture. There’s blue people and magic and insane furniture. But most of all it’s a series of rousing stories in a world full of danger where everyone is simply trying to survive, some at the expense of others. Here are the links for for all three books:

The Skewed Throne:

The Cracked Throne:

The Vacant Throne:

For excerpts from Chapter One from each book, and other information about the series, check out my website at and for entertaining tidbits about the author and his life, check out his blog at

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)