Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Matthew Simmonds and I am 46 years old
Fiona: Where are you from?
Bedford, in England
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I am married with a four-year-old son. I went to a succession of local state schools before attending University in the Midlands. I co-own and run our fifth generation family business, an old tobacconist and gift shop in Bedford town centre.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My first novel, “Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of The Pigtail Twist” was published this month!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I enjoyed writing as a child, mostly poetry, as I loved rhyming. After a gap of far too many years, I began to write again, firstly short stories and then novels.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I am not entirely certain that I really do yet J I suppose it became a reality when I received my first publishing contract.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A casual conversation with a cousin. We were discussing what would make a good Sherlock Holmes mystery and it snowballed from there.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It seemed obvious the moment I thought up the basic plot, but I have to be careful as any further explanation might give away too much ☺
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My aim is to write in a style as close to the original of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as possible, without mimicking it. I also hope that some of my own character seeps through into the stories and characters. I do have to accept that my modern sensibilities will have an effect on my writing, but good research can minimise this and is always the key to making a historical story appear authentic.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some of the characters are based loosely upon people that I know or have known. However, I usually take bits and pieces of certain individuals and mix them up with traits from other, completely unrelated people, to create new and, hopefully, interesting characters. I have used a few names of family and close friends, none have objected so far ☺
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I wish I could J I simply don’t have the time or money to do any travelling other than family holidays (saying that, we do tend to visit places where there is, at least, some local culture or history which can act as an inspiration).
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
A lovely chap called Brian Balanger. You can check out his work at http://zhahadun.wixsite.com/221b
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I suppose it is, deep down, a simple old morality tale. Out of darkness can come light, greed corrupts and destroys, violence begets violence, and love comes in many guises.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Other than Conan Doyle, my reading tends to be rather eclectic. Depending on my mood, I will read almost anything from Patrick Susskind or Terry Pratchett, to Wilfred Thesiger or T E Lawrence. My faithful ‘go-to’ when I need cheering up, always has to be Robert Rankin, his books are the only ones to make me laugh out loud. If you like a well-written thriller, packed with genuinely fascinating history, then I would highly recommend Dominic Selwood’s Ava Curzon trilogy.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Steve Emecz of MX Publishing. He had the faith in me to publish my first book. I hope he doesn’t mind being called an entity J
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would truly love to write full-time, but I am realistic enough to know that it is, sadly, becoming ever more difficult to earn a living through writing these days.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I don’t think so. After numerous re-reads, corrections and minor plot changes, there comes a point when you have to say – that is it, it’s finished.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
From a practical point of view, I learned a huge amount. The wealth of information available to us now is astounding. I grew up in an era when you had to visit a library to do any meaningful research – now it is all available at the click of a button. Train timetables from 1884, the histories of various towns, individual buildings, railways and stations, travel times across Victorian Europe. I could even find out what the weather was like on a specific day in 1880’s London!
Despite writing stories set in the past, I have always tried to embrace new technology. I find things such as Google Drive to be invaluable. To be able to write and update my current work from absolutely anywhere at any time on a pc, laptop, tablet or even mobile phone, is a wonderful tool to have. If you suddenly have a moment of inspiration, you can add it to your ‘manuscript’ from anywhere in the world. I would estimate that perhaps as much as 5% of my debut novel was written on my mobile phone.
On a more personal level, I have also learned that writing really is hard work, andrewarding and frustrating in equal measure.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Alexander Skarsgård as Holmes, I am still undecided upon Watson J
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Keep writing, never let anything or anyone stop you. Also, that writing improves with age and experience, so keep persevering.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you for reading, and thank you even more for reading my book, it really does mean the world to me.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Lord of the Ring Roads by Robert Rankin
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not really, but it may well have included an esurient caterpillar….
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The antics of my son / Cruelty and bullying of any kind
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Jesus. Since everything we know about himwas written a significant timeafter his death, I would love to hear what he had to say, first hand.
Although it is not one of the choices, I would also like to meet someone from 100 years in the future. Nobody has ever successfully predicted the future and it would be wonderful to see how much we have got wrong and how stupid we look from their perspective.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I like to play the guitar and sing (badly). Hill walking in Wales, the Lake District, the Peak District and North York Moors.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I tend to enjoy well-written dramas, historical or contemporary. I do believe that we are living in a golden age of quality TV drama, and a terrible period of dull, cliched, franchise-obsessed, cowardly, inane movies (from the big studios).
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Italian for food, all colours are beautiful.
Musically I enjoy a huge range, from the Beatles to Chopin, Judas Priest to Hoodoo Gurus. Marillion are a big favourite of mine, along with Radical Face, Lonely Robot, Kino, Ranestrane. My album of the year is B612 by the remarkable Riccardo Romano.
I sometimes listen to music when I write, but if I find myself getting distracted and singing along, I have to be disciplined and switch it off (for a while at least).
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Read, play with my son’s toys and watch far too much tellyJ
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Playing with my son
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
‘I suppose he wasn’t all that bad…’
‘If music be the food of love, why don’t rabbits play banjos?’
‘Plot empty, it appears he discovered some sort of elixir or whatnot’
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My blog is here:
My new novel, “Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of The Pigtail Twist”, published by MX Publishing is out now.
Strand Magazine https://goo.gl/1Q9pPt
Barnes & Noblehttps://goo.gl/6UtRF3