Interviewed by Ben Payne
Simon Brown has been writing and selling short stories and novels since the early 1990s. His latest series is the Chronicles of Kydan, from Pan Macmillan, and a collection of short stories, Troy, from Ticonderoga Publications.
1. After starting out writing SF, you’ve moved chiefly into fantasy in recent years. Was this a marketing consideration (fantasy being more popular in terms of sales) or an artistic one or a mixture? How do you find writing for the two genres differs?
I regard myself as a speculative fiction reader and writer. I love it all.
I started off with two science fiction novels and followed up with two fantasy novels (admittedly, the fantasy novels were each broken up into three parts, but nonetheless … ). Now I’m writing alternative history (at novel and short story length), which is a pretty seamless combination of the two, I think. Interestingly, a lot of my shorter fiction is classified as horror, although much of it is actually science fiction. I don’t know that any of the labels are particularly helpful for writers; labels mainly help publishers target and market fiction.
2. You still produce short fiction regularly, with your recent story Leviathan highly regarded, and a collection, Troy, last year from Ticonderoga Publications. What does short fiction offer you that novel writing doesn’t? What drives you to continue writing it when there’s far more money in novels?
Given my druthers I would spend most of time on short fiction. I’ve always enjoyed reading it and writing it, but never really spent a great deal of time analysing the whys and wherefores. I think shorter fiction gives a writer the chance to experiment a lot more because less is at stake. Honestly, though, I just enjoy short fiction, and don’t see a time when I won’t be writing it. Thankfully there are people around like Russell Farr and Jack Dann and Cat Sparks and Sarah Endacott and Jonathan Strahan and Jeremy Byrne and the editors at Aurealis and ASIM who still want short material. Long live editors.
3. Looking toward the future, what are you working on that we can look forward to reading at a later date? And do you have any plans for future books, stories or series?
I’m working on a couple of short stories at the moment, but they haven’t gelled enough yet to really say anything about them. Most of my energy at the moment is being taken up with my first alternative history novel, set in the 1870s; this project is taking a lot more time and effort than I would have thought possible when I started, but I’m enjoying the process … well, kinda, as much as I enjoy the first draft for any novel.
4. Enough about your own writing. What other books or authors have you enjoyed in recent times?
Lordy, so many. I usually have a dozen books going at once. In no particular order, books I’m currently reading, or have recently read or re-read, include Richard Corfield’s “The Silent Landscape”, Dorothy L. Sayer’s “Busman’s Holiday”, Burton L. Mack’s “Who Wrote the New Testament?”, Tim Power’s’ “On Stranger Tides”, J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, Francis Pryor’s “Britain BC”, Robert A. Heinlein’s “Citizen of the Galaxy”, Graham Joyce’s “The Stormwatcher”, Peter Hore’s “World Encyclopedia of Battleships”, Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”, Henry Ansgar Kelly’s “Satan: a Biography”, and Anna Tambour’s wonderful “Monterra’s Deliciosa”.
5. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you’re given the opportunity to get it on with the fictional character you fancy most. Who’s it gonna be?
The Bride of Godzilla – the only one big enough for me. (The only one big enough for my ego, Alison says in the background.)