Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Simon Duringer: The IAN Interview

Educated at Mostyn House School in Cheshire; Simon became involved in writing from an early age. At the age of 13, under duress he was torn away from playing tennis and made to enter the school writing competition which he subsequently won. But to this day he blames said competition for only making the second pair in the school tennis team!
A self-confessed geek, Simon has a passion for mathematics and thoroughly abused that knowledge from an early age by writing probabilities for those playing the school masters at pontoon (21) and poker. Not that he believes in blame culture, but it could be deduced that his success at winning sweets at cards during his formative years has contributed to his six pack transforming prematurely into a one pack! His book "How Do I Win on a Lottery?" became a number #1 amazon bestseller in its genre...
A writer of many genres, yet probably better known for interviewing other authors than for his own books, but nonetheless enjoys scribbling, ranting and making up stories that chill, thrill and entertain.

Independent Author Network. Please tell us about your latest book.
Simon Duringer. The Word – Volume 1. The book delivers 28 bespoke interviews with successful writers; from debut sensation MJ Summers to the Veteran; DuPont, Royal Academy, 5 x Emmy Award winning war correspondent and for 20 years Head of NBC News International, Martin Fletcher. Simon puts them in multiple situations from the sublime to the ridiculous. From time travel to being marooned on desert islands, each set of circumstances has been designed specifically for the individual interviewee’s circumstances and is intended to draw out their inner personalities. Simon breaks down the layers of stardom to reveal the true individuals beneath the glitz. The results are nothing short of fascinating – The interviewees never fail to entertain, whilst also; informing, sharing and creating “out of genre” responses that delight the readers. This is no ordinary set of interviews and the collective trophy cabinet of those within is dazzling! With 10% of all royalties going to the veteran’s charity, The Royal British Legion, and with even bigger names in the planned Volume 2, it is worth getting on board early!
IAN. Is The Word published in print, e-book or both?
S.D. I am a great lover of traditional books and whilst the majority of the marketplace is now eBooks, I chose to publish in both kindle and paperback versions for all my offerings. The Word is slightly different as the kindle version has illustration whilst the paperback does not, so in effect they are treated by Amazon as two separate entities, albeit not by choice. All my books are also currently available on Prime and therefore Amazon Prime members can borrow them for free.
IAN. Where can we go to buy The Word?
S.D. The links I would suggest using are those of my amazon author pages which are as follows;
My books are also available through search on other global amazon sites and via my website: http://www.simonduringer.com
IAN. Do you have a specific writing style?
S.D. I find that to be an incredibly difficult question to answer. Honestly? I don’t know… I don’t tag myself with any particular style or model my work on that of others. It would be nice to think I have my own unique style! However, rather than disappoint or not answer, I have trawled through past emails and correspondence from readers and found this email from a reader in Canada, Isabel Galloway, who sent me a wonderful message late last year whilst reading Stray Bullet. This sums up the answer way better than I could. I quote;
At the beginning it reminded me of Mark Billingham but now I realize that you are more Peter James. Have you heard of him? His novels are all in Brighton. You have the sense of him, I think. And the racy bits remind me of Micky Spillane! Haha!”
IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?
S.D. I want my readers to be astonished, surprised and delighted! I attempt to deliver a story that will challenge readers’ imagination. I want them to attempt to decipher the outcome without making it too straight forward. At the outcome I want them to smile, curse the author (in a “I want to do that again!” kind of way) and then sink in their chairs uttering the words “OMG, How the hell did I miss that!” I want to deliver plots that will dumbfound, yet, without patronizing the reader in hindsight be obvious. I want them to be motivated to come back for more. But, most of all it has to be believable, plot lines must work and I must believe my own story before I can make it available to the reader. In summary, I want the readers to be entertained and left wanting more…
IAN. How is The Word different from others in your genre?
S.D. Whilst author interviews are bountiful online, The Word is unique. Each interview takes a vast amount of research time and is not designed to cater to the whims of those with new releases to pimp out to the masses. There are plenty of those around already. The Word attempts to challenge and probe in order to discover what the author is really about. I already know my interviewees are damn good writers, they have either been major award winners, debut sensations or have a unique quality that has caught my eye and intrigued me into approaching them for an interview. I am not looking for bland content to fill my website, or books, for the likes of Google or Yahoo search engines. I am looking for individuals of a like mind. Most of my interviewees, if not all, are far more talented at wielding a quill than I will ever be, and therefore through my interviews I can learn about writing, marketing and the publishing industry, whilst at the same time having my emotions rocked to their foundations by stories that are so sad, or so witty, or simply so incredibly full of creative thought. The Word has been an eight month rollercoaster and what I have outlined above is what has drawn the likes of Bernard Cornwell to my door; The 19th Globally Bestselling author of the decade (source – Daily Telegraph). His agreement to run the gauntlet of Simon’s 10 Q Interviews tells me I must be doing something right! He will be headlining The Word Volume 2. But ultimately it is the readers who will decide the fate of The Word, they are both judge and jury. Without big publishers or marketers behind me, my current quest is simply to get The Word in front of enough readers to allow that process to take its course.
IAN. What books have influenced your life the most?
S.D. I was always fascinated by two books penned by the same author, although of course there have been many… George Orwell’s 1984 is one of those. To see his ‘predictions’, which seemed so unbelievable back along, become reality, with me playing a small part in my mainstream career as an operations and control room manager, is something that astonishes me. Where it will all end who knows, but big brother is already watching you! Additionally, another George Orwell works, Animal Farm, which I read and subsequently watched as a feature length animation whilst still at school, had a great impact on the way I look at others. It displays how, in politics, whilst people might genuinely set out on a journey to improve the lives of others; conforming to establishment traditions, compromising on one’s beliefs, human nature and greed often erode those noble principles over time. I can look back over the course of history and see that as humans we don’t learn from our mistakes and regularly revisit the errors made by past generations. It wears me out sometimes as I find it all so predictable.
IAN. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
S.D. For me this is not a difficult question. In my life time I have had two people I consider to be mentors. One of which I still regard as such, the other, who was not a writer but an incredible man, sadly passed away some years ago. Josephine Bailey, or Godmother as I refer to her, has and continues to encourage me for no distinct reason other than being a good egg! She encouraged me to get started with interviewing and has been casting an eye over my progress ever since. She is an English Rose with a dash of heretic about her and I just feel it is a shame that she and her husband Sam live so far away in the US, though I am certain we will all meet in person one day! Prior to Jo there was a man who was our neighbor when we (my family) lived in Spain during the 1980’s. Possibly the most decent man I have ever known and once again for no apparent reason he took me under his wing for a time. Perhaps being cheeky to a man that nobody else ever dared to confront was what intrigued him into helping me, but John Lampitt who owned Blue Boar, Watford Gap services, Sheffield Ski Village, was referred to as the NCP of Switzerland’s car parking industry amongst other things and if I recall correctly owned sole rights to the sales of Mazda cars within Switzerland, was a great friend and source of inspiration to me. He had started life as a sergeant within the British Army and ultimately is a man I will never forget, though he was not a writer he taught me that anything is possible and I regularly think about him and the amazing things he achieved during his lifetime.
IAN. What book are you reading now?
S.D. I actually have four books on the go at the moment, all very different and all by authors that I know personally. Each is re-opened where I left off depending upon my mood at the time, they are all very good and are as follows;
Hotey by Josephine Bailey (my mentor) – This book is fantastic and I never tire of it. Sadly, it never received the exposure it deserves, Hotey is a contemporary novel and really should be made into a feature animation. There’s a lot in there to be learned both morally and in terms of great writing from Jo, who was voted by Publishers Weekly as Best Female Narrator a few years back.
Unsigned Unscene by John Winstanley – John is an author local to me who managed bands during the last decade. It’s a fly on the wall account of that time and the interviews he carried out. It is a cult book with a few similarities to The Word and whilst John has deliberately left famous individuals out of the book it does not detract from my interest in it.
Flat Out, Flat Broke by Perry McCarthy – This is a fascinating autobiography and reached the Top 20 motor books of all time. It takes the reader through Perry’s struggles to become a Formula 1 racing driver and all that happened between, including becoming the legendary driver The Stig of BBC’s Top Gear.
Finally, I have on my bedside table Daniela by debut author Georgia Melaris. Whilst her first novel, Georgia has been involved in editing and proof reading the works of many others. It’s steamy and not my genre of choice, but whilst I am only into the first couple of chapters of this one, I have 50 shades of hope for it and for her success!
IAN. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
S.D. In a nutshell, Simon’s 10 Q Interviewees. They are all amazingly supportive and I remain in touch with the vast majority of them. They are all such fascinating and unique individuals and the wealth of knowledge and experience that they have between them is somewhat phenomenal. Learning from them and the new interviewees that come along is a key driver for me, it really keeps me motivated. Conversing with them is like bathing in a fountain of knowledge, or having the ability to delve into the cookie jar with no fear of getting your hand stuck. For me they are the cookies and there is an endless supply out there, the only reason that supply will deplete is, if and when, hopefully, in the future I become one of them, at which time I hope to offer up similar support to those around me.
IAN. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
S.D. Writing both the thriller Stray Bullet and its sequel Phoenix has been a challenge as the stories are complex, full of twists and turns to keep my readers guessing to the very end. I believe, from reading the reviews, that I have achieved this. But as I write the books sporadically and sometimes take fairly long breaks between sessions of writing, I have had to re-read the narratives from the start on many occasions so as not to contradict or compromise the story line when writing fresh chapters. This is a time consuming process but ultimately I believe worth the effort. I would also guess that I am an undiagnosed dyslexic as I am aware that my grammar and punctuation leave something to be desired but am unable to fix it. I hand my work to professional editors, but for me, this is probably akin to an uninhibited author having a manuscript translated into a completely separate language, as in both instances I and they are in the same boat, rarely able to tell the differences post edit to pre edit and can only assume and trust that the professionals have done their job correctly. In the past this reliance on others has not served me well, but again I am in a position of learning and hold enough confidence in my storylines that this is something that can and will be overcome.
IAN. Who designed the covers?
S.D. I do a lot of the conceptual design work myself, indeed I produce my own promotional videos too. For The Word I simply didn’t have the time to commit to getting it “just right” and employed the services of a young and very talented designer from the US – Michael Price. We worked on the cover for months before getting it to a stage where I, and all those involved within the content of the book, was happy with its appearance. I am very grateful to Michael for his patience with us all! The theme is likely to carry on throughout the series.
IAN. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
S.D. Yes, I love you one and all! For me, there is no greater honour than for somebody to consider paying money for something that I have created. Writing a book is a time consuming process and I, as many other authors, put my heart and soul into delivering work of a quality worthy of you the reader. Hours are spent pouring over ideas and concepts for the storylines. Unlike those prolific writers whom are able to churn out story after story, I take great pride in weaving a plot for personal and not financial gain i.e. one that will challenge the reader to use their own imagination if they are going to even get close to the outcome before it is revealed. As with interviews, there are countless shelves full of repetitive storylines, I have no wish to become a part of those formula led award winners. I commit to putting everything I have into each storyline which is possibly why my ideas take longer than most to get into print. But, bear with me, you may not find quantity but I hope you will continue to agree that you shall find quality here…
IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?
S.D. The Word - Volume 2 is already completed and will be out towards the end of the year. Stray Bullet is being re-edited and re-covered for a second edition which will be out in due course and I am still working on Phoenix, the sequel to Stray Bullet, although I have not pressured myself into a time frame for publishing that offering.