Fiona: Tell us a little about yourself.
I worked in catering for several years, mostly as a bartender then a butler. I now am a screen-writer and new novelist who currently resides in Bangkok. I spent several months researching my first novel, ‘Lost Innocence’ which included visiting an Australian inmate called Mitchell Blake inside the Bangkok Hilton.
I was born in a small fishing town called Whitby in North Yorkshire. I had an interest in drama at an early age and attended the ‘Lee Strasberg School of method acting’ in London. My father was a lyricist/musician and I discovered I could also manipulate words.
I had written my own lyrics and poems since I was seven, but then discovered at acting school that I could write much more. After writing short stories, monologues and duologues, I went onto to write two screenplays that were both sold. I have now set my sights on novel writing and have two more novels soon to be released with a small publishing house called Spanking Pulp Press.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My first book ‘Lost Innocence’ is out in two parts on Amazon and all the other online stores and doing quite well. We’ve already made it to number one in the Political Fiction charts, number fifteen in suspense and number twenty four in Hoaxes and Deception.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I had written my own lyrics and poems since I was seven at my home in England. Why, because my father, a local lyricist, encouraged me to do so. I was always a story teller, but back then the story’s came in the form of songs.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Not until recently. I’d sold a couple of screenplays, but they were never made into movies. Only when I finally got the right edit on ‘Lost Innocence,’ got it out there and received a few good reviews, did I consider myself a writer although I feel more like a story teller than a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
….Would you believe me if I told you that it came to me in a vivid dream? I had absolutely no interest in writing about a Thai prison. I knew very little about it and had never experienced time inside. Readers think I have, but my writing about it comes from research. I met a guy inside and he opened up to me. The rest came purely from my imagination and inspiration from previous True Crimes I’d read.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m pretty heavy on dialogue writing because I find that easy to write. I just put the characters in my head and let them talk.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It was always ‘Lost Innocence’ before I even wrote it. That title was given to me in my dream and then the story started to come alive.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are several, but the main two would be to be careful when travelling to foreign Countries and everybody deserves a second chance.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Although ‘Lost Innocence’ is a work of fiction, I’d like to think that the book is realistic. There is nothing in this book that couldn’t happen and a lot of what’s in there did happen.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some of the experiences are based on Mitchell Blake, an Australian convict who served seventeen years inside the notorious prison, nicknamed ‘The Bangkok Hilton.’
Fiona: How was it meeting him?
I have to say, I was nervous at first. I’d never met a criminal or convict and this guy is huge, over 6.2. He spoke to our mutual friend Harry, first, then I went up to the mesh and we spoke. You know, he was the nicest guy ever. We spoke for as long as we could, he opened up and we’re still friends now. He is due to be released in May 2015.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
‘The Damage Done’ was a pretty gripping True Crime novel that grabbed my attention at the time but ‘Private Dancer’ by Stephen Leather made me feel that maybe I could be a writer.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
If I had to choose and could bring someone back to life, I’d take Hemmingway.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m about to start the first book buy my new friend, Ani Alexander. It’s called ‘Highfall.’
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
New authors grab my attention all the time as I meet them all the time. Garrard Hayes, an American author is new. I think he will turn a few heads.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
‘Tales of the Land of Smiles’ is a collection of several Thai based books. ‘Lost Innocence’ has four parts, two of which are already out. Next will be ‘Working Girl’ based on a young Thai girl forced into prostitution. It’s a really sad story, written in her voice. Jim, my publisher at Spanking Pulp Press refers to me as a ‘method writer.’ It’s true, I do get into the heads of my character or they get into my head…I’m not sure which it is.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
You say not a family members, but my mother passed when I was young. She was my best friend and helped me to believe that I could do something with my life.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’d like to think so but we’re living in a free world right now where everything is either free or pirated. It’s difficult to make a living from writing books unless you are really doing well.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Sure. I was editing it for over three years. I could have spent a lifetime editing it more, but I needed to let it go.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Initially from my father being a lyricist, then from just enjoying writing stories at school. I’ve always love to entertain.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I like many different authors for several different reasons, but rarely read more than one book from the same author. John Grisham shocked me with ‘The Testament’ by killing off his main character in the first chapter.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet but I hope to do so soon. I’ve met a lot of authors and readers in the USA, so I hope to go there soon.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The initial idea was mine, then enhanced by my friend James and his designer Yok at Pixel fox design.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Finally letting it go.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I’ve learnt so much but mainly that I couldn’t have succeeded alone.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you think you can write a book, have a go. Get it out there and not to just friends and family. Get some real critique and then if it’s still something you want to pursue, then follow your dreams and never give up.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thanks so much for giving ‘Lost Innocence’ a chance. I hope you liked it and if you do, find me on Facebook for a chat. If you didn’t like it, please tell me why. The next is coming soon….
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, but there was a book I read at school that I’m still trying to find. It was about a young boy who was turned into a dog by black magic. Anyone know it? I’d love to read it again.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
A good joke or funny picture or quote makes me laugh.
A sad movie would make me cry. I cried at Titanic and the day after when I heard the theme song being played in a taxi.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would like to meet and why?
I’d like to meet my mum again. I lost her when I was fourteen.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I play tennis, watch movies and TV shows.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I recently watched ‘American Hustle’ which I thought was great. I’m following ‘The Big Bang Theory, Suits, The Good Wife, Grey’s Anatomy and ‘Silicon Valley’ to name just a few.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I live in Thailand and love Thai food and English food.
Blue was always my favorite color and I am listening to Cold Play, Damien Rice, John Legend and anything melodically pleasing.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’d still love to be an actor.
Fiona: Thank you Simon and I wish you the best of luck with ‘Lost Innocence.’
Thank you, Fiona. It’s been a pleasure.
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