Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Interview Tuesday: Simon Forster

Hi all! I declare today to be an honorary Tuesday, because I was working all day yesterday and was actually supposed to post an interview.

As a result, and since this is honorary Tuesday, I get to welcome Simon Foster to my blog.

Thanks for visiting, Simon!

Easy question first: Tell us a bit more about yourself.

Thank you, and hello! This is always the sort of question I have trouble with (that's a good start, isn't it?); how much to divulge, what to say, what is it about me that people might find interesting... but since your blog is about writing, I'll start with that: I like to consider myself a writer, even though I have only had a couple of pieces published in on-line places, self-published some short stories, and been rejected more times than I can remember; but I have written over a million words of fiction, lots of short stories, a few novels and novellas, and even though some of it is complete rubbish, there's a couple of good ones too. It's what I'd ideally like to do with my life, rather than sit in an office doing boring administration (sadly my day job).

I'm a role-player, as anyone who visits my blogs will know, and have been for the past 30 years. I am a self-confessed geek, with a love of cult TV, films, especially Doctor Who. I live in London, UK, with my fiancée, and long to become a published author.

Roleplaying always sounds interesting to me. Do you find that it helps you in your writing? Or do you think certain things don't translate well?

I find that it helps with inspiration, but I honestly think that trying to write a story based on a gaming session or campaign is a BAD IDEA. I've tried it, I've read stories by other people who tried it, and I don't think it works at all. It can help with the whole world-building side of writing, but that's about it. At least, that's my thoughts on it.

I guess it comes down to this: the mechanical side of a game doesn't translate well, but the flavour does.

Also, I find that they can create conflicts and sap energy from each other. If I spend too much time creating adventures for RPGs, I find my writing suffers; oddly, it rarely works the other way round. If anything, my writing adds fuel to the imagination for the gaming side.

Makes sense. So when I hear role playing, I almost immediately want to peg you as a spec fic writer. What is your preferred genre?

I guess fantasy is my ideal genre, simply because I like making things up :). I have dabbled in others- science fiction, horror, even romance- mostly in short stories, and wrote a noir thriller in the style of Raymond Chandler just to see if I could. I do want to write a historical novel, but not yet ready to put pen to paper.

My ideal fantasy tends to move away from typical sword & sorcery types, since I grew bored with them, and I like to do something different if I can; these days that is increasingly difficult.

I know what you mean. I write fantasy as well and find it difficult to try and come up with something fresh. How do you do it?

Partly by taking bits from lots of different sources and trying to make fit; sometimes by taking a common or typical idea and twisting it so that it becomes something else; mostly by hoping I don't stumble across someone who has already done it :)

I read a lot of fantasy, or have done in the past, so whenever I write I try to avoid doing anything like the books I've read; which probably explains why I moved away from fantasy books and keep looking for something new to read.

So your historical that you want to write: in which era is it set?

I want to write one set in the Elizabethan era, after reading up on Queen Elizabeth the First. Lots of intrigue going on, lots of interesting characters too. Of course, I also want to tamper with it and thought about making it an alternative history story, sort of what would happen if HG Wells War of the Worlds occurred in that era rather than Victorian England. I would be tempted to write one during the reign of Charles II, but Neal Stephenson already did that.

Ooh that does sound interesting. What's your favorite phase in producing a story and why?

The actual writing part is my favourite, especially when it's flowing from my brain onto the paper/keyboard. Just seeing the words appearing and the story taking shape reminds me why I do it in the first place. I just love creating stories.

Plotter or pantser?

A bit of both really, but leaning towards pantser; although, these days, I trying to be more of a plotter, because it makes writing the story a bit easier. I don't plot too much though, as in the past that has effectively killed the story for me and I found I no longer wanted to write it.

The same happened to me. In the end I gave up on plotting for first draft. Later I went back to one of those stories that I'd abandoned and rewrote it. Have you ever done that?

I keep going back to my folder of abandoned stories, reading through them, and seeing if any are redeemable. Some I just salvage ideas from. But there was one story, which I kept dropping and starting again, which I eventually finished after several years of starting & stopping. Still don't have a decent synopsis for it though, but the story is finished and is one of my best now (after editing and a few rewrites).

I love it when that happens. Do you edit as you write or do you lock up your inner editor?

I write most of my stories by hand, rarely editing, and only really edit when I type it up on the computer. Then I go through it again with my Editing-Eye. Until then, I just let the words flow, even if they seem a bit messy.

Oh my word me too! I'm so glad that someone else writes by hand. Okay then: where can people find you and/or your works?

I like writing by hand. The flow of the pen, the way it scratches the paper. Almost feels a shame to type it up sometimes.

To find me: my RPG blogs are and City of Bones, while you can find some my stories on, in various formats. Some are free to download too :)

In fact, if you Google 'theskyfullofdust' I pop up all over the place.

Thanks for the great interview Simon! I really enjoyed getting to know you better.

Anyone else role-play? Or draft by hand? Want to do an interview with me?


  1. Good interview! Simon, I haven't played D&D in ages because I was always the Dungeon Master and it takes SO long to build a campaign. Does help with world building though.
    You should sharpen that story you rewrote. I did the same thing and it ended up being my first published book. SO you never know!

  2. I keep trying, but no one's picked it up yet.

  3. I have a big folder of abandonned stories too - it's great for finding long-lost gems. I never throw anything out!

    War of the Worlds in Tudor times sounds like an interesting idea.

  4. Great interview. I think there needs to be more originality in fantasy. I have had the pleasure in reading some of Misha's, and she does some very interesting stuff. I'd love to see your work too Simon. You two are like titans of fantasy :) Roleplaying gives you extra nerd cred too.

  5. Great interview you guys. Something new in fantasy? Now THAT would be creative. I have no imagination for that. And just today I pulled an abandoned story for my blog today out of hiding. Sometimes these stinkers need to stay put.

  6. Great interview - nice getting to know you Simon! :)


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