T.S. Simons is an Australian based author of Scottish heritage. Living in the alpine
region of Australia, she believes in the values of sustainability and community in a world
where we place greater value on possessions than people. The Antipodes series addresses
the question—if we gave young people the opportunity to start over, would we replicate
the mistakes of the past?
Her desire to assist others saw her working in international development before realising
that her passion lay in education. She holds a Bachelor's and Master’s degree and enjoys
strong coffee, travelling, mythology, snow skiing, and attempting to live as sustainably as
possible. She is owned by two rather bossy standard schnauzers and two rescue cats who
co-manage her household.
Antipodes is the first novel in the Antipodes series, followed by The Liminal Space and
Ouroboros. A prequel novella, Crossroads is now available. She is finalising a fourth
novel in this series, Caim. A fifth is possible. Maybe.
Author Q & A
WTB - What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
T.S. Simons - So many! I love to read. The Lakes District (Beatrix Potter), anything to do with Harry Potter, Anne Frank's house, Charles Dicken’s house, Shakespeare’s house…
WTB - What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
T.S. Simons - Trying to become established as an author, you realize that seeking reviews, hopefully positive ones, are an essential part of the process. You are putting something you created out there for the world to critique, which takes guts. So many people contact you and offer to pay for reviews. It is unethical, and breaches the rules of many places they leave them.
WTB - Does writing energize or exhaust you?
T.S. Simons - Both - depends on the day! Some days I am busting to write, and the ideas just flow. Others, I can’t. I would rather write quality, so on those flat days I edit, research, or read.
WTB - What are common traps for aspiring writers?
T.S. Simons - Thinking that writing is the hard part! Marketing, at least for me, is a thousand times harder.
WTB - Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
T.S. Simons - I would think it would help. I suffer terribly from imposter syndrome. I keep waiting for people to tell me how awful my books are. But the positive reviews keep coming, and each one warms my heart when I know that people read my words, and cared enough to tell me. I wish I could let the negative stuff wash over me, but I am still so emotionally vested in this work that it hurts when people criticize, especially when there is nothing specific about it. Reviews are an opportunity to improve, but not if you don’t know what someone didn’t like about it.
WTB - What is your writing Kryptonite?
T.S. Simons - Social media! It is a rabbit hole I fall down several times a day.
WTB - Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
T.S. Simons - Actually yes. My first two degrees were in English Literature. After spending years reading hundreds of books and writing prescriptive essays as well as a Master’s thesis, I was burned out and didn't read for a few years. Then when I did start reading again, for pleasure, it was like a magical new world had opened up.
WTB - Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
T.S. Simons - This is a pseudonym! It is my married name, but I am known professionally with my surname, mainly as I wanted to keep my worlds separate. I am a CEO and I didn’t want clients to associate my writing with my professional career. It didn’t work, and many of my colleagues have read my novels. They keep speaking to me, so…
WTB - Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
T.S. Simons - Original. One of my favorite reviews was that my stories were "uniquely unpredictable." I love it when reviewers contact me and say, "I didn't see that coming!" I read so many novels with predictable storylines. I want to challenge people and make them think, “what would I do?”
WTB - What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
T.S. Simons - I have recently become part of a network with other writers. Like any professional network, some support and challenge you to be the best version of yourself. We set writing goals, collaborate and inspire each other to achieve them. Celebrate the wins. Others, sadly, compete, and try to outshine others, which I will never understand. Life is a team sport. So is writing surprisingly.
WTB - Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
T.S. Simons - When I wrote Antipodes, it was to be a standalone. But I was driving to work one day when it was off with my editor and realized I wasn’t done with these characters, this world I had spent the best part of a year creating. Of course, I was driving on a windy mountain road, in the rain, and couldn’t pull over and jot down notes. The storylines kept coming. Characters I wanted to explore further. Somehow there are now three published novels in this series and another two in various states of editing and writing. So, a series of five. But Antipodes can be read as a standalone.
WTB - If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
T.S. Simons - Start sooner! There is no such thing as a good time to write, so just do it. You get better by doing, not thinking about it or studying how other people do it. You need to learn your own style, and that only improves with writing.
WTB - What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
T.S. Simons - I wanted my characters to be real, not perfect. The main character in Antipodes, Cam, suffers from anxiety, as does my own son, but that is not the point of the book. I wanted to show my son that people achieve great things despite their own personal challenges. Even the strongest people struggle internally, and to recognize this fact hopefully makes us all more tolerant of others.
WTB - How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
T.S. Simons - Two active works in progress. I have finished book four in this series, but I like to park them for a few months before starting a heavy edit. It gives me fresh eyes, and sometimes a,"what was I thinking!" moment. I also see different arcs in which to take the storyline after taking a break.
WTB - What does literary success look like to you?
T.S. Simons - I would love to be recognized for contributing something unique to the literary world.
WTB - What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
T.S. Simons - I research as I go. Antipodes had a lot of scientific concepts and I spent a lot of time ensuring that they were as accurate as possible (within the realm of fiction). I still remember my dad, who was a pilot, when I was a kid yelling at the TV "that isn't how you do it!" Medical concepts I also want to be as accurate as possible so people don’t throw my book against the wall! There is an awesome website where you plug in a location and it tells you the antipodal point, that place at the opposite end of the earth. I spent hours on that site finding suitable locations.
WTB - How do you select the names of your characters?
T.S. Simons - I research these and try to align them to the character’s personality. I suspect most readers never realize, and that is fine. But some are named after friends who I wanted to honour in some way.
WTB - If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
T.S. Simons - I am the CEO of a not-for-profit organization and I love it.
WTB - Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
T.S. Simons - I do, mainly as I want to improve. A well-considered review is an opportunity to see the book through the lens of the reader. Unfortunately, some people are just mean. I think the hardest part for me as an author was recognizing that not every reader likes every book. I certainly don't. But I don't leave scathing reviews either. I recognize that each work has its place, and its audience. Sometimes that audience isn’t me. When I get a good one, I always leave a thank you. When I get a bad one, I take it to heart for a bit, then move on.
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