Today's Darklight On is ... C.M. Simpson
Speculative fiction is the type of fiction that comes most naturally. I just like telling stories, and the science fiction, fantasy, and not-quite-real genres attract me the most. I think this is where I find my greatest escape, and hopefully that means that what I write provides a form of escape for my readers, too.
Are you a plotter? Pantser? Or somewhere in-between?
I don’t know what I am anymore. I used to think I was a panster, purely and wholly free of the need to do any type of planning… but that’s not true, at least, not when it comes to longer fiction. All my flash fiction, and ninety per cent of my short stories are written without a clue as to what the story is going to be about, and I let the tale come out as it wants to, but novels, and the chapter books I’m writing, now, don’t work like that.
For my first fantasy trilogy, The Shadow series, I wrote an ‘outline’ of three paragraphs—one for each book. Those three paragraphs grew into an outline, as I tracked what I’d written already, and worked out where I wanted to be, and the things I had to remember to include later on. Now, I find myself writing a one- to two-thousand word outline for a nine-thousand word chapter book, like Rocky & the Raptors, and maybe two or three hundred words before I start a novel like Mack ‘n’ Me: Blaedergil’s Host. I’ve also noticed that the outlining, or note-making, before I start increases the further into a series I get.
Do you have a favourite of your characters?
Not really. I tend to adore whatever characters I’m writing about at the moment. Right now, that would be Mack and Cutter in the science fiction series, Mack ‘n’ Me. I’ve just released the first book, Mack ‘n’ Me: Origins, for that, and I’ve almost finished the second, Blaedergil’s Host. The third book, Arach, has a beginning and short overview; and the fourth, The Transporter’s Favour, has a concept paragraph. Mack and Cutter are going to keep me company for at least the next three months, and will probably crop up, again, in my shorter fiction, where they got their beginning.
And then there’s Miss Delight, an operative for the troubleshooting company, Odyssey. So far, she’s appeared in many of my flash fiction and short stories, as well as making quite a few appearances in the Mack ‘n’ Me books. One day she’ll get her own story, but right now she’s content with making mischief across the board. I can’t tell you if she’s a favourite, because then she might think she has to kill you.
I guess I’m a bit torn when it comes to my favourite characters since, I also write teen fiction under the author name, Carlie Simonsen, and my current favourite character from that area of my writing is Michael, the hero of the Long Hair series, who uses his very long hair in a unique martial arts fighting style.
Last week, it was Rocky, who went to great lengths to keep his little sister out of trouble. Rocky isn’t always my favourite, but I’m about to start writing Rocky and the Raptors, the sixth short chapter book in the Otherworld Adventures series. Before Rocky, my favourite character was Simone, from the Letters Across Space series. She spent a lot of time either trying to make it back to her best friend Tiger, or trying to track down other victims from a spill of mutagenic slime, but she’s so last fortnight, now, it’s not funny.
What are you currently working on?
As C.M. Simpson, I’ve just finished Mack ‘n’ Me: Blaedergil’s Host, the second book in my science fiction series, Mack ‘n’ Me, and I’m currently working on Mack ‘n’ Me: Arach, the third novel in that series. The first book, Mack ‘n’ Me: Origins, released last week, on the 20th, and Blaedergil’s Host releases next month.
In addition to that, my other pen-name, Carlie Simonsen, has just finished the science fiction chapter book, Rocky & the Raptors, and is now working on the second book in the Long Hair series, a series set around a boy. This series is slowly gaining a number of urban fantasy elements as it progresses, and is a lot of fun to write.
What is your favourite part of the process of writing?
I like the writing, seeing the story unfold before my eyes, and getting to know the characters, as we both explore new worlds. That’s my favourite part of the process.
What can we expect from Carlie and you in the future?
Well, in the near future, like next month, C.M. Simpson is releasing: Destiny’s Queen, a dark fantasy short story involving ghosts and assassins; Mack ‘n’ Me: Blaedergil’s Host, a dark science fiction adventure novel involving plagues, genetic engineering, and big corporation shenanigans, and C.M. Simpson: Short Work from 2017, Volume 1: Fantasy & Urban Fantasy, which contains all the fantasy and urban fantasy poetry, flash fiction and short stories I released last year.
In the meantime, Carlie Simonsen is releasing: Rocky & the Raptors, a short, teenage, science fiction chapter book, involving Rocky, a teddy bear, some raptors and a troublesome young sister, the second urban fantasy chapter book in the Long Hair series, involving martial arts, magic and myth; and The Dear Tiger Omnibus, a compilation of the first six books in the Letters Across Space series.
Of all of those, the following are already up for pre-order: Destiny’s Queen, C.M. Simpson: Short Work from 2017, Volume 1: Fantasy & Urban Fantasy, and The Dear Tiger Omnibus.
After May, we’re planning on publishing the third and fourth books in the Mack ‘n’ Me series, releasing another three short work collections, and The Rocky Adventures Collection, as well as producing more chapter books and short stories.
Who are your favourite authors?
There are too many of these to count, but here, in no particular order, are just a few: Tamora Pierce, Elizabeth Moon, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, John Christopher, David Weber, Mike Shepherd, Lois McMaster-Bujold, Nalini Singh, Ann Aguirre, John Scalzi, Michael Anderle, Craig Martelle, Dick Francis, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Kathy Reichs… and, I’m sorry, but I know I’ve missed more than a few, here. These people keep me sane, and give me a place to escape to, and relax in, and I appreciate them all.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading the last couple of books in Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle’s Terry Henry Walton Chronicles, after which I’ll probably move on to either more of Mike Shepherd’s Kris Longknife series, or Michael Anderle’s Kurtherian Gambit series. I’m on a bit of a military science fiction/space opera binge, right now.
Do you have a favourite spec fiction movie or TV series?
Like my books and characters, I don’t have a favourite; I just have movies I go back to over and over, again. Of those that are speculative fiction, I love the Firefly series, and often rewatch that, and Serenity, but they have to share time with the Jurassic Park, Aliens and Predator, Men in Black, and Mummy movies, as well as older classics like Mimic, Riddick, Avatar, and Pitch Black. Oh, and I nearly forgot: I have loved The Fifth Element since it was released and enjoyed the Dr. Who series since I first saw it as a child.
I won’t go into the number of Pixar, Disney and Dreamworks kids’ movies I have watched and enjoyed, and go back to, but there are a lot of them, too.
Do you have advice for emerging writers?
I can only pass on what I found most useful to me, so here is an amalgamation of advice from people like Chuck Wendig, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Chris Fox, Dean Wesley Smith, Craig Martelle, Michael Anderle, and Scott Moon:
Write! Write every day! Finish what you write! Strive to improve your craft. Push the (publish) button! Do the very best you can on every title you produce—and try hard not to suck… Oh, and never lose the magic you find in words, or forget why you write.
Finally, and most importantly, because there is a lot of writing advice out there: Do your research. There is NO RIGHT WAY to write, or to succeed as a writer, only the way that is right for you.
Never forget that—and good luck, wherever you are in your writing career.
Thanks, Colleen, C.M., & Carlie!
Mack ‘n’ Me: Origins
I ran away from home to find a better life—not be forced into one. You can call me picky, but a girl likes to be asked if she wants to work for you, not coerced—and Odyssey should know better. Now, I have to find a way to kick free—of Odyssey, and my trainer, Mack—without getting myself killed. Surviving the mission is just the first step. Getting out from under, that’s gonna take some doing.
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Simone and Tiger are almost within touching distance, when their lives take dramatically different directions, but Simone needs Tiger’s help, and he faces a difficult choice. Does he try to join her, as she races to rescue her sisters, or can he be of more help where he is? And will this be the mission that ends with them together? Or will they be torn apart… again?
Dear Tiger: Help Me Find My Sisters is the sixth chapter book in the Letters Across Space series. It can also be found in The Dear Tiger Omnibus, which compiles the first six books in the series into a single volume.