New Author- Simon P. Clark
We are thrilled to welcome Simon P. Clark as one of our newest authors here at CWLA! We sat down with Simon to learn a little more about his writing and inspiration.
1. What inspired you to become an author?
I wasn’t the world’s best reader as a kid – I struggled with it in school, in fact – but I remember very specifically reading the early Harry Potter books and some of Philip Pullman’s stories and having this moment of realisation that some people did this as their job. Before then I had never really thought about it – books just appeared at the edges of my world, complete and finished, and that was that – but the idea that anyone could write and make a book changed my life.
2. Are your stories influenced by your time living abroad?
I suppose every story is influenced by the writer’s experiences, though I don’t intentionally bring parts of my life from living abroad into my books. That said, I do believe very strongly that travel – whatever that means, whether it’s local or international – makes your own world bigger. So, maybe living abroad changed how I see the world, and that changes how I write.
3. Do any of the stories you write come from your own experiences and memories of your childhood?
My published books: no. The book I’m working on right now? Very much so. It’s a new thing for me, to kind of go back and take some of the not-so-nice parts of my own childhood and try to see them from another point of view and get something out of it. Hopefully, it makes a good book and doesn’t just drive me mad.
4. What are the challenges in writing middle grade stories?
I think there are more opportunities than challenges. It’s such a fantastic age, but one where readers are quite impressionable – the trick is to write good stories without talking down to kids. I think publishers can be nervous about things being too complicated or scary or intense – but then when you meet the kids, they’re fine with it, they get it exactly.
5. How do you make sure your stories will relate to children?
By remembering I’m not a kid, and my childhood is falling away further and further into the past! There’s so much to pay attention to: what are kids faced with now? How’s social media and phones made their lives better and worse? In my first book, Eren, I have a scene with a TV that shows static. It was important to me that the static was there so something spooky could happen – but my editor (fairly and kindly) pointed out that TVs don’t have static now, that they haven’t for a while, and kids might not quite get what I was saying. What a wake up call! But I kept it in anyway, and trusted my readers to get the gist. Plus, if they’re really curious, they can just Google what static is, and laugh at how things used to be in the long, long ago.
6. Do you have a favorite theme to write about?
Things being strange, things being more than they seem, and adults not being the ones who know what’s going on.
7. Are there any books that influence your writing?
Skellig by David Almond is the biggest influence on my style. Clockwork by Philip Pullman showed me how incredible plot can be when the author really puts the work in. I think I’m from the magpie school of writing – I steal happily from everything I read, even little turns of phrases or images. I read Moira Fowley-Doyle before I started my second book and I can see the influence she had on the opening scene. I suspect it will always be that way.
8. Tell us about your writing routine. Where and when and how do you like to write?
I wish I had a routine – but Covid, then changing jobs, then having my daughter means that writing at the moment means stealing the little time I can find in the corners of the day. A few years ago I got into the habit of writing in train stations – London St Pancras was a favourite – and I’d love to get back to that some day. They’re perfect people watching spots, always have coffee shops, and there’s so many journeys starting and ending, people saying goodbye, folks running because they’re late, luggage trailing behind them. it’s hard not to be inspired to write something.
9. Are there any exciting projects you’re working on at the moment?
I’m working on a middle grade that’s been a passion project of mine for years. I really want to see it through – it’s a kind of spiritual sequel to Eren, my first book, in that it has a similar style and tone. Watch this space, I guess!
Caroline Wakeman Literary Agency focuses on picture and early chapter books. Based in London and New York City, we have a team of literary agents specializing in children’s books and young fiction. Our goal is to create engaging stories for young readers.