I greatly enjoyed Sim's YA fantasy novel Welcome to Denver Falls (which I declared a ' little whirlwind of escapism') back in March. Sim has since been working on a collaborative piece and also on a collection of work for Chasing Driftwoood Writing Group CIC that he co-directs with Chantelle Atkins.
Sim,you are Dorset born and bred. What was your early life like? This is a great question, I don't think I've ever been asked this before and it really made me think about myself and my journey, not only as a writer but personally too. I guess the best word to describe my early life would be 'chaotic,' in all the best ways. I'm the eldest of six kids and come from a big, tight knit family so there was always something going on. Were there any moments that you recall were particularly challenging growing up? I think, as great as it is now, being part of such a big family really posed a lot of challenges for me too. As I mentioned I'm the eldest child (and grandchild) in my family, but also my mum had me quite young. She was the eldest of four siblings herself, so I grew up in this weird limbo of being the youngest (her siblings were like older siblings to me) and the eldest. I think as great as that is, it also creates a certain amount of loneliness. I was always looking up to my aunts and uncle for guidance but then had younger siblings looking up to me. I think that may have a lot to do with why I turned to books and writing for escapism. At what point did you discover the joy of writing? I was very young when I wrote my first story. I still have it now. In fact, I would share it with the world if it only made sense. My love of writing definitely comes from my love of reading first and foremost. I used to have sleepovers at my friend's house when I was younger and his mum would read Goosebumps books to us at night and I absolutely fell in love with R. L. Stein. My mum read a lot too, she has a stack of Virginia Andrews books (that have somehow found themselves in my house!) and I was always intrigued by those. A lot of them deal with complicated family relationships which may lead back to my earlier answers. (I feel like I'm in a therapy session!) Why do you write? I love the escapism a good story can bring. I love how you get new revelations and a surge of excitement with every turn of the page. I also enjoy creating characters that become so lifelike that they could be old friends. Admittedly, I don't read as much these days as I once did, but I love that excitement and thrill you get from a good story and that bittersweet feeling when it ends. I feel a lot of stories I've read and enjoyed have changed me in some way and I hope to give that gift to somebody else. Tell me more about your current work in progress. Currently I am working on a supernatural, young adult series with my incredible co-author, Chantelle Atkins. It follows two teenagers who are learning that the town they live in isn't as boring as they thought. There are superpowers, dark forces, and some real life issues like fractured family relationships and eating disorders. These kids have a lot to contend with but ultimately it's an epic story of finding yourself. I'm also working on a teen slasher book, based on my love of Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Pretty Little Liars, in addition to book two in my paranormal series, The Denver Falls Saga.
What benefits does writing have for you? I find it freeing in so many ways. It takes real discipline to sit down and create something magical, be it a short story or an entire novel. The rush I get from completing a story... there's nothing quite like it. I can honestly say I write for me and only me. Sure, it's great to have feedback and book sales, but ultimately if I'm happy, that's all I care about. A big benefit for me is the ability to leave something behind for future generations to enjoy, almost leaving a part of yourself behind forever. That's true immortality and it's actually quite daunting but magical at the same time. How has the past 18 months been for you in relation to the pandemic? Fantastic... and I know it's been such a difficult, devastating time for so many people across the world so I do feel awful admitting that. But quite honestly, throughout this pandemic I've really found myself. I've always had this heavy cloud over me like I needed a reset and being in lockdown gave me that chance to refresh and reboot. I was finally able to finish a full manuscript and publish it, something I'd dreamt about for years. I'd always had so many other obstacles in the way, work life, personal life, studies... I could never follow an idea through to the end and I was so easily defeated. The pandemic gave me the gift of time. What future ambitions do you have? I'd love to see one of my stories come to the screen somehow. Be it a short, indie movie on YouTube or a full on hit. That's the biggest dream for me as a writer I think, to see my worlds and characters come to life. I think I'd also like to direct film versions of friends' books. I've met so many super talented indie authors with the most amazing stories and characters and it would just be amazing to make them into other forms of media for more people to enjoy. Is there anything in the pipeline you would like to tell us about? Chantelle and I are launching our own publishing imprint as part of our community interest company, Chasing Driftwood Writing Group. Our first book is a collection of poems, short stories and essays from various writers on their experiences, fears and hopes over the pandemic. We just announced the artwork for it (created by the amazing Law Baker Art) and I can't wait to share the book with everyone. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it's an emotional rollercoaster. I'm looking forward to publishing more collections with Chantelle going forward and seeing where this new venture takes us. Do you have any advice for those reading who might like to start writing? Do it. Do it and do it for you. Don't worry about what anyone will think of you or if your story or characters are good enough. Just remember there's only one you and your mind is magical and unique. Writing can be stressful at times but for the most part it's fun and freeing, often you don't realise how much until the finished product. Just keep going and always believe in what you're putting out there. Lastly, how might my readers keep in touch with you? You can follow me on social media. I use my facebook page a lot, though I'm starting to get more into instagram.
You can also follow my blog and sign up to my newsletter at SimAlecSansford.com
Thank you so much for reading and getting to know more about me. I'd love to hear about you too! So please drop me a comment or message.