Interview With Author T.S. Simons

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

Hi, I am TS (Tanya) Simons. After living in several countries, I now live in the alpine region of Australia where I am blessed with views of snow-capped mountains in winter and easy access to ski resorts. I am the author of the Antipodes series, a dystopian fiction series focusing on sustainability, inclusion, community, and addressing the occasional mental health issue as well. This series asks the question; “If we gave young people the opportunity to start over with the knowledge and technology of today, would they? Or would we continue to replicate the mistakes of the past?” I hold a Bachelor and Masters degree, as well as post-graduate qualifications in governance, management and Indonesian language.

# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

From a setting perspective, I live in a region hit hard by horrendous bushfires in 2019/2020. We were evacuated several times, and it was quite frankly, terrifying. A few weeks later I was at a conference, and we were speaking about the impact of climate change on the mental health and resilience of teens where their world is quite literally burning around them. It got me thinking about how the next generation would (might!) do things differently. I wrote most of Antipodes before Covid, although I did go back and add in entertaining little snippets from real life, like people hoarding toilet paper!

The protagonist of my first two books struggles with anxiety, as does my own son, and this series was written in part to prove to my own children that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things despite their personal challenges. Anxiety is just part of who he is, it doesn’t define him, and it is not the main storyline. I am increasingly seeing a body of literature that incorporates mental health realistically and respectfully, and I love being part of this conversation.

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

People! Conversations are always what get me thinking. A random conversation can result in me replaying it for days before it forms a scene in one of my books. A conversation with a friend about her immigrant parents moving to Australia. Another about the ridiculous price tag of luxury goods. My baker teaching me to make sourdough bread!

# How do you deal with creative block?

Some days I can write. Other days, if it isn’t flowing, I review and edit. I try to schedule time each day to write. But I need a quiet environment, and that is difficult.

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

Not writing what you are passionate about. Otherwise, it is just words on a page.

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

*laugh* I am the wrong person to ask! I wanted unique titles, as I didn’t want a hundred books of the same name to come up when someone searched for it. But I sometimes wonder if they are too difficult!

With my covers, I asked my designer for a common theme – the domed community in a bleak setting, but with beautiful scenery inside. As a side note, most of the images I took myself on my travels back to Scotland.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

Putting your work out there to be critiqued is challenging. It is especially difficult when a reviewer says, “I didn’t like this” but without any explanation of why. I am always seeking to improve, so I do read reviews and seek the sliver of constructive feedback so I can take that on board. But a positive review is like Christmas and birthdays rolled into one. It is wonderful and heartwarming when someone takes the time to read your book, and writes you a lovely review. I always try to leave a thank you for people who post positive reviews.

# How has your creation process improved over time?

Each time I engage an editor or another professional, I use the lessons learned to improve my entire process. I would like to say that I don’t make the same mistake twice, but that probably isn’t true!

# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

Best- finding a network of other authors willing to listen, support and help each other. Writing is a team sport (the surprise), and I love being part of a community.

Worst – Marketing is a million times harder than writing. Finding your audience in a market saturated with books is exceedingly difficult. The other worst thing was that there are so many unethical people out there trying to squeeze money from new authors- offering paid reviews, or threatening to blackmail authors with one-star reviews if they don’t pay for a service.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

My books are the books I wanted to read. I didn’t deliberately write to market.

# What role do emotions play in creativity?

Emotions are everything. Without passion, you have nothing. I created this world and these people, and I feel for them, especially when I need to kill someone off to progress the story.

# Do you have any creativity tricks?

It is important to schedule writing time. Sometimes it flows, other days it doesn’t, and you can’t force it. But you can guarantee I will come up with a fabulous plotline as I am driving. Thank goodness I discovered voice recording apps.

My process is to brain dump, then park it for a few weeks and don’t read it. Do something else. Return to it with fresh eyes.

# What are your plans for future books?

Book four in this series, Caim, is due for release soon. I am working on book five, Sessrumnir, which will end the current sequence. But I have plans percolating in my head for a related series in the same world.

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

I have worked in broadcasting, international development, telecommunications and education and I loved them all, but for different reasons. I speak Indonesian and studied there for one of my postgrad degrees. I love to travel and experience different cultures, foods and meet fascinating people. I waste far too much time on social media. It is a rabbit hole I fall down several times a day. But if you want to encourage me, you can contact me via www.tssimons.com.