When did I first want to be a writer?
I’m not sure I am one now!
It might have been Maurice Leitch coming to speak to my class at school. Or reading all of my fellow Bangorian, Colin Bateman’s books. Whatever it was I’m glad for it. I absolutely love writing. Never mind if anyone buys one of my books or not- I love writing them. It’s a pleasure, and a therapy too. But when people do buy them and eve leave nice reviews- there’s nothing better.
I started writing fiction about seven years ago. Before that I had played in a lot of bands and written the songs. I also used to write poetry a long time ago. But I never tried fiction as such until seven years ago. Crime was my favourite genre and still is. I was gobbling up as much Chandler, Stark and the like as I could at the time. I didn’t really have any decision to make about what to write. I loved Crime, so it was natural to do that. I started off by creating some short stories, just for my own amusement. I’ve heard other writers talk about keeping it as some sort of embarrassing secret and I felt like that too. It wasn’t until I took a chance and started sending off to online magazines and anthologies that I told anyone about it. Then seeing some published and to receive positive reviews, that got me even more excited about the whole thing. Maybe I could be one of those so called ‘writer’ creatures! Because at the start you have no idea if what you are writing is terrible. Literally, no idea. I didn’t know if it would be like after a few drinks at a wedding and getting up for ‘Angels’ and thinking I might be an okay dancer.
I then slotted into a routine of writing all of the time and started to get into learning about the craft and business of it too. I read a few books and Googled various blogs all the time, teaching myself how it all works being an author and what the various paths and options are out there. I also began going to more book events and gradually I got to know some local authors. It has been one of the loveliest parts of my (loosest sense) ‘writing career’ so far. I’m fortunate to have got to know a lot of writers now and many are also friends. I have found everyone very supportive of each other and the surrounding Belfast area has a really warm local scene. Much of this centres around the fantastic ‘No Alibis Bookshop.’ I still find it odd when I take part in panel events at festivals with writers who I have admired for a long time and now also know well. Another amazing experience is meeting readers at these events who have enjoyed your books. When it’s not just your Mum who says ‘you’re great son,’ or your best friend who’s read two chapters before getting bored. But, an actual genuine stranger who likes your stuff!
After having quite a few short stories published, I was approached by an agent about writing a novel. I was thrilled to have been approached but also very daunted at the idea of writing a full length novel. I hadn’t even really considered it over the first year or two. In the end I didn’t sign with the agent, but it did lead me to writing my first novel and then to signing my first publishing deal. Since then I have now worked with a range of publishers and released three novels, three novellas and a short story collection.
I like to try doing different things all the time in my writing. To challenge myself and to stretch. I’ve written stories set in the present, the past and many in first person, others in third. I like to experiment with structure and perspectives and I’ve written standalones and series books. They all have the common thread of being ‘Crime Books,’ but hopefully people can enjoy each one on its own merit. One review I will always remember was where a reader commented on exactly what I was trying to do in terms of things like themes, structure and creating suspense. They ‘got it.’ These are the sort of things that really keep you going at it all. Because at times writing can be a hard slog, one peppered with rejections and disappointments too. Even if just one person gets it, you can kind of be a little satisfied that you’ve done your job. It’s like if you’re a teacher and the whole class fail apart from one A. Well, you must have taught the course fair enough. It was worth doing. There was a point to it all. That may be one of the reasons that we write, because I’m not all that sure why we do it. The desire to say something and pass it on to someone else, perhaps. I’m still a little uncomfortable with the label ‘writer,’ but also I very much feel I am one. I try and write every day and I think about my writing all of the time. There is no other pastime outside family life that brings me as much pleasure as planning out and then working through the puzzle that is writing a novel. I really value and appreciate the many blessings that writing has brought me so far. I look forward to finding out what’s round the corner as the journey continues
(c) Simon Maltman
Simon Maltman will be appearing as part of Murder One: Ireland’s International Crime Writing Festival. 1st-3rd November, 2019, at the smock Alley Theatre Dublin. Full details and tickets available here.
About Bongo Fury:
Simon Maltman’s Hard Boiled, Black Humoured Northern Irish Crime Fiction Series. The first two Bongo Fury novellas now collected together with a third part and an accompanying soundtrack. Spend time with Jimmy Black as he tries to balance a music shop, his paramilitary family, a newborn, a little drug dealing and a spot of private detection. Recent Press for Simon Maltman: “A terrifically gritty thriller.” Jo Spain“ Lean, mean, fast and furious.” Gerard Brennan“ A mystery noir with a twist ending worthy of Dennis Lehane.” The Big Thrill Magazine
Recent Press for Simon Maltman:
“A terrifically gritty thriller.” Jo Spain
“Lean, mean, fast and furious.” Gerard Brennan
Order your copy of Bongo Fury here.