Simon Williams - Life can be more Exciting than Fiction
Did you ever stop to think what it is that makes you happy? For author Simon Williams it was the realization that he was always happiest when he goes in the opposite direction to the crowd. He loves to run up the down elevator at the mall and he never feels embarrassed when he draws the stares of everyone there. Why should he be the one who is ridiculed, he is the person with the biggest smile on his face. And so it is with all his adventures in life. As our Author of the Day, Williams tells us more about his adventures and one of the books he wrote about them - Wanderlost.
Please give us a short introduction to what Wanderlost is about.
It is about reaching that moment where a person asks themselves, what have I achieved in my life? I turned 50 last year and wanted to, nay needed to, write down the stories of some of my most dire experiences on the planet to humor myself that while I may have achieved very little in accumulating physical wealth I have broken the bank when it comes to having had some wild times.
What inspired you to write this book?
Age, alcohol, depression. I am betting it was at least two out of the three.
Where does your passion for travel come from?
Feel good answer- it comes from watching too many James Bond films. Honest answer - it probably comes from a deep-felt loneliness that I didn't know where I felt I belonged, so I wanted to travel the world to see if I could ever find a place that made me feel right. Semi honest answer - National Lampoon's Vacation wasn't just a movie for some people. It was a road map for life.
Apart from Wanderlost, you have written 8 other books. How does this one tie in with your other work?
There are currently 5 books in the Wanderlost series. I wrote 70 random stories about crazy and bizarre experiences I have had during my travels (And I still have a few more for Book 6 to be completed) There are 3 books in the TORN series which is a memoir trilogy that is part travel/ part coming of age/ part expression of grief at the tragedy that befell me at 40 that was the impetus to write as an outlet for my interminable sadness and frustration. The 9th book, 12 Life Lessons I want to teach my son, ties in with the others as two of my strong themes in writing are, the importance of having a father as a role model, and the importance of a parent to give children the guidance, courage, and the freedom to not only be able to travel but to be able to soak up all life has to offer.
Readers have called you a modern version of Mark Twain. Would you agree with them?
Mark Twain stands alone as the master of quick wit. His quotes are preeminently revered. The humor and one-liners of Monty Python likewise. Timeless humor is a piece of work that even when spoken by a drunk fool, with bad pacing and no sense of timing, still makes everyone in the room laugh with recognition. I have been told that my sense of humor can occasionally make people unexpectedly expel raucous laughter, but I probably still have a way to go before I can be in Mark Twain's class or come up with a 'Tis but a fleshwound' masterpiece. Besides the man's mustache was epic, so no I disagree. Mark Twain on a tranquilizer maybe. A ventilator. Oh, are we talking about comparing me to Mark Twain right now? While he is 6 feet under? Sure, I think I could rival him. If his body is exhumed my odds go back below 50-50.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
My secret skill is that I am a master at inspiring people to overcome their fear and believe in their ability to accomplish rehabilitation goals they think are impossible. My day job is a physical therapist and there is yet to be a patient wallowing in self-pity or depression that I cannot inspire to get up and want to recover. I once literally got a patient to get out of bed and walk down the hall as they were about to administer his last rites. He was more scared of failing in front of me than he was of death, so death lost the fight. In many ways I write to inspire as I may not be the most inherently talented writer, but I believe 100% in myself. My approach with patients is the same as my writing. I am direct, I am often brash, but I am always truthful and empathetic. It wouldn't make sense to me to write any differently than the person I am in real life.
You tell your stories with a lot of self-depreciating humor and sarcasm. Why do you take that approach?
I simply know no other way. Is there another way? What would a life be like to never experience humility? My paltry writing skills can never truly encapsulate the looks of overwhelming excitement and joy on the faces of the children at my son's school on the day I went to pick him up dressed as Darth Vader. No one looks back at their life and thinks, well I am glad I never took a chance.
Any amusing story that happened to you as an author?
Considering that I have been shot at during an LA gang war, jumped off a 12 story cliff, nearly crash landed in a light aircraft, was almost mugged in Rio, had a gun to my head in Bulgaria, and had police want to arrest me in Hong Kong and New Delhi, the most amusing thing that has happened to me as an author is that I managed to sit at a desk for 6 months and not get bored writing all this stuff down for your readers to enjoy.
What's an aspect of being a writer that you didn't know about going in?
Writing is extraordinarily cathartic. It is also an act of pure self-belief. Believe me it is possible to type the phrase 'I have cancer' and there will be critics who claim the writing is myopic and self-indulgent. If you ever wanted to get stuff off your chest then go and write it down, store it away in a journal or diary, but for god's sake allow yourself to have a voice regarding how you feel and what you want to say. Everyone's voice is their own. Never feel ashamed of it. Never feel insecure about it. Leave a lasting impression even if only with yourself. If you are really wacko, then fashion a book out of it and publish it.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Mark Twain. I want to see that mustache up close. Having won Movember with my effort one year I can appreciate his talent.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
What goes around, comes around. You will get out of life exactly what you put into it.
Talk to us about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?
Scribbling down words, phrases, and outlines all day at work on pieces of paper that I stuff in to my pocket. At about 6pm I get super antsy to get home and transfer my edits and ideas onto my computer. I get home and the wife has chores for me to do, then dinner, help kids with homework, all the while getting antsier and antsier. Finally, I have an hour or two to frantically pound away at a keyboard to try and recapture what seemed like brilliant inspiration at 2pm in the afternoon but now seems cliched and dreary. My wife then complains I spend too much time at my desk working and not paying her attention, so I leave whatever I have done and go and give her a cuddle all the while secretly thinking what I can do to improve my verse.
What are you working on right now?
Currently working on TORN 4, which I have not even started but am in the midst of 5 years of research extending from the final moments in TORN 3 that promise to write a sequel in 5 years' time. And let me tell you there has been more craziness so far in the last 4 years than there was in the entire 26-year timeframe covered in TORN 1-3. Wanderlost 6 is in the incubator stage, which means I have a cover for it but have not hatched any writing. FALLING THROUGH THE CRACKS is a nonfiction guide to experiences I have had in 28 years of work in the healthcare field and what people need to be frightened of when going to hospital.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My irregularly maintained author website http://simonwilliamswriting.com/
Or by visiting me during my national touring burlesque show with special guest Stormy Daniels. Wednesdays are half price.