Mannethorn’s Key, an Interview with Simon Lindley


This week, we’re talking with Simon Lindley about his new epic fantasy Mannethorn’s Key.


Tell us something unexpected about yourself!

I speak Japanese and lived there for a while teaching English. I also sing and play lead guitar in a blues band.


How did you get into writing?

I have been writing fantasy fiction since the age of six. My first manuscript, The Magic Skates, published and released by my grade-two teacher, never made the bestsellers list. However, being a full-time daydreamer, I have endeavored to one day change that.


What are you currently working on?

I have two books on the go. The first, of course, is polishing up Book Two in the Key of Life trilogy. The other is new project that I am quite excited about, a contemporary fantasy entitled Gaia’s Assassin. It’s dark, a bit dystopian, but I feel it’s quite unique from the work we’re seeing in those genres.


Where did you get the inspiration for this book?

Ha! Well, that’s like asking me where I got the inspiration to walk. It’s been floating around in my head for a while. Yet, ironically, Mannethorn’s Key, I guess, was incubated by a father’s story-telling,

When I was a young lad, Dad read all the good stuff to the kids. He had the voices down perfectly – a great narrator. C.S. Lewis, A.A. Milne, Kenneth Grahame and, when we were old enough, Tolkien, which were our versions of PlayStation! Well, Tolkien did it. I was hooked.

When I had a daughter of my own, I was determined to provide her what my father had me. Some tales eventually formed into manuscripts; others were forgotten after the telling, but I needed to tell stories far more than my daughter needed to listen to them. I knew then that I was a writer – just not a good one. Concepts and outlines came and went, and she grew up faster than the books.

I tabled serious writing for years until I revisited my earlier work about a decade ago. What I found was disastrous. Oh, the shock.

Of course, by that time the Greats had found their way onto my bookshelf, and my thoughts were heavily influenced by Feist, Donaldson, Hobb, Eddings, Brooks, etc.

All the inherent failures in life played a huge role in keeping me away from writing and drawing me back. Failure became my talisman. Interestingly, the books that spawned my imagination were those that embraced such discord. I wanted my work to be equally unafraid, to walk off the precipice when required, the characters not only flawed and real but breaking the molds of epic fantasy stereotypes. Adversity and overcoming ill choice became the core of my writing. The Key to Life is the epitome of this mindset. I elected to drag my characters to suffer alongside me! In a way, their journeys and struggles reflect my own. Failure is powerful. From it, we learn to live fuller lives.

Tell us more about the main characters in your new novel.

Bartholomew Waxman is a washed up, thirty-something, former derivatives broker who’s lost everything from his own doing. Fallen recently from the lowest rung in his life, he has a choice to either rebuild or perish. Blessed with an amazing mathematical gift, a skill he flagrantly exploited until blowing up in his face, he is a culmination of years of bad choices – but redeemable, if he trusts a deeper voice.


Who is your favorite writer and why?

I have several, but one of the most influential, I would have to say, was Stephen R. Donaldson, father of the fantasy antihero, in my humble opinion.


What are your top 3 books of all time?

Lord of the Rings (all three as one), Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series, and Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy.


Have you got any writing rituals?

I mull. I write. I mull.


How important is marketing and social media for you?

Critical. We all have to be more of our own promoters if we hope to succeed as career writers in the new age of ebooks.


Do you read your book reviews?

I’ll let you know once I have a few more of them! But yes, they are incredibly important. Criticism as much as acclaim is key to becoming a better writer. I don’t get my nose out of joint when someone offers me such a gift. Take it. Cherish it – the two stars as well as the five stars. Readers are helping we authors improve. Remember – two ears, one mouth. I’ve learned to listen in earnest.


What advice would you have for other writers?

Never turn your back on honest feedback. If you think you know it all – quit. You know nothing.


What are you reading now?

I’m rereading Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy (so good), and I’m halfway through Cloak of Two Winds by Jack Massa


What’s your next step?


Find out more about Simon Lindley here.

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