Interview with Ivan Amberlake

It’s interview time, again!

For my second round of questioning, I had the pleasure of chatting with Ivan Amberlake, author of Diary of the Gone and The Beholder series.

Author pictire

I’m currently reading his latest novel, Path of the Heretic, which is part two in said series. Have to say, it’s a damn fine read so far.

Ivan is another writer I met on the Authonomy site. As well as writing excellent books, he’s a very nice guy and a first-rate beta-reader!

Intros over, on with the questioning…

  1. To start, I am going to quote something you said on Goodreads: 

‘I love active protagonists who get into a lot of trouble on their way to the truth, and never give up whatever happens to them.’ 

What is it that appeals to you about writing this sort of character?

Conflict is all-important to every story, no matter what type of conflict it is: interior, exterior or both. Characters who find themselves in trouble are highly enjoyable to write about: it’s exciting to experience everything they feel, what they are going through, what they do when their life is in danger, what they feel at moments when everything is at stake. I must say I never let my characters get bored, and I never will, I promise.

Glad to hear that, Ivan!


  1. Path of the Heretic is a sequel to the wonderful The Beholder. How do you think the two compare?

The Beholder is an introduction into the world of the Sighted, the world where people have supernatural power (Energy) that allows them to do things impossible for most people. Jason is forced into this world, is made to see horrible things, and the worst part, he finds out that he can actually trust no one in this harsh world.

Whereas The Beholder tells of the world of the Sighted in terms of Darkness and Light, black and white, in Path of the Heretic the readers find out the “shades of gray”, that there are Sighted who can change their allegiance according to their aims.

As for the writing, Path of the Heretic offers a deeper characterization than the first book. I really had a great time writing chapters both from the Lightsighted and the Darksighted points of view, and I hope this made the story more enjoyable.

Path cover

  1. I found the action scenes in TB to be extremely visual and really exciting to read. How do you go about writing action so well?

As action scenes are fun to project in my imagination, they are often easier to write. When writing an action scene, I have in mind everything that is going on; every little detail is important. The main inspiration for me is the action scenes in The Matrix movies. I can watch them over and over and there’s no way for me to get tired of them. I’m trying to create something close to that, preserving the uniqueness of the world I’ve created in this series.

I must confess to being a Matrix addict, so I know what you mean!

  1. Your books have some damn fine covers. Who does them and which is your favourite?

I often have a few versions of a cover for one book and it’s quite difficult for me to decide which one to use. The cover of The Beholder paperback edition as well as the Diary of the Gone cover were created by a great friend and fellow writer Yannis Karatsioris. He is a really talented guy, and I can’t thank him well enough for all the help and support he has shown for me all these years.


  1. If PotH were to have a soundtrack, who would it be composed and/or performed by? 

Well, a tricky question here since I don’t listen to music when writing anymore. I need silence to be able to concentrate on the plot. However, I occasionally listen to Breaking Benjamin (and at times, Skillet) as their music fills me with inspiration. In terms of music, The Beholder series would be a collection of fast-and-furious songs with beautiful (at times, sorrowful) melodies in between.


  1. Your writing is filled with imaginative ideas. Which thing from your books would you like to see come true? 

The way the Sighted people see and use Energy. I believe that all of us have what we call supernatural abilities, though in most of us they are hidden deep inside. The easiest example would be a mother sensing when her child is in trouble, or the same connection between two siblings. If we were able to find a way to develop these supernatural abilities, and then use them to make our world better, our lives would change greatly. Our approach to life would change. In my opinion, we know too little about ourselves and the world around us. Maybe some day we’ll learn how to use Energy, who knows.


  1. What novelty item would you like to see spawned from your books?

I’m not sure it’s possible these days to create something absolutely unique, something that has never been used or done before. I’m curious as to where the world of Sighted will get. I’m really excited when more people get to know about it and enjoy reading about it.


  1. If you could recommend one book that everyone should read, what would it be?


One book? With so many outstanding authors out there, it’s impossible to pick just one. I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, but I’m sure everyone has already read this. It’s better for not to name just one author or book. What I’d definitely recommend is visiting Breakwater Harbor Books page. BHB is an independent author imprint that is dedicated to the production of high quality works of different genres from Christian books to Epic Fantasy and Zombie novels, and I’m proud to be part of it. You’ll definitely find a book to like there. (

 Have to agree with you there. BHB is home to some very good reads indeed.

  1. What is your motivation to write?

There are lots of reasons why I write. The idea of being able to create my own world has always appealed to me. Besides, writing (as well as reading) helps me get away from the real world. Whereas I can express myself in writing, I do hope that what I write about will stir my readers’ feelings and emotions. One of the things about writing is when your readers contact you and say they enjoyed your book a lot and want more. That’s the best inspiration for me!

 I feel the same way, Ivan. A reader contacting you to say how much they liked reading your book is a wonderful thing.

  1. What next from Ivan Amberlake?

The Beholder and Path of the Heretic are the first two books in THE BEHOLDER series. There will be another one about Jason, called Creatures of Lumen, and hopefully one more written from Emily Ethan’s point of view where the readers will get to know about her life before she meets Jason.

Apart from that, I do have a great idea for a YA futuristic novel not connected with The Beholder series, which I’m excited about, but I’m not sure when I’m going to get to it and finish a first draft.


Thanks, Ivan.

Thank you for the interview, Simon! It’s a real honor for me to be featured on your website!

My pleasure. Here comes the bio and links! 


Bio: Ivan Amberlake is an urban fantasy writer, an avid beta-reader, proofreader and editor who enjoys reading fantasy, crime and thriller books.

He loves watching action movies like The Matrix, Harry Potters and has a soft spot for sitcoms like Friends and The Big Bang Theory.

In 2013 he published his first novel, THE BEHOLDER, and a paranormal suspense novella, DIARY OF THE GONE.


Goodreads author page:
Amazon author page:
Facebook author page:

Ladies and Gents, please do go check out Ivan’s writing. This guy sure knows how to keep readers turning the pages.

Beholder kindlePath coverDiary of the Gone

Plans for 2015


February already?

So, I’m now down to only eleven months and have a lot to do!

As you may know, I publish my quirky lit-fic with those lovely people at Pankhearst.

This year, I hope to send them a novella for their Singles Club. Working title is ‘Ten Things To Do Before Disappearing’.

Also, I am going to be publishing my wasabi-punk sci-fi horror novel, ‘GhostCityGirl’, with the equally wonderful folk at Breakwater Harbor Books!

Exciting times, me thinks.

On top of that, well….

Plans are afoot.

Will keep you posted :)



Interview with Ted Cross

Interview time!

I am very happy to have had the chance to talk to Ted Cross, author of The Immortality Game.


I first met Ted through the website, Authonomy. I think he’s an excellent writer, as well as being a thoroughly-nice person!

His debut novel, The Immortality Game, is an excellent read and one I highly recommend.

Anyway, on with the interview!

1. You have traveled to many countries in your time, and lived in a fair few too! What inspired you to set TIG in Russia?
Russia was the first country I lived in outside of the US. I spent four years there during the crazy 90’s, and it was an intense and incredible time of life for me. It certainly had the largest impact on my life of any place I have been, so that is one factor. Plus I majored in Russian Studies in college, so I’ve long had a fascination with that country; it’s just that living in Moscow showed me what a fascinating city it is. When I needed ideas about a group of scientists while building the back story of the first novel I wrote (a fantasy coming out later this year), it felt natural to have the scientists be mostly Russian, especially once I realized I needed to have the Russian mafia play a role in the story.


2. The main character in TIG is Zoya. That’s a cool name. How did you choose it and does it have any meaning?
One thing I noticed while living in Russia is that there seem to be very few names. There are actually many Russian names, but everyone you meet there seems to actually use one of only about a dozen or so names each for males and females. We even numbered people at work, so for example in the carpentry shop at the embassy we had Boris 1, Boris 2, and Boris 3. In the paint shop we had a big Dima and a little Dima (which I used in the story!). So I wanted a name that was different from the standard set, but would also be easy for Western audiences. I looked up a list of Russian names and combed through it looking for the most suitable one for my purposes, and Zoya is the one that stood out.

3. TIG shows the future to be quite grim. However, is there something in your book that you hope may come to pass?
Immortality! I know many people, like my wife, have no interest in this, but personally I am extremely curious about what the future holds and I hate the fact that I won’t get to see it. I’d love to have some form of immortality that would let me be a part of the future. And I loved the fact that my idea for immortality approached it very differently from what I’ve seen in the past, not extending the life of the original body but having life go on in a separate one.
I agree with you, Immortality would be jolly nice! Let’s move onto the next question…

4. If your book were to have a soundtrack, who would it be composed and/or performed by? 
My favorite sci-fi music by far is Vangelis’s work on Blade Runner, so I could imagine him being good for the movie. And I did write this book with a movie in mind–each scene was imagined in my head visually and I tried to write it in a way that would feel like a cinematic experience. But I always imagined the movie being co-directed by Quentin Tarantino (for his dialogue and violence) and Tumur Bakmambetov (see his amazing cinematography in the Night Watch/Day Watch movies, plus his knowledge of Moscow and Russia), so I imagine the music would work out better with those directors doing the choosing!
I haven’t met a sci-fi fan yet who hasn’t mentioned Vangelis when talking about Blade Runner. Amazing music for an amazing film.

5. The cover of your book is amazing. What do you like the most about it?
Thank goodness for Stephan Martiniere! I’ve loved his work for many years and have some of his prints on my walls at home, so he was a natural for me to pick to do the cover. I really hope the Hugo Award voters will think of him this year, because his work on my cover and on the cover of Shield and Crocus is truly deserving of attention. I love that the cover stands out in a good way, and most of all I love that Stephan got the images right. I explained to him how I saw the mafia base (the pyramid and the twin curving hotel towers) and gave him a sample text, and he was spot on in his depiction. Then he even added things that are big parts of the book, such as the flurries of poplar seeds.
Cover Illustration © Stephan Martiniere

6. Continuing with the cover theme, what are your favorite book covers, and why?
As a kid my favorite covers were Frazetta’s Conan covers. Amazing, and they stood out far above just about anything else being done back then. So Frazetta was a big early influence on my artistic tastes. The Hildebrandt brothers work on The Sword of Shannara were also great. Later I fell in love with Alan Lee’s work on various Tolkien works and of course Stephan Martiniere’s work. I’ve always preferred covers that realistically depict a scene from the story, and it’s so seldom that we see that these days. I’m not a big fan of most book covers done today, and that was one reason I was happy to get to do the cover myself rather than have a big publisher decide on some mediocre one for me.
Yep, some of the Shannara covers are very good. I also agree that Alan Lee’s work is wonderful.

7. If you could recommend one book that everyone should read, what would it be?
Tough question, since I love so many! I won’t go with the standard obvious ones like Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, and so forth, but I’ll pick a few great books that a good number of readers may not have tried. Ursula Le Guin’s novels set in Earthsea are amazing and lovely, and I think a lot of younger readers haven’t given them a try. Also, Colleen McCulloughs series about ancient Rome (The Grass Crown, The First Man in Rome, etc.) is sadly overlooked by many readers, and they are a true learning experience that is also just gorgeous.

8. If TIG was a computer game, what kind would it be?
It should be a completely immersive virtual reality game, just like I depict in the story!

9. What is your motivation to write?
I love reading and there are so many books that I enjoy. But there are areas that are being overlooked by publishers, so I’ve felt the need to write my own since I can’t find them to read. A lot of folks are tired of Tolkienesque fantasy and they are very vocal about it, yet I love Tolkienesque fantasy so much that I can’t see getting tired of it. I want more. Frankly, I have never found one that took the style of world found in Tolkienesqeu fantasy and added the darker fantasy elements we see today, and that is what appeals to me most. As if George R.R. Martin were writing about trolls, elves, and dwarves! I’d love that, but no one is doing it. So I did it even though I know the audience will be limited. That one I’ll publish later this year. It was the back story of that novel that led to me writing The Immortality Game. Part of my motivation for writing is the limited sense of immortality it brings. I don’t get millions of readers, but it’s nice to think that even after I’m gone my books may still be out there.

10. What next from Ted Cross?
I’m finishing up final edits on the fantasy novel to be published this year, and I have an entire new story plotted out and ready to go. It’s set in the same universe as the first two books, but it’s in the far future, and I think people will really get a kick out the idea I have. There is also another story set 800 years prior to the fantasy story, and I have that partially written already. I’d work on that if I weren’t so excited about the idea I have for the far future novel. Too many ideas and not enough time to write them all!
I’m looking forward to reading more of your work! Thanks for taking time out to chat today.
Thank you for having me here, Simon!
My pleasure. Here comes the bio and links!
Bio: Ted Cross has spent the past two decades traveling the world as a diplomat, all the time dreaming about writing fantasy and science fiction. He’s visited nearly forty countries and lived in seven, including the U.S., Russia, China, Croatia, Iceland, Hungary, and Azerbaijan. He’s witnessed coup attempts, mafia and terrorist attacks, played chess with several world champions, and had bit parts in a couple of movies. He currently lives in Baku, Azerbaijan with his lovely wife and two teenage sons.


So, I am currently rewriting GCG for the umpteenth time!

Happy to say, all is going well and am very pleased with how it’s turning out. For those of you who don’t know, GCG is a mix of cyberpunk and horror, set in a futuristic Japan. It also contains a fair few mentions of wasabi. For that reason, I like to label GCG as wasabi-punk.

Will GCG see publication this year?

I certainly hope so.

A good friend  kindly designed an anime-style cover for me. I have to say, I think it’s pretty cool.

Cover Idea Final

Anyway, must get back to writing. I will be sure to keep you all updated on GCG’s progress!

Now, where did I put my noodles?



Hello 2015!

So, here we go with another one of those year things. Many days lie ahead that need to be filled with words…

This year, I aim to do just that and write like there is no tomorrow. Hopefully, some of the words I type will be good ones and will eventually become a book or two.  That’s after I finally finish polishing GhostCityGirl.

Here’s to a productive and happy 2015!

Have a good one!


Welcome to the world of Simon Paul Wilson.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

So, welcome to my website.

This site is going to be full of stuff about my humble scribbles and how to go and grab yourself a copy or three.

I will also be posting shorts and flash for your reading pleasure and doing the odd interview with other writing sorts.

As a total music and book nerd, I may also plug some tunes and stories that I think are cool and deserve your attention.

Welcome to my world!