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Writer & tutor. Serialised fiction author. Producer of the Writing Life podcast at the National Centre for Writing.

It’s a good time to be a reader. Shelves in bookshops are overflowing with traditionally published books. If you want something more niche, online stores are packed with endlessly specific self-published work. If you want to read short stories or serials instead of novels you can find amateur and professional work all over the internet.

It’s a tricky time to be a writer. It’s never been easier to publish, which is a wonderful thing most of the time. Finding hundreds or thousands readers is within reach of any writer.

Getting paid for your writing? Now that’s a whole other thing.

I had a PlayStation 2 back in the day (mostly to play DVDs). I couldn’t play any PlayStation 1 games on it. When I got a PlayStation 3 (mostly to play blu-rays), I couldn’t play any of my PS2 game on it. There were a couple of exceptions — I bought Shadow of the Colossus a second time, to play it in HD at a decent framerate, because it’s an astonishing work of art.

Update: Some people have noted that the PS2 did have compatibility with PS1, which is great. I wasn’t aware of this and don’t recall being able…

After writing The Mechanical Crown for three years I felt like I’d spent time with the characters; that I’d talked with them and shared experiences, as I might with real friends. I knew they were fictional constructs, of course, but their personalities had manifested so completely within my imagination that it had started to become difficult to separate real and made-up memories.

Thanks to Metahuman, a free online tool, I’m now getting that feeling all over again but this time it’s physical and visual. Metahuman is developed by Epic, who create something called Unreal Engine that is used extensively in…

I’m trying something new with my next project. It’s the most ambitious speculative fiction book I’ve attempted so far, simply in terms of the scale of the setting. As a genre mash-up that blends science fiction, high fantasy and police procedural (yup) it requires more detail in the up-front world building than normal, so that the detective mystery angle is fair to readers.

World building in Trello
Planning things out in Trello

When I’m planning out a new setting I have previously gone down the route of lots of post-it notes (usually on Trello) with a handful of more detailed notes for fiddlier elements. It’s all quite scrappy and…

I’ve been using Scrivener to write my projects since 2012 and it’s no coincidence that was the turning point for my writing. Prior to 2012 I had never completed a major project. Since 2012 I’ve written three complete novels.

After a slightly weird delay, Scrivener 3 is finally out on Windows as well as Mac and it is very, very good. I’ve been using it to edit my third book No Adults Allowed and it’s proved very useful. Before I talk about how and why I use it, let’s deal with the two pesky issues that always come up:

  1. Why…

Is ‘lore’ something which excites you or provokes a roll of the eyes? If you’re not a regular reader or viewer of genre fiction, especially science fiction and fantasy, you may not even have heard the term in this context.

a body of traditions and knowledge on a subject or held by a particular group, typically passed from person to person by word of mouth.

The ‘particular group’ relevant to this conversation is, of course, geeks. I’ve spent countless hours, especially when I was younger, poring over the fine details of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars

A quick how-to guide for charities, arts orgs and non-profits

I produce and co-host the National Centre for Writing’s podcast, The Writing Life. It’s a pleasure to put together each week and is surprisingly doable, even if you’re operating on tiny or non-existent budgets.

Here’s an example of a recent episode:

This is going to be a no-frills guide on how to make a podcast for your organisation, from start to finish.

What’s it about and who is it for?

Before diving in, you need to work this stuff out. …

I just finished writing and serialising my third novel, No Adults Allowed. It’s my most overtly metaphorical story to date and loops in a bunch of themes that have been bubbling in my head for a long time: AI, social media, prejudiced algorithms, inherited bias, why young people are better than old people and how everything — literally, everything — is the fault of the parents.

This is going to be a detailed debrief of the book. If you haven’t read it yet, you can do so for free over on Wattpad. …

How arts organisations can keep up with the world

This week The Writing Life podcast hit 100 episodes. I’ve been producing this podcast at the National Centre for Writing since mid-2018, which has turned out to be fortuitous.

(practical tips on how to produce a pod can be found down below, if you’re taking your first steps)

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, as someone clever once said, and the pod perfectly demonstrated that as we descended into the hellscape that is the year 2020. …

I grabbed an Oculus Quest towards the end of 2019, attracted by its (relatively) affordable price, its untethered nature and it not needing to be powered by a nearby PC. Spoiler: it’s fantastic. Not least, the lack of faff and required technical know-how makes it a far more social, family affair rather than being an off-putting techie thing stuck next to my PC upstairs.

I wrote a couple of articles on storytelling in games a while back. You can find them here:


At the time I’d not experienced VR to any great extent, hence it being conspicious by its…

Simon K Jones

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