Q & A with Luke Simon

Why did you decide to write your book?

I wanted to document my experience of living with stage 4 cancer as a single man. Writing these poems reminded me that I was not just a patient with a disease but an individual human being, with a history, with dreams for the future.


Who/what inspired you to write?

I guess my innate creative self, my own creativity that wanted an outlet to express itself amongst the debris-filled road of cancer treatment.


What was the most rewarding part of the writing process?

I write across a number of forms and when I write poetry I try to shape the poems to fit the subject/content/area of focus. Shaping and reshaping the poems so that they sound fluent, until they sound right, is very rewarding.


What are your top tips for writing a book?

Find a way to create some thinking time away from all distractions and start planning what you are writing, its genre, its structure, its style and tone. After that discipline yourself to write even for half an hour each day. For me I find the time in the early morning after I have walked my dog and before breakfast is a precious time as my brain is not overloaded with the tasks of the day and also my imagination is fired up by the previous night’s dreams.


Which books/authors have inspired you?

I recall reading Virginia Woolf and Patrick White at university and found myself challenged and enthralled by their use of language- White’s The Twyborn Affair had a profound effect on me as did Woolf’s diaries. In my 20s I found kindred souls in books by Shirley Hazzard, Tim Winton and David Malouf. Later in life my writing heroes tend to be overseas writers such as Alan Hollinghurst, Phillip Larkin, E. M. Forster, Andrew Holleran and Phillip Roth.


Why did you decide to self publish and why Palmer Higgs?

A number of the poems in The Transit of Cancer had been published in various literary journals and anthologies both in Australia and overseas and I was keen to bring these together in the one volume. Palmer Higgs were the most professional in all my interactions; other publishers required me to have IT skills I simply do not possess and could not offer a package such as the one Palmer Higgs offered including listing on Amazon without me having to open a USA bank account. The Palmer Higgs staff I have worked with have been excellent and I feel a fondness towards them as if we were good mates. I like to keep drama for my work and not for my career, if that makes sense, and Palmer Higgs have diffused any small fires of drama and doubt that I may have had in looking for publishing assistance.


What do you hope your readers get out of your book?

Most of all I want readers to gain hope, especially if they are experiencing illness, grief or loss in their own lives when they read the poems. I guess too, some kind of reminder that there is always hope even in the bleakest of times. We all need hope even if it turns out to be misguided for us personally. I recall when I was very ill that I just needed someone to make me believe everything will turn out all right and sadly I was not able to hear those words from anyone and this left me quite desolate. We all need a light at the end of the tunnel even if it is a small flame.


Would you consider writing another book?

Absolutely! I am currently editing a book of short stories and we are hoping to have this new book out by Christmas. As with the poems in The Transit of Cancer, most of the stories have previously been featured in anthologies and literary journals/magazines in Australia and overseas. In a way, I am bringing these stories together so they exist together in the one collection. Many of them have an inter-related narrative with some characters appearing in several stories as most of them feature the one family, Palmer Higgs is helping with that book too. I hope to write many, many books.


Do you have any other tips for new authors (i.e. book launch, research, marketing, etc.)?

Marketing is one area where, like most authors, I am lacking the expertise, the know-how; as an author one needs to have confidence in dealing with bookshops in a professional way and somehow learn to keep on trying to engage with them, even when some bookshop owners categorically refuse to stock one’s book.