Indie Spotlight – Simon van der Velde

Today on my blog I am pleased to welcome indie author Simon van der Velde.

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, labourer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as travelling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters and insights for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Short-story Prize, The Harry Bowling Prize, The Henshaw Press Short Story Competition and The National Association of Writers’ Groups Open Competition – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers. Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, Nicola, their labradoodle, Barney and two tyrannical children.

Author’s Quest

“Whatever happened to, all of the heroes” The Stranglers 1977

I was twelve years old when I first heard this song and although there was something in the feral tone that grabbed me, I didn’t really understand it. I do now. I get the angst and the loss and the emptiness, which why, in Backstories, I aim to answer the question.

So join me on my quest, and together we’ll uncover the fears and passions and prejudices that made our heroes what they were, and perhaps catch a glimpse of ourselves along the way.

Whatever happened to all of the heroes?
They turned out to be human beings, in all their diverse glory.
Simon Van der Velde January, 2021

ps. I am proud to be sharing 30% of all profits from Backstories with
Friends of the Earth, Stop Hate UK and The North-East Autism Society.
See for further details.

Hi Simon, thank you for joining me today on my blog. Your short story collection, Backstories seems to have been received very well.
What made you decide to publish it through an independent press?

After years of being told there was no market for short stories, my niece, Thea Van der Velde (a marketing manager) told me there was no great magic to modern publication – and it was her and Jessie Mallinson who set up Smoke & Mirrors Press, with Backstories as their debut book.

What are the benefits of being an indie author?

I do have Smoke & Mirrors behind me, but not on my back, telling me what to do.  It’s the best of both worlds.

What challenges do indie authors face?

Of course, the flip side of that is that even with their help, the vast majority of the promo work falls to me, which detracts from writing time.

What advice would you give to aspiring indie authors?

Work hard on your writing, take advice, but in the end there is no perfect arbiter of what is or is not good enough.  When you’re ready, publish.  I’d also strongly advise reading every word my publishing guru David Gaughran ever writes.  

What have you learned from being an indie author?

The biggest single lesson of this experience has been the value of bookbloggers.  Almost all lovely people who read and write reviews for joy, not money.  God bless them.

What can we look forward to seeing from you next?

Backstories 2 is in the works.  Aiming for August publication, but of course, after the success of Backstories the pressure to reach those same heights is really on.

I am looking forward to reading volume two. There was only one story in Backstories for which I could not guess who the protagonist was and I thought it was an excellent and fun idea for a volume of stories. Thank you very much for joining me today, Simon and I wish you every success with both volumes, when Volume 2 comes out!


Dreamers, singers, heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, yet inside themselves they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth? These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.

Excerpts from Backstories:

“I’m wheelin my bike along the sidewalk, watchin all the white faces, watchin me.”

“There’s no way I’m going back to the home. Not tonight. Not ever. And definitely not while crazy Jimmy’s on the prowl, grabbing my tits and trying to stick his tongue in.”

“On the kid’s thirteenth birthday he gave him a guitar, and probably saved his life.”

“He said I could be a model, even a movie star. But that was when he pushed his thing in.”

“‘Why don’t you talk?’ She has no answer. Only she knows that pressure makes it harder. And why should she bother, when nobody’s really listening?”

“He thought her defeated, but she was merely provoked.”

Read Sue’s Musings’ Review of Backstories here

Buy Backstories here:

Add Backstories to your To Be Read list here:

Who is next on Indie Spotlight?

Travel writer Jules Brown was born in Takoradi in Ghana, West Africa, and grew up in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. He took his first solo trip around Europe when he was 17, and has been travelling and writing professionally for over 35 years, starting with a pioneering guidebook to Scandinavia. He continued to write guidebooks for Rough Guides for many years, and if you’ve ever been to Sweden, Norway, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the UK, USA, Hong Kong or New Zealand with a Rough Guide, he may have helped you out along the way. Unless that restaurant you went to had closed down; in that case, it wasn’t him.

These days, Jules writes independently published travel books – memoirs, guides and adventures – based on his travel-writing life and on new trips and journeys.

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