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Simon Van der Velde Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Silent Brother (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

Publication Order of Anthologies

Simon Van der Velde
Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a laborer, caterer, attorney, barman, teacher, along with traveling throughout South America and Europe collecting characters for his award winning stories.

Since he completed his creative writing MA (with distinction) in the year 2010, his work has won and gotten shortlisted for numerous awards which include The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Wasafiri New Writer Prize, The Yeovil Literary Prize (twice), The Readers Favorite Gold Medal, The Frome Prize, and The Harry Bowling Prize, establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short story writers.

Simon was a reflective and quiet kid and his house was always filled with books. He grew up reading all kinds of stuff. Hard-boiled detective novels, cheap thrillers, Le Carre, Dickens, World War II/Holocaust stuff, poetry, and Stephen King’s stuff.

From such a rather odd base layer, then he moved onto finding books of his own. He still remembers the revelation of Hemingway as a teen, and for all of Ernest’s flaws “The Old Man and The Sea” is always going to have a special place in his heart. Then, when he was about nineteen, he found the deliciously subversive Charles Bukowski, which was followed by Graham Greene with all of his agonizing guilt.

It was not until he was in his early twenties that he began to appreciate the shorter form. Raymond Carver’s “Cathederal” is magnificent in the tenderness with which it approaches ignorance, prejudice, and understanding, as is John Cheever’s work.

He’s a Jack-of-all-Trades when it comes to his reading, and probably his writing, too. Simon hates the whole ‘genre’ thing. He appreciates the marketing industry needs something to work with, however he is desperate to throw that straight jacket off. It shouldn’t matter what genre it is. He only wants to know if it’s good. And true. If it makes him gasp, and think, and then re-evaluate what he believed he knew.

He came to look forward to the annual O. Henry anthologies which he believes are the absolute best short story collections in the English language.

In the longer form, he has admired and enjoyed a bunch of Peter Carey’s work, pretty much all of Philip Roth’s, Anne Tyler, Cormac McCarthy, Lou Berney, Colston Whitehead for the naked terror of Underground Railroad. Richard Flanagan’s “The Long Road to the Deep North”, which is slightly Hemingwayesque. Robert Harris’ “Cicero” trilogy for illustrating just how little has changed in the previous two thousand years, while by a short head, his all time favorite is most likely still J. M. Coetzee’s “Waiting for the Barbarians”.

He was always a reader, one that endured the drudgery of work and school in return for those hours when he could travel through space and time in order to inhabit different minds. It was just a short step from there to writing stories of his own.

Simon had dabbled during his teen years yet got firmly told that writing was not some practical career. He did have some little success with this story about a boy wizard, however he lacked tenacity and belief. The end result was that it took him another twenty years to truly commit and make it as a writer.

He created “Backstories” to be this guessing game of sorts by accident. He and his wife went to see this performer from so many years ago. Simon was worried, because he was unsure if the guy would still be any good. But the guy was brilliant. Great music, great voice, and above all, great honesty, particularly about his struggles when he was a kid.

The next day, Simon set aside the novel he’d been writing and wrote a piece about the kid. Not about the superstar version, but the kid, beginning with the entire world against him.

This was why he withheld the guy’s name. He didn’t just want to pen some sycophantic tribute, some piece that made out like it was always meant to be and what a genius the guy is. He wanted to set aside preconceptions and give readers the lost little kid that could very easily have gone down in flames. He wanted to highlight the emotional truth of such a person and give the reader a fresh perspective.

But the guessing game aspect was just a bi-product, and blind luck. Simon cannot even say that he realized what he had. His wife (his number one critic) loved it. She saw the potential in both the meaning and the game. The result is a book which operates on two distinct levels with some pretty broad appeal.

This game element is double edged. Backstories may be an easy and fun read. Everybody likes a challenge, however it frustrates him when people just race through the book, desperate to ‘find the mystery characters’, coming away thinking that is all there is to it. But he also wants people to slow down, while enjoying the book for the game aspect. Remember how it felt to be a kid. And open up your heart to the joy, fury, and pain that simmers between the lines.

“The Silent Brother” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2022. Tommy Farrier, age five, after his beloved younger brother is stolen away, is left all alone with his violent stepfather, his alcoholic mother, and his guilt. Much too young to comprehend what really happened. He is just sure of a single thing. That he is the one to blame.

Tommy attempts being good, to live up to his brother’s increasingly hazy memory, however trapped in this world of degradation and shame he grows up with only two options. Crime or poverty. And crime pays. At least that’s what he believes.

A teen drug dealer for the vicious Burns gang, his life is headed for disaster, until, in the last place he was expecting, he sees this familiar face. And then things get much worse.

Readers found this to be a haunting and gritty look at the ravages of abuse and shame extending from childhood into the lifelong decay of identity and self.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Simon Van der Velde

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