Before I introduce who Alexander Simpson is, I need to take you back to the very start of my writing journey…
The year was 2011 and I was reading a lot of crime novels and watching a large amount of crime drama. I had toyed with the idea of writing a book, much in the same way as many people have/do. I finally decided to come up with a plan to do it, but first I needed an idea. I talk more about this in an earlier blog ‘What’s The Big Idea’, but to recap I wanted to set the novel from the POV of the intended target. ‘Alive’ was born from this idea and I was ready to go.
At this time, I was working for a large financial institution and had struck up a friendship with a colleague who working in the same area. It started with a conversation about a Star Wars figure he had on his desk and moved onto books, films and theatre. I then found out that he too was an aspiring author and I discussed my idea with him. His name was Craig Alexander Simpson and I named my favourite character in the book after him, Alex Simpson.
With ‘Alive’ being in diary format, I wrote the first month relatively quickly. I got into a routine of writing long hand on my 45 minute bus journey home and typing up the results during my lunch hour on the following day. I decided to share what I had written with Craig, as at this point he was the only person who was aware of my secret project. I will never forget his feedback – ‘You are on to something here, you are a talented writer.’ Any lingering doubts I had were quashed that day, I knew that I would finish this book.
I then shared updates with every 2 weeks of the diary, covertly passing him the pages in a brown envelope. Other colleagues were starting to notice, but we kept it to ourselves. 18 months later and I had the final update for him. We met after work and he read it in front of me, fittingly on the bus, as we heading into Edinburgh City Centre. We dined at the Filmhouse Cafe and discussed the book as a completed work. His encouragement never wavered since that first update and he was, and still is, one of the main reasons I continue to write.
What followed was a manuscript that then got passed to other colleagues, having finally gotten wind of what was happening. Eventually, I self published the novel and went on to write some other books. I did, however, have another idea that I shared with Craig. An idea of a writing project that a couple of friends of mine had attempted back in my schooldays. I discussed it with Craig and the passion and enthusiasm he had for my writing mirrored that for this project.
The idea was simple. We would come up with a loose plot for a novel, create 3 main characters each and take it in turns to write the novel. One of us would write around 1,000 words and then pass it to the other to read. Based on what was written the other would then write his part and pass it back and so on and so forth. Around 2 years and 70,000 later, Craig started a new job in the company and the project was paused.
Craig and I continued to write separately and we kept in touch, often raising the subject of our novel and agreeing to get back to it one day. Around 3 years later, both our lives took unexpected turns and after difficult periods for us both, we started writing the novel together once more. It only took a few months to complete and we were both delighted at the outcome. In total, the novel was 6 years in the making and we now had to decide what to do next, but there was something else that paused the process once more.
A call out for writers to submit a short story with a ‘dark fiction’ theme caught both our attention. We agreed that we should individually submit a story for consideration. Craig has read the work in progress for all my novels, providing invaluable feedback from a reader perspective and the short story was no different. This time, however, I was able to return the favour. It was an incredible turn of fate that both stories were accepted and Craig and I had secured our first proper publishing contract together. An anthology for charity was published on Burn’s Night 2021 by Darkstroke publishing. It was almost 10 years from when I started writing ‘Alive’. Craig had to finally commit to an authors name, having flirted with a number of different variations over the years. Brodie Simpson was chosen and I think it is an excellent choice.
Now with the anthology published and gaining positive feedback, our thoughts once more return to our collaboration novel. With Craig’s pen name in print, I asked him recently if we could write under the pseudonym of Alexander Simpson. Not only is this taking our surnames, but it is also the name of the character from that very first novel of mine.
Decisions will be made over the coming weeks about how this book will be published, but we are keen to share this work with the public. I still find in amazing that in the last ten years I have written 3 novels, a number of short stories, published a short story and collaborated on a book of just over 100,000 words. More importantly, I have gained a friendship with someone who encourages and inspires in equal measure.
And it all started with a Star Wars figure…
The anthology ‘Dark Scotland’ containing a short story from me and Brodie Simpson is available in eBook and Paperback from Amazon. A link is included in the ‘Books’ section of this website.