Author Interview – Simon Okill AKA Phantom Bigfoot
Debra: Hi everyone and welcome to another edition of Talk Radio with NO Radio! Today my special guest will be Simon Okill, AKA Phantom Bigfoot and make sure you have the time for this broadcast right now, you won’t want to miss a thing. This author is hysterically funny and I have no idea from one minute to the next what to expect, just from our email discussions to set up time for the interview, so I can only imagine what having him-<boom, boom, boom on the side of the studio walls> What the-?
<Jumps out of chair and heads for the big picture window, peering through, only inches from the glass and suddenly a big hairy head pops up right at the window, Debra screams and launches backwards across the room!
<silence, the hairy head in the window is gone, but where?>
Debra: Oh my, I don’t, I can’t explain what just happened, something’s out there! <knock, knock from the front doors> Oh, Simon is supposed to be here anytime, I’d better let him in, maybe he saw something…<runs to the front doors and there stands Simon, holding the costume head of a big foot creature under one arm and smiling as he knocks on the doors again>
Debra: <opens doors> YOU scared the crap out of me!
Simon: <laughing hysterically> I know <tears are forming, he is laughing so hard> I thought you’d <laughing>, I’m sorry, I thought you’d get it right away after all our joking around on email and knowing I was coming. Sorry! No, not really! Didn’t mean to make you jump like that! I wish you could have seen yourself, you flew across the room! <laughing overtakes his efforts to talk, Debra is staring in complete disbelief and thinking this guy’s got a screw loose>
Debra: <started laughing too, somewhere around trying to envision herself flying backwards across the room> Simon, I will get you back for that! Oh my goodness, you got me good! Please, come in, come in, we are live you know?
Simon: The Phantom Bigfoot abides.
Debra: What is this thing you are wearing, aren’t you burning up? <Simon is in full costume, having removed the head piece so Debra will know it’s him but in a big foot costume, well, it just looks like it is too hot!>
Simon: It’s a little hot in here, but well worth <starts laughing again, hand in the air, waving apologetically as he tries to get laughing under control> sorry, it’s worth it for the reactions I get!
Debra: I imagine so! Oh wow, what a start to the show! This is one of those times that I wish this was TV and not NO Radio…so everyone could see you right now!
Simon: No, no, let’s not give them too much, I want to still be able to sneak up on people ya know <starts laughing again>…
Debra: We’re live Simon, we should get started, won’t you have a seat and let me get you a cold beverage and then we can do these questions?
Simon: Before we start, I’m thirsty after such a long drive on the ‘ole hog and all this sweating.
Debra: What would you like to drink, Simon or is it Phantom Bigfoot? Simon is fine and beer would really hit the spot. <always prepared for her guests, Debra reaches into cooler near sitting area and pulls out two beer bottles, Simon snags them both!>
Simon: <Phshhh! Slurp! Burp!> Thanks Debra. Yes, I am a nut job, it’s okay, you have this deer in headlights look about you, relax! <laughs> Being a total nut job really helps me as an author and that’s what the reader will see in my book. I’m not kidding, I’ve been poked and prodded by many a psychiatrist during my PTSD days. Writing sends me on wild quests to the forests of my mind where Phantom Bigfoot lurks. He’s lurking more with each book I write.
Debra: <Simon is bouncing around the room, Debra is still recovering from the shock and now worrying over how she is going to get him to answer questions and focus on the interview, returns to sitting area and gets herself a beer from the cooler, finds Simon has stopped bouncing and is now trying to play her old acoustic guitar with huge bigfoot paws still on his hands, sounds terrible> Hello? Simon?
Simon: <singing? At least it drowns out the awful strumming noise from the big paws> I’m a Bigfoot, I’m a Bigfoot, No-bod-y Lo-ve-s a Bigfoot Like a Bigfoot Ba-a-b-b-b-e-e.
Debra: <clapping> Wow, that was…well, something!
Simon: <takes a bow> Thank you, thank you! <laughs> Ok, I have to get out of this costume, it is too hot! <starts shucking the costume, thankfully, has jeans and a shirt on!>
Debra: Wow, that’s just all I can say, Simon, you are a nut and I love it! Shall we get comfortable and start our interview then?
Simon: Sure, I rode all this way, might as well!
Debra: Good point! So, first question, where did the inspiration for your first novel, “Nobody Loves a Bigfoot Like a Bigfoot Babe”, come from?
Simon: I read Stephen King’s “Needful Things” many times. Love that book. Then after one too many beers and a TV-fest of Twin Peaks – the episodes where Spooky is the transvestite agent, and The Broken Lizard’s Super Troopers, the inevitable happened. I had this crazy-assed dream where the FBI have to search for this goof-off teenager always playing pranks saying he’s been abducted by a Bigfoot Babe. Only this time it would be real. Cool!
Debra: Very cool! I am a huge Stephen King fan and own all of his books, Hardback First Editions of course, <points up at library shelves along the top of the walls around the studio> and Needful Things is my favorite! Is your book a Standalone, or part of the series? If it is the latter, how long do you think will it go on?
Simon: Nobody Loves a Bigfoot Like a Bigfoot Babe is the pilot episode, Debra. I intend to write 6 more episodes, each one more ludicrous than the last.
Debra: Oh that’s fantastic news…I read it and would love to read more. I loved this book, well you read my review. <CLICK HERE to open a new window for the review> Why did you choose this title? Was it your first choice?
Simon: My book first breathed words under the name of “So, I Married a Bigfoot Babe”. A lot of people screamed at me to change the title and content, a bit too animal-loving. I then had a dream where Duane, the lead character, wrote this song about Bigfoot. I rushed downstairs and got the entire lyrics down before reality kicked in. The first line of the chorus goes – Nobody Loves a Bigfoot Like a Bigfoot Babe.
Debra: That makes perfect sense actually, well to anyone after they read this book! Was there a scene that you didn’t want to add or remove in your finished work?
Simon: Two wonderful scenes had to go, on orders of my writer friend and my publisher – the amazingly stupid autopsy scene and the zombie discussion scene. Not to worry, I saved them for future episodes.
Debra: Well, since we will be reading them later, I won’t ask for more details on them, as much as I would really like to! Do you already know what you are going to work on next?
Simon: Bigfoot 2 will be ready later this year. “Eternally Yours” Part 1: The Blood Hunt is complete just final editing and formatting for kindle. Eternally Yours Part 2: The Eternal Moon is nearly done – a traumatized young woman is sent to an asylum in France 1925 for treatment. As her true love and psychiatrist delves into her mind to piece together her past, he unleashes her Eternal vampire with catastrophic results. “SS-steppenwolf” is nearly there too, think SS Indiana Jones searching for a werewolf, based on fact.
Debra: Wait, please expand on this last, Indiana Jones searching for a werewolf and based on fact isn’t quite making sense to me. Can you, without spoiling anything?
Simon: Yes, of course, the SS were addicted to a drug that made them ferocious and invincible and they soon swept across Europe like a hot knife through butter, but as the drug supply depleted so the fortunes of war turned against Germany. Based on Himmler’s experiments to create the perfect fighting machine ramped up to werewolf proportions. Hint – Fact – SS Werewolf Units were used during Battle of the Bulge. General Omar Bradley was so terrified that these SS Units were real werewolves he ordered all bodies to be burned. The entire WWII history is explained using werewolves as instigators and it all makes sense. Disputed Fact – Himmler escaped death by using a doppelganger actor to be caught in his place.
Debra: Very cool, I have to read that one. Have you ever written a supporting character who took on a life of their own or turned out to be far more popular than expected and if so do you have plans to feature them as the lead character in a story of their own?
Simon: Oh Yeah! Walt Flucker, the town plumber, whose dumbass son gets abducted by Bigfoot. As soon as Walt was introduced I knew he’d refuse to go quietly in the night. He’s the guy Duane has to protect Bigfoot from. He’ll feature heavily in future episodes. There’s even a song about him in the book. Would you like me to sing it for you?
Debra: No time for that, Simon, sorry-
Simon: Suuuuurrrrreeeee, you are, just didn’t like my singing did you? <sounds hurt>
Debra: Uh…no, we just really don’t have time but could you tell us how long it took for you to write it, take us from the idea to the moment you published and share any quirks about it all that might be funny or interesting to our readers today?
Simon: O-K…How many crappy B-movies are out there portraying poor Bigfoot as a bloodthirsty monster intent on rape? Too many! I thought, hold on a minute, what if Bigfoot were these sweet-natured hippie types with only love on their minds. From there came the idea of Duane, a guy who literally risks death to save his beloved tribe of Bigfoot. After the book was finished I started to do the rounds of contacting agents and publishers. After so many rejections from people who could never think outside the box, I decided to give USA a shot.-
Debra: Wait, before you go on, where did you query first, before the US?
Simon: UK. Seriously, I had one agent read my vampire novel due out soon and her reply was that I should be locked away for describing vampires drinking people as if they were bottles of wine. That is what we authors have to put up with in the UK.
Debra: Wow, I hadn’t thought about how that aspect of being an author would be so different. It makes sense of course, USA tends to be the most liberal in so many things. Please go on…
Simon: So, Bang! The first publisher snapped my baby up quicker than a gator in a river full of chicken wings. I even thought of renting a Bigfoot suit to advertise my book – go running about in the local woods of South Wales, UK and spook a few ramblers. Sad to say, at 5 feet 7 inches no one would ever take The Phantom Bigfoot seriously. The rest is history.
Debra: You might have gotten a UK agent if you’d shown up, manuscript in hand, wearing the suit ya know?
Simon: Not with hands full of pitwoofy and no, I probably would have been arrested! <laughs>
Debra: Right! <sharing a laugh first> On the lighter side for a moment, I just want to ask you a question to see how quick your imagination runs off with you…If you could travel through time, what would you do first?
Simon: I’d suddenly appear with my man Elvis on stage in Las Vegas.
Debra: Perfect! I love it! If the book was made into a movie, who would you want to play the main character and why?
Simon: James Roday from Psych would make a perfect Duane Dexter. Duane is one helluva nutcase, not taking life seriously except protecting his Bigfoot tribe from hunters. He’s scruffy, doesn’t care about his appearance, can charm the socks of a Bigfoot and the women adore him. James, in his Psych role, is always fooling around, very un-PC and only gets down to it when he’s needed. Can’t say if the ladies love James, though, except Maggie Lawson of course.
Debra: Why should people buy your book? What do you think makes it special, what’s the hook that will have readers not wanting to put it down?
Simon: In these grim times, Debra, my book will lift readers’ spirits and give them something to laugh about. No matter how troubled the reader is, they’ll find it hard not to chuckle along with Duane’s antics. The reader would also need to be very open-minded, sophomoric (Animal House) and it would help if they like The Broken Lizards’ films. I can honestly say, and even my publisher failed in this regard, I haven’t been able to find any other book similar in style or content. It goes all the way outside the box, <Burp!> it has never been done before. Really, I have searched the web for another book like it and failed.
Debra: I don’t know a thing about The Broken Lizards’ and I can’t stand that show Psych but I absolutely loved this book and it truly made me feel better. When I read it, there was a lot going on, financial stress, family drama, etc. and I just felt better during and after reading it! So, can you tell us something about you that we won’t find on the internet?
Simon: I love real ale, I fart a hell of a lot due to no fault of my own, I am small for my size, I do not have big feet and I have left my body on occasion. I have witnessed several UFOs and I believe we all come from another planet. I know I do!
Debra: You’re a trip! Your opinion, how do you see the publishing industry changing over the next few years?
Simon: EBooks will become even more in demand. Paper will go the way of the dinosaur. Due to the ease with which an author can self-publish – a route I didn’t take, the big publishers should be more open to new authors and not stomp on them without mercy.
Debra: What do you think stimulates sales the most; positive reviews or advertising?
Simon: By far the most important advert for a book is great reviews. The more reviews the more readers will be interested. Problem is getting readers to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. As for blogs, when I first started marketing I was at a total loss. But, after flooding Twitter and Facebook with crazy quips from Phantom Bigfoot, this is another promo weapon I stumbled upon – get a catchy hook, I was invited to join ASMSG writers’ circle. From there I had world-weary friends willing to help me. They all have great blogs willing to post members’ book promos. So to all newbies out there – join a writers’ group! And set up a blog on Goodreads and start reviewing then you can put your book on lists and get voted.
Debra: Great advise Simon, thank you for sharing that and unfortunately, we have to wrap up now, we are so over on time today but well worth it to get to know you a bit!
Simon: Thanks Debra and thanks for the <burp!> beers too!
Debra: Of course, I really enjoyed meeting you Simon! Have a safe trip and stop by anytime, just don’t scare me like that again, good grief!
Simon: No promises! Later! <gathering up his bigfoot costume, he is on his way>
Debra: And there you have it folks, the wacky, zany character behind the wacky, zany characters! What an amazing imagination he has!
So, as always, I close with some links for you: