{Author Interview/Giveaway} ARGOS by Phillip W. Simpson

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by Phillip W. Simpson

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 An Interview With
Phillip W. Simpson


Phillip W. Simpson has written over 50 children’s books for both middle grade and young adult readers. He has a background in Ancient History and Archaeology, and has partially completed his doctorate in Archaeology. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand, with his wife Rose, their son, Jack and their two border terriers, Whiskey and Raffles. When not writing, he works as an elementary school teacher.

What was your creation process that led to the Trojan War, etc. being seen through the eyes of a dog?

Even though this book is set during the Trojan War, the actual war itself has almost nothing to do with this story. This is a story about the loyalty of a dog towards his master and his family.

I’m a huge dog lover (I’ve had 4 dogs in my life) so this was a labor of live for me. I wanted to tell a great dog story. I got the idea for Argos from a page in Homer’s Odyssey. In Homer’s Odyssey, there’s only a few mentions of Argos. All up, probably a page’s worth. That’s not much to base a story on. Saying that, it did give me a lot of creative license. The Odyssey is Odysseus’ story and the action and events follow him, not his dog. Basically, I had twenty years to fill in, most of which had not been written about before.

The scene in The Odyssey is where Odysseus returns after twenty years to his island of Ithaka and finds his loyal dog Argos still waiting for him. He’s lying forgotten and dying on a dung heap but sees Odysseus, raises his head, wags his tail and dies. I cried when I first read it and have cried every time since. I love stories about dogs and I love first person narratives so hence the reason I chose to tell the story from Argos’ eyes. Besides, I had a blank canvas of twenty years to fill in which gave me creative license.

But I also chose Argos because the events around The Odyssey have been told through everyone but Argos in the past: Odysseus, Penelope, Telemachus. This was a different take on the story.

How does mythology influence your writing?

I am a huge myth and legend fan. Growing up, when I wasn’t reading fantasy or science fiction, I was reading myths and legends and fairy tales. I have always found Greek myths the most interesting and fascinating but to be honest, I’m drawn to myths from all cultures. I love the way these myths attempt to make sense of the world. When you haven’t got much science to interpret the world, this had to serve.

It was only a matter of time until I starting writing novels based on Greek myth. It figures given that my background and training is in this area. I have an undergrad degree in Ancient history and archaeology, a Masters (Hons) in Archaeology, and a post-grad diploma in Museum studies. I’ve worked as an archaeologist and a museum curator. It’s great to be able to tie in my passion with my writing. Many writers have said ‘write what you know’ and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I started with MINOTAUR, and since writing ARGOS, I’ve completed two more novels based on ancient Greek myth: TITAN and EARTHBORN.

What are some of the differences between writing for kids (ARGOS, Hamsterboy) and teens (MINOTAUR, Rapture)?

To be honest, I would group ARGOS in with my other YA books. It’s certainly closer to YA than it is to middle grade, especially given the more complex themes and sentence structure.

In terms of writing for YA, I write in my holidays and weekends. In a two week term break, I can write 40k words so Argos took me around 4-5 weeks to write. You have to remember that I already have a pretty strong idea of the story in my head. This is not too dissimilar to the writing process for my other books with the exception of last year. I was lucky enough to have a sabbatical last year where I completed my Masters in Creative Writing. The course work for that was to write a novel. I wrote it fairly quickly (4 months) but then had the luxury of spending the rest of the year reworking it. It was a fantastic experience. I wish every year was like that.

As I mentioned above, with YA, the themes are more complex. Sentence structure, vocab and grammar are at a higher level.

For my middle grade writing, most of it is chapter books. These are by necessity much, much shorter (5-10k as opposed to 70-80k). As a result, the story is generally a lot faster paced, the language is easier and the characters are not so well drawn (because of limitations on the page). Also, the problems the characters face are not as life threatening. And the difference is also time. I can write a middle grade chapter book in a week so in that sense, they are not as daunting to write and are very satisfying to complete.

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Title:  ARGOS
Author: Phillip W. Simpson
Release Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Purchase Links:

Amazon | B&N | TBD | Chapters 

Loyalty has no limits

Raised from a pup by Greek hero, Odysseus, Argos has come to learn the true meaning of love and loyalty. But when Odysseus leaves for the Trojan War, little does Argos know it will be 20 years before he sees his master again. With Odysseus gone his wife, Penelope, and son, Telemachus, are easy prey for neighboring kings and the Gods themselves.

But Argos was tasked to keep them safe until Odysseus returns and that is a promise he is determined to keep – whatever the cost. Told through his eyes, Argos recounts the story of his life – his pain, his joy, his triumphs and failures; his endurance in the face of hardships almost too great to believe.

Above all else, Argos strives to do what is right – and to remain loyal to his King when all others have given up hope. To live long enough to see his beloved master one more time.

This epic myth of love and loyalty proves that a dog really is man's best friend.


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