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Take 5 - Maynard Sims

Which is more difficult to write, a novel or a screenplay? After a 40-year literary career, are there any regrets? "Take 5" with acclaimed writing duo Maynard Sims below and find out:

1) How was the literary tag team of Maynard Sims ultimately formed?

Now there’s a history lesson. We met aged 11 although we didn’t become friends until we were about 18/19. The reason the friendship started was a girl, and she is now a photographer who we have used on recent book covers. Len Maynard wrote a Pan Horror type story and Mick Sims responded with an atmospheric piece. This continued until we realised that while we were okay individually, there was a better talent together.

There were many occasions when we’d argue for hours about a story, sometimes the use of a phrase or even a word. Writers have egos even when they work together. Nowadays it is very easy to merge what one has written with what the other has done. We finish each others stories, add and delete chapters from novels. It is a style we have adapted.

1974 saw our first sales of two ghost stories and 1979 our first ghost story collection, Shadows At Midnight. More stories and collections followed. In the 90’s we ran Enigmatic Press and were editors on it’s anthologies as well as on Darkness Rising for Wildside. Novels began in 2002 when we met Don D’Auria and we have now completed our eighteenth novel.

We were LH Maynard & MPN Sims at first but shortened that to Maynard Sims when we signed with Samhain. As we have grown older we have recognised we each contribute something different to the team, and we always have our own projects on the go, even if they may end up as Maynard Sims stories.

2) Which is more difficult to write, a novel or a screenplay?

Well they are a very different discipline. For Len novels are his chosen field because he has always enjoyed writing long stories where the characters evolve over a period of time. Mick prefers the shorter story and he has tried his hand at screenplays.

Final Draft is used for screenplays and so the format is there. The story telling comes easily but is told in a very different way to with a novel, or short story. In a script there is dialogue and action and the story has to be told as if it is played on a screen. There is no room for explanations, atmosphere created by words – it is pared down. Novels need to have pace and plot to work for us. The story may come easily but how to tell it in a satisfying way is the hard part.

So to dodge the question, Len finds novels easier, Mick screenplays.

3) To call you two prolific would be making a grave understatement. From where does your continued literary inspiration come?

We have to write. We don’t consider ourselves especially interesting people, though we have some personal stories that can amuse. But we cannot not write. It is what we do. How we communicate. Both shy, to an extent, in a story we can expand ourselves and let our inner being out.

Although we have had a lot published - nine collections, four novellas, ten novels with eight more scheduled, too many magazines and anthology credits to count, over forty magazine anthologies edited / published, as well as numerous essays – we are driven by the need to write.

We consider we write for one another. If others like it as well that is a bonus. We want recognition from our audience, though aren’t inspired by awards or reviews. We want more money, but after forty years at our day jobs (now a thing of the past) we don’t rely on writing for an income.

We write because we enjoy it.

4) A 40-year literary career is incredibly impressive. What could you possibly do next that you haven't done already?

Get an agent. Get bigger contracts. Make more money. Increase sales. That’s probably the financial aspect. Although we are currently resurrecting Enigmatic Press and putting out some thriller novels on Amazon, so we are trying self publishing.

Get one of our screenplays made into a movie. Write different and more diverse material. For example we have written a Romance trilogy this year. We are both working on separate ghost writing projects, never done that before. We have a publisher for our horror novels, and there is a healthy market for short stories, but our thrillers are a different ball game. We have a mainstream idea we want to write, a family drama too.

There are more stories to come than have been published before.

5) Any regrets?

Wish we’d been this prolific and inspired when we were younger. Working at day jobs and writing part time, and around family life, is hard. Combine that with a lack of self confidence in our writing ability, occasional periods of laziness, and there were too many years when output was too low.

We had interest very early on from a major publisher in a mainstream collection but we let it drift away. We’ve had movie option deals that didn’t get taken up for different reasons. Perhaps we should have started diversifying from horror earlier so that we had careers in different genres.

But, what we have done and what we have experienced makes us the people we are today. We are both happy with our lot in life, serene and at peace, so the regrets are just little professional ones. We think we’ve done well, and we’re proud of our achievements. Finally we have some confidence in our writing ability – up to a point.

Book Trailer: Let Death Begin

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