Argos by Phillip W. Simpson
Release Date: May 10, 2016
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.
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up (how many times did you change your mind?) or was writing your first love?
I’ve been writing since a boy, so yes, writing was my first love. I’ve always loved books and reading. Writing just seemed a natural extension of that. There’s always these ‘what if’ questions bouncing around my head that I need to bring to life.
I entered some contests but don’t recall doing terribly well. I got serious with it about 15 years ago after friends told me that my emails of my travels were interesting and suggested that I take it further.
Like many authors, my path to mainstream publication has been somewhat rocky. I’ve had to sidestep some rather large boulders and avoid a few snares.
Even though I’d always had aspirations to be a writer, I didn’t immediately pursue it as a serious career option. Why? Because let’s face it – it’s very difficult to make a living as a full time writer (especially now when I have a mortgage to pay and family to support).
So I put thoughts of writing on the back burner and concentrated on surviving in the real world. Of course, I’ve never been terribly practical so my idea of surviving in the real world consisted of picking a career with very few practical applications and hardly any job opportunities.
After a brief stint as an officer cadet in the army, I decided that archaeology was my thing, primarily because I was really interested in all things ancient and also because I’d watched Indiana Jones far too many times. What a glamorous life, I thought. Traveling the world, having adventures, fleeing from bow wielding savages – that sort of thing. The reality was altogether different.
So I did my undergrad in ancient history and archaeology and then went on to complete my Masters in the latter. Sure, I went on digs and had a lot of fun fossicking around in the dirt but what about adventures? What about world shaking discoveries? Nope. Nada. I spent a lot of time in labs though counting shells and examining use-wear on stone tools.
To be honest, I didn’t mind the times fiddling about with stone tools. How to make a living out of it though? I know! I’ll work at a museum. So, off to another university to study how to be a museum curator. When I finished, I got a job working at an historic house museum. Interesting but I still felt strangely unfulfilled.
It was at that point that I decided to travel. I arrived in London having no idea what I was going to do. I strolled up to the British Museum thinking I’d get some amazing and fascinating job that would make all my friends jealous. Instead, they offered me a job in administration (I can touch type) with a promise that the first junior assistant curator role would be mine. At the same time, my brother, who worked for a recruitment firm in London, urged me to apply for a job recruiting I.T staff. I was young and stupid and the job paid three times as much as the one at the museum. Guess which one I chose?
So, I worked in recruitment for four years. Didn’t like it much and to be honest, I don’t think I was really that good at it. I traveled a lot – around Europe and the UK and started to think more about writing. I wrote about my adventures and my friends said I should give the whole writing thing another go. While this thought was percolating, my brother decided to return to the southern hemisphere (via Africa) where he planned to set up his own company. Did I want in? Yes, I said, mostly because I love my brother and liked adventures.
The recruitment company was doing well but I still felt dissatisfied. I started working at Sydney University in the evenings with a view to choosing a topic for my PhD thesis. Eventually though, I realized that even if I finished my doctorate, it was still very difficult to get a decent job.
At that point, I realized that yes, I did still want to be a writer. I sold my share of the company to my brother and took a year off. I retreated to the country and rented the wooden cabin my brother had just bought. This was the life, I thought. Writing – check. Wooden cabin – check. To all appearances, I was a proper writer. Completed novel – check. Well sort of. It took me a year but I finally finished it and then started shopping it around. You know how much interest it generated from publishers and agents? Very little. This writing gig, I decided, wasn’t easy.
Eventually, I ended up publishing it myself but I was no closer to becoming a full-time novelist. I then decided to become a teacher. I loved learning and I figured I could impart this passion on children. Besides, I could still try and live the dream in the holidays. So back to University.
Shortly thereafter, I got married to my lovely wife, Rose (who has always been my biggest fan). I taught. I wrote. I finished my second novel (a middle grade one) and got myself an agent who shopped it around to publishers for two years. Publishing deals: zero.
Around this time, I met a friends’ sister in law at a party who was an editor at Penguin. She knew I was a writer and a teacher and asked me to submit some ideas for a series she was working on. To my surprise, she accepted it and this became my first properly published book.
This led to many more – mostly with educational tie-ins. My publishers these days include not only Penguin but Macmillan, Cengage, Oxford University Press, and Pearson. I enjoyed (and still do) writing these children’s books but they weren’t novels which I was passionate about.
My first novel was adult sci-fi and to be fair, pretty silly. My second, whilst a little more serious, suffered from my lack of writing experience. Around this time, our son, Jack, was born which, as any writer knows, severely impacts on your ability to write.
But I boxed on and wrote my YA RAPTURE trilogy. I got an agent and a three book deal. Unfortunately, the publisher went bust and I got my rights back (and no money).
This left me with a bad taste in my mouth but I got back on the horse and kept writing. I wrote MINOTAUR which got picked up by Month9books. Shortly thereafter I got a book deal for ARGOS, also with Month9books. Last year I was lucky enough to have a sabbatical to do my Masters in Creative Writing. I completed another novel. As we speak, I’m about to finish the sequel. It is my ninth novel.
I still enjoy teaching. Even if I was in the position to write full-time (I’m not there yet), I would still teach. But I need to write. My goal is to write one novel per year. They may not be any good but time will tell. I’m a much more efficient writer now. Given some space, I can finish a novel in a couple of months. Why? Because time is much more precious now. I work hard at my day job and write in the weekends and holidays, trying desperately to fit some quality family time in.
What has this journey taught me? What advice can I give to up and coming writers? Persevere. Develop a thick skin. Keep writing. And writing. And writing. You’ll get better (I like to think I have). Being a writer isn’t easy but the rewards and satisfaction of seeing your novel on the shelves in bookshops is perhaps one of the best sensations in life.
Giveaway Information: Contest ends May 27, 2016
· Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Argos by Phillip W. Simpson (INT)
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.