It’s always fantastic to talk to mega bestselling authors and a few years back, Simon Toyne’s Sanctus series was one of the biggest books in the UK, as well as an international bestseller. In this interview, he explains the inspiration behind the books and how 20 years of TV experience taught him the most important elements of storytelling.
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Simon Toyne is the bestselling author of the Sanctus trilogy, translated into 28 languages and published in 50 countries. Sanctus was the UK’s biggest selling debut thriller of 2011, and all three books of the trilogy were Sunday Times bestsellers in both hardback and paperback.
- Simon talks about the origins of the Sanctus trilogy and what inspired him to write the books. They are fast paced thrillers but they’re also about the identity of religion in the West, and the real identity of the main character.
- Sense of place: The importance of the city of Ruin with the medieval Citadel, and the mysterious Sacrament that lies within. What’s real and what is fiction.
- On research and traveling for work – Simon worked for 20 years as a Director making travel shows, so a lot of that goes into the books.
- How Simon took 6 months off his TV job to write his first novel. He took his family to France to take a real break.
- On walking the line on religion on spirituality. There’s a lot of Christian ideas in the books, but also a lot of pagan mythology. It wasn’t intended to be religious in any way. On arriving in France, sleep-deprived after a storm, and seeing the spires of Rouen Cathedral, Simon found a quote resonating in his mind from Ralph Waldo Emerson “A man is a god in ruins.” That became the seed for the books. Simon mentions that The Name of the Rose was an influence (as it was for me!)
- On the Tau cross (pictured on the cover) and how important it was to the myths in the book. What is the Sacrament and what does it really mean?
- Simon’s now writing a new modern thriller series about a man who doesn’t know who he is, a story of redemption. It’s roughly based on the 10 Commandments.
- On screenwriting as a way of understanding storytelling and an apprenticeship for writing novels. Lee Child and Simon both worked in commercial British TV and you learn a lot about story from that world.
- Simon’s tips for writing worldwide bestsellers.
- The changes in publishing and how Simon sees the industry right now