As a lawyer with undergraduate degrees in political science and history, you wouldn’t think Antonio Simon would be voted Most Likely to Become an Award-winning Fantasy Writer. “Fantasy was anathema to what I did in college where everything was fact-based,” he says. “But I had a story to tell, and I needed to tell it.” So tell it he did – in a novel that combines fantasy with laugh-out-loud comedy and takes readers on an adventure they won’t soon forget.
Simon, a native Floridian who grew up in Miami-Dade, read a lot as a child. “I also played a lot of video games that involved role-playing,” he recalls. “They were like interactive books and influenced how I like to write.” After graduating from the University of Miami, he earned his law degree from St. Thomas University School of Law and went on to marry and have two children while working as an attorney. As busy as he was, the desire to tell stories was “like a fire in my belly that I needed to get out.” So in 2012, he decided to embark on his writing journey. Eighteen months later, he’d completed his first novel.
Set in a fifteenth-century fantasy world, The Gullwing Odyssey is the rollicking tale of Marco, a reluctant hero who accepts an assignment to deliver a letter and finds himself in the center of a series of misadventures that make him responsible for the fate of an entire civilization. “I love the Renaissance as a setting for fiction, with its explosion of new ideas and scientific enlightenment,” Simon says. “It was also a time of adventure and exploration, which was a perfect backdrop for my story.”
He admits that there is a lot of himself in his main character. “I wanted Marco to be a sort of Everyman who’s relatable to everyone,” he explains. “He has a simple job and wants to just keep at it until he can retire. I think there’s a point in everyone’s life where they ask, ‘Is this the best me I’ll ever be? Why should I reach for something better?’ When I was in my mid-twenties, I was asking the same questions.” The thing Simon likes best about the book is the same thing that makes it unique – its humor. According to the Midwest Book Review, “The Gullwing Odyssey rests solidly on the shaking shoulders of a good laugh, and that’s what sets it apart from 90% of fantasies on the market.” The book garnered four literary awards including first places in both the Royal Palm Literary Awards and the Pacific Book Awards.
Since the publication of The Gullwing Odyssey, Simon has published Transit Dreams, a short story collection; Miami is Missing, a history of 30 places in Miami-Dade that changed the world; a role-playing adventure game system (“R.A.G.E.”); and Tarot of Hate, a compendium of stories of murder and revenge. He also contributed to Forgotten Spaces, a compendium of darkly-themed poetry, and Shadows And Teeth, a horror anthology.
Simon is currently at work on the second of what he hopes will become the Gullwing Series. Tentatively titled The Gullwing Colony, the story picks up where The Gullwing Odyssey left off. “Much of the humor this time will be about what happens when people of different cultures who know nothing of each other are suddenly thrust together,” he says. Simon hopes his humorous fantasies will give readers some belly laughs while delivering a more serious message. “Sometimes you’re called upon to be much more than you think you are,” he says. “You may not see your potential, but it’s there, so reach for the heights instead of shying away from them.”
For more information, visit the publisher’s website at www.darkwatersyndicate.com.