Weeks of the Phoenix: Creating Simon Bellinger

For the entire month of April, we are going to be leading up to the release of “Days of the Phoenix” (available May 7th, EXCLUSIVELY on Amazon.Com) with information about the book and why you should be as excited as I am to read it!

By now I’m sure you’ve heard the premise of the novel: a man spends a summer with a man that he’s only ever met on the internet to participate in a social experiment, hoping to find the most authentic sense of himself possible. The internal struggle and the conflict of the main character is all the fun in reading the book, so I’m not going to spoil that for you. I do, however, want to share one of the most important premise aspects with you: the internet friend.

Simon Bellinger, the friend of the main character that puts up the main character, has a vibrant and thorough story just like anyone else. Simon has an internal conflict, he is tormented, and he is working just as hard to find redemption in something grandiose and improbable.

What makes Simon integral to the story is his difference in position; our protagonist feels hopeless, and that hopeless feeling leads to desperation, desperation leads the protagonist to cling to opportunity. Simon is the personification of that opportunity. If you consider that both Simon and the protagonist are in similar positions, but Simon has an answer, he has an avenue of relief.

Simon, as a character, has a story, but his most important contribution to the message is his concept: how important a support network is when dealing with something as heavy as a mental illness. I didn’t know what Simon’s story was until I was in the middle of writing the story – I didn’t have plans for him, I didn’t know who he was or where he was going; all I knew about Simon was his name and how important the best friend is. “Days of the Phoenix” is set in the middle of 1999, and mental illness was talked about with such openness as it is today – there is an underlying theme to the book, about how important self-care is, and support is incredibly important.

Simon Bellinger’s personality is an amalgamation of every best friend I’ve ever had, which ultimately made him everyone’s best friend. Simon Bellinger is your best friend and you’ll know what I mean when you’re done reading the book. Simon is that best friend that always has a spot on the couch for you, willing to throw hands first and ask questions later, and will make you reflect on yourself to help you find the best self possible.

Right now, I miss Simon. Writing is such a personal process and new consciousnesses emerge when you write – I’m sure there is a psychological explanation about pockets of your own personality opening up – but I still see Simon as his own person. Simon had such a wisdom that I didn’t know was possible and I loved writing his interactions, I loved discovering the parts of who he was and appreciate how much I would have enjoyed Simon being a part of my youth the way he was for the protagonist in “Days of the Phoenix.”

On social media, authors are often asked which one of their characters they would hang out with for a day, or have dinner with – for me, right now, the answer is Simon Bellinger. Simon is the example of what can be, the best friend you need, and a hug you just want to give.
I’m looking forward to May 7th, to see how you feel about Simon and the others in “Days of the Phoenix.” Pick up your copy on May 7th, exclusively on Amazon.Com.

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