So, we’re back in the swing of things and for the next few weeks, we’ll be doing what this blog does best…introducing you to some of the best authors you may or may not have ever heard of (but they’re ALL authors you should definitely get to know). And as we’re fast approaching Christmas and the release of Amazon’s latest line of Kindles, the need to discover new authors and what they’re all about has never been more needed.
And I can’t think of a better person to introduce you to on this latest run of author profiles that the very prolific Simon Wood. Basically, if you enjoy edgy crime fiction or dark horror, I think you will definitely want to get to know Simon.
Here’s a little background on Simon taken from his Amazon author page (http://www.amazon.com/Simon-Wood/e/B0028OMCMK/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1):
Simon Wood is a California transplant from England. He’s a former competitive racecar driver, a licensed pilot and an occasional PI. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are dominated by a longhaired dachshund and four cats. He’s the Anthony Award winning author of Working Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper, Terminated, Asking For Trouble and We All Fall Down. His latest thrillers are The Fall Guy and Did Not Finish. He also writes horror under the pen name of Simon Janus.
So that, should give you a little insight into Simon’s world. But it really doesn’t tell you much about his books. Well, he has so many, I decided to focus on one in particular…THE FALL GUY. I’ll admit, the title caught my eye because I was a huge fan of Lee Majors growing up and well, I used to love the TV show The Fall Guy, so I took at gander at this book to see what it was about. And I have to tell you…it is now high up on the “To Be Read” list on my Kindle!
Here’s the product description for the book:
When you’re down on your luck, life never wants to cut you a break. Todd Collins has failed in every job he’s ever undertaken, but that all changes when he backs his jalopy into a shiny, new Porsche belonging to a drug dealer. When the police stop the drug dealer for a broken taillight that Todd has caused and discover a cocaine shipment, a West Coast kingpin holds Todd responsible. On the run from organized crime, Todd discovers his true calling when he fights back.
Doesn’t that sound like a great concept? A down-on-his-luck loser finds his true calling when the mob starts chasing him. Love it and cannot wait to read it!
The next of his books that is on my “to be read” list is PAYING THE PIPER (which he mentions later on in our interview). The plot for this one just sends chills down my spine. Take a look:
The Piper is the Bay Area’s infamous child kidnapper. When the Piper selected crime reporter, Scott Fleetwood, to report on his latest child kidnapping, Scott thought he had the world in his grasp, but he held nothing. Scott had been duped by a wannabe. By the time the FBI exposed the hoaxer, time had run out, leaving the real Piper only one course of action—to kill the child. With a murder added to his résumé, the Piper vanished leaving Scott to take blame from the public and the investigating FBI agent, Tom Sheils. But now, eight years later, the Piper’s back, with very specific targets in mind—Scott’s young children. Scott can have his children back as long as he can pay the ransom. The hard part is that ransom isn’t measured in dollars, but in blood.
Some debts can’t be repaid…
See what I mean? The thing I notice about Simon’s body of work is his ability to place the average man in an extraordinary situation and then let us, the readers, observe whether that average man will break. We can see if they will resort to their basest animal nature or rise above it. That’s what seems so appealing about Simon’s writing.
Luckily, I recently had a chance to talk to Simon about his books, writing in general, and plans for his future. Here’s what he had to say:
1) This month, you’ve been promoting your novel THE FALL GUY…a crime caper that definitely has me intrigued (it’s on currently on my Kindle right now and just waiting to be read!). In your own words, tell us about it.
It’s the story of Todd Collins, a guy who has yet to succeed in life. He’s a down on his luck and luck kicks him again when he backs his jalopy in a shiny, new Porsche. His insurance won’t cover the damage done to the Porsche, so he leaves a bogus note. Little does Todd know that the Porsche belongs to a drug dealer and when the police stop the drug dealer for a broken taillight that Todd has caused and discover a cocaine shipment, a West Coast kingpin holds Todd responsible. The mobster tells Todd he can make amends by working off his debt. Todd discovers way too late that he’s been setup and goes on the run from organized crime but discovers his true calling when he fights back.
2) An interesting concept…having just your average guy who pretty much fails at everything suddenly finding his “calling” when the mob starts chasing him. How did you get the idea for this story?
The book is based on a couple of incidents that occurred in college. We’d hit the town for lunch and when we returned, my friend driving the car backed into the car next to him in the lot. Instead of leaving his details, he did a runner and parked off campus. The “crime of the century” lasted about two hours when the cops arrived in class to pick him up. Fast forward a year, the reverse happens. We come out and find someone has driven into his car. Under the windshield is a note saying, “everyone things I’m leaving my details. I’m not. Sorry.” Karma is mean, I suppose.
Personally, I have a talent for becoming embroiled in seemingly small things that escalate into something much bigger. So I just got thinking about the idea of leaving a bogus note at the scene of a fender bender and tossed in the idea that your victim might be well connected with the ability to track you down and make you pay.
3) Now you’re known to write horror and crime fiction a bit on the darker side. Tell us a little bit about your style. Any authors out there that you have been compared to that might help my readers identify with you a bit?
I’m not one for comparing myself to others, because I’m English and boasting about oneself just isn’t cricket. However, I’ll share some comparisons others have made about my work. My crime novels have been compared to Donald Westlake, Elmore Leonard, Dick Francis, Jason Starr, Barbara Vine, Hitchcock and The Sopranos. My horror fiction has been liked to Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, James Herbert and Stephen King. My short fiction has been compared to Roald Dahl and the Twilight Zone. Ken Bruen once said he’d like to be reincarnated as me. I’ll just say I’m flattered to be likened to any and all these people. I’m not sure they feel the same way. 🙂
4) What is it about exploring the dark side of things that appeals to you as a writer? Why do you think it appeals to readers?
For me, I’m fascinated my human frailty. Everybody says they would never ever do anything illegal or corrupt, etc. If that were true, there would be no crime. I think we’re all capable of anything. Life just has to catch us on our worst day. An unforgiving cocktail of bad timing, bad luck and no options and we stumble from the straight and narrow. So for me, my stories and books focus on something small that we probably doesn’t give a second thought to will come back to haunt the characters and they’ll have to do more than a penance to save themselves.
5) I’ve already highlighted several of your stories before we came to the interview and we’ve discussed The Fall Guy. If you could talk about only ONE of your stories (besides The Fall Guy), what would it be? What would you want to say about it?
I hope everyone will read all my books, but one book I’m getting the word out about is PAYING THE PIPER. A number of my books have gone on to be very successful, but this one kind of fell through the cracks, which is sad, because I still think it’s one of the best things I’ve written. It’s a thriller dealing with an infamous kidnapper who surfaces after eight years to prey upon a crime reporter whose interference resulted in a death. The Piper is back, but he doesn’t want money. He wants a pound of flesh. It’s a story about guilt and redemption. It went out of print about eighteen months ago and I’ve resurrected it as an eBook. I really want people to go out discover it. They won’t be sorry. 🙂
6) Any projects in the works? What can people be looking for in the future of Simon Wood?
My next hardback novel is HOT SEAT. That comes out in the UK next April and in the US next summer. It’s the follow up DID NOT FINISH, which is a series of mysteries set in the world of motorsport. NO SHOW will also be out next year. That will be available as an ebook only. That’s the first in a new series of books featuring an Englishman who because a county sheriff in California. There’s a couple of other things that I can’t mention at the moment, so 2012 should be an interesting year.
7) If you could offer only one piece of advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
Forget about social networking, agents, publishers, building a platform and focus on writing the best book you can first. Focus on the craft and good critique partners. The business of publishing is immaterial until that manuscript is finished. A good book will always get published. Gimmicks won’t.
Excellent advice, Simon. Thank you and thank you for taking the time to share with us today.
Readers, if you’re interested in learning more about Simon Wood, I would say the place to start would be his website at: www.simonwood.net.
In the meantime, here are a few links to his books on Amazon:
And of course, you can look at his website or Amazon author page for more links to his books.