Continuing our exploration into great mystery and crime fiction authors, I could think of no one I’d rather introduce you to than Simon Wood. Actually, I suppose this a re-introduction as I’ve already interviewed him once back in 2011 (click here for that interview). But Simon’s career has only continued to grow by leaps and bounds since then, becoming a USA Today bestselling author, as well as getting contracts with Thomas & Mercer, and being lauded as gaining a million readers on Amazon. Pretty impressive indeed.
Simon, in case you don’t know, is a writer of fantastic crime thrillers. But author is only one of his occupations. In a turn that reminds me of some real life Buckaroo Banzai, Simon has also be a petrochemical engineer, a race car driver, a private investigator, and a pilot. Doesn’t sound like there’s much Simon can’t do…including turn out a bad thriller.
His most recent work, SAVING GRACE (BOOK 2 of THE FLEETWOOD AND SHEILS series), is a perfect example of how to write a sequel even better than the first book. Here’s the book’s description for those who are interested:
His only chance to save a young girl’s life is to put his trust in a headline-hunting kidnapper.
Former reporter Scott Fleetwood and his family are still recovering after tangling with a notorious kidnapper, the Piper, when another kidnapper grips the city. The Shepherd has snatched a young girl from a vacationing family. Other than money, he has one demand: he’ll talk only to Scott.
Special Agent Tom Sheils is on the case and will watch over Scott every step of the way. The Shepherd promises the girl’s safety as long as Scott follows the rules of his game. Forced to trail the kidnapper’s twisting lead—and haunted by the last victim he failed to save—Scott is desperate to keep the past from making a brutal comeback.
But just when Scott and Sheils think they’re winning and that it will all be over soon, the Shepherd ups the stakes. Scott begins to realize he’s a pawn in a scheme that runs deeper than greed…and colder than death.
Sounds good, huh? You should definitely give a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Which is why I was very happy when Simon agreed to let me interview him for a second time on this blog. Here’s what he had to say:
1. Your latest thriller is called Saving Grace. It’s book two of the Fleetwood and Sheils thriller series. First of all, do you need to read book one (Paying the Piper) to appreciate book two? Second, tell us a little about this series in general. Who are Fleetwood and Sheils?
No, I don’t think you need to read PAYING THE PIPER to read SAVING GRACE but it’ll give you a stronger understanding the characters. The main characters are newspaper reporter Scott Fleetwood and FBI special agent Tom Sheils. These two have a fraught relationship. Scott unwittingly interfered with a kidnapping case in the past which led to the death of a child. Sheils worked that case, and he blames Scott for the outcome. The two men were thrust into each other’s lives when Scott’s son was kidnapped. There is little trust between them but they had to work together to rescue Scott’s son. This is the basis for PAYING THE PIPER. Their uneasy relationship is continued in SAVING GRACE when a headline-hunting kidnapper exploits this past relationship by demanding that Scott act as the negotiator for the ransom of a tourist’s child.
2. It’s been said (mainly by me) that an author’s most recent work is their favorite. Besides the Fleetwood and Sheils books, what would you say your favorite work is? Why?
I have a lot of favorites for different reasons: TERMINATED because it’s the most elegantly realized book I’ve written so far. PAYING THE PIPER because it’s the most satisfying book I’ve written. DID NOT FINISH because it’s heavily based on an incident of my life and I had to wait 20 years before I could write about it. THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY because it made me look at a past trauma. ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN was my first book and it changed my life forever.
3. Unlike me (who seems to be all over the place as far as genres go), you’ve spent most of your career firmly planted in crime fiction (and some horror, as well, under the Simon Janus pseudonym). I’m curious. Is there a genre out there other than crime or horror that you’ve always wanted to try your hand at? What would it be and why?
I think I have a couple of sci-fi novels in me, but I’d also love to do a comic book. Oh, and I do have a several nonfiction projects lined up.
4. Recently, I wrote a blog post about the confusing nature of mysteries, crime fiction, and thrillers as far as genres and categorizations go. In your opinion, what are the major differences in those genres? What constitutes a mystery vs crime fiction? Another thing I mentioned in the post was the gender divide between those genres. There seems to be a disproportionate number of women writing mysteries than men and the reverse of more men writing suspense than women. Do you have any insight into why that may be?
In the UK, mysteries and thrillers are referred to as crime as a catchall for all genres and sub genres, which I quite like. For me, the key difference between a mystery and a thriller in its purest sense is that mysteries are reactive and thrillers are proactive. In a mystery, the big crime has taken place at the beginning of the book and the rest of the story focuses on solving that crime, whereas a thriller has a big crime at the climax of the book and most of the book focuses on the buildup to that climax. It’s simplistic, I know, but it highlights the key difference. As for why more mystery writers are women and men are more thriller oriented, I haven’t a clue.
5. If you look at your bio, it sounds as if you’ve had quite a string of awesome careers. Race car driving. Private investigations. Pilot. Do these vocations ever find their way into your books? Do you draw on your experiences in these things when you write?
Yes, various facets of my life have made it into my books either directly or tangentially. The Aidy Westlake series is based on my motor racing past. I’ve incorporated having to crash land a plane in real life into ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN. My past career as a contractor was featured in WE ALL FALL DOWN. My agent still wants me to do something based on my PI background. I have something in mind but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
6. My last question is always about giving advice to aspiring writers. Since I’ve interviewed you before, you’ve already answered this. However, since that time, you’ve seen tremendous success in your writing career. Several of your books have been contracted by Thomas & Mercer and you’ve become a USA Today bestselling author. I’m curious to see if your advice this time will be different (no peeking at your first interview. ha!).
Know your craft. I can’t shout this loud enough. I think technology has made things easier for us writers and we’re skipping things. I’m seeing too many writers rushing towards the finish line and not learning about their industry. Recently, I was a first reader for an anthology and probably 80% of submissions weren’t formatted as per submission guidelines. When it comes to self-publishing, do it for the right reasons. Don’t self-publish because it’s quicker or easier but because it is the best avenue for getting your book to the maximum amount of readers. Regardless of whether you’re traditionally or self-published, learn about the book business from the distribution to legal. Writers are duty bound to knowing the principles of good writing but also need to know how the publishing industry works.
Thank you, Simon, for being such a great guest on my blog. As for my friends and fellow readers, you can find out more about Simon Wood on his website HERE.
And you can purchase his books via his Amazon Author Page HERE.