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Friday, December 2, 2016

Nickie's Ten Questions to Simon Wood

Author of The One That Got Away, the Aidy Westlake series and his upcoming thriller, Deceptive Practices - winner of The Anthony Award

Described as “a dark demented angel” by author Ken Bruen, Simon Wood has built a reputation for concocting wild and dangerous thrillers that would have given Hitchcock nightmares.  His writing takes an even darker and stranger turn as Simon Janus, his horror fiction identity.  Having been a petrochemical engineer, racecar driver, pilot and private investigator, it’s not surprising he sees the world a little differently.  Originally from England, he lives in Northern California with his wife, Julie, and a menagerie of rescued animals.

A couple of days ago, I had the occasion of asking some question to Simon. I've read some of his novels and can vow they are super-thrilling - the type of book you can't put down as you need to find out how it ends.

1) Can you tell us in short how you came to writing novels?
I moved to the US in 1998 and I couldn’t work because I didn’t have a work permit at the time.  It was the first time in my life where I had nothing to do—no job, no classes—so I indulged a flight of fancy and decided to write.  I blame my writing career on the US Immigration Service because if it weren’t for them dragging their feet, I would have written a word. 

2) What's the main reason you chose to write thrillers?
They always tell writers to write what you know but you also have to write what you love to read.  I love horror, thrillers, crime and mystery so it was pretty obvious what genre I had to go into.

3) Was the first story you finished ever published?
Yes, but it wasn’t the first story get published.  Before I embarked on a novel, I wrote short stories as part of a self imposed apprenticeship.  I wrote three stories over a month and I wrote them with really knowing what I was doing.  The first story was somewhere in the region of 15,000 words and way too long.  I spent three months rewriting this story (and the others) eventually slashing two thirds of it.  It picked up a lot rejections and I kept honing it until someone accepted it.  It ended up being my 20 or so published short story and a good year after my first published piece.  If I’m being honest, when I look on it now, it’s a little derivative.  My first novel published was the first novel I wrote though.

4) Most writers have a love-hate relationship with their editor. You too?
Not really.  I have an engineering background and none of my designs made it to manufacture unless it got passed a ‘checker’ and an ‘approver’.  I have to have feedback before I’m comfortable with releasing it.  I’m lucky enough to have an editor who I’ve worked on multiple books with.  The only editing experience I didn’t like was when I had three editors working on a book at the same time.  Differing opinions made rewriting frustrating.   I wouldn’t want that situation again.

5) How do you react when a reader tells you he/she doesn't like your book?
I can’t say it isn’t wounding but it’s okay.  The thing about books is that it’s all subjective.  No two people will see the book the same way.  If someone doesn’t like the book it could because it hits too close to home or they can’t relate to the subject matter or it’s not their genre or my style doesn’t meet their taste, etc.  Being a writer has taught me a lot about human nature.

6) Can you describe the feeling when you receive an award for your writing?
Embarrassed.  I didn’t think I would win.  I was convinced of it.  Then they called my name and thought, “Oh crap.” 

7) Is there a reason you went to live in the United States?
My wife is American so one of us had to move to the other person’s country.  On paper, it was easier for me to move to the US than it was for her to move the UK.

8) What's in the pipeline for the future?
SAVING GRACE, The follow-up to PAYING THE PIPER, comes out next year which will followed by THE NEVERWAS MAN.  I am working away on the next Aidy Westlake book and developing ZoĆ« Sutton from THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY into a series.

9) How important are your readers to you?
Very. I wouldn’t have a career without them.  The day I lose sight of that is the day I have to stop writing.

10) Which authors do you read yourself, or admire?
The writers who've had the biggest influence on me are Raymond Chandler, Roald Dahl, Bill Bryson, Reginald Hill and James Herbert.  I love Jeffery Deaver and David Morrell’s short fiction.  I read around 50 books a year so I’m reading a lot of people’s work that I’ve long admired and in many cases, I get to call them friends.

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