Today folks we have Simon Wood
author of The Scrubs, Fall Guy and Accidents Waiting To Happen
GNOH – Hi Simon, how are thingswith you?
I’m doing fine, thanks. Icrashed my bicycle the other month and I’m slowly recovering from all theinjuries.
GNOH – An Englishman living inCalifornia? What prompted the move overto the US?
My wife is American. Before Imade the move, we used to meet up in different countries every few months. When we decided to get married, one of us hadto make the move and I had fewer ties so I made the jump.
GNOH – Do you ever make it maketo the homeland, and if not what do you miss the most about living here?
I haven’t been back home in 5 years, although I could be back next yearfor a short trip.
It’s a little tough coming home. So much has changed that I’m a little bit of a stranger in my owncountry.
I think the thing I do miss is the simplicity of life in the UK. I like living in the US, but America doesseem to make simple things complicated.
GNOH – What’s the food like overthere, are there any foods you really miss? I know Willie Meikle really misses Tunnocks Tea cakes and Lorne Sausage.
Well, I can get Tunnocks, so I’m set there. But there are some foods I do miss. No one does good fish and chips here and I’dkill for a sausage roll. A couple ofthings I do miss are my mum’s Christmas pudding and sherry trifle. The other day I had a craving for a Crunchie.
GNOH – You write in the thrillerand horror genre, what is it about these two genres that you find so appealing?
I write what I love to read so that’s horror and thrillers. When it comes to thrillers, I’m heavilyinfluenced by Hitchcock. He liked tothrust ordinary people into extraordinary situations and in some cases he putthose people in uncomfortable situations that would change their livesforever. I have an affinity for thiskind of story. I’ve gotten myself intosome awkward spots by no fault of my own, so these kinds of thriller speak tome. Horror is slightly different. I’m not a mean person, but I like to explorethe cruelty of life, in that there are forces larger and more powerful thanus. They can come down and sweep us offour feet and some of us will survive the situation and some won’t.
GNOH – Who are your favouriteauthor and have they influenced your writing in any way?
James Herbert is my favourite horror writer and his simple prose buteffective storytelling has influenced me. I’m not sure I write like him, but I certainly am inspired to tell agood tale simply.
When it comes to thrillers, I’m a fan of Raymond Chandler, LawrenceBlock and Reginald Hill. I thinkReginald Hill has a great knack for picking up on human frailty for hiscriminals and I get that.
GNOH – You started writing in1998. Can you remember what caused youto start writing relatively late in
My move to the US kick-started my writing. I couldn’t get a work visa for a long time soI had a lot of time on my hands, so I thought I’d try it. I’d always had ideasfor stories in my head, but never the time to pursue it. Other things always got in the way. Coming to America took away all thedistractions.
GNOH – I see that you are afellow sufferer of dyslexia. One of thereasons I started this blog was to stick
two fingers at it. Do you view your writing as a way of doingthis also?
Dyslexia is a pain in the arse. I’d be a lot faster writer without it. I don’t think I’m giving it two fingers. I think I’m just putting it in its place. Dyslexia doesn’t affect imagination orstorytelling. It’s a hand-eyecoordination thing and I can always work around that.
GNOH – I find it hard to explainexactly how it affects me, what challenges does it throw up for you in terms ofwriting?
I’m a muddled thinker in that I don’t think in a consecutive order, sothoughts come to me out of order. I’m areally poor reader so I find it difficult to read my own work, so I tend toread what I think is there and not what is there. And sometime my brain just snags on a thoughtor an idea and I just can’t express what I want to say. It’s a pain but I have my coping systems.
GNOH – Looking back at the last13 years, what have been some of the high and lows of your writing career?
There have been plenty of lows and they usually centre on the businessside of writing. I’ve had a number ofpublishers fold just as books have come out. I’ve had a couple of ugly contractual fights with publishers and they’vebeen wearing. It’s been nice to win someawards, but I wouldn’t consider those highs as I always feel a bit of a puddingwhen it happens. I suppose the best highI’ve had is simply seeing my book on a bookshelf in a shop.
GNOH – If you could back in timeis there anything you would do differently?
I wish I’d started writing earlier. I wish I hadn’t given some of my early work away to certainpublications. It never pays to be in ahurry to get published and it cost me in the long run. I think all this stems from my biggest regretin that I wish I’d given myself some credit that I had the makings of a goodwriter. I was (and still am to a certainextent) self conscious about my dyslexia and lack of education.
GNOH – And how would you say yourwriting has developed over the years?
I think I’ve found my style. Myearly stuff was all over the place in terms of style and theme, but
now my writing has an identity that fits my sensibilities.
GNOH – You have packed a hell ofa lot into your life, a qualified pilot, extensive travel, racing cars, andskiing in Transylvania, what is it about your personality that drives you dothese things?
I don’t believe in settling. There are so many things I want to do and there isn’t a good reason whyI can’t do them, so I’ll do my best to make it happen.
GNOH – Do you have a Bucket list,and if so, what’s left on it?
There’s a lot on my list, but the highlights include:
Driving a Formula One car
Riding across the US on my bicycle (there is a race).
Writing the perfect first draft.
GNOH – You are also a huge fan ofmusic, who are your five favourite musicians / groups of all time?
This is subject to change every five minutes, but here goes:
GNOH – So lets talk in moredetail about your writing. How would youdescribe your writing style?
Intimate. I tend to focus on asmall cast of characters embroiled in a conflict that has the power to wreck theirlives. My protagonists tend to be goodpeople who have courted ruin and it comes back to haunt them and they will haveto do everything to atone for it. Thecharacters tend not to be the same people by the end of the story.
GNOH – Am I right in thinking youused to write under the name of Simon Janus? What prompted the name change?
I was having a bit of an identity crisis with my readership. Because I was flipping between genres,readers were getting confused, so I introduced a pen name to help differentiatemy two genres.
GNOH – You have written a lot ofshort stories over the years, is this a medium you prefer over novels?
It’s not that I prefer shorts over novels. It’s more to do with the fact that some ideaswork best as short stories.
GNOH – How did you go aboutselecting the stories for Dragged IntoDarkness?
Dragged into Darkness is my theme as well as a book, so when it came tochoosing the stories, I picked the ones that leant themselves best to thetheme—which were stories featuring people ripped from their daily lives andthrust into a darker world.
GNOH – Do you have a favouriteshort story?
If we’re talking about stories by other people, I would say NeilGaiman’s Baby Cakes and David Morrell’s Orange Is for Anguish, Blue for Insanity.
If we’re talking about one ofmy stories, I’d say Acceptable Losses.
GNOH – You are probably bestknown for your two novels; The Scrubsand Accidents Waiting To Happen. Can you tell us what these books are about?
The Scrubs is set WormwoodScrubs Prison and is about inmate Michael Keeler. He blindly volunteers for the North WingProject and discovers he’ll be entering the mind of a serial killer to find outwhat happened to the killer’s last victim.
Accidents Waiting To Happen isabout Josh Michaels, a family man, who finds himself on a hit list and it allstems from a part mistake and the sale of his life insurance.
GNOH – Why do you think thesebooks have hit such a chord with your readers?
My wife says The Scrubs isthe most vivid think I’ve written. Shesays you know what this place looks like and how it smells. I also think people have latched on to theinvented world that Keeler enters. It’svery bizarre, but people can’t seem to get enough of it.
When it comes to Accidents WaitingTo Happen, I think the idea that everyone has a price on their head is aprovocative one and within the confines of the book, every one of us could beJosh and that’s scary.
GNOH – I have just boughtAccidents Waiting To Happen for my mother in laws birthday, why should she readthis book first? She always gets loadsof books for her birthday.
Because one she starts reading it, she won’t be able to stop…or sopeople tell me.
GNOH – Your latest novel Did Not Finish is based in the world ofmotor racing, how much of your experiences of this world has gone into thebook?
A lot of my own experiences are in the book. There are tons of little things about thatlife I inserted directly into the book to make it authentic. Motorsport is one of those sports that peopledon’t know much about. I hope the bookpeople gives them a glimpse.
GNOH – Do you decide to write athriller or a horror novel before you actually sit down and write it? Or do you tailor the book as you write it?
No, I’m very calculated. I knowwhether I’m writing a thriller or a horror title before I sit down to write.
GNOH – You have self publishedsome of your novels through Smashwords, how well has that worked out for you?
It’s worked out quite well. Iwent into 2011 with most of my work out of print. One thing the ebook revolution has given meis the chance to keep my backlist alive. A completely new readership has discovered me this year.
GNOH – So what does the futurehold for you, can you let us in on any future projects you have waiting in thewings?
The paperback edition of THE FALL GUY comes out next week and thatlooks lovely. The follow up to DID NOTFINISH is called HOT SEAT and that’ll be out in the UK in April. There are a couple of others things going on,but I don’t want say in case I jinx them. J
YOU CAN PURCHASE SIMON’S BOOKS BY FOLLOWING THE LINKS BELOW