I first met Simon Wood at the 2002 World Horror Convention in
Chicago. Incredibly nice guy, not to mention a very interesting fella. He’s raced cars, done PI work, endured...um...endurance biking, and lately he’s been tearing up the charts with his mystery novels – all while speaking with a British accent. What more could one ask for? On top of all that, he also has a great sense of humor, which you can see firsthand by subscribing to his newsletter. Much thanks to Simon for taking the time to answer my five questions!
My latest book is No Show. It’s about Englishman Terry Sheffield who’s just arrived in San Francisco to start his new life with Sarah, the investigative journalist he married after a whirlwind love affair. But Sarah never shows up at the airport. The police skeptical of her disappearance and as Terry looks for her, he discovers that she’s not missing—she’s on the run. But as his search brings him closer to finding Sarah, Terry realizes she’s very different from the woman he thought he married. The book is inspired by my own first day troubles when I came to America.
I can’t just have one. It’s a three-way tie between Raymond Chandler, Reginald Hill and James Herbert. As for books, I would go with The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler, The Straight Man by Richard Russo and Love on a Branch Line by John Hadfield. Three books I would run into a burning building to rescue.
3 – What’s your favorite aspect of writing?
First draft. I’m discovering the story for the first time.
4 – Any good anecdotes about being a writer?
When landed my 1st mass paperback book deal, the editor called me but I was in the shower. I didn't hear the call, and my answering machine didn't feel like recording it either. When I got home that evening, the message light was flashing. I hit play and got: “Hi, Simon, it’s Don. I’m calling about the b--”
He was calling. That meant good news, right? But he’d only had the manuscript a few days. He might be calling because he spilt coffee over it and needed another copy. Or maybe it was so monumentally bad, he wanted to break protocol to call me personally to tell me how much it sucked and how he wished he could have those hours back that he’d burned up reading it. I wanted to call, but it was nine o’clock on the east coast. I don’t think he would have appreciated me calling information to get his home number. Worse, his message could have come with a time limit: “Hi, Simon, it’s Don. I’m calling about the book. I love it, I want it, but you have to return this call in the next hour or the deal is off.”
How bad would that be?
At this point, I might have begun obsessing, but don’t quote me. I think my wife may have punched me too. I think she got a little bored with my theories--or craziness, as she liked to call it. I went to bed and decided to lay awake thinking about what he would say when I called him back. Who needs sleep when faced with the important phone call of their writing career?
So I called early the next morning and got the good news. The editor asked me what I thought but I was so emotion burnt out from all my obsessing that all I could muster was “sounds good” in a very disinterested voice.
Now I understand why authors have agents. We shouldn't be allowed outside without a handler.
5 – What was the most helpful writing advice you've ever received?
“Don't give your work away. If you don’t value it, don’t expect anyone else to.” I can’t remember who told me this though.
and check out his newest bestseller, The One That Got Away