Simon Wood is an ex-racecar driver, a licensed pilot and an occasional private investigator. Simon has had over 150 stories and articles published. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies and has garnered him an Anthony Award and a CWA Dagger Award nomination, as well as several readers’ choice awards. He's a frequent contributor to Writer's Digest. His books include WORKING STIFFS, ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN, PAYING THE PIPER, WE ALL FALL DOWN and TERMINATED. As Simon Janus, he’s the author of THE SCRUBS and ROAD RASH. His next title is DID NOT FINISH due out in September.
Can you sum up PAYING THE PIPER in no more than 25 words?
A serial kidnapper resurfaces to target the reporter whose ambition botched the last kidnapping. The kidnapper wants the reporter to atone for his interference.
What was your motivation for writing it?
Most of my books are inspired by news stories that normally fall through the cracks. PAYING THE PIPER is a rare exception. I just wanted to do a kidnap story and I wanted to do something different with the sub-genre. I wanted the ransom to be something other than money and far harder to obtain. The whole thing developed from there. The book is filled with compromised characters from the protagonists to the villains. They're all forced to examine their past actions.
How much difference does an editor make?
An editor makes all the difference. No writer can be totally objective about their own work. My background is engineering and every design had to get by a checker and an approver. I treat my writing the same way. I need the pushback and challenging insight that an editor’s fresh pair of eyes brings to the situation. I’d rather an editor see the weaknesses in my work and not the reader.
How much difference does a good cover make?
I know people say you can't judge a book by its cover, but a good cover does draw the eye and leads someone to check out the blurb, then a chapter or two and if that impresses they’ll buy the book. It all stems from a good cover. It’s the gateway to a book purchase.
Do you have any other projects on the go?
In June, DID NOT FINISH comes out in hardback. It’s the first book in a new mystery series coming out that's set in the world of motorsport. Twenty years ago, I was a competitive racecar driver and a lot of nefarious activities took place during my time in the sport, so it’s been a labour of love to combine my love of crime fiction and motor racing in a book. I hope I can give some insight into the criminal potential that surrounds this professional sport the same way Dick Francis did for horseracing.
What's your favourite part of the writing process?
I love writing the first draft. I’m excited to see an idea evolve day by day. There's nothing finer than typing the words THE END for the first time. It’s a real high. Sadly, that high ends when I have to start editing the next day. J
If you had to re-read a crime novel right now, what would you choose?
THE LONG GOODBYE by Raymond Chandler. I discovered Chandler’s work when I was teenager and THE LONG GOODBYE was probably my least favourite book, but I reread it as an adult and I saw the complexities of the central characters that I’d missed previously. I love the compromised characters at the centre of the story and how they deal with their personal conflicts. It’s a marvellous study of human frailty.
What's the oddest question you've been asked in an interview?
At a book signing, a slightly odd man (if I’m being kind) staggered over to me and asked me “What do you think of lesbian serial killers?” He proceeded to explain lesbian serial killers were the idea for his novel. When I suggested some interesting plot twists, he screamed that it was his idea and no one was touching it. I learned a valuable lesson, don’t mess with lesbian serial killers.
Paying The Piper by Simon Wood