Meet This Author: Simon James Wood

Q: When did you begin writing your books? 

A: When I was nine or ten, I basically wrote a novelization of the Jackie Chan movie POLICE STORY. I remember being really proud of it and showing it to my dad, who wasn’t particularly impressed, suggesting that it was a waste of time, and that what I should do is write my own original story. Which I immediately set about doing.

It was called Three Undercover Cops in The Abduction (My mom supplied the title). It was meant to be the first in a series of books. That didn’t happen, but what did, was that when I was in High School and more interested in writing screenplays, my first script also featured three cops working a case. Different names and a different plot, of course.

Fast forward some fifteen years later and my book BENEATH ended up being a reworking of that screenplay. While the plot was once again different, the names and character dynamics were all there. So ultimately, I really do think of BENEATH as being the final draft of that book I wrote when I was ten years old.

Q: How did you get into writing detective/thriller stories? 

A: I think for most people who love popular fiction, a good cop thriller is something they always come back to. You just have to look at the books sold at Airports. Some biographies, some romance, but mostly good old-fashioned thrillers, with stories and plots that have been rehashed a million times over, but somehow, we just can’t get enough of them.

And I’m the same. I do jump around reading some Sci-Fi and Fantasy, but I always come back to thrillers.

So, when I wrote my first book, it was the easiest fit.

Q: What themes can readers find in your books? 

A: That’s a difficult question. I don’t set out to ‘say something’ with my stories. I hope and feel like I do. But whatever that might be is always borne out of how organically true I try to make the mechanics of the story and plot lay themselves out.

I’m always trying to make things feel as uncontrived as I can – right down to why a character might be musing over how she, or another character she’s interacting with look. Really all I’m attempting to do is describe their appearance so that the reader will have a clear picture of them, but I’m always trying to give as good a reason as I can for why they might stop and reflect on this in the middle of what’s going on in the moment.

Q: Tell us, readers, about your novel, Beneath

A: As I said before, I like straight forward Thrillers, and that’s what BENEATH is. I just wanted to write a good one of ‘those books’.

So, while you’ve probably read it before: Cops investigating the brutal murder of a family get tangled up in an unexpected web of deceit – I think it’s a good take.

The thing I enjoyed the most about writing it was the character relationships. Particularly Kathy, the sister of one of the cops at the centre of the case. Her story revolves around the fashion industry, but it was in working through the strained relationship she has with her brother that I really found out who they were.

And it was the same with the rest. Even the bad guys. It was in trying to understand the why’s of their actions that they truly became the dark creatures they are.

Q: Who are the main characters?

A: Andrew Bates. The younger, cooler, more aggressive member of the main cop duo.

David Radley. Older, wiser, and wearier. Not as keen to dig into something that looks to be more hassle than it’s worth.

Kathy Radley. A woman looking to make her mark in the overcrowded fashion industry by launching a new fashion magazine.

Mark Wilks. A rookie detective who idolizes Andrew, and as a result is manipulated into getting in over his head.

Then there’s Anthony …

Q: Your second book, One with the Grime at the Bottom, is different from your first book, Beneath. Why the different approaches? 

A: GRIME is actually my third book. My second was a big and complicated Sci-Fi/Urban Fantasy called Within the Dark that took me a hell of a long time to figure out and complete.

As a result, when it came to my next book, I wanted to write something simple. A nice little quirky Crime Thriller in the vein of Tarantino or Elmore Leonard. Something where the plot doesn’t really extend beyond the likes of a suitcase full of cash.

It didn’t work out that way. Despite being much shorter, it seems I can’t help but entwine my characters in the twistiest of plots.

Q: Share with us, who the main characters are in One with the Grime at the Bottom.

A: Morgan. Wrong place at the wrong time. This is a world she’s stumbled into, and despite almost everyone wanting her dead (she witnessed a murder) they are forced to keep her alive in order to keep their story straight. (the murder was meant to be a setup, but Morgan’s unexpected presence mucked things up.)

Nina. Tiny, but deadly. In a criminal underworld ruled by men, Nina has made her mark and earned her respect by her willingness to dish out pain.

Yuki. Tiny, but crazy.

These three woman are at the centre of the goings on in this world, and while they definitely don’t like each other, they can’t live without each other.

Mad Mel. This world’s Crime Boss, and the one who everyone is trying to fool in order to stay alive.

Q: How would you describe your writing style?

A: Economy and flow are very important to me. I’m always trying to describe things as succinctly as I can. I want whatever a character is doing to simultaneously describe what the environment he’s doing it in is like. At the same time, I also want it to have a nice rhythm.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers in your genre?

A: I’ve got a great piece of advice. One of the biggest problems aspiring writers have, is that they end up losing interest in their story and eventually abandoning it. And I reckon the main reason for that is it’s very easy to lose touch with it. We all go through creative ups and downs, and taking a break from your writing, sometimes for months on end (as it was for me) often means you can’t reconnect with the story you were trying to tell.

This was definitely a problem I was having with my second book. So, what I committed myself to was simply to make sure that I wrote no less than one sentence every day – and it had to be at the end of what I’d already written. No tidying up previous pages. It had to be the next sentence in the story. And for a good while that’s all it was. One new sentence a day. But what it did was it always kept the story in my mind. And it also took away the excuse of: I don’t know how to approach this scene. Well, when you’re talking about a single sentence, it’s pretty easy to unlock the beginnings of a new scene or scenario.

And eventually those daily sentences turn into daily paragraphs and eventually whole scenes in a single sitting.

Q: Can you share with us, readers, what other projects you are working if any?

A: I’m a glutton for punishment, so I’m going back to Sci-Fi. Big epic tome about a Mega-City ruled by …

Ahh, it’s a pretty cool idea, and I don’t want to give it away.

Q: Where can readers find you and your books online?

A: Through AMAZON in either paperback, or on Kindle. (Free if you have a PRIME subscription.)

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