Simon Wood

Simon Wood's Blog

If you would like to get an autographed book for that special someone (even if that special someone is you) go to my bookshop.  Use promo code XMAS10, you’ll get 10% off your order.  If you live outside of the US, please contact me first. Also if there’s a book you don’t see, let me know as I may have a copy tucked away.

Thanks in advance for your order!

Read more

My new book is the anthology TROUBLE & STRIFE, a collection of crime stories inspired cockney rhyming slang.  The book’s release is next month so I thought I’d clue you in on what to expect.

If you don’t know what cockney rhyming slang is, here’s a little bit of background. It’s a coded language where you create/use an expression that rhymes with the word you want to use then use the expression instead of the word. For example “butcher’s hook” is used to mean “look” and “plates of meat” is used to mean “feet” and “skyrocket” is used to mean “pocket” and so on… Invariably, the rhyming portion of the expression is dropped and the non rhyming element will take over. So someone will say, “Give us a butcher’s at that?” and “My plates ain’t half hurt today” and “Here’s a tenner to put in your sky” and so on. I hope that all makes sense.  Rhyming slang is rumored to have been created by criminals to deceive undercover police officers during the Victorian era.  What I love about rhyming slang is the phrases and expressions paint such colorful images…usually unrelated to their meanings. Such as a Gypsy’s Kiss, Smash & Grab, Lamb to the Slaughter, Kick & Prance, to name a few. These phrases have the spark to ignite stories and that was the challenge I gave my writers.  What phrases spoke to them.  Here’s what I got from them.

Steve Brewer’s story is BABBLING BROOK which is slang for crook.
Angel Luis Colón’s story is BUNSEN BURNER which is slang for earner, as in making money.
Johnny Shaw’s story is DICKY DIRT which is slang for shirt.
Paul Finch’s story is MR. KIPPER which is slang for Jack the Ripper.
Jay Stringer’s story is HALF INCH which is slang for pinch as in to steal.
Catriona McPherson’s story is BARNET FAIR which is slang for hair.
Susanna Calkins’ story is TEA LEAF which is slang for thief.
Travis Richardson’s story is LEE MARVIN which is slang for starving.
Colin Campbell’s story is TROUBLE & STRIFE which is slang for wife.
Sam Wiebe’s story is A LADY FROM BRISTOL which is slang for pistol.
Robert Dugoni’s story is PLEASURE & PAIN which is slang for rain.

I hope the stories’ titles and their rhyming slang meanings give you an inklings of what to expect in the book.  🙂

The book will be out in paperback and ebook and is available on preorder.  For links to stores go here.

 

Read more

If you live in the Sacramento area, I’m going to be the guest Capitol Crimes where I will be discussing Dangerous Coworkers…the story behind his novel TERMINATED, the third book in the Bay Area Quartet.  I’ll probably tell some other stories too.  It’s free to attend so bring a friend!

When: Saturday, November 16, 2019, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Where: Rancho Cordova Library, 9845 Folsom Blvd #1397, Sacramento, CA 95827

Read more

Call me “Mister November” because my piece on writing antiheroes is the feature article for the November issue of the UK magazine, THE WRITERS’ FORUM.  I’ve never had the cover story before so I’m quite chuffed that my piece inspired the issue’s cover art.  You can snag a copy from WH Smith’s in the UK and Barnes & Noble in the US.  Alternatively, you can order a copy from the publisher.

Read more

It’s Halloween so you’re entitled to a spooky story…however, this is one is true. So please enjoy…

MY OTHER SISTER

I was seven when I met my other sister.

As a child, it wasn’t uncommon for me to wake up during the night craving something to drink. I usually slept with a glass of water or juice on the nightstand next to my bed. On this particular night, I’d drained my glass and found I still hadn’t quenched my thirst. I hopped out of bed and, glass in hand, left the bedroom I shared with my sister, three years my younger. I switched on the landing light so I wouldn’t disturb anyone and trotted downstairs to the kitchen. I made myself a drink and took it back up the stairs.

As I reached the top of the stairs and turned to face my bedroom, a full-length mirror next to my sister’s bed reflected my image. I wasn’t alone in my reflection and I froze. Behind me was my sister wearing her black polka dotted nightdress. She was lying on the top stair, her face stricken in pain, reaching out to grab my bare ankle. She fixed me with her totally black eyes. There were no whites in her eyes at all, just solid black. Her mouth opened and closed as if trying to say something, but no words made it out.

My mind whirled. How had my sister followed me down the stairs and sneaked behind me without me noticing? What had caused her eyes to turn black? My mind snagged on the falseness in the reflected image, preventing me from answering the questions. For to the left of the mirror, my sister slept soundly in her bed, her face turned away from me. The fact she was wearing a flowered nightdress and not the polka dotted one only confirmed the impossibility of the distressed girl in the reflection being my sister.

My other sister’s hand continued to reach out for me and was within inches of grasping me. I couldn’t tell if she existed only in the reflection or whether she was right behind me. I didn’t dare turn my head to find out. In the reflection, my view of her was at least twenty feet away, but if I turned to face her, then those black eyes would be right on top of me.

Whether my other sister really meant me harm or just needed my help, I didn’t have the courage to find out. I bolted for my room, throwing my drink into the air and screaming all the way. This meant running directly at the mirror and if my other sister existed there, then I was running straight towards the creature and not away from it. In the mirror’s reflection, my other sister made a desperate lunge, missed me and collapsed on the landing, but she lacked the strength to give chase. I hurled myself on the bed and buried my face in the pillow and bedclothes.

My screams woke my sister and my parents. My mother had to pry me from the mattress that I clung to in the fear that it wasn’t my mother who had me, but a false mother like the false sister I’d seen in the mirror. Even when she managed to unpeel my fingers from the mattress, I refused to open my eyes in fear that I was in the arms of a phantom. But when my mother shushed me and rocked me, I knew no false mother would treat me with such tenderness and I opened my eyes.

“What’s wrong?” my mother asked. “Why all the screaming?”

Through my sobs, I choked out the event I’d witnessed. My mother showed me that my sister, although crying herself from being rudely awakened, was okay, and more importantly, that her eyes were okay.

“You were dreaming,” my mother insisted.

How could it be a dream? I’d made myself a drink. I told my mother this.

“Well, whatever you saw, it isn’t there now,” she said.

“How do you know?” I demanded.

“Because we would have seen it when we came into the room. Come on, come look.”

My mother tried to show me, but I clung to my bed. She wrenched me free and I went with her, even though I dug my toes into the carpet. She showed me that nothing lurked on the landing, other than my father cleaning up my spilled drink.

At some point when I’d calmed down, my parents put me to bed, but I failed to fall asleep straight away, fearing my other sister would return to get me. Finally, exhaustion claimed me and I slept through until morning.

After that night, I developed a fear of mirrors after dark. Once the sun had set, I averted my gaze or closed my eyes when passing a mirror. I wanted to hang something over the mirrors, but I didn’t want to expose my fear. If I woke during the night needing a drink, I let my thirst go unquenched. Nothing would get me out of bed after dark. I never wanted to meet my other sister again. I feared my escape might not be guaranteed.

Two weeks after the incident my sister was struck down by a nasty bout of flu, which kept her, confined to her bed for several days. The nightdress she wore when the flu hit was her black polka dotted one.

I don’t know if the phantom sister I saw was a premonition of some kind, but I never saw my sister in that stricken pose on the stairs during her influenza bout or at any other time and she never possessed those black eyes. I wonder if the phantom was some form of guardian spirit trying to warn my family of a threat to my sister’s welfare? Regardless, I didn’t look into a mirror at night for another seven years fearing a repeat encounter with my other sister or some other phantom that lurked in mirrors.

Eventually, when I summoned up the courage in my teens to stare into a mirror at night, I saw nothing, although I broke out in gooseflesh fearing that I would. Now, I’m in my thirties, and if I’m honest, I still fear what I’ll see in a mirror. If I have to get up at night, I don’t turn on the lights and I keep my eyes averted. My other sister has never shown herself again, but I can never be sure it will stay that way…

 

Hopefully this tale has put you in the mood for your Halloween celebrations. If you’re looking for something a little spooky to read, I hope you’ll pick up ROAD RASH or my other darker titles THE SCRUBS and DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS.

   

Read more

It’s Halloween and a couple of my Halloween scares written under my pen name, Simon Janus, are on sale this week at Amazon.

In THE SCRUBS, James Jeter, the notorious serial killer with a sixth sense, holds court inside London’s Wormwood Scrubs Prison. He’s the focus of the “North Wing Project.” Under the influence of a hallucinogen, Jeter can create an alternative world known as “The Rift” containing the souls of his victims.

Pardons are on offer to inmates who’ll enter The Rift. Michael Keeler has nothing to lose and little to live for. He’s sent into The Rift to learn the identity of Jeter’s last victim.

It’s a mission where the guilty can be redeemed, but at a price…

For US readers, get it here for 99c here.
For UK readers, get it here for 99p here.

 

In ROAD RASH, Straley might think his life is cursed, but it doesn’t compare to what lies ahead of him on life’s highway. He’s on the run with the proceeds of a botched bank robbery. It’s all he has. His crew is dead and his getaway car just died on him. He’s on foot with the cash when he comes across a two-car pileup. There’s no saving the drivers, but he can save himself and steals one of the wrecked cars. But he boosts the wrong set of wheels. Within an hour of driving off, he develops a rash that eats away at his flesh. No doctor can help him–only the car’s original owner. If Straley wants his skin back, he must journey on the road to redemption, which ends in the heart of Central America.

For US readers, get it here for 99c here.
For UK readers, get it here for 99p here.

The books are available from other usual retail outlets and available on audio in the case of ROAD RASH.  Just click the book titles for details.

I hope I’ve given you something to keep you busy this Halloween.  🙂

Read more

Hooray!!  I have a new book, but it’s a little different.  I’ve crossed the aisle from writer to editor.  I’ve curated a group of stories for an anthology called TROUBLE & STRIFE.  It’s a Cockney Rhyming Slang themed collection of stories.  What is Cockney Rhyming Slang you ask?

Well, I’ll tell you.

It’s a coded language where you create/use an expression that rhymes with the word you want to use then use the expression instead of the word. For example “butcher’s hook” is used to mean “look” and “plates of meat” is used to mean “feet” and “skyrocket” is used to mean “pocket” and so on…  Invariably, the rhyming portion of the expression is dropped and the non rhyming element will take over.  So someone will say, “Give us a butcher’s at that?” and “My plates ain’t half hurt today” and “Here’s a tenner to put in your sky” and so on.  I hope that all makes sense.

Rhyming slang is rumored to have been created by criminals to deceive undercover police officers during the Victorian era.

What I love about rhyming slang is the phrases and expressions paint such colorful images…usually unrelated to their meanings.  Such as a Gypsy’s Kiss, Smash & Grab, Lamb to the Slaughter, Kick & Prance, to name a few.  These phrases have the spark to ignite stories.  So I invited writers from the US, Canada as well as the UK to come up with a story inspired by a particular phrase.  What can you expect from the book, well this…

Babbling Brook is a talkative inmate at the state penitentiary.
Mr. Kipper is fishier than he sounds.
Half Inch is a small distance that can lead to a much longer stretch.
A hairdresser has to pay his dues for a crime that took place at Barnet Fair.
Pleasure and Pain takes on a brand new meaning in the German countryside.
And you never want to meet a Lady from Bristol.

You don’t have to understand rhyming slang to enjoy this book. You just have to enjoy a damn good story. To see what the authors have come up with you’ll have to turn the page and take a butcher’s.

Stories featured are by Robert Dugoni, Catriona McPherson, Johnny Shaw, Steve Brewer, Paul Finch, Susanna Calkins, Sam Wiebe, Jay Stringer, Angel Luis Colón, Travis Richardson & Colin Campbell.

The book splashes down on December 9th (just in time for Christmas) so I hope you’ll snap up a copy!!

Read more

I’m happy to announce the release of the Italian edition of PAYING THE PIPER which will be published as OTTO ANNI PRIMA (which translates as EIGHT YEARS AGO). This is my second book with Italian publisher Newton Compton and I hope this book will do as well as first book with them as I’d like them to publish SAVING GRACE next. If you’d like to work on your Italian, this is what the back jacket says:

Quando il giornalista Scott Fleetwood riceve una chiamata anonima che gli offre un’intervista esclusiva con il pericoloso Pifferaio, il criminale che rapisce i bambini a San Francisco, non può credere alle sue orecchie. È un’occasione per aiutare concretamente le autorità a incastrarlo. Per anni, infatti, il Pifferaio ha terrorizzato le più influenti famiglie della città, costringendo i genitori a pagare un riscatto altissimo pur di riavere i loro figli. Ma gli sforzi di Scott per trasmettere le informazioni all’FBI si rivelano presto controproducenti: l’uomo che sta intervistando non è il vero Pifferaio, e la situazione precipita. Il bambino sequestrato viene ucciso. Per otto lunghi anni Scott ha convissuto con il senso di colpa. La sua leggerezza ha causato la morte di un innocente. Ma l’incubo non è ancora finito. Quando il Pifferaio torna a farsi vivo, non vuole un riscatto. Questa volta la posta in gioco è molto più alta. E in ballo c’è la vita del figlio di Scott.

The book is available in paperback and ebook. You can learn more on the OTTO ANNI PRIMA book page!

Read more

The first Aidy Westlake mystery DID NOT FINISH is my Book of the Week. It’s 99c/99p on Amazon.  DNF is very personal to me because it’s based on my experiences as a racecar driver. It’s a period of my life I am very proud of…and that’s includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Motor racing shaped me as a person and I’ve infused that into the character of Aidy. The storyline is inspired by an actual incident and a secret I kept for twenty years.

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

The books are available elsewhere in all e-formats, print and audio. You can find all the links here. I hope you’ll pick up this story because this series is very special to me.

Read more