Simon Wood

Posts Categorized: hump day post

The International Thriller Writers‘ magazine THE BIG THRILL chose to do profile on me and my latest thriller SAVING GRACE.  We discuss what influenced the book and what comes next for my characters Scott Fleetwood and Tom Sheils. You can read the article here.


Categories: hump day post new book

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maxresdefaultI’ve been in the US eighteen years and I haven’t been back to the UK in over nine, so it’s not surprising things have changed in that time, so here’s a few things that made me a tourist in my own country.

  • Sidewalks aren’t for walking on…they’re for parking.
  • English accents really stick out.  It’s really weird on my ear now.
  • I am no longer a bilingual driver.  I have to think about driving on the left.
  • I look the wrong way when I cross the road.  It took me a decade to look the right when I crossed the road in America but now I am at a loss in the UK.
  • Somehow all the roads have shrunk and I can’t believe the speeds I use to drive on them.
  • I forgot how heavy pounds coins are.  Most British men sound like gunslingers when they walk and they all walk with a limp trying to lug a leg with a pocket full of shrapnel…
  • Straws go in children’s drinks, not adults.
  • A 3-pin plug scarily too big for its purpose.
  • I forgot how cold it is in April.
  • Pedestrians don’t have the right of way.  You will be run down!
  • Weather changes and often.  Only British people need both sunglasses and an umbrella on the same day.
  • I didn’t realize how high toilets are compared to the US.  I need a footstool.
  • Power outlets have switches. I kept plugging things in and forgetting to flip the switch.  And a 3-pin plug seems scarily large.
  • My God, Britain is crowded.  America seems deserted in comparison.
  • Drinks don’t come with straws.  As one friend said, “I feel like a seven year old when I have a straw in my drink.”
  • I forgot there are no free drink refills.

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Just seeing someone wearing a little, red, plastic raincoat gives me goose bumps. Now this doesn’t apply to blue or green ones or adult-sized ones or ones made from natural fibers–just the ones made from plastic that are red and sized to fit a five year old.

The film fans out there will immediately know why I have this fear. I saw Nicholas Roeg’s version of Daphne Du Maurier’s DON’T LOOK NOW.

The movie’s climax did it to me. When Donald Sutherland finally learns the identity of the person wearing the little, red raincoat that his dead daughter wore, I nearly collapsed a lung. Since then, little, red, plastic raincoats have given me
the willies.

I know now that I saw the film when I was far too young. It’s not often that I say that. I saw a lot of scary movies when I was young, but this one had a profound effect. I find it amusing that when I saw the movie at my tender age, I totally blanked out the famous sex scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. I only realized that it existed when I saw the film years later (when I paid attention to those sorts of things).

Even now, I can’t watch the film. I recorded it off the telly a few years back. I still haven’t watched it. It’s probably the only film I love that I’m afraid to watch.

Over the years, I’ve seen kids wearing the same little raincoats and I’ve had to literally cross the road to avoid them. Like Donald Sutherland, I have this urge to make sure there is a little child wearing it but at the same time, I don’t want to see, just in case I find what he did.

My mum knows about this fear I have and she takes great pleasure in pointing them out to me. Obviously, I’m her favorite child.

There you have it. Some people fear terrorism, spiders or aliens from another world. For me, it’s first graders wearing red raincoats.

Now that I’ve cut you in on this one, don’t come to one of my signings dressed in a red raincoat. You wouldn’t want to see me scream.

Categories: hump day post shelf life

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TOTGAI am a proud father all over again in that I am happy to announce the official release of my new thriller, THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY.  The back jacket blurb goes a little like this.

“Graduate students Zoë and Holli only mean to blow off some steam on their road trip to Las Vegas. But something goes terribly wrong on their way home, and the last time Zoë sees her, Holli is in the clutches of a sadistic killer. Zoë flees with her life, changed forever.

A year later and still tortured with guilt, Zoë latches on to a police investigation where the crime eerily resembles her abduction. Along with a zealous detective, she retraces the steps of that fateful night in the desert, hoping that her memory will return and help them find justice for Holli. Her abductor—labeled the “Tally Man” by a fascinated media—lies in wait for Zoë. For him, she is not a survivor but simply the one that got away.”

You don’t have to take my word for it, the books picked up some nice blurbs:

“Simon Wood’s THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY turns the serial killer convention upside down in a genuinely suspenseful novel.”
—Charlaine Harris, author of THE DAY SHIFT

“Wrenchingly intense–the talented Simon Wood goes psychologically dark and deeply disturbing.  For those who like their thrillers twisty, shocking, and relentless.”  
—Hank Phillippi Ryan, author of TRUTH BE TOLD

“Zoe Sutton is one of the most compelling, interesting, and complex heroine’s I’ve read in a long time.”
—Allison Brennan, New York Times bestselling author of NOTORIOUS

“Marvelously nerve-wracking, The One That Got Away is a wicked roller-coaster of suspense that paints a realistic picture of a serial murderer and Zoë Sutton, the one prey that got away.”
—Gayle Lynds, New York Times best-selling author of THE BOOK OF SPIES

We’ve picked up some early online reviews:

Quiet Fury
Will Kill For A Story
Carol Taylor Reviews

It’s available in paperback, as an eBook, on CD and as an audio download.  I hope you like it and please, please, spread the word by sharing this post and annoying family, friends and strangers.  Word of mouth is everything.

Thanks for listening.

Categories: book of the month hump day post

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Christmas is a great time to sit down and watch a movie.  Well, I have a few go to movies that I always take in over Chrimbo to get me in the holiday mood.  So here are my Xmas movie recommendations—some traditional and some not—with the guarantee that I’ll be watching them.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1945): for me this is the greatest Christmas movie of all time.  Jimmy Stewart on the worst night of his life gets his wish from an angel to see what the world would have been like without him.  A timeless tale.
THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (1942): The world loves radio personality, Sheridan Whiteside, but the world doesn’t have to live with acid tongue monster that is his off air personality.  One Ohio family is going discover what it is to endure his demands when he takes over their household for Christmas.  An out of control farce with a fantastic performance from Monty Woolley and it’s nice to see Bette Davis play her softer side.
DIE HARD(1988):  Christmas will never be the same when Hans Gruber and John McClane clash at the Nakatomi building.  At the adverts went: “Twelve terrorists. One cop. The odds are against John McClane… That’s just the way he likes it.”  Still, one of the greatest action movies of all time.  Yippee-ki-yay, Santa!
THE SILENT PARTNER (1978): Pretty much a forget movie these days.  Elliot Gould is mild mannered bank cashier in Toronto who anticipates that his bank is going to be robbed by Christopher Plummer dressed as Santa so Gould steals the money before the robbery occurs but Plummer is blamed for the robbery.  It seems like a good plan except Christopher Plummer is a psychotic nutcase.  A fantastic set up for a great thriller. Christopher Plummer is truly frightening and not a film for the fainthearted, but do track it down. 
BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974):  What’s Christmas without a scary movie?  Then look no further than Black Christmas but don’t bother with the horrible remake from a few years ago and stick with the 70’s original.  T’was the night before Christmas break and a bunch of girls who stay behind at a sorority house are terrorized by a killer.  Made years before slasher movies became commonplace, Black Christmas is a cut above (pun not intended…well, maybe not).  It is truly unsettling enough to bring out the gooseflesh.
LOVE ACTUALLY (2003):  Love, London and Christmas!  What isn’t there to love about this Richard Curtis movie?  Well, there maybe quite a bit not to love.  I know there’s a large slice of people don’t like this movie but I do.  I have to say it makes me a little homesick for home, so this movie is very special to me.  Call it my Christmas guilty pleasure. 
Now get your movie on…

Categories: hump day post

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Ah crap! I think I’m turning into my dad. I’m doing things he’s done. No, no, no, this can’t be happening. I’m original! I’m a rebel with a cause. I’m mad, bad and dangerous to know. And other stuff that makes me unlike my dad. How can it be going this wrong?

Now don’t get me wrong, I like my dad well enough. There are no rifts or anything between us, but who wants to be a facsimile of their parents? We all want to be an individual making our own unique mark on the world, don’t we? I know I do—or I think I do. Maybe that’s my dad’s DNA talking? Goddamn it. Who am I? Am I me or am I Memorex?

As I think about this, that’s the interesting point here. If I am following in my dad’s footsteps, is it because of the way he raised me—or is it because of his DNA? Do I do the thing I do because I watched him do them—or because we share the same genetic programming? I think I just blew your mind, didn’t I? Far out, man!

All I can say is that I don’t know whether my dad’s parental influence has had its effect or whether it’s in the blood. I do know it’s not a conscious decision. I never think to myself, oh how would dad do this and I should do likewise. I do things that I believe that reflect me but they have an uncanny way of aping my dear moo-pah. Here’s what I’ve got:

My dad is a marathon runner.
I am an endurance cyclist.

My dad has an allotment where he grows fruit and vegetables.
I have a fruit and vegetable plot in my garden.

My dad loves dates.
I used to hate the fruit growing up, but now I love them.

My dad has served on the board of his running club.
I have been a chapter president of both Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

My dad has a wife who indulges his whims.
I have a wife who indulges my whims.

My dad went grey haired by his mid forties.
I am forty-five next year and my hair will be grey.

My dad was a maintenance foreman at factory.
I became an engineer.

My dad has been served as a school governor, currently serves on police/civilian committee as well as a number of other civic boards.
I worked for city government for seven years and in the last couple of years, I’ve decided that will probably run for city council at some point.

Finally, we both share the same last name!!!

There you have it ladies and gents—my dad and me—or should I say my dad and his carbon copy. Now, I accept I could be paranoid, so I’m going to throw it out to you—do you think I’m turning into my dad?

Categories: hump day post

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Maybe it’s because it’s Guy Fawkes Day that I’m in peevish and rambunctious kind of mood at the moment.  I could be quite Zen about it all and let go of my irritation, but I don’t want to.  Sometimes bottling these things up and tossing them overboard isn’t enough.  Sometimes, you just have to rant.  So here are a few of my pet peeves:
1.      The pronunciation of caramel. It is pronounced cara-mel, not car-mall.  A car mall is where I go to buy a vehicle, not to enjoy a delicious confection.
2.      People who jaywalk when there’s a crosswalk ten yards away.  That is a capital crime in my book.  Executions should be held on the spot.
3.      Bacon!  WTF!!  I don’t get why people go overboard about bacon.  It’s nice but it’s not nirvana.
4.      Blockbuster movies splitting themselves into two parts or three in the case of The Hobbit.  This is a pretty thinly veiled attempt to squeeze and extra ten bucks out of everyone.  Hollywood, you’re not fooling us.
5.      While we’re on the topic movies, I don’t like PG-13 movies.  PG-13 has been the bane of movie going for the last 20yrs.  As the go-to classification to pull in as many punters as possible, it’s been excuse to dumb down thriller, action and horror movies. There’s nothing wrong with the classification per se, but filmmakers instead of playing up to the restrictions and played down to it.  If you want a lesson on working a classification to its hilt and still making a good movie, go watch the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Still creepy after 35yrs and it was only a PG.
6.      Enough with people putting pranks on YouTube.  Prank shows lost their appeal in the 80’s.  Maybe these things will end when a prankster gets killed in the street when they stage a fake crime.
7.      Can we stop calling things ‘hacks’ for doing mundane things?  Telling me how to open a can differently or that sticking one foot out of a bed to help me stay cool isn’t a life altering or radical way of doing something.  It’s not even interesting.
8.      People getting excited over the latest cell phone or tablet.  I have no idea why people went mental over the iPhone 6 release.  It’s a cell phone, albeit slightly different to its previous incarnation.  It wasn’t the cure for cancer.  Let’s keep it in perspective.
9.      Finally, my number one pet peeve is the Uber car sharing service.  It’s a glorified gypsy cab service with a phone ‘app.’  If it weren’t for the phone app feature, it would be spurned by every city in the country, but instead, it’s a multi-billion dollar company.  I’m waiting for everyone to catch up to my way of thinking.
Oh wow!  Boy, do I feel better.  The power of venting is very cathartic.  You should try it.  If you have any pet peeves, feel free to let them loose here.

Categories: hump day post

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As we surge headlong into midterm election season, I try not to get dragged along with the tide.  Having had some close encounters with politicians in both the US and UK, I’m not a big fan.  I feel we don’t vote for the best person for the job but the person who’ll do the least damage.  However, I do have to give them credit for doing a job most of us unwilling to do. 

But politicians frustrate me so I’d like to set the record straight on a few points:
  1. As an elected official, you represent all people—the ones that votes for you and those that didn’t, those who share your beliefs and those that don’t, the rich and the poor, the entitled and the disadvantages, and all genders, races and creeds.  You work for all not for, not for some.
  2. Enough with the party dogma!  You people want to score points with each other, do it in the parking lot.  Don’t do it in congress where your pissing matches serve only to hurt the country. 
  3. I hate to break it you senators and congressmen, etc., but you are government workers.  You are part of the government (and its problems) so stop talking about it being the government’s fault and somehow it not being connected to you.
  4. Stop crapping on federal, state and local employees.  Nothing motivates a workforce like a guy who makes and passes laws then blames the people employed for carrying them out.
  5. For God’s sake, enough with the big government/small government argument.  It’s totally irrelevant.  It’s not the size, but what you do with it.  Effective government is what matters.
  6. No more conservative or liberal Supreme Court justices.  The only bias a judge should have is towards the law and justice.  Any judge who votes with their politics doesn’t deserve to be a judge in any court.
  7. Stop pandering!  Have the courage to state your beliefs instead of trying to pretend in things that you clearly don’t.   None of you are very good actors.  I may not agree with you but I will respect you.
  8. Let’s not forget that there is no training or any accredited qualifications for being a politician.  We don’t let people cut our hair with hundreds of hours of training and licensing, so you are very fortunate to get away without any such requirements.  You are unskilled labor.  You belong to the highest paid unskilled labor force in the country.  Don’t you ever forget that.
  9. Finally, as an elected official, you have been entrusted with the highest honor a person can be in a democracy.  So live up to it and make us proud. 
Feel free to share with your elected officials…I know I will be.

Categories: hump day post

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Julie reminded me that she’s still going through withdrawl for one of her favorite shows which got canceled, Heroes. If you’ve not seen it, it’s about the belief that people with special powers exist all over the world and in a time of trouble, these people will form together to rise up against a devastating evil. These are just ordinary people who exhibit the kind of special powers you’d find amongst the Fantastic Four or X-Men, but without the spandex and the need to wear their underpants on the outside. It’s all very thrilling.
The characters in Heroes have the ability to fly, heal themselves, predict the future, read people’s mind and stop time, just to name a few. All very sexy.
But that’s where the show falls down. They’re focusing on people’s super sexy superpowers. They don’t feature anyone with mundane superpowers. Mundane superpowers–is that an oxymoron?
People with mundane superpowers can make a difference too, you know. I suppose I’m a little hurt by the show, because they don’t feature a hero like me. I have special powers. I don’t like to brag about them or anything, but I have them. Sadly, those powers haven’t been incorporated in the show.
Unlike the superheroes in the show, I have two special powers. I’ve had them for a long time and I’ve yet to find a purpose for them, but I’m sure they’ll come in handy some day.
My first superpower is the ability to be ignored by automatic doors. I can stand in front of these things for a week and they won’t open. I can jump up and down and get nothing. I usually have to dart in behind someone before I freeze to death outside.
My second superpower is the ability to buy from a store any electronic or mechanical product expected to perform a function, get it home and find that it’s broken or a part is missing. I can choose from hundreds and still find the busted one. I’m the kind of person who’ll find a needle in a haystack, but the needle will be missing a point.
Yes, yes, these abilities are astounding. They are my gift and my curse. I fear I’ll pass these powers onto my children. I know I’m already passing it onto my pets. I was told my new kitten, Chase, was a boy. He is a girl–who has now been renamed, Chasemina. If I drop Chasemina, she lands on her side, head or back, never her feet.
As a mundane superhero, I fear my superhero name wouldn’t be Batman or Wolverine, but Dud and my trusty catchphrase would be “What are you going to do?” combined with a shrug at the end.
The problem is for people like me, our mundane superpowers embarrass us. We stay at home, afraid of the impact we can inflict on the world. I’m sure I’m not alone in this power. I bet many of you reading this exhibit powers you perceive as crap. I don’t want you to be ashamed of your powers. I want you to tell me about them. Like the televisual Heroes, we too could band together to prevent a mild inconvenience on the world, as we don’t quite have the stuff to avert a global calamity.
So I ask you, what’s your mundane power? Go on. Unimpress me.

Categories: hump day post

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I know exactly when I got hooked on cars.  I was two years old and it was at a post natal or toddler daycare thing. 
I remember the place but not the reason why I went there.  I just remember my mum would take me to this clinic where there were a bunch of other kids with their mums.  There’d be play area and a nurse that would check the kids out from time to time.  Not sure of the point of this place but I didn’t mind going for one reason and one reason only—a toy ride-on red double-decker bus.  It was one of those plastic buses you sat on a pushed along with your feet.  As soon as I saw that thing, I had to ride on it—and I did—and it was awesome!  The wind was in my hair as I scooted along at what had to be 2mph.  Heady stuff, I can tell you.  Naturally, every time we came back to the clinic, I zeroed in on the red bus, even if I had to kick kids off.  That bus belonged to me and no one was taking it from me.  There’d be calls for me to share and to give the bus back but I would ignore everyone and continue to scoot along until forcibility taken down by my embarrassed mother.
At some point, we stopped going to this clinic place and I had to say goodbye to my double-decker but I got to say hello to my very first car—an orange beach buggy pedal car—which had one seat for me although I could squeeze in my teddy bear next to me.  I pedaled that thing all over until a sunlight/UV made it brittle and an impact with a brick wall ended our relationship.  Teddy and I were uninjured in case you were wondering.
A toy double-decker bus got me hooked on cars and speed—but what about you?

Categories: hump day post

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