Simon Wood

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DID NOT FINISH is a book that is very close to my heart as it’s a mystery centering on the world of motorsport. Thirty years ago, I raced open-wheel cars motorsport in the UK.

In the book, a death threat is circulating around the pits. Derek Deacon says he’ll kill his championship rival, Alex Fanning, unless Alex throws the championship deciding race. Rookie driver, Adrian ‘Aidy’ Westlake, doesn’t put too much stock in the threat. He figures Derek is just playing mind games. That changes when Alex dies on the track after banging wheels with Derek. A cover-up ensues. The police wrap up their investigation without following up on the death threat, TV coverage omits the crash and the racing community seems happy to ignore what they heard. Aidy is the exception. He feels obligated to expose the truth and finds himself dragged into a much larger conspiracy.

A real incident is the basis for DID NOT FINISH. I was competing in a regional championship where a rumor was floating around the paddock that a driver threatened to kill the championship leader if he didn’t win and, just as in the book, that driver died in a crash during the race. At the time, I felt quite helpless. There is a world of difference between an idle threat and an actual murder. What made the situation even harder for me to accept was that minutes before the race started, the driver who died had shared something with me that he hadn’t even shared with his family. It’s a confidence I’ve kept for twenty years.

Did Not Finish is not an attempt to expose a crime or rewrite history but illustrate life in the fast lane. Motorsport is an expensive game. To compete, you need more than just a bat, a ball and a pair of sneakers. You need a small army. Even at a grass roots level, it costs tens of thousands each year to own, maintain and race at a competitive level. Because of that, the desire to win gets amped up and tensions run high. Competition brings out our best, but it can also bring out our worst, so dirty tricks aren’t out of the question.

Naturally, there’s rule bending in motor racing and I can’t say I didn’t pull some stunts to help me survive in the sport. Other people I knew took more drastic measures, especially when it came to money. Some people borrowed heavily, in some cases turning to loan sharks. Others got involved in a variety of criminal pursuits to make ends meet. They ranged from misdemeanors such as theft to major felonies such as drug trafficking. Some individuals felt they had to protect their interests and did so by intimidating others or flagrant cheating. Some of the stuff that occurred is enough to make your hair curl. And in most cases, all these acts boiled down to people doing anything to hang on to their dream and win. It’s a siren song that’s hard to ignore.

Dick Francis showed the dark side of the world of horseracing, I’m hoping to do the same through Aidy’s adventures. He lives in the shadow of his famous father, the late, great driver, Rob Westlake, who died along with Aidy’s mother in an auto wreck after securing a Formula One contract. Raised by his grandfather, Steve, himself a retired Grand Prix mechanic, Aidy is following in his father’s footsteps.

As the series develops and Aidy makes his rise through the world of motor racing, he’ll be drawn into the various issues affecting the sport. And as he does, he’ll learn one thing—in motorsport, murder will always happen breakneck speed.

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Sadly my website was hacked earlier this week, totally destroying it.  The site is back up but it was down for a couple of days, so if you sent a message and I didn’t get back to you, let me know or please resend.

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My first thriller ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN has come of age.  It was first published 18 years ago this month!  This book is very special to me because we’ve been on a quite a journey over that time.  It’s been responsible for a lot of firsts in my writing career:

  • First book I wrote.
  • First published book.
  • First mass paperback release.
  • First book to be translated.
  • First book to sell a 100,000 copies.

When I look over my writing career, this book has been the one that kept me career moving on to the stage. Although first published by a small publishing house, it picked up a lot of good trade reviews which gave me some legitimacy as a writer. That resulted in the book picking up a contract with a New York publisher. When the NY publisher folded during the credit crunch, it was the book to reboot my career I relaunched it as an ebook. The sales success of the ebook resulted in an 8-book deal with a new publisher and a new edition. And if it weren’t for that 8-book deal, I wouldn’t have the success with other books. Wherever I examine my writing career, invariably it all stems back to ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN.

This book about obscure facet of the insurance industry changed my life.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for it.  I will forever be in this book’s debt.

If you’d like to learn more about the book, you can learn more here.

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This one is for the writers amongst you. Over the last few years, I’ve developed a number of online writing courses for Sisters In Crime. The workshops haven’t been available outside of their membership until now. I’m planning on having a different writing workshop every month, but I’m kicking off this first phase with five classes. Here’s what’s on the docket:

The start dates for the classes are as follows (just click the links for course details):
KILLER SUSPENSE: October 5th
PLOT THICKENERS: June 8th
MANAGING POINTS OF VIEW (POV): July 6th
SHORT STORIES: August 3rd
AUTHOR PROFESSIONALISM: September 7th

The nitty gritty:
The format of classes is a mix of videos and handouts as part of an online classroom.
The classes run for two weeks with 6 to 7 lessons in each workshop, except for the plotting workshop, which is three weeks.
With every lesson, there’s an assignment and feedback. You aren’t obliged to do the homework or send it to me for feedback. It’s entirely up to you.
The class is conducted via groups.io. People are expected to join in and comment on everybody’s work.
Lessons will be posted every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. That is subject to change. If people need more time then I will slow the lessons down.

Workshop cost: $50 each (exception for the Plot Thickeners – that’s $65)

If you’d like to sign up, please send me an email.  Let me know if you have any questions.

UPDATE: The WORKSHOP page is now linked to the website store for easier online signup.

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TROUBLE & STRIFE picked up a great review from Mystery Scene magazine (which is on the right of the screen).  It came with the quotable line:

TROUBLE & STRIFE, edited by Simon Wood, is a clever (and very good) themed anthology.”

I wasn’t sure how the anthology was going to be received because the book is very thematic, so I was very pleased to see such a positive assessment.  It was so nice to so many of the authors singled out for praise.

If the review image is a little hard on the eyes, you can read the complete review here.

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It’s a new year and that means I receive annual royalty statements for a couple of my books. One such book was LOWLIFES. It’s been a pretty successful book, but the publisher said, “Royalties have fallen off the edge of a cliff. I guess books do have a finite life.”

I understand the sentiment but I disagree. The problem I have (and it’s a nice one to have) is that I have close to two dozen titles in publication. That means some books will take the limelight while others are pushed into the shadows. It’s not necessarily my early books. My most popular titles are usually the latest and my first.

So I want to shine some light on what could be considered my forgotten titles.

LOWLIFES: Larry Hayes is a decorated police inspector with a substance abuse problem and he has to investigate himself as to whether he murdered a homeless man. I have a soft spot for this slice of pulpy noir because I was commissioned to write this piece from a brief outline.

HOT SEAT: This is the second of the Aidy Westlake motor racing mysteries. Aidy gets his first professional drive but soon finds himself press ganged into investigating the murder of a team mechanic by his gangster brother. Again with many of the Aidy Westlake stories, it’s based on my own experiences in the motor racing world.

ROAD RASH: Straley is a bank robber on the run, but the situation takes a downward turn after he steals a car from a fatal car wreck. He develops an all consuming rash within hours of driving away, but the disease isn’t bacterial. He will lose everything, including his skin on a journey to redemption. The story is partially inspired by a personal encounter with Santeria believers.

WORKING STIFFS: This was my first collection of short stories all with a workplace theme. The publisher asked me to come up with the themed collection after reading one of the stories. I rose to the challenge by coming up with stories that ranged from the police workplace all the way to the criminal workplace. Everything is a job…even crime.

I would love it if you’d check these books out. They might not be the bells of the ball, but you’d like them just as much. You just have to get to know them.

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For those who’ve taken an interest in my Cockney Rhyming Slang themed book TROUBLE & STRIFE might be interested to see rhyming slang in use.  This snippet of LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS turns the volume up to 11 on CRS.  It’s a linguistic joy.  Enjoy with my compliments.  🙂

I hope this’ll tempt you into snapping the book up.  The people involved worked their bottles off to bring it to you.

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The New Year marks twenty years since my first published work, which was a short story in a science fiction magazine.  I thought I would mark this personal landmark moment with some stats:

  • More than 20 books published.
  • Had my work translated into 10 languages.
  • Almost 2 million books sold.
  • Published by 20 publishers.
  • Over 100 short stories and articles published. 
  • A USA TODAY and a BILD (in Germany) bestseller.
  • Anthony Award winner & a Crime Writers’ Association Dagger Award nominee.
  • Mentioned by Den of Geek, Buzzfeed & Writer’s Digest.
  • Oddest publication: On the side of a coffee can.
  • Oddest book moment: The Queen talking to my dad about my books.
  • Proudest moment: Bouchercon Toastmaster.
  • Saddest moment: Too many to mention.

I never thought my writing would get me this far.  It’s rarely been an easy adventure, but I’m glad I stuck with it.  Not sure where the next 20yrs will take me.

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Hooray!! My new book, the anthology called TROUBLE & STRIFE, is now available.  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.

All new 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 can be ordered from:

Amazon ebook
Amazon paperback
Amazon UK ebook
Amazon UK paperback
Kobo
Barnes & Noble ebook
Barnes & Noble paperback
iTunes
Google

And the Publisher

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

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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!

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