Simon Wood

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


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.


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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.  🙂

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I’m happy to reveal the cover for the upcoming French release: LA FISSURE.  It’s the translation of my supernatural thriller, THE SCRUBS.  I don’t have a release date but it will later this year.

So what do you think?

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I have a feature article in the latest issue of  WRITERS’ FORUM.  I’m the “Cut to the Chase” bit on writing suspense.  I’m quite pleased with this one as it’s my first piece the magazine.


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I had a nice blast from the past last week in the mail from THE FIRST LINE.  It’s a magazine that published several of my first stories.  The editor and publisher published my short story collection, WORKING STIFFS.  I will always be in their debt because they are one of the people that got me to where I am today.

The package I received in the mail is their latest issue, which is a “Best Of” issue because they’re celebrating their 20yr of publication.  The magazine has a unique theme. Each issue has a set “first line” and every story has to begin with that line.  After that, wherever the story goes is free game.  I forgot that I came up with one of their first lines for a past issue & one of the stories that used my line made their best of issue.  David, the editor, wrote a great introduction to the story which I’ve posted below.

I really encourage you to support the magazine.  They did me a great turn on multiple occasions and I know they’ve done it for others.  So please up a copy.


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My book of the week is my supernatural thriller ROAD RASH. It’s 99c/99p at Amazon in the US and the UK for this week only!!

It’s the story of James Straley, a bank robber 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 by taking 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.

I have a real soft spot for this book.  It was inspired by a trip to Guatemala and a run-in I had with Santeria.  You can read all about my adventure here.

There’s also a great audio edition read by Ed Hunter.  I love Ed’s voice and it’s probably my favorite reading that anyone has done of my books.

It’s available from iTunes, Kobo, B&N, Audible as well as Amazon.  You can find all the links here.

Anyway, I hope you’ll snap up a copy.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

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The company my wife works for folded.  She’s out of a job with no severance. We’d love it if you bought one of my books today. Please check out the website, there’s plenty of books for you to choose from.

Thanks in advance for your support.  I really appreciate it.

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I’m very happy to announce a brand new anthology that I am a contributor to. DIE BEHIND THE WHEEL is an anthology of crime stories inspired by the music of Steely Dan.  The book features stories by David Corbett, Nick Feldman, Bill Fitzhugh, RT Lawton, Cornelia Read, Stacy Robinson, David B. Schlosser, Sam Wiebe & James Ziskin.  My contribution is based on the song “Haitian Divorce” and features a criminal couple looking to end their relationship…permanently.  A big thanks to Brian Thornton & Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books for including me in the book.

The book is available from all usual places, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, etc. For all the bookstore links, pls go here!

I had a lot of fun turning this song into a story and I hope you enjoy it too.  If you need a reminder of the song and some insight into my story, you can give it a listen here.


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I’m happy to announce the upcoming publication 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 comes out in hardback and ebook at the end of August.  I will do a cover reveal when final cover art is complete but in the meantime, you can learn more on the OTTO ANNI PRIMA book page!

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