Simon Wood

Posts Tagged: book

Damn my dyslexia!!! Usually it’s a problem (a.k.a. a pain in the arse) but for once, it did me a good turn. The idea for my new book DECEPTIVE PRACTICES came from a misread. A couple of years ago I was flipping through the TV Guide on my television and I came across a TV movie called The Green-Eyed Monster. The description said it was about a wife who hires an organization to beat up her cheating husband. That was right up my alley so I watched it. The movie had nothing to do with what I’d read. It was about a woman who fixates on her next-door neighbor’s husband. I went back through the TV Guide and found the description was accurate to the movie I just watched. How the hell I’d read what I thought I read I have no idea. The descriptions weren’t even close. It’s one of those frustrating things that comes with dyslexia. You start reading something, your imagination takes over and rewrites it all for you, and you end up with something completely different. I remember being in engineering school during a class where we had to read some chapter from a book and when we came to dissect it I seem to have been the only one in the class who’d read something completely different. Like I say, dyslexia is a pain in the arse.

When something like this happens, it usually comes with a large chunk of frustration. How can my brain be that far off on its interpretation of just a few sentences? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just read the words in front of me? You really shouldn’t be let out in public without a seeing eye person to help you! But this time around I wasn’t so pissed off. Had my brain just handed me a book idea? What if a woman did hire an organization to beat up her cheating husband? I did a quick search on IMDb to make sure I hadn’t read the right thing but on the wrong channel and found there was no movie like that made. I let this idea grow for a bit and came up with the concept that there was an underground business that operated on a similar basis to the scared straight documentaries in that if you hired them, they would beat some sense into a wayward spouse with the aim of turning them around or getting some marital revenge. The ideas started coming and I developed a company name and their sales pitch: Do you have a cheating spouse? Has counseling failed? Want to get even with them? Then hire Infidelity Limited to teach them a lesson…

And DECEPTIVE PRACTICES was born. I know, I know it sounds like a crazy business idea but if I were to attach an app to the concept, I probably have a billion-dollar company. If it’s got an app then it’s legitimate. I think that’s how it works.

Naturally I can’t have a plot line that is that straightforward. I have to toss a few hand grenades into the mix. So the plot line for the book goes like this: Olivia Shaw is living a nice suburban life until she discovers her husband is cheating on her. When her sister suggests Infidelity Limited can offer some closure, Olivia buys their sales pitch. Olivia learns how Infidelity Limited really works when her husband turns up dead and she’s drawn into a dark web of blackmail and murder — just like all their other clients. Now, Olivia finds herself the prime suspect in her husband’s death and as the police close in on her, she has only one option—take down Infidelity Limited.

Usually dyslexia is nothing but a problem for me, but for once it gave birth to a book so I can’t knock it too much. So here’s to the next misread and all the ideas it conjures up!

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I’m very topic driven when it comes to my books. I latch onto an issue, it becomes the basis of a conflict and a book is born from there. With THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, survivor guilt was the driving force behind the story. It was a subject that had been in my head for awhile. I had the beginning of the story—two women are abducted and one of the women is given an unenviable decision—attempt a futile rescue or leave her friend in order to escape. My heroine in this case, Zoë Sutton, weighs up the odds and runs, but her life is forever tarnished by that selfish, yet logical decision.

That was the crux of the story, but I had to decide where to go from there. I knew little about the topic of survivor guilt, but at the time I was under the care of a neuropsychologist for a head injury and subsequent memory loss after crashing on my bike. I mentioned that I wanted to talk to someone about survivor guilt.

“Go to the VA.”

“But the book isn’t about soldiers.”

“Doesn’t matter. If you want to learn about post traumatic stress disorder, then go to the VA.”

I was introduced to a psychologist who counseled veterans of various conflicts going all the way back to Vietnam. I outlined the basic premise of the book and opened with a question that outlined my basic ignorance and sat back and listened. The great beauty about in-person interviews is that I don’t have any idea where they’ll go, other than nowhere where I thought.

I thought I had an idea of what survivor guilt and PTSD were but it was a good example of an outsider’s perspective. Our long and lengthy discussions got into the meat of the subject. Some of the common afflictions affecting people include sobriety, impulse behavior, isolationism, arrogance, and contempt to name a few. I’ve attempted to incorporate these behaviors into Zoë’s character which also helped drive the plot.

As I tried to absorb this information, I couldn’t help but marvel at this condition where people feel shame for surviving. You fight for your life and win, but your mind discounts the win and obsesses on the loss. The survivor takes on the emotional weight and responsibility for those who didn’t make it and it’s just too big a burden for him/her to bear. The result is that the survivor drives themselves to destruction either directly by throwing themselves into similar conflicts or indirectly through substance abuse and depression. This has to be the most paradoxical illness on the books.

But it’s this paradoxical thinking is what drew me to write about the topic. Ten years ago I was undergoing first responder disaster training. One of the modules dealt with the psychological effects of rescuing the dead and dying; making life and death decisions for total strangers. Then they told us the suicide rate for first responders and it was quite scary. A friend of mine who is both an author and veteran recently posted a stat about returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Almost four times as many veterans have taken their lives since coming home than those who died in battle. There’s not a lot I can say to that other than we’re strange and complex creatures who don’t always make sense.

I hope with THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY I’ve made an entertaining read but at the same time, I’ve shined a light on a subject that most of us aren’t really cognizant of. If you read the book, I encourage you to let me know what you think.

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I hadn’t intended to put my heroes, Scott Fleetwood and Tom Sheils, through the fictional wringer for a second time but something cropped up.

When I start a book, I don’t build it around a character or plotline. I’m premise driven. More often than not, that premise is a real world one. TERMINATED was built around the issue of workplace violence. ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN explored corruption in the life insurance industry. It was survivor guilt for THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY. And for my latest book, SAVING GRACE, it was the manipulation of the free press.

Now before you go rolling your eyes, it’s not what you think. This has nothing to do with the current fake news claims. I’ve been looking into this issue for a quite some time. The tough thing about writing a book is it takes a long time from concept to final product. Who knew an election cycle would muck things up for me?

My interest dates back ten years when there was a kidnapping of a child in Portugal. Planted stories and media manipulation marred the investigation, which hasn’t been solved even today. The more insidious side to this story was that people profited monetarily from the incident. My writer’s radar became attuned to the issue and I came across more instances of abuse from within and outside the media. I’m sure you’re aware of some instances.

The subject was too enticing to ignore. If I was going to turn to the world of media and evil shenanigans, there were two characters I could turn to—reporter Scott Fleetwood and special agent Tom Sheils of the FBI. They were protagonists of a fan favorite, PAYING THE PIPER. I’d put these guys through hell in PIPER, and it’s that notoriety that gets exploited in SAVING GRACE.

No longer a reporter, Scott Fleetwood is still recovering from the aftermath of tangling with the notorious kidnapper, the Piper, when a new foe emerges from the shadows. The Shepherd announces to the San Francisco Independent that he has snatched a young girl from a vacationing family. The Shepherd has two demands for the safe return of the girl—a cash ransom and for Scott to act as his intermediary between the family and himself. The kidnapping brings in Special Agent Tom Sheils and his team to work the case and watch over Scott. The Shepherd promises the girl’s safety as long as Scott follows the rules of his game. Forced to trail the kidnapper’s twisting lead—and haunted by a previous victim he failed to save—Scott is desperate to keep the past from making a brutal comeback.

Each of the Shepherd’s demands are played out on the world’s stage for everyone to see with Scott as the star of a perverse reality show. As the stakes get upped, Scott realizes he’s a pawn of a much larger scheme.

I won’t say how the media is being manipulated in SAVING GRACE. For that you’ll have to read the book. And when you have, come talk to me and I’ll tell you about the facts behind some of the lies. You can learn more about the book here.

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May is a bumper month for bargain books.  Amazon has gone to town with a whole host promotional offers on my books in the US, UK and Germany!!  Brace yourself.  Here they all are!!

ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN: Someone is out to kill Josh Michaels. An SUV runs him off the road and into a river. As his car goes down, the SUV’s driver watches only to calmly give him the “thumbs down.” This is only the first of the attempts. With his time—and maybe his luck—running out and no one willing to believe him, Josh had better figure out who wants him dead and why…before it’s too late.

Just 99c at Amazon

PAYING THE PIPER: The Piper is the infamous child kidnapper. When the Piper selected crime reporter, Scott Fleetwood, to chronicle his latest kidnapping, Scott thought he had the world in his grasp, but he held nothing.  Now, eight years later, the Piper’s back, with very specific targets in mind—Scott’s children. He can have them back as long as he can pay the ransom, but it’s a ransom not measured in dollars, but in blood.

Just 99p at Amazon UK.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Zoë and Holli’s Vegas road trip goes wrong when they’re abducted. Zoë escapes leaving Holli behind. A year later and still tortured with guilt, Zoë latches on to a murder that eerily resembles her abduction. Her attempts to find justice for Holli brings her to the attention of the “Tally Man.” For him, she is not a survivor but simply the one that got away.

Just 99p at Amazon UK

Was sie nicht tötet: Für die Studentinnen Zoë und Holli wird der Roadtrip nach Las Vegas zum Albtraum: Sie geraten in die Gewalt eines sadistischen Killers. Zoë kann entkommen, doch ihre Freundin muss sie zurücklassen.  Ein Jahr später wird Zoë noch immer von ihren Schuldgefühlen gepeinigt. Dann passiert ein weiteres Verbrechen, das auf schaurige Weise ihrer Entführung ähnelt. Gemeinsam mit einem Ermittler der Polizei versucht sie, die schicksalhafte Nacht in der Wüste zu rekonstruieren, in der Hoffnung, dass die Tat endlich gesühnt wird. Ihr Entführer wartet jedoch bereits auf Zoë. Für ihn ist sie keine Überlebende, sondern nur ein Opfer, das ihm vorübergehend entkommen ist.

Just Eur 2,49 at Amazon GMBH

Die Abrechnung des Kinderfängers: Über Jahre hinweg wurde der Entführer mit dem Spitznamen »der Kinderfänger« reich, indem er serienweise die Kinder der wohlhabendsten Familien San Franciscos entführte. Als der Kriminalreporter Scott Fleetwood einen Anruf von einem Mann erhält, der sich als der Kinderfänger ausgibt und ein exklusives Interview anbietet, packt Fleetwood die Gelegenheit beim Schopf. Aber der Anrufer erweist sich als Schwindler, und die überhastete Entscheidung kostet das aktuelle Opfer des echten Kinderfängers das Leben. Acht lange Jahre lebt Fleetwood mit der unerträglichen Schuld und der beständigen Verachtung der gesamten San Francisco Bay Area. Nun hört er vom echten Kinderfänger – und diesmal geht es nicht um ein Interview. Der Kidnapper hat den Sohn des Reporters. Aber er will kein Geld … er will Blut. Und er wird Fleetwood dazu benutzen, es zu bekommen.

Just Eur 2,49 at Amazon GMBH

I hope you’ll take advantage of this offer.  If you’ve never read any of my books, this might be the perfect time to start.  Enjoy!!

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Only one bargain book to report this month…and it’s only for my UK readers.  Sorry the rest of the world.

PAYING THE PIPER: The Piper is the infamous child kidnapper. When the Piper selected crime reporter, Scott Fleetwood, to chronicle his latest kidnapping, Scott thought he had the world in his grasp, but he held nothing.  Now, eight years later, the Piper’s back, with very specific targets in mind—Scott’s children. He can have them back as long as he can pay the ransom, but it’s a ransom not measured in dollars, but in blood.

Just 99p at Amazon UK.

I hope you’ll take advantage of this offer.  If you’ve never read any of my books, this might be the perfect time to start.  Piper always seems to be my readers’ gateway book.  Enjoy!!

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