Simon Wood

Posts Tagged: horror

British horror author James Herbert died the other week, age 69. His death saddened me as he’s one of my writing heroes. I never thought I’d ever write myself when I discovered his books as genre obsessed twelve-year-old, but when I decided to write fifteen years ago, his books were one of a half a dozen authors’ work I studied.
His breakout book was his first—THE RATS.  It was about oversized rats eating their way across London and the Home Counties.  Like a lot of successful writers, he struck upon something that hit the public consciousness.  Giant rats in England were a problem in the mid-70’s when the book came out.  Not as quite as big as those mentioned in the book, I remember as a six-year-old there being all these rats as big as small cats invading our neighborhood from the wood that backed onto our home.  They ate through large sections of our back fence and I wasn’t allowed to play in the garden when they appeared. My mum and I (with mouth agape) one Saturday watched from the back window of the house as these big grey blobs squeezed through the holes they made in the fence and roamed our garden in search of food. No wonder I discovered my love of horror movies shortly after and that Herbert’s book was a bestseller in Britain throughout the 70’s and 80’s.

I didn’t discover his books until I bought one on a Boy Scouts trip.  Something about a lurid cover featuring a blood splattered rat with yellow teeth jumping out at me appealed for some reason.  I tore through this book which made me an instant fan.  A few weeks later, I started high school and my English teacher let us read anything we liked as long as we could comment on its merits.  This was my opportunity to go through his entire back catalogue. God knew what my teacher thought of me at the time, but she always gave me good grades.

Fast forward a couple of decades and he was my go to author when it came to studying style and construction.  The reason I liked James Herbert’s work was his simple yet affective storytelling style. He wrote usually in third person and had a unique way of featuring “red shirt” point of view characters in the form of vignettes to help illustrate the story.  But the thing I liked the most about his writing was his larger than life stories that were pulp heaven (and something I’ve been accused of from time to time…much to my pleasure).  I got lost in his tales of Nazi talismans, toxic fog and vengeful ghosts.  Each one was sheer reading bliss.  If you look hard enough I’ve cribbed a few things from Herbert’s books, usually in the form character names. I’ve yet to write a full length horror novel but when I do, it will be influenced by Herbert’s work.
I just want to say, “Here’s to you, Mr. Herbert. You inspired me and scared me in equal measure. And I’m sorry you’re gone.  Rest in peace, sir.”

Categories: shelf life

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Hey, it must be my birthday!  Well, actually it is in a couple weeks, but that’s not important right now.  The important thing is that Amazon has named ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN & DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS in their 100 Hundred Books for April.  It’s an interesting pairing as ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN was my first book & DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS was my first short story collection. So it’s quite nostalgic to see these books back in the limelight.  Anyway, to the meat of the subject.  Both books have promotion pricing, but ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN ebook is only 99cents this month. Hopefully that’s whetted your appetite.

Josh Michaels isn’t wanted dead or alive—just dead. That fact becomes shockingly clear when a stranger runs his car off the road. Instead of a helping hand, the man gives Josh a “thumbs down” and abandons him to what is almost certainly a watery grave. Luckily, Josh cheats death…this time. But when more harrowing “accidents” threaten his life, it’s clear he’s a marked man.

Are his past mistakes coming back to bite him? Or is something more sinister afoot? And how can he convince his family, friends, and especially the cops that he’s in danger? The harder Josh fights to stay alive, the more determined his unknown enemy is to see him dead. And the deeper he digs for answers, the more chilling the truth becomes. As his time and luck rapidly run out, he must unmask an insidious conspiracy bent on making a killing—in more ways than one.

Nerve-jangling noir doesn’t get much blacker than Simon Wood’s top speed trip into cold-blooded murder and hot-blooded vengeance.

DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS:
People spend their entire lives staving off the dark—but no matter the measures taken, black paths and shadowy pits lurk in the unlikeliest of places, waiting to pull the unwary into the depths of despair.

These eleven tales offer a morbid sampling of the many forms and fashions of terror—from the subtle prickling of neck hairs at the kiss of a ghostly breeze to the raw-throated screams and feverish clawing of a desperate fight for survival.

Witness eleven people torn from their ordinary lives and cast into twisted realities that test their sanity, faith, and very will to live…

A pilot must land a crippled aircraft on an impossible runway…

A doctor feels far too much sympathy for his deformed patients…

A schoolgirl’s secret contract could cost her mother’s soul…

A woman whose pack-rat obsessions hide the obscene…

For these and seven others, the darkness comes from within and without, subtle, deadly…and relentless.


I hope you’ll check these books.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  🙂

Categories: book of the month

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Hey, it must be my birthday!  Well, actually it is in a couple weeks, but that’s not important right now.  The important thing is that Amazon has named ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN & DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS in their 100 Hundred Books for April.  It’s an interesting pairing as ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN was my first book & DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS was my first short story collection. So it’s quite nostalgic to see these books back in the limelight.  Anyway, to the meat of the subject.  Both books have promotion pricing, but ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN ebook is only 99cents this month. Hopefully that’s whetted your appetite.

Josh Michaels isn’t wanted dead or alive—just dead. That fact becomes shockingly clear when a stranger runs his car off the road. Instead of a helping hand, the man gives Josh a “thumbs down” and abandons him to what is almost certainly a watery grave. Luckily, Josh cheats death…this time. But when more harrowing “accidents” threaten his life, it’s clear he’s a marked man.

Are his past mistakes coming back to bite him? Or is something more sinister afoot? And how can he convince his family, friends, and especially the cops that he’s in danger? The harder Josh fights to stay alive, the more determined his unknown enemy is to see him dead. And the deeper he digs for answers, the more chilling the truth becomes. As his time and luck rapidly run out, he must unmask an insidious conspiracy bent on making a killing—in more ways than one.

Nerve-jangling noir doesn’t get much blacker than Simon Wood’s top speed trip into cold-blooded murder and hot-blooded vengeance.

DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS:
People spend their entire lives staving off the dark—but no matter the measures taken, black paths and shadowy pits lurk in the unlikeliest of places, waiting to pull the unwary into the depths of despair.

These eleven tales offer a morbid sampling of the many forms and fashions of terror—from the subtle prickling of neck hairs at the kiss of a ghostly breeze to the raw-throated screams and feverish clawing of a desperate fight for survival.

Witness eleven people torn from their ordinary lives and cast into twisted realities that test their sanity, faith, and very will to live…

A pilot must land a crippled aircraft on an impossible runway…

A doctor feels far too much sympathy for his deformed patients…

A schoolgirl’s secret contract could cost her mother’s soul…

A woman whose pack-rat obsessions hide the obscene…

For these and seven others, the darkness comes from within and without, subtle, deadly…and relentless.


I hope you’ll check these books.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  🙂

Categories: book of the month

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I’m happy to say that readers have been finding my eBooks from all quarters. Nook readers have been discovering my books of late. Two titles Nooksters have yet to find are ROAD RASH and THE SCRUBS, which are two of my darker tales that came out under my pen name, Simon Janus. Both tales blend hardboiled crime and horror. In ROAD RASH, a bank robber steals a car and goes on a road to redemption. In THE SCRUBS, an inmate volunteers for a prison sponsored experiment in order to save a child’s life.

I hope the Nooksters amongst you will be intrigued enough to check these titles out.

Categories: Uncategorized

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From time to time someone will take me to task over my characters—usually my protagonists. The usual complaint is over my hero’s “goodness.” The remarks usually center on, “You know, if your main guy had done the right thing in the beginning, he wouldn’t have gotten himself into all that trouble.” And those people are right. My good guys have usually done something to put themselves in the position they find themselves in. It’s somewhat of a personal belief. If you stray from life’s straight and narrow, then life’s probably going to bite you in the ass and keep biting.

I’m happy with this trait of my stories. Squeaky clean characters blazing a trail for all that is good and right don’t excite me. I like fallible people. People who know to put on oven mitts because they’ve gotten burned a couple of times, not because they’ve been told not to touch hot things without them. I guess I identify with these sorts of characters. I’ve committed a few minor infractions in my time and the repercussions have snowballed. I think it’s the gathering pace of the payback that intrigues me and drives my fiction. The fear and panic experienced when a situation goes sideways makes for great stories, if not for real life.

I must admit it has colored the way I look at the world. I’m not a glass half-empty kind of a guy but more a glass half-filled with something corrosive tipping over and spilling everywhere kind of a guy. I have a habit of predicting how a bad situation will get worse. Once you’ve tempted fate, it has its own gravitational pull that is inevitable.

The spark that ignites my storylines is a moment of weakness. The character is presented with a situation that nine times out of ten they’d ignore, but circumstances are skewed this one time. He’s out of a job. She’s just been dumped. These characters are in a weakened state when an opportunity is presented. Instead of blowing it off, they throw caution to the wind and act out of character. Naturally, it doesn’t pan out and it is going to take a whole lot of fixing to set everything right again. Moments of weakness are dangerous currency.

ROAD RASH’s hero is James Straley. He’s a bank robber. When a bank job goes wrong, he’s on the run when he stumbles across a car wreck. Instead of helping the victims of the wreck, he steals one of the vehicles at the crash site. Not particularly likable of him, but he’s a ruthless and desperate man. But in that desperate moment, things change for Straley. He’s struck down with a rash that makes his problems up until seem like small fry. This is his tipping point. He either continues on a path to ruin or change his ways. Over the course of a story, Straley makes the biggest change of any character I’ve ever written. He starts off as a nasty piece of work and becomes something quite different by the end, figuratively and literally.

I guess I like my shop-soiled heroes, maybe not to hang out with, but to read and write about. It has a lot to do with how someone reacts under insurmountable odds. There’s more at stake than the mystery or the crime to solve. The character’s soul is at stake as well. And I can’t help root for someone in that position. Everyone loves a comeback kid. I think I also identify with human frailty and characters like James Straley. We can all do bad things, but how we atone for our mistakes makes us redeemable and interesting.

Yours vulnerably,
Simon

Categories: book of the month

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October is Halloween month, so I thought I’d showcase one of my more creepier tales. So October’s Book of the Month is ROAD RASH. It’s one of my few tales that blends horror and crime. So this is what to expect:

James 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.

“Road Rash is a wild collision of crime caper and supernatural thriller that works on every level. Lightning-paced, darkly funny, deeply creepy, and highly recommended.”
— Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of The Dragon Factory

“Simon Janus understands the darkness inside us all and nails it to the page. Fast-paced and gut-wrenching, pedal-to-the-metal thrills.”
— Scott Nicholson, author of The Red Church &

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing stories and background that led to the writing of this book. Stick around. 🙂

Categories: book of the month

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My horror fiction and my crime fiction have always shared a common trait in that they feature ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, but another trait separates them. My crime fiction in most cases focuses on people who’ve courted danger. My horror fiction usually features people who’ve done nothing to invite calamity into their lives. They’re just merely victims of circumstance. Which I suppose is a little mean of me. So why go there? I suppose I don’t like Hollywood endings. Whether we like it or not, life is unfair and cruel at times. So, it’s not realistic that innocent people escape evil. The good guy doesn’t always win and the bad guy doesn’t always get his comeuppance. Every day the news proves this point again and again. In my own life, I’ve witnessed bad things happen to good people and it would be disingenuous for me not to reflect that in a story.

You could be mistaken for thinking I’m a dour and depressed personality type. Maybe I am, especially if I don’t get my coffee. 🙂 But I’m not. Not really. I have a belief that we can overcome anything, especially when we are faced with insurmountable odds. That’s what my horror fiction is all about. Dark and seemingly impossible forces can strike us at any time, but how we cope, endure and conquer those forces. It’s those people who are ripped from their world and put on the spot fascinate me. How a character deals with a traumatic event or their worst fears is exciting because those people will grow from the experience and ensuring they’ll never be the same person again. Some of those characters will triumph and some will buckle and fail. And in either case survival is never guaranteed, even for those that triumph. The dark side is cruel like that. 🙂

This concludes DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS’ month in the spotlight. I hope you’ve enjoyed these essays and stories. September is another book, but I’ll leave you with one of the stories from the collection—ACCEPTABLE LOSSES. It’s probably one of my most requested stories and really highlights what DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS theme means to me. Captain John Clelland has struck the worst of bargains for the lives of allied soldiers. You can either read the story or listen to an audio adaptation of the tale here.

Thanks for reading.

Categories: book of the month

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