Simon Wood

Posts Tagged: road rash

pourriture-simon-woodI’m happy to announce the release of POURRITURE, the French edition of ROAD RASH.  After the success of my first French book, L’évadée, it was only natural to give French readers something else to chew on.  I’m looking forward to see their response to this story.

For those who read French, the storyline goes a little like this:

James Straley peut bien penser que son existence est maudite, mais elle n’a rien de comparable avec ce qui l’attend sur l’autoroute de la vie. Il est en fuite avec le butin d’un vol de banque loupé. C’est tout ce qu’il possède. Ses acolytes sont morts et sa voiture vient de tomber en panne. Il est à pied, avec l’argent, quand il aperçoit deux voitures impliquées dans un carambolage. Il lui est impossible de sauver les conducteurs, mais il peut se sauver lui-même en s’appropriant l’une des épaves. Manque de chance, il vole la mauvaise bagnole. Après une heure derrière le volant, il commence à développer une urticaire qui dévore sa chair. Aucun médecin ne peut l’aider – seul le propriétaire initial de la voiture en a le pouvoir. Si Straley veut récupérer sa peau, il doit entreprendre un long voyage sur le chemin de la rédemption, un voyage qui s’achèvera au cœur de l’Amérique Centrale.

So if you’re French or know someone French, I hope you’ll give this book a shot.

Categories: new book shelf life

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In recent years I’ve been really lucky.  Several of my books have been embraced my readers and really taken off.  And that’s been fantastic.  However, not every book has done as equally as well.  A few remain undiscovered.  So this is a little tough to accept as every one of them is a beloved child…even if it’s a redheaded stepchild.  Now I know not every book will do as well as others.  Any number of reasons can hold a book back from storyline to style.  So I get it.  It’s not personal.  That said I think people are missing out on some of my books, so I’d like to shine a light on four of my books that I think are worth your time and consideration.

WeAllFallDown400WE ALL FALL DOWN: Hayden Duke is a young man on the fast track.  He’s just signed on with Marin Design Engineering to work on a very high-level project.  But before Hayden started, one of MDE’s employee’s committed suicide.  And he’s not the only one.  Is it the pressure?  Or is there some other connection?  Has Hayden Duke just put himself on the fast track to an early death?

e-scrubs2xTHE SCRUBS: 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.

Road-Rash-500ROAD RASH: 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.

work-2BstiffsWORKING STIFFS: In this collection of short stories, the workplace is a dangerous place. The unscrupulous are primed and ready to take advantage of the innocent and naïve. A slight indiscretion can cost the employee everything. A new position can turn a person into someone they are not. Those at the top can be toppled and those at the bottom can be crushed.

Until now, Vincent’s father has kept one side of the business a secret from his son. Vincent is about to learn the family business. On the most important day of his career, Sam’s world will unravel when he helps a woman in distress. Todd has failed in every job he’s undertaken, but that changes when he backs into a drug dealer’s car. Now he’s in hock with organized crime and can only get himself out from under if he works for them to pay off his debt. Kenneth Casper is ailing and so is his business empire. His shareholders circle like vultures. Casper pins all his hopes on a Peruvian shaman with a miracle cure.

I hope you’ll check out these books.  You won’t be disappointed.

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Lowlifes audio3I’m happy and pleased to announce the release of the audio edition of LOWLIFES.  It’s available from the Audible and Apple stores worldwide.  The storyline is:

“San Francisco Detective Larry Hayes thinks he’s hit bottom when he wakes up in an alley after a bad trip with no memory of the last four hours.  This is only the beginning of his problems.  Two blocks away, Hayes’ informant, a homeless man named Noble Jon, lies dead, beaten and stabbed.  The eerie pangs of guilt seep into Hayes.  Is he Jon’s killer?  The mounting evidence says so.  Hayes mounts his own investigation to stay one step ahead of murder charge and disappears amongst the city’s homeless community.”

The audio book is narrated by the wonderful Ed Hunter who read ROAD RASH a couple of years ago.  Ed does a great job bringing troubled cop, Larry Hayes, to life.  I hope you’ll give it a listen.

Audible (US)
Audible (UK)
Audible (Australia)

iTunes (US)
iTunes (UK)
iTunes (Canada)
iTunes (Australia)

This is the first title produced under the Dark Wood Books label.  Expect more from them soon.

Categories: new book

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ROAD RASH plays to my two storytelling loves—crime and the supernatural. I don’t do it often, but I love to blend the genres. It’s the story of bank robber, James Straley. He 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 saves himself by stealing one of the wrecked cars. Unfortunately, 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.


The book started out as a short story and was one of a number of stories I’d been writing with the theme of road travel. I’d been examining the whole aspect of road travel by writing stories that ranged from cars to bicycles, from traffic offenses to road regulations and everything in between. I used these stories to put a dark twist on an aspect of our lives we take for granted. Road Rash was one of a number of tales I’d written based on turning a common term on its head. I liked the idea of road rash being something that could be contracted from the roads if someone wasn’t careful. I submitted the story to an anthology and the editor loved the story, but said it needed to be a book and an exotic twist would knock it out of the park.

When it came to the exotic twist, I knew just what to use. I’m quite an empirical person. I like to write about things I understand, things I’ve actually taken part in or things I have some experience with. So, I hoard experiences to the point of going out of my way to take part in things whether I need them for a story at the particular moment or not. So naturally, when someone offered my wife and I the chance to attend a Santeria ritual while we were traveling in Guatemala, I jumped at the chance.

I don’t think I could have made this up if I tried, it was that wonderful and spooky. The community that practiced Santeria lived in the shadow of three volcanoes and a lake isolated them from the mainland. The only way of getting to them was by boat. We took a trip out to the island, which amounted to a shantytown. People selling handicrafts covered the jetty where we landed. A kid no more than eight said he knew why we’d come to the village and for a buck he’d take us to the witch. He led us through the dirt-covered streets and down an alley into an unfinished cinder block room. An effigy sat in a chair with a cigarette drooping from its lips and a trail of smoke leaking skyward. All sorts of knickknacks and trinkets surrounded it. A woman as old as time shuffled around in an adjoining room. A young woman asked us to sit on the floor and take part in some unknown ceremony. It goes without saying that it was more than a tad creepy and our nerves didn’t hold out, so we got the hell out of Dodge before something happened. I’m as superstitious as the next person. The imagery was very potent and the incident stuck with me and dovetailed nicely into the exotic element the editor wanted for Road Rash. I don’t pretend to understand half what I witnessed, but the incident inspired me to develop a great backdrop for James Straley when he’s forced to travel to Guatemala. It gave the story a whole new different dimension.

James Straley wasn’t as fortunate as my wife and I, as he had stay for the ritual. The experience changes his life forever and hopefully it’ll change yours too when you read it.

Yours eagerly,
Simon

Categories: book of the month

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Wives are great things, especially when it comes to pointing out your mistakes.  Last year, my little Julie came to me and pointed to my books and said, “Notice the similarity?”

I stared at my titles and saw the obvious straight away—their sheer awesomeness.  Apparently, that wasn’t what she meant.  She told me to describe them.  I did, then I groaned, then I went to mope in a corner.

Hand on heart, I do my best to be original, to think ahead, to see the big picture, but sometimes I’ll drop the ball.  In this particular case, I managed to drop the ball several times.

So what’s my big mistake—car chases.

My first novel, ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN, opens with the hero being run off the road.  My second novel, PAYING THE PIPER, opens with the hero racing across San Francisco after hearing his son has been kidnapped.  My third book, WE ALL FALL DOWN, novel opens with joy riders chasing after a man only to watch him commit suicide.  TERMINATED broke the cycle with a job evaluation interview.  Then I do fall off the wagon again with THE FALL GUY and ROAD RASH which do feature cars at the beginning but don’t have chases though.

Yes, I am a car nut and we live in a car centric world, but it wasn’t my intention to open all my books with some sort of car motif.  It kind of just happened.  Blame it on my subconscious.

In my defense, my first three books may have come out in that order but they weren’t written in that order.  ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN might have been my first book, but WE ALL FALL DOWN was my second book, while PAYING THE PIPER was my fifth.  NO SHOW and a couple of other unpublished books were in between these three and none of them featured car chases, so don’t go thinking I’m a one trick pony.  Really…don’t.  I am good at this writing thing.  Just give me a chance.

The irony of ironies (in an Alanis Morrissette, ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife kind of a way) is that both of the Aidy Westlake motor racing books which would be totally legitimate in beginning with a car chase don’t!  Looking at the subsequent story lines I have planned, none of those begin with a car chase either.  That isn’t by design.  It just is.  :-/

When it comes to the opening of one of my books, I have one rule—start with a bang.  Throw the readers into the action with little or no preamble and make the opening dramatic—physically or emotionally or both.  That means cutting to the chase.  Maybe I took this chase point a little too much to heart.  I hope you’ll forgive me.  J 

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It’s Halloween and I’d be amiss if I didn’t offer up some of my Halloween scares for you to enjoy this all hallows eve.

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…

 

In 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.

Road-Rash-500In 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.

I hope I’ve given you something to keep you busy this Halloween. 🙂

 

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I have a few pieces floating around at the moment that you might not have come across, but are worth your time.

CrimeSpree Magazine’s: 5 Books/Songs/Films that Changed My Life
The title says it all and CrimeSpree asked my what things changed my life. The tough part was finding just five books, songs and films that have influenced.

Kindle Daily Spot:
Amazon asked me for a piece that described me as a person and a writer. Chaos Theory was the simple answer. 🙂

Mysteries in Paradise reviewed ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN and they liked it. Read the review here.

Audible.com brought out HOT SEAT, book 2 in the Aidy Westlake series, came out on Audio and it picked up a nice review over at Book ‘Em Mysteries.

And talking of all things, audio book, my supernatural crime thriller, ROAD RASH, is also available from Audible.com.

Still on the review front, Toxic Graveyard gave THE FALL GUY a great write up. Read it here.

Enjoy!

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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.

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ROAD RASH is October’s Book of the Month, but I’m going off piste today as it’s Halloween. People always ask where my stories come from. Sometimes it’s not where the stories come from, but what things happen to me to make me the person I am. This story is true and helped instill the sensibilities I possess as a person and as a scribbler of spooky stories. So maybe this piece isn’t as off piste as I thought. Please enjoy MY OTHER SISTER.

MY OTHER SISTER

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.

Halloween is the end of the month and the end of ROAD RASH‘s time. Please enjoy an excerpt from ROAD RASH and my other horror tales.

Road Rash excerpt
The Scrubs excerpt
Acceptable Losses from Dragged into Darkness

November should be an exciting month when I introduce a new title and a new book release.

Categories: Uncategorized

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