Simon Wood

Posts Tagged: hot seat

This is my crash helmet from my motor racing days. It was years before I realized that I owed my life to this helmet. During a race, a car spun in front of me and it propelled my car into the air. My wheel was sheared off and it me hit full in the face by a wheel at 90mph. The wheel bounced off my face, hit the steering wheel, bounced back, hit me in the chest and pinned me in the cockpit as the car went sliced through a gravel trap for 200yrds. My helmet completely deformed under the impact but didn’t break and a head rest I’d added only weeks before kept my neck from moving and stopped the wheel from breaking my neck. I considered myself lucky on the day but I didn’t consider how lucky I was until the deaths of Justin Wilson and Henry Surtees in the last few years who died in similar crashes to me. That’s when I took the helmet out of closet and put it in a display case.

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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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The Aidy Westlake mystery series is very personal to me because it’s based on my experiences as a racecar driver. It’s a period of my life I am very proud of…and that’s includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Motor racing shaped me as a person and I’ve infused that into the character of Aidy. The storylines inspired by incidents I came across during that time.

With that said, I have a deal for you. For one week only, you can pick up all three books for $5/£5 on Amazon, although you don’t have to buy all three to get the price break.



The books are available elsewhere in all e-formats, print and audio.  You can find all the links here.

I hope you’ll pick up the books because they are very special to me, but also because I am working on books #4, #5 & #6.   🙂

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My frustrated DJ self emerges yet again for a playlist for my the latest Aidy Westlake book, HALF-INCHED. The playlist reflects the various themes and plotlines from the book series. If you’ve read the books, these songs will make a lot of sense and if you haven’t, it should give you an inkling as to what to expect. Either way, the songs should result in a shake of the head…or a groan.

So here’s what’s on the playlist:

“The Distance.” – Cake

“Fast Car.” – Tracy Chapman

“Jerry Was Racecar Driver” – Primus

“The Road To Hell” – Chris Rea

“Shut Up And Drive” – Rhianna

“Cars” – Gary Newman

“Road To Nowhere” – Talking Heads

“Keep The Car Running” – Arcade Fire

“Everyday Is A Winding Road” – Sheryl Crow

“One Headlight” – The Wallflowers

“Passenger Seat” – Death Cab For Cutie

“Drive” – The Cars

“Passenger Side” – Wilco

“Granddad” – Clive Dunn

If you have any musical suggestions, leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to the playlist.  Now just hit play to listen. Enjoy!!

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Aidy Westlake is back!!  The full-time racecar driver and part-time investigator returns in HALF-INCHED.  Again, Aidy and his crew are up to their necks in trouble.  The storyline is as follows.

“Christmas has gone sideways for racecar driver, Aidy Westlake. Aidy’s grandfather, Steve, was just putting the finishing touches on a classic Ford GT40 he was restoring for a British millionaire when it was stolen from his workshop. They quickly establish that the supercar was stolen to order and is in now in Moldova in the hands of the notorious gangster, Lupul. There’s a wrinkle. The police in Moldova don’t care. The theft of a rich man’s toy doesn’t rank high on their priorities. The client’s ultimatum is simple—cover his one million pound loss or recover the car by Christmas Day. With the threat of financial ruin hanging over his grandfather’s head, Aidy’s crew has only one option—steal the car back.”

This story takes place between the novels DID NOT FINISH and HOT SEAT.

The book comes out on Christmas Day but you can preorder it from Amazon and Amazon UK.  I hope you enjoy it.

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Hot-Seat-2nd-loThe second Aidy Westlake mystery, HOT SEAT, is the book of the week.  The eBook is 99cents at Amazon, 99p at Amazon UK and $1.99 at Audible.

The storyline goes like this:

“Things are looking good for Aidy Westlake. He’s Pit Lane magazine’s Young Driver of the Year, which has earned him a drive in the European Saloon Car Championship. But his good fortune ends at a race car show when he discovers Jason Gates, a mechanic from a rival team, with his throat cut. The murder sets off a disturbing chain reaction – someone is breaking the rules in the ranks of saloon car racing, on and off the track.”

Now you’ve got no excuse to climb into the HOT SEAT!

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It’s the end of the year, so I’m being a reflecty. I won’t say it’s been my best year ever but it’s been pretty good all things considered.
It’s been a pretty good writing year.  I didn’t have a new book out this year but I did have two re-issues in the form of DID NOT FINISH & HOT SEAT.  I also had two books translated into German and it was a lot of fun working with editors and translators tailoring a story to a foreign culture.  I was happy to see some new short fiction out in the form of THE FRAME MAKER & PATHFINDER and CRESTFALLEN.  I finished THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY and I think it’s turned out well.  And book sales have been pretty good.  A couple of titles are still waiting to be discovered though.  Readers really do need to get on that.
Bouchercon was a highlight although a scary one.  It was a great honor to be the toastmaster at this year’s World Mystery Convention.  Public speaking is something I do because I have to and not something I enjoy, so it’s hard to say I had fun, but I was more than happy to have done it.  I was touched by some of the remarks made by some of my favorite authors.  As scary, touching, exciting and tiring as it all was, I would do it again.    
This year has been a year where people have wanted me for my mind and not just my words.  I seem to be building a reputation for my industry knowledge.  I did put on several seminars for writers and a publisher hired me as a consultant to help with a book launch.  I want to keep building in this direction as it’s good to have an additional string to my bow.
Away from the keyboard there’ve been some good things too.  I’ve continued to improve cycling prowess.  My times were better across all events although I’ve yet to crack a 100k in 3hrs.  For me, cycling is where I do all my story thinking.
On the home front, things came together albeit with a little elbow grease.  After last year’s debacle with our mortgage lender who nearly financially ruined us with their incompetence, we’ve paid off the mortgage, replaced the windows, installed solar and gone with a tankless water system.  We’re now lean and green, but more importantly, we’re self supporting.  Being a writer means being an independent contractor, so by keeping overheads low, I can weather any writing storms that should come my way.  
There have been a couple of disappointments along the way.  A TV pilot deal fell by the wayside along with a few other things.  August proved particularly hard on the soul where three publishing deals fell through.  Naturally, these things happen and as a writer, you just roll with the punches and move on to the next opportunity.

Overall 2014 has been solid.  It’s been another good foundation year where I’ve continued to solidify my position as a full time writer.  I’m quite excited about next year.  There are some good things planned for THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY.  I’m hoping to seal the deal on some new things.  All in all, I hope it’s going to be a big year.

That’s me, but what about you?  How’s your year been?

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I have a special offer for readers of the Aidy Westlake series.  The new paperback editions of DID NOT FINISH & HOT SEAT are now filtering into bookstores.  I’m very pleased because HOT SEAT never came out in paperback first time around. 
For those who aren’t familiar with Aidy Westlake, let me introduce him.  He’s a young racecar driver from the UK who becomes embroiled with seedier side of motor racing.  Essentially, think Dick Francis with a lot more horsepower. 
For those looking for autographed copies, the special offer is—get both titles for $20.00 by hitting the “thriller two-pack” offer at my online bookstore here.
I hope you’ll pick them up.  I think you’d like them.   J

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I have a quick bargain book alert for my UK readers.  Several of my ebook titles—ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN, PAYING THE PIPER, WE ALL FALL DOWN, TERMINATED, ASKING FOR TROUBLE, DRAGGED INTO DARKNESS, DID NOT FINISH & HOT SEAT—are only £1.99.  I don’t know how long the special pricing will last but take advantage of me while you can…book-wise that is.  J
You can find all the titles here: 

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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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