Simon Wood

Posts Tagged: hot seat

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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Audible has bought the audio rights to the Aidy Westlake series. They picked up DID NOT FINISH and HOT SEAT with an option for a third title. You could see the audio books available very soon and I’m eager to know who will voice, Aidy and the gang.

…….

I hope you’re looking forward to this as much as me.

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This is my last piece on HOT SEAT, so I wanted to take today to discuss one of the characters in the book. For my wife, the stand out character in the book is Steve Westlake. Steve is Aidy’s grandfather. Julie likes the relationship between Aidy and his grandfather. I suppose it’s because they don’t have a traditional relationship in that Steve takes over as Aidy’s guardian after his loses his parents when Aidy was a kid. He teaches Aidy everything about motor racing and acts as a confidant and friend. So Steve is many things to Aidy.

I can understand why Steve had an effect on Julie because Steve is based on two very important people in my life—my uncle Steve and my dad. My uncle Steve is my mum’s youngest brother and he was the cool the uncle when I was growing up. He always seemed like a free spirit and always made me believe we were all capable of anything. My dad is the opposite of my uncle Steve. He’s grounded and dependable. He was part of my pit crew and a steadying influence on me when things got crazy in the pits. He had a good engineering mind and his thoughts always gave me confidence when it came to coming up with solutions for the race car. It helped me be a far more focused and relaxed driver. And for that I’ll always be grateful to my dad.

By way of a thank you to my dad, I gave Steve an interesting quirk in that he looks like Steve McQueen. Now my dad doesn’t look like Steve McQueen, but he does possess a passing resemblance to Paul Newman (according to some) although he has pale grey eyes opposed to Mr. Newman’s baby blues. I thought it would make for a nice tribute. 🙂

I do like how Steve Westlake turned out. He’s a far more rounded character than I’d hoped to create, but I have my uncle and dad to thank for that.

This concludes HOT SEAT‘s month in the sun. I hope my stories, my experiences and the book have piqued your interest and you’ll pick up a copy. I think you’ll like it.

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When it comes to the Aidy Westlake books, I like to draw from actual events and I try to give Aidy more trouble than he can handle. For HOT SEAT, I had him facing criminal charges, which I lifted from my own personal experience, where I found myself in an odd predicament.

So I ran a pretty shoestring outfit and was forever wheeling and dealing to stay to stay in business. Not all my sponsors paid me. Some provided valuable resources I couldn’t afford. One such resource was a truck to transport my car. A company provided me with free use of a shiny new Ford Transit van. Someone else lent me a trailer. I used to drive to Staines to pick up the trailer in the Transit before each race. Truck and trailer made me a pretty sizable obstacle and naturally people would be eager to get around me. One lady pushed her luck a little hard at a roundabout. She tried to sneak across me as I attempted to get off the roundabout. We ground to a halt on the roundabout just shy of hitting each other. The problem was we’d blocked all traffic on the roundabout. The lady and I traded insults as it took us several minutes of maneuvering to get off the roundabout. I went on my merry way. The lady didn’t. She drove up on my tail flashing her lights and honking her horn. I was pissed off too, but I had the race on my mind and I like to be a little Zen in the run up to the race, so I ignored her. The lady buzzing around my bumper lost interest and went on her not so merry way.

I thought that was that until after the race a couple of days later when my sponsor told them the police had contacted them about a road accident. Being my supportive sponsor, they immediately handed over my details to the police.

The police officer assigned the case came for me a few times, but I was always away at a track when he called. This wouldn’t have looked so bad if the officer made an appointment but he chose to arrive unannounced. Eventually he caught up with me as I was unloading my racecar into my storage unit. He asked for a word. The word I gave him was yes.

He was a nice guy and I liked him. He seemed to be a down to earth guy and very un-cop like with his attitudes. He helped me lock up and we chatted about racing on the way back to my house. In the living room, he asked if I knew about an incident. I said I did and told him what happened. He told me a different account. I’d hit the woman on the roundabout, totaling her car and driving off.

“I beg your pardon,” I said and went to object, but he cut me off. He cautioned me and read through a little of charges that included but weren’t limited to fleeing the scene of an accident, reckless driving, and reckless endangerment. I was looking at a driving ban at the minimum. This was a major problem. A ban on the streets is a ban on the track.

I tried to protest. If I’d hit the car, there’d be damage on the Transit and the trailer. There wasn’t any. If I had any doubts to the damages to the woman’s car, I caught sight of a Polaroid pinned to his file. The car was caved in on one side. The cop cut my protests short. He needed my statement and I gave one. It was obvious what was going on here. This chick crashed her car on the way home, looked to someone to blame and chose me.

I talked and the policemen wrote. He handed me the statement to sign. Unfortunately, I wasn’t looking at a statement, but a confession. Where I said I hadn’t done something, he wrote that I knowingly did, not just once, but all the way through the account. I said we had a problem and policeman smiled and said, “Do we?”

“Yes, this says I did it.”

“Must have been a slip of the pen,” he said.

Somewhere in the region of 25 slips in fact.

I don’t know if he knew I have difficulty reading or not. He had met my mum a couple of times when he came looking for me and she might have said something about it. If not, I’m not sure how he thought he was going to sail this one by me. My mum was present and I had her read the statement aloud. I had to cross out and initial “errors” throughout the document. The policeman made no apology and left.

I didn’t agitate the situation by reporting the cop. It was pretty obvious what he’d tried to do. But I saw no point in raising the ire of a police department. I already had this woman in the other car trying to screw me over. I was pissed off, but I let it go. If they got even trickier, I’d speak up.

Luckily, they didn’t. The charges were dropped two months later. It was hard not to. For all the collateral damage done to the woman’s car, there wasn’t a scratch on the van and trailer.

Naturally, this is prime story fodder for Aidy. However, I toned this incident down for the book and took it in a different direction. I know truth is stranger than fiction, but no bugger is going to believe this. 🙂

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HOT SEAT, the second in the Aidy Westlake mysteries is in the bag. Not only am I thinking about the books, but I’m thinking about some storylines for some novellas featuring Aidy. I think it would be fun to write short and intense adventures featuring, Aidy, sprint races if you will.

When it comes to new stories, I’m not short on source material for ideas. The paddock was always a great place for rumor, gossip and urban legend. And I haven’t forgotten what I heard and saw from my time. The great thing about writing fiction is it doesn’t matter if any of the colorful on and off track exploits I heard and witnessed are true or not, because I can take those scenarios and twist and turn them into mysteries.

Another area for me to mine is the past. I love reading autobiographies and biographies about drivers and teams. I always find something in every book. A reference to an incident or an event will stop me in my tracks and make me wonder how that incident would be handled now. For example: In 1958, Juan Fangio was kidnapped Castro’s rebel forces before the Cuban Grand Prix. That’s an amazing story that you don’t hear much about. Transpose that to today. How would the kidnapping of Sebastian Vettel be handled now? I don’t know, but it would make an interesting book, wouldn’t it? It’s not always a big story like Fangio’s kidnapping that will get my engine revving. Even a passing remark or anecdote will catch my attention. All I’m looking for is a motive for someone to commit a crime. I’ll come up with the means and the opportunity.

There’s a lot of stories that can be told about the motor racing world. You just have to clear away the grease to find them. 🙂

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With the Aidy Westlake books, I’ve tried to incorporate a lot my racing experiences into the books because they’re interesting, funny, dangerous or scary. For HOT SEAT, I used played off something that was both dangerous and scary and used it as a significant element of the book.

Very few things scared me when I used to race. That wasn’t to say I was nervous, apprehensive and a tad shaky most of the time. But I can honestly say I was truly frightened to the point of fearing for my life only a handful of times. The absolute number one fear inducing occurrence was something I would have endure on a semi regular basis and it involved high speeds without moving. It meant putting my racecar on a rolling road.

If you’re not sure what a rolling road is, it’s essentially a treadmill for cars. The car’s power wheels sit on a pair of rollers and they keep the car stationary while the car’s wheels are traveling at speed.

I would have to take my car to a rolling road to check the car performance or to examine a fault. The car would sit on the rolling roll while the car would be hooked up to all this diagnostic equipment. The place I used to visit looked like an ER for cars.

This all seems pretty innoxious until you have to put theory into practice. First there’s an issue with the car’s weight and power. A normal car is heavy enough to remain seated on the rollers. That’s a different story when it comes to a single seater racecar. It doesn’t weigh a lot and it has relatively speaking a lot of power. So its light as feather status means the car will fly out of the rollers if the car isn’t tied down. So to cure the problem, my car had to be held in place by fixing haulage straps to my car and to the steel structure of the building. So my car would be traveling at 100mph held in place with a pair of straps. I didn’t envy the idiot who be driving the car. Excuse me, that’ll be who? Me? Why me? Don’t you have people for that? Really, I’m the one who fits in the car. Okay then. I’ll bloody do it then.

As they guy who ran the rolling road company said, “You won’t get me in one of those deathtraps.” So encouraging.

So I would have to get the car up to speeds of a 100mph. Before I even got anywhere close to those speeds, the car would be fighting against the straps, threatening to breaks its bonds and make a dash for it. Except there’s nowhere for the car to run. I’m inside a building with a solid brick wall ten feet in front of me to cushion the impact should the car escape. I didn’t see the point of putting my safety harness on. If the car hit the wall at a 100mph, I’d be Simon-shaped puddle. Because a single seater racecar has no fan to cooler it, air blast fans were aimed at the car and me to cool it down, but I still managed to sweat like a whore in church despite the chill.

The car never broke free, but my imagination foresaw the carnage and played it to me every second I was at the wheel. I swear that damned brick wall used to grin at me. Who would have thought traveling without moving could be so scary.

I won’t tell you how I’ve used rolling roads in HOT SEAT. You’ll have to read the book to find out. 🙂

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This one is in honor of the realease of HOT SEAT as it goes for storytellers and racing drivers. 🙂

“Only those who will risk going to far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
~T.S. Elliot

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My bookshelf feature is back for the month of July because I’m pleased and proud to announce that the second of the Aidy Westlake mysteries, HOT SEAT, is out in the US.

Over the month, I’ll share history and background on the book. In the meantime, here’s a little about the book itself.

JACKET BLURB:
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.

REVIEWS:
“Racing scenes enliven the action as Aidy tries to extricate himself from trouble by trapping a killer.”
~Publisher’s Weekly
“You can’t stop reading.”
~Booklist
“Watch Aidy get into one jam after the next.”
~Kirkus


The book should be in bookstores across America and Canada. It has been available in the UK since late March. For direct links to some of the stores carrying the book, pop over to the website.

If you’d like an autographed copy from me, you can pick up a copy from my website bookstore. If you order a copy of HOT SEAT.

Thanks and I hope you’ll pick up a copy of the book. I think you’ll like it. 🙂

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The 2nd Aidy Westlake book, HOT SEAT, comes out at the end of the week and this Saturday, I’ll be at Book Carnival for my only SoCal signing. I hope to see my southland chums there. I’ll be signing with the lovely Tammy Kaehler.

Saturday, June 30th, 2:00pm
BOOK CARNIVAL
348 S. Tustin Avenue
Orange, CA 92866
http://www.annesbookcarnival.com

I hope you can make it.

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A little while ago, I asked people to donate their names to my next book, HOT SEAT, which is the follow up to DID NOT FINISH. Well those names have been picked and here’s who will have a walk on part in the book.

Mike Whelan
Edward Stores
Jenni Oglesby
Jack McGowan
Ryan Green
Jim McLeod
Robert O’Neal
Roy Carroll
Carrie Gordon Watson

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