The life and times of award winning thriller writer, Simon Wood.
Simon Sez is the online version of my long running e-newsletter. The blog will focus on my life as an author, my trials and tribulations as a foreigner in America and the oddities I discover along the way.
I’m happy to
announce the release of a new collection of short crime stories called CRESTFALLEN.The collection features San Francisco private
investigator, Peter Crestfallen.In fine PI style, he has a penchant for
attracting problem clients. He's the kind of gumshoe who’ll always give a
hundred percent, even if it’s for a ten percent return. The stories in this collection are:
In CRESTFALLEN’s V.I.P., Crestfallen has to track down a stolen
teddy bear for a senior citizen and he’ll have to go up against the White House
to retrieve it.
In CRESTFALLEN’s GETAWAY, Crestfallen has to smuggle a mob
accountant out of San Francisco.
In CRESTFALLEN’s KINK, Crestfallen is hired to find out what a
housewife does in her off hours and is drawn into a dark world of alternative
In CRESTFALLEN’s WIDOW, Jane Staam hires Crestfallen to prove she
didn't kill her terminally ill, millionaire husband.
stories appeared in a number of anthologies over the years but he was a
character I put on ice to work on other projects.However I’m considering resurrecting him, as
during my recent house move I discovered a manuscript for a novel I’d been
writing.It was inspired by a local
incident in the 50’s and I thought would make for a nice back story. The book needs work.So I’m interested in what you think of Crestfallen
and whether you'd like to hear more from this guy. Buying links are here. Enjoy!
A few weeks
ago, there was quite a lot of fuss made about Louis CK’s show Louie in which
Louie comes precariously close to molesting a friend when she rebuffs his
advances.It is an uncomfortable scene
which made me squirm.Yes, there were
mitigating circumstances for why the character did what he did but at the same
time, it didn’t matter—the woman said no so the character crossed a line.That’s the genius and the problem with a show
like Louie, it does deal with a lot of dark stuff and makes us look at it.Personally, I accept that a story will result
in an emotional reaction from me.Sometimes
good.Sometimes not.That’s the point of a story—especially a well
thing was the reaction to the episode.Quite
a few people got het up by the scene.Naturally,
someone people were made just as uncomfortable as me but somehow made
associations with the show, the character and the actor.If Louis CK wrote the scene, acted in the
scene, therefore he must think and behave that way.I can see how lines get blurred when you
appear in something you wrote.However,
the show isn't a reenactment of Louis CK’s life.It’s a version.An alternate reality.A space where the what-if game is
played.The clue might be in the show’s subtle
title—Louie—when Louis CK spells his name Louis and the character spells his Louie.
It’s a detail thing.J
The lines weren’t
just blurred between Louis and his character but between Louis and the viewer. Critics brought their own baggage to the
argument and projected it on the shows to create a different interpretation.I read one review written by a guy who
admitted he forced himself on a woman years earlier, was repulsed by his
actions and was repulsed by the TV episode and Louis CK’s endorsement of violence
towards women.Wow, project much?
This kind of
projection happens a lot.I’ve said
before that I lose ownership of my stories the second they hit the
bookshelf.As much as I have a vision
for a story or book that I expect everyone to see the same way, it won’t happen
because we all have different experiences and world views.My idea of poverty, marriage, injustice and
anything else you care to name will be different from everybody else's because we've
all lived different lives. Even my interpretation
of the color blue will be different to yours. It’ll be similar but it will be different.It’s not wrong.It’s just the way it is.
I’m always interested
in the reactions to my books and stories because it goes places I didn’t expect
or indeed write.Invariably someone will
tell me about something that didn’t happen in the book.Readers told me about events in both WE ALL FALL DOWN and TERMINATED that didn’t happen.In each case, they were elaborations of particular scenes.A woman once demanded that I apologize for
the infidelity in ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN.It was so objectionable to her that a book feature and celebrate a
protagonist that cheated on his wife.Now
there is infidelity in ACCIDENTS.It’s
occurs before the story begins and it’s the thing that essentially causes havoc
for the protagonist throughout the book.The same woman wanted to know that how many times I’d cheated on my
wife.She used the logic of if I wrote
it then I must have done it. At the end
of this encounter, I did wonder if this woman was a victim of infidelity
herself.The ante got upped when someone
wrote to my mother-in-law to tell her I was cheating on my wife because it was
all mapped out in one of the stories in WORKING STIFFS.
This is the
tricky thing when it comes to fiction.People
assume if you write about a topic or have a character act a certain way therefore
as the writer you must do those things in real life. In some things, yes.In most things, no.Personally, I’m exploring a thought, an idea,
a concept or a scenario that has caught my attention and I wonder what will
happen if that issue was played out.Just
because a writer writes about rape, it doesn’t mean he's a rapist. Stories are just that—stories.They aren't manifestos or lifestyle
endorsements—or at least they shouldn’t be.So when you read something and you start judging the writer for their characters’
beliefs and actions, well, I’m sorry, it’s not me, it’s you.J
Even though I’m
in the second half of my forties, it’s odd that some mundane things such as
getting on an escalator or crossing the road will make me nervous.It’s not that I’m a big ‘fraidy cat or
anything.My fear is buried deep in my
psyche.The source of this psychological
damage is the UK government and their Public Information Films of the 1970’s.
were supposed to help kids understand that the world was a dangerous place and
children were easy prey.The films dealt
with dangers like crossing the road, playing with pills and chemicals, playing
near bodies of water, hiding in things like fridges, but they also went all the
way up to sexual predators.These are
worthy topics but the packaging the UK Govt. used was fear and unlike the
patronizing The More You Know PSAs, these movies pulled no punches.
The reason I
get a little worried about crossing the road or getting on an escalator was
because the PI Films were scary.The
road crossing one illustrated the dangers of crossing the road between parked
cars by having the cars’ big chrome grills turn into hungry steel mouths ready
to eats thoughtless children.The escalator
PIF was no different.It featured a
child’s ragdoll ripped to pieces by the sharp edges of an escalator while the
same happened to a child off screen.The
tactics used for these kinds of issue were pretty minor league things such as
crossing the road and escalators. The ante
got upped when it came to topics such as sexual predators. I remember the one I was shown about sexual
predators gave nightmares to half my class for weeks, although for the life of
me I can’t remember a single detail from it.I do know my mum still can’t watch anything with the actor who played
These films weren’t
made by the government.In most cases ad
agencies or young filmmakers cut their teeth on these things.Check out APACHES I’ve included here which
warns children of overzealous play.The
director of that would go on to make THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY a few later and it’s
hard to tell which has the gorier death scene (watch part 2 to see what I mean).APACHES is a great example because it never tells you what you should or
shouldn’t do.It just lets a high body
count do the talking for it.
It could be
argued that these little movies went too far.And yes, in a way they did as their psychological effect is still with
me forty years later.But I’ll defend
these things to the ends of the earth because they worked.They scared me straight and kept me
save.They were no different from the
fairytales that warned children of the dangers of the world.Okay we had a few nightmares but we were
careful around pills, unmarked chemicals, matches, power stations, fireworks
and bodies of stagnant water.So I ask
you to enjoy the nostalgia, absorb the message and try not to have any
sleepless nights.Enjoy the films,
A couple of
years, an audio book company bought the rights to a couple of original stories
of mine.Sadly, the company went bust a
little while ago, but I bought the recordings before deletion.The stories are quite different.TENTHS OF A SECOND is a Twilight Zone-style story
whil FATHER FIGURE is a Hitchcock Presents style story. Which is a good thing as these shows formed my storytelling sensibilities. :-)
OF A SECOND: Martin
Warwick is a down on his luck racecar driver. His only accolade is to make the
other drivers look good with his mediocre performances. It's not that
Martin is a bad driver. He's just not had the breaks. He needs a better
sponsor which would get him a better car and a little luck to put him ahead of
the pack. The break comes in the form of the mysterious Mallory. He
doesn't have money or connections. He has a device to make Martin and any
car he drives better.
hopes and dreams are just outside of your grasp, you're willing to do anything,
regardless of the consequences. Martin is about to find out what the
price of fame really costs—and he's willing to pay it gladly.
is a son of a bitch and a bastard—literally as well as figuratively—but
what he really is, is a small time con man. He's about to upgrade to the
big time and go after the score of his life by bilking the software mogul,
Charles Reston, out of every penny he can get. He's going to do it by
convincing Reston that he's his illegitimate son, which shouldn't be too hard
as the billionaire is his father. However, the problem with the long con is
that you get a little too close to your mark...especially when you're looking
for a father figure.
the stories have appeared in any other format, so if you'd like to listen to
them, they are available to download here. I hope you'll give them a listen. They're fun stories and are nicely read.
of doing a three way.No…not that kind
of a three way.Get your minds out of a
gutter.I’m talking about doing a
literary three way.A written triptych
as it were.I’m wondering if I can tell the
same story in three different genres.Sounds
like a swizz, but it’s not.
Japanese movie Yôjinbô about a ronin (a samurai
without a master) who plays two gangs off each other for money.It was then remade as a western, better known
as A Fistful Of Dollars with Clint Eastwood, then again as prohibition mob
story better known you as Last Man Standing with Bruce Willis.
This isn’t the first time this has occurred.The Magnificent Seven was based on the Seven Samurais.Sean Connery’s Outland was based on High
Noon.So it’s not like I’m being
original or anything.Oh, that didn’t come
out right.Hell, what I mean is that it’s
not unheard of, although I’m not sure it’s ever been done in book form or ever
been done by the same writer.So yes, I am
original, thank you very much.Sometimes,
you people are very judgey.
So how would I do
it?Not quick sure at the moment, but I think
I can do a story that would translate to being a thriller, a horror story and
sci-fi tale.Those would be my chosen
genres for this project.
I think it’s a neat idea, but what do you think?Would you want to see a story done three
ways?Would you find it a tasty
morsel?I’m hungry to know.