If you’ve been reading for awhile- you know that I reviewed author the first two books in Simon Wood’s racing thriller series here on BadGroove a couple months ago. As I mentioned in the review, I rather enjoyed both DID NOT FINISH and HOT SEAT and expanded out to Simon’s other “non racing” books. I am excited that Simon was kind enough to answer some questions for me for BadGroove. So without further adieu:
BG: Did you always want to be a writer? Did you have a proclivity towards writing as a child?
Simon: No, not at all. I’m dyslexic so I avoided the written word like the plague. I wanted to draw. I was a daydreamer coming up with stories but I didn’t begin writing until I was thirty.
BG: Your bio mentions you are a sometimes private investigator. How did you get into private investigation work?
Simon: When I moved to the US, I couldn’t get a job. My wife and I were living pretty close to the breadline so we were looking to supplement our income so we responded to an ad to become mystery shoppers. We “shopped” cinemas, electronic stores, fast food joints, etc. We did well enough that we kept being bumped up the food chain moving to restaurants, to hotels and to finally casinos. Once we started working in Vegas, we had to get PI licenses.
BG: Does being a “sometimes private investigator” help with being a writer- especially in the suspense/thriller genre?
Simon: To be honest, most of the work was pretty sedate and detail oriented. The only thing we did have to do was come up with a lot of cover stories as we were undercover a lot of time. The best thing about the job is all the people watching I got to do.
BG: Who are a couple of your favorite authors and/or books?
Simon: I’m a big Reginald Hill & Raymond Chandler fan. But I would say my biggest influence is Hitchcock. He understood human frailty and he liked to poke it with a stick and I like that.
Simon’s books DID NOT FINISH and HOT SEAT are the first two installments that follow Aidy Westlake, a young racer with a pension for finding trouble. Since Simon is an ex-race car driver I wondered how his experience factored into the personality of Aidy.
BG: Did you always want to be a racer? How did you get into it?
Simon: I fell in love with rally racing when I was twelve and I really wanted to get into that. I played with it for a couple of years and found that I didn’t have the skill for it. Just by a fluke I drove a Group N saloon car at a circuit. I was quite surprised how well I did and decided to go into circuit racing. I was investigating that when the owner of the race school asked me if I wanted to joint own and run a Formula Ford and the rest is history.
BG: Aidy has his own pre-race rituals. Did you have similar ones? What were they?
Simon: Yes, Aidy’s rituals are my rituals. Always go for a pee before a race. I did torque my wheels before going out on the track. I did internalize in the hour before the race, become very quiet and drive the race in my mind.
BG: If you could drive any type of car right now in a competitive race? What would it be and why?
Simon: I would drive some sort of open wheel car. From an engineering standpoint, they are very easy to understand. Everything is to hand. Everything can be adjusted. They aren’t complicated. There’s no power brakes, no ABS, etc. in most cases. From a driving point of view, they are fast and immediate. It’s sensory overload. Yummy.
BG: How closely do you follow motorsports? And do you think that as a former driver that you watch them differently or see them differently than a fan?
Simon: Once I stopped racing, I stopped watching. There’s nothing fun about being on the wrong side of the pit lane. I’ve gotten back into it since I started writing about Aidy. Now when I watch I am examining the driver’s race, thinking how I would do it and also trying to learn from them.
Simon’s most recent book is No Show, a suspense tale that had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. I actually devoured it quite quickly because I just had to find out what happened.
BG: I was fascinated to find out that the idea for No Show came from an event in your life- can you explain it to my readers?
Simon: My wife and I met in Costa Rica and we carried on seeing each other. After a couple of years, we took a chance on love as it were and I came to the US to marry her. I arrived with my world in a couple of bags and she wasn’t at the airport to meet me. I waited and waited. While I was waiting I realized how little thought I’d put into the situation. I didn’t know Julie’s address or how to get in touch with her. Eventually, she arrived about an hour late because of traffic, but it did make me wonder what I would have done if she hadn’t. As much as I thought I knew about the States, I was pretty naive, so how would I have coped if I had been left at the airport with no friends or social network to help me. From there, No Show was born.
BG: Will we hear more from Terry Sheffield?
Simon: Yes, you will. Terry is a series character. The climax of NO SHOW sets him on a new course. Expect to see him reappear in THE MIDDLE MAN.
For more information on Simon Wood you can visit his website http://simonwood.net. He can also be found at his blog SimonSez. He also writes weekly at Two For The Road a blog where he and author Tammy Kaehler of the Kate Reilly Racing Mystery series write about motorsports.
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