Thursday, August 13, 2009
Interview With Local Authors: Simon Wood
How long have you lived in the Bay Area? Which parts?
I’ve lived in the Bay Area for around ten years now. I’ve lived entirely in the east bay in and around Richmond and El Sobrante.
When did you get your first book published?
My first book, ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN, was first published in 2002 by a small publisher then picked up a big publisher in 2007.
What type of books do you write?
I write about ordinary people put in extraordinary situations. Sometimes the dilemmas they face are of their own making and sometimes they're just good people in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Why do you write?
Because I have to. There are stories, ideas and themes I want to write about and I feel so passionately about them that I have to commit them to paper. It would be criminal not to…
How involved are you with the community?
I’m a Bay Area chapter board member of Mystery Writers of American and a past Bay Area president of Sisters in Crime. These two organizations work to help nurture and promote mystery writers. I’ve also spoken at a large number of county and city libraries throughout the Bay Area.
What challenges have you faced as an author?
I’m dyslexic and pretty much steered clear of the written word for most of my life. With the help of my wife, I taught myself the basics of creative writing and the rest is history. I have a pretty unorthodox way of getting my work down on paper.
Who were some your influences as a writer?
I’m a huge fan of pulp writers, Raymond Chandler, Lawrence Block, Reginald Hill, but I would say my major influence is Hitchcock. His eye for detail and human frailty and showing us the hero in all of us has had a massive influence on me. I think it shows up a lot in the scenarios in my books and short stories.
What types of books would you recommend for young readers?
I was always in awe of the fantastical as a child so the books I always promote are the Chronicles of Narnia, Norman Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth and a book which isn’t very well known over here, but is in England -- Stig of the Dump.
What do you think is the best way to get young people excited to read?
Introduce them to books that fire the imagination. There always seems to be a push towards certain classics and while that’s fine, people (young or old) need to find stories they love. So let them read whatever’s popular -- graphic novels or even adult books, or whatever. It doesn’t matter as long as they're reading and discovering the power of storytelling. One of the best times with books I had was when a school teacher let us read whatever we wanted as long as we could discuss the book. It was very empowering. Also remind kids that without books we wouldn’t have TV or movies. The human race can't live without stories.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Raymond Chandler, James M Cain, Cornell Woolrich, Reginald Hill, Lawrence Block, Jeffrey Deaver’s short fiction, Dorothy L Sayers, Barbara Vine, Ian Rankin, Patricia Highsmith, James Herbert, Stephen King, Richard Russo, Robert Crais, Harlan Coben, Richard Stark, Jim Butcher, just to name a few.
What are some of your favorite books?
If I was marooned on a desert island, I would want THE LONG GOODBYE (Raymond Chandler), LOVE ON A BRANCH LINE (John Hadfield), THE STRAIGHT MAN, (Richard Russo) and A SIMPLE PLAN (Scott Smith) with me.
Do you have a website we can visit?
Where can we find your books?
In most bookstores or online. Some of my books and short stories are appearing electronically for the Kindle and other e-readers. My website has links to local bookstores, real and virtual.