Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Anarchist in Me

by Simon Wood

Today TKZ is delighted to welcome fellow thriller writer and anarchist Simon Wood. I toured with Simon back when Boneyard was released, and in spite of that we remain friends. I highly recommend signing up for his newsletter, it's easily one of the most entertaining out there...

I saw my author-friend, Tony Broadbent, not too long ago. We hail from the same hometown back in the old country. We got to chatting and he gave me a pat on the head and told me, “You’re like the Gary Oldman of the mystery world.”
Gary Oldman is one of my favorite actors, but I wasn’t sure of the correlation and asked, “Is that a good thing?”
“Yes,” he exclaimed. “There’s a lot of anarchy in your writing.”Picture 220.jpgHow su
bversive, I thought. I’m a rebel without an agenda. Mother will be delighted.

Well, the little exchange got me thinking about my writing. I don’t think people hit the keyboards with an agenda or a theme tucked under their arm—or if they do, it sort of sticks out. Agendas and themes develop on a subconscious level. Well, they do for me. I don’t go out of my way to put a slant on my stories. I just try to entertain, but inadvertently, I show a little leg now and again. So, I looked for the anarchy. And I think I saw it in the shape of conflict.

Stories require conflict. It’s a driving force that characters and stories thrive on, especially in mysteries and thrillers. The nature of the genre means there are going to be casualties and collateral damage. So, I like to inject my stories with a lot of conflict. The problem is that I’m quite a literal person and I think about things in very pure terms. Blame my engineering backgroun
d. When I think conflict, I think about it in its most basic of meanings—total annihilation. Everything my lead character holds dear is under attack. I create this person so that I can destroy them. I place them and their world in an ivory tower, then go about stacking as much C4 explosive around the foundation as possible to blast it all apart. It only seems fair, doesn’t it? Conflict by its nature is salt to a wound. Character assassination is key for me. Only by putting everything in a protagonist’s world at extreme risk can the character grow. There can’t be a comfort zone or a safe haven for this person. Wouldn’t you want to read about a character in a situation like that?

I flicked through some of my stories to see what I did to my characters and the annihilation is always there. Characters are put through the wringer and their lives will never be the same. This theme continues in my latest book, Terminated. I’ve really gone to town on the story’s protagonist, Gwen Farris. Her reputation is destroyed, her home life obliterated and she’s framed for crimes she didn’t commit. Everything she holds dear is in shambles, but if she’s to fight back, she has to develop into someone she’s never been before. Her life will never be the same and there will have to be a lot of rebuilding by the end, but she’ll be a stronger and more courageous person for it.

So I guess I do have anarchistic bent. Sorry. It wasn’t intentional. It’s just the way I tell ‘em.

Yours destructively,
Simon Wood

Simon Wood is an ex-racecar driver, a licensed pilot and an occasional private investigator. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. A longhaired dachshund and five cats dominate their lives. He's had over 150 stories and articles published. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines anthologies, such as Seattle Noir, Thriller 2 and Woman’s World. He's a frequent contributor to Writer's Digest. He's the Anthony Award winning author of Working Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper and We All Fall Down. As Simon Janus, he's the author of The Scrubs and Road Rash. His latest thriller, Terminated, is out in mass paperback. Curious people can learn more at .


  1. Simon,

    total annihilation.. I like it. We always talk about "raising the stakes." You certainly set the bar in the right spot!

    Thanks for stopping by TKZ.

  2. Simon-

    I always knew you were a closet anarchist. Calling the authorities now...oh, and thanks for stopping by.

  3. Seeing as I like destruction, I feel I should break something while I'm here.

  4. Simon, I've always known you to be an anarchist. I'm glad you see it now, too.

    Looking forward to August!


  5. Simon, thanks for sharing your anarchistic tendencies with us. I really like your "total annihilation" approach. Drop by anytime and blow something up.

  6. Hi Carrie,

    I promise to be good when I visit.

  7. Simon, think you could annihilate a few of my characters? I have this terrible tendency to be too nice to my protagonists in my first drafts. I always have to go back and kick them around.

  8. I like a good "Boom!" now and again - and a bit of anarchy to spread around:) Thanks for stopping by Simon!

  9. You're true to your word, Simon! Even your short stories have a kick that I think separates a real thriller from a wanna be. Loved "Protecting the Innocent!"

    Now will you please come back and pick up the shattered glass pieces you left on my living room floor?

  10. Joyce: Treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen is my moto when it comes to protagonists...

    Clare: Anarchy floated around the Edwardian times, so you could have some fun.

    Camille: I'm glad you liked the story. Here's hoping the Dagger jury agreed with you.

  11. Simon,
    You may describe yourself as an anarchist, but I just went to your website and you own a wonderful variety of some very cute critters. You must be a very sweet anarchist.

    Were you raised in England or the US? I'm writing during the Regency, great fun.

    And being a romantic at heart can you tell us a little about how you met your wife?

  12. Jillian: People call me Annarchist. I call myself Simon. :-)

    I was raised in the UK and I moved to the US 12yrs ago.

    And yes, I am a sucker for animals. Everyone in the house, I adopted--including my wife--so I'm not all bad.

  13. Kudos to you, Simon. For you to write and read so voraciously while batteling dyslexia is so very awesome.

  14. Okay - I had to see how an anarchist writes - so I bought TERMINTED while I was out tonight. Will get back to you (so far so good). The character name - Tarbell - that's not BP/Gulf related - right? Wait, those are TAR BALLS (oil) heading toward my beaches... my bad.

    As long as I was frivolously tossing money around (bought 10 books for my grandkids) picked up 'THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS' by that James Scott Bell fellow. I'm up to page 80 - 'writing hard & fast'. Which is how I'm trying to get this blog comment written 'cause I'm so friggin' tired. There - it works - done.

  15. Thanks Jillian.

    I hope you enjoy the book JaxPop.