Award-winning Author Simon Wood was bitten by the writing bug after moving to the United States and having difficulty finding work due to the immigration process. After studying several books on writing, he crafted three short stories and a novel. A year later, that novel and one of his stories, won a writing competition— the launching point for his writing career.
Since then, Simon has relied on his own perseverance to realize his dreams. And what a payoff he’s seen. With a list of major titles published and more in the works, his writing career is booming.
But it’s no surprise really. Simon’s remarkable determination is at the heart of most of his life’s successes—designing equipment that stops oil rigs from leaking and keeps drinking water clean, racing single seater cars, becoming a licensed pilot to cure a fear of flying, and yes, overcoming debilitating dyslexia to make it as a career author.
I was lucky enough to get an interview with him recently. Here’s what he had to say about perseverance, how he works around his dyslexia, and his no-nonsense writing preparation.
Describe your road to publication. How did you get your break?
Gradually is the answer to that question. I moved to the US in ’98 and found I couldn’t get any work. For some weird reason, I wanted to write. I had never entertained the idea before, though I’ve always had a love of story.
I got a couple of books on writing and my wife read them out loud because I’m dyslexic. I wrote three short stories, then spent three months rewriting them. Then I started on my first novel.
While I was writing the novel, I continued writing short stories and began submitting them. My first break came in ’99, when one of my short stories and my novel placed in a writing competition run by the California public library system.
My first short story sale came on millennium day. A magazine out of Roswell, New Mexico bought a piece of flash fiction. The novel that placed in the library competition, Accidents Waiting to Happen, got picked up in 2001 by a small press and was published the following year. The break came from just querying agents and editors until someone said yes. I’ve been gradually working my way up the ranks since then.
Perseverance is the key to success in this business.
What do you find most challenging about writing? Most fulfilling?
The rewriting is the most challenging. Making that story fly can be a bear. Most fulfilling is always the same—when the book hits the stores.
What does your writing schedule look like?
I usually start around nine on my main book project. I work through to about three or four in the afternoon. In the evening, I’ll spend a couple of hours working on a side project. On the weekends, I’ll work on a pet project for a little bit.
How much time do you spend marketing?
Hard to say but maybe a couple of hours a day. That may include just reading up on industry changes.
How long does it take you to write a first draft?
The first draft usually takes around three months, and then there’s about another three or four months of rewriting.
Describe your writing space. What’s your ideal writing environment?
I just have my office with a computer. It’s quiet and it’s all I need. That said, I do love writing in airports. Go figure.
Do you have any writing rituals?
No. I just put my arse in the chair and get typing.
Do you have any advice on staying productive?
Set a time of day when you’re going to write and stick to it. Got time to write for a couple of hours a day? Then carve out a time slot. It’s surprising how quickly the pages accrue.
Which of your novels do you consider your most successful work?
Which of your books should readers begin with?
I think my readers would say Paying the Piper should be read first. I think it sets the tone for my kind of storytelling.
What misconceptions do you think most people have about writers?
I think there’s quite a few. One of the big ones is that writers are like their characters. Another is that writing a book is easy. I wish it were—then I’d write the perfect first draft.
What do you have in the works now?
My next book is Deceptive Practices, which will be out in November, but I’m currently writing the follow-up to Paying the Piper, called Saving Grace.
If you weren’t a novelist, what would you be?
I’d be what I was before—a project engineer. Although I kind of have this hankering to be a late-night DJ.
What’s your definition of career success?
Do you have a favorite quote about writing?
‘Classic – a book which people praise and don’t read.’ – Mark Twain
Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?
Be willing to fight for your place on the bookshelf. I wish I could tell you that this is going to be an easy ride, but it’s going to be hard, frustrating, and testing. You’ve got to want it more than anything to make it happen. No one else is going to care about it as much as you do. We’re talking about your dreams here!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Jaynes is the USA Today bestselling author of the thrillers, Never Smile at Strangers, Ugly Young Thing, and Don’t Say a Word. Visit her website to learn more about her work: www.ProjectJennifer.com.