I met Simon many years ago when we shared a cell at a prison that shall remain nameless. He was sent up for using a British accent without a permit and I was convicted of writing without a license. We both managed to obtain early release on account of our good looks and broad appeal.*
*Some of the above statements may not be true.
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 I was an anarchist.
I love Gary, but I asked, “Is that a good thing?”
“Yes,” he exclaimed. “There’s a lot of anarchy in your writing.”
How subversive, I thought. I’m a rebel without an agenda. Mum 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.
Conflict. Stories require conflict. It’s a driving force. Characters and stories thrive on it. More so in mysteries and thrillers than other genres. 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 background. When I think conflict, I think about 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. Only by putting everything in a protagonist’s world at extreme risk can the character grow and thrive. There can’t be a comfort zone 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 there. Characters have their reputations destroyed, home life obliterated, are framed for things for crimes they didn’t commit, have personal property confiscated or stolen or destroyed. These characters’ lives will never be the same. There will have to be a lot of rebuilding by the end.
So I guess I do have anarchistic bent. Sorry. It wasn’t intentional. It’s just the way I tell ’em.
Simon Wood is a California transplant from England. He's a former competitive racecar driver, a licensed pilot, an endurance cyclist, an animal rescuer and an occasional PI. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are dominated by a longhaired dachshund and four cats. He's the Anthony Award-winning author of Working Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper, Terminated, Asking For Trouble, We All Fall Down and the Aidy Westlake series. His current thriller is THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY which has been optioned for a movie. He also writes horror under the pen name of Simon Janus. Curious people can learn more at http://www.simonwood.net.