When I was asked to join a boxed-set collaboration, I must admit I felt trepidation at first, but when I saw the lineup of writers, I was more than happy to participate; I was honored. All four writers with whom I would be collaborating are successful, prolific, and talented writers. What writer would not join up with such a group?
This week I will be featuring one of my co-writers each day, Tuesday the 28th through Halloween Night. It’s a privilege to for me, as well as you, to get to know these writers as individuals. Too often we are caught up in the enjoyment of reading a novel that we forget there is a hardworking, dedicated writer behind the characters and plots and twists and turns.
First this week I am so pleased to introduce Simon Jenner!
Simon has always enjoyed writing stories, especially those intended to shock (mainly his teachers as a youngster!). He didn’t take it seriously as a career choice until much later in life though, having trained to be a civil engineer and then an accountant in between. Luckily these careers, unlike lion tamer, pilot, brain surgeon etc, provided time forhisy mind to wander, and that wandering over the years turned into about twenty incomplete novels. Some of the better of these ideas are now coming to fruition, just far slower than he’d like (I think all we writers can relate to THAT)!
Outside of writing, Simon loves to watch tennis and follow the ATP and WTA tours as much as he can. His wife and son aren’t so keen, so it’s a constant battle for the remote control. He also love a good film, and a weekly trip to the cinema with his son is a cherished event (same with me; and I am actually a closet tennis fan from the days of Borg and McEnroe and Connors; so I have a feeling Simon and I would get along famously). Movie theaters across the pond must be different, because for Simon, the promise of the pic’n’mix sweet stand helps convince him to keep coming! I’m going to assume that means the candy and popcorn!
So because of the great distance between us, I couldn’t invite Simon into the RoW Studio for a proper inter view (proper interview being defined as “serving cold coffee, stale donuts, playing at least 3-4 unnecessary and completely uncomplimentary pranks”).
Lucky him; he just gets the straight interview!
I figured since we really met because he, like me, decided to join the collaborative effort of the boxed set, I would begin there and see where it went—however:
R.S.: Okay, before we get started, I am a fanatical dog-lover (we have four), and I heard you had a pretty special one in your life. Not to pry, but could you tell me a bit about your K-9 companion, Spencer?
SJ: This is my favorite photo of late and was taken a couple of weeks ago just before Spencer, our faithful 15-year-old German Shepherd, went to sleep forever. We originally bought him to give Mac, our Black Labrador, some company as my wife and I were out at work all day. After an initial hour of trying to hide himself in the overgrown grass in our garden, he drove Mac nuts, constantly jumping on him, hanging from around his neck and never giving him a moment’s peace. As a puppy, Spencer was a nightmare, chewing through electrical wires, staircases, carpet and our wedding album. As he grew, we bought a training video and wrist protectors so that we could train him to act, as well as look, the part of a hard-as-nails guard dog. But it never happened. Apparently we had bought the softest dog on the planet, the most wonderful companion any family could have. When we lost him, we cried like babies. We miss him more than we could ever have imagined. I have already written a poem in his honor – crap but touching – and I plan to immortalize him in a future novel.
R.S.: Okay, I don’t usually get choked up (I’m more the “laugh at a funeral” kind of guy, but your story of Spencer. I am shedding a few tears right now. We have a sign in our kitchen that says “The more people I meet, the more I like my dogs.”
Gotta change the subject; you winged me with that one, Simon. So, ahem, what kind of expectations did you have joining a multi-writer, multi-book collaboration? Writers can be a fickle bunch.
SJ: This is my first collaborative venture and I am highly honored to be included. I’m hoping that we all manage to expand our readership and can help each other out in the future too. It’s a tough and ever-expanding marketplace out there and if collaborating can help get us noticed, then it’s got to be worth a try.
R.S.: Fair enough. You certainly are right about writers needing to help other writers. I’ve rung that bell more times than I can count! How did you go about choosing which of your bestselling books to include?
SJ: The choice of book to include was easy – the “Ethan Justice” series being my only one so far! That being said, I think “Origins” sits well amongst the other four inclusions and while all are different, as a collection, they seem to be a pretty damn good offering, even if I say so myself!
R.S.: Yes, I’d agree with you. I’m sure you love pleasing your fans as much as I do, and the collection we all put forth is a doozy! So we all write for a variety of reasons. How would you prioritize your own reasons for turning to the pen?
1. To vent anger and make bad people suffer. I love to brandish my own form of justice.
2. To avoid a proper job. I realise now though that my years working a real job were far easier and more sociable. Good thing I love writing!
3. Enjoyment – it was all supposed to be fun. Damn you marketing, damn you.
4. Money – ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
R.S.: Oh, boy, and I with you on the first one, brother! And my mantra since I started writing has been “writing the book is the easy part.” 75-80% effort into marketing and branding I’d say. I always say I don’t write for the money, but isn’t that what all struggling writers are supposed to say? What do you do in order to jumpstart your muse when you just don’t have that creative urge?
SJ: I get a lot of inspiration from movies, other books, life, news items, my wife and son (although most of his ideas are just crazy –what imaginations 13 year olds have – he loves to help though). I enjoy basing some of my less likeable characters on people that have annoyed me. I tend to rename them, disguise them, and then have them bumped off by my antagonist. It’s highly therapeutic!
R.S.: HA! Amen. What was the line from the Heath Ledger movie, from the actor playing Geoffrey Chaucer after being made naked and humiliated “I am a writer. I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.”
(There is a long pause as I can only guess Simon contemplates the power of the writer some more.)
R.S.: So what are you working on currently?
SJ: I’m currently dabbling my toes into the young adult market with a sci-fi/action adventure/mystery called “The Evolved”. The premise is:
Imagine you are a 17-year-old boy. A boy whose memory and backbone were stolen seven years ago in a hit and run accident. A boy who can’t cope … with anything. A boy whose only friends are now pushing him to take an impossible leap of faith. Now imagine the last seven years were a lie and you have the power to do almost anything. Good or bad. What would you do?
I’m about two-thirds finished and have beta-readers providing feedback chapter by chapter as I go, which is crazy pressure but immensely helpful. If any of your readers love this genre and fancy signing up to give me their valued opinion, please can they get in touch!
R.S.: How about your current series of books? Don’t be modest; I know they have been selling like shovels after a snowstorm, and for damn good reason!
SJ: If your readers enjoy “Origins” from the box set, they can catch up with Ethan and Savannah in their next adventures when they go head to head with a psychopath dark to the point of hysterical in “Relentless” and must overcome their greatest challenge yet by taking down an ambitious crime boss in “Incendiary”.
Here are a few reviews for “Relentless”:
“The villain is a depraved sociopath and the author has written him in a way that makes you just want to bury him up to his neck and run him over with a lawn mower.”
“… the story plows through four days in time like an express freight train. It doesn’t stop; it doesn’t slow down; it is, to the end – RELENTLESS.”
“Another Hum Dinger of action-filled suspense, couldn’t put it down!!”
“Incendiary is a wild and thrilling ride from start to finish, with that rare balance between nerve-wracking action and snarky humor.”
R.S.: Well I have to tell you, I wish we could have met in person in the studio, but this is the next best thing. I love your books and you seem like my kind of fellow—platonically speaking, of course. And since this would be the point where I attempt to embarrass you with a totally childish, asinine prank, I think I will throw you a curve-ball question (or, as they say in tennis circles, a question with some wicked backspin): Did you ever wish you could change your name? If you actually did it—legally changed your name—what would your new identity’s moniker be? One name, like Madonna, or multiple like Edward James Olmos? Middle name?
SJ (completely nonplussed): I never gave it much thought but what a great idea. I think my new moniker would be Wolfgang Maelstrom or something equally outlandish. Shame Dirk Diggler and Forrest Gump have already been used. I have actually written a non-fiction book under a pen name but it’s even more boring than my real name so for that, and legal reasons, I won’t clue you in. Hopefully I made that sound far more interesting than it is. The truth is I wrote an autobiography detailing my boarding school days and didn’t exactly wax lyrical about our treatment as it was all a bit “Tom Brown’s Schooldays”. It seemed safer to keep my name and others out of it – a protect the guilty sort of thing!
R.S.: Well-played, sir. Continuing the analogy, I think you matched by backspin and put one right down the line (of course I am very much like McEnroe, so I must bid adieu whilst I rage uncontrollably at the moronic line judge who called that shot IN—no offense, Simon).
Thanks much for the interview AND for joining in the “A Crime Collection” boxed set, which I believe is still FREE, FREE, FREE!!!!!
Take care, my writer friend. Maybe next time I will be able to afford to fly you over for an interview in person (and some really top-notch pranks)!