Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Interview with thriller author Simon Cann

Today’s special feature is an interview with Simon Cann with a focus on his crime thriller novel, Clementina.

During his virtual book tour, Simon will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.

Also, the book will be free on Amazon from Monday 25 July to Friday 29 July (inclusive).

Simon Cann is the author of the Boniface, Montbretia Armstrong, and Leathan Wilkey series of books.

In addition to his fiction, Simon has written a range of music-related and business-related books, and has also worked as a ghostwriter.

Before turning full-time to writing, Simon spent nearly two decades as a management consultant, where his clients included aeronautical, pharmaceutical, defense, financial services, chemical, entertainment, and broadcasting companies.

He lives in London.

A little bit about Clementina:
Leathan Wilkey has been hired to babysit Clementina, a seventeen-year-old whose rich daddy is going through a messy divorce and is over-compensating.

Leathan soon tires of her spending habits, her selfie obsession, and her social media preoccupation as his ward drags him from shop to boutique to jeweler, approaching each with the self-possession that comes from a lifetime of getting her own way and never once having to worry about money.

But when Clementina snaps her fingers and her boyfriend doesn’t come running, something is up. He doesn’t appear because he’s been murdered.

When Leathan investigates, he finds that the boyfriend has no background and met Clementina through a connection made by daddy’s business partner.

Daddy’s business partner who has been slowly and progressively putting daddy in a vice, grabbing more of the business, and who is now menacing Clementina directly to manipulate daddy.

How do you develop your plot and characters?


And in tandem—as in, initially I develop characters and the plot at the same time.
I’ll often have a story idea and know who my protagonist is. From there I’ll usually work to the characters that the protagonist deals with in the first few scenes. Often these will be less significant characters—or if they are more significant characters, they’ll be doing less.

I like to crank down the characters earlier on in a novel so that readers can get their head around the basic problem that the protagonist is facing. If you introduce readers to seven new people in the first three pages, you’re just going to confuse them. I want to get with the story and THEN bring in characters.

For myself, I need to understand what each person wants. In other words, I need to understand the characters’ motivations at a very primal level. I may or may not share this with the reader, but **I** need to understand the character at that level before I can seriously throw them into the mix.

When I’m developing characters, I always make notes (I’m a plotter AND I keep a “story bible”). These notes may not have any relevance or use for the reader, but they help me understand who each character is, what drives them, and what their limits are.

In my books characters are always regular people. They may have a position, they may have skills, but I never throw in special talents which can only be useful if I contort the story. For instance, I would never give anyone skills as a scuba diver and then have a story where the heroine was only able to save the day because she had her scuba skills.

For my plots, I find an interesting starting point, then follow where the story leads. I’m a plotter and get detailed in my plotting (it wouldn’t be unusual for me to create a 15,000 to 20,000-word outline for a 100,000-word book).

The flip side to my plotting is that writing the book is comparatively fast for me and usually there will only be one draft.

Excerpt from Clementina:
I stared up at the six-foot pile of brick held together by cement, then turned to the fastidious man. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

“Vianney,” he said.

“Vianney. Is this the only way out?”

He nodded, a precise tilt of his head like a movement fashioned by a watchmaker.

“Do you know who is over the back?” I pointed over the wall.

A shake of his head, equally precise. I pulled out my phone. Vianney shook his head again—three small twists. “No signal.” He pointed back inside. “Seven paces.”

I took seven paces and got two bars. “We’re going out the back,” I said when Reece answered. “I’m not sure what’s there, but come and find us there.” Back outside, Clementina was still staring up at the sky. “Ready?” I asked.

She seemed perplexed.

“We’re going to meet the neighbors,” I said, taking her shiny bag and handing it to Vianney. “You’re going first.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked.

“We’re going over the wall—you’re going first. Give your bag to Vianney to hold.” I pointed to the large lump of leather still hanging from her shoulder. “And put this back on.” I handed her the jacket I was carrying. I was sure it wasn’t designed for rough and tumble, but I preferred it be scraped rather than her.

“Why…?” she began.

“Because it’s the only way out, and you’re going first because if I go first there’s no one to help you over the wall,” I said, predicting her range of questions. “What else did you want to do today?”

“I wanted…” she began, slipping on her jacket. “That was rhetorical, wasn’t it?”

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Anything that isn’t chocolate flavored.

Which mythological creature are you most like?
The one the spends all day sitting in a cave carving tales about other creatures into stone tablets.

First book you remember making an indelible impression on you.
The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth.

I was probably about twelve when I read the book. To me it was a revelation—it was the first time that I realized that a fiction could be so close to the truth and that fiction could be set in the real world.

Please describe your writing space.

My writing space is a room in my house…a small room—it’s six feet by eight feet, and most of the space it taken up with a desk (the actual useable floor space—without a desk or bookcases—is three feet by five…enough space to walk into the room and sit on the chair).

When I started writing full-time I took the door off the room because it just got in the way and the space was so limited.

At the opposite end from the door it a window which looks out over my street. It’s a short road and I can see to the end of the street. If I crane my neck and look to the left I can see the railway line which is the mainline to and from central London.

So far I think I’ve written upward of twenty-five books in this space.


The book will be free on Amazon from Monday 25 July to Friday 29 July (inclusive).


Unknown said...

Hello everyone, it's Simon here.

Can I start by thanking Lisa for the kind invitation to participate in this community.

I'm really looking forward to chatting with everyone and to hearing what you're all reading.

I'll be here all day, so if you've got any questions, comments, or thoughts, please jump in.

Over to you!


CJ said...

Great interview and excerpt! I am really enjoying the book tour! :)

Unknown said...

Thank you, clojo9372.

I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt--you should check out the book, it's even better :-) And until Friday, Clementina is available for free on Amazon:

Anonymous said...

Simon, Loved the excerpt. Where do I enter this giveaway? Can't spot the form.

Unknown said...

Glad you enjoyed the excerpt, Becky. If you want to read more, please do grab the free copy of the book--after Friday the price goes up.

And yeah...that giveaway... I think I need to throw that over to Lisa, our host. Lisa--where do people sign up?

While we're waiting for Lisa, you can visit the other stops on the blog tour (the link is at the top of the page) and sign up through those other sites.

Victoria Alexander said...

Really great post, I enjoyed the excerpt! Thanks for sharing :)

Unknown said...

Thank you, Victoria.

And if you liked the extract, please make sure you grab the book while it's still available for free on Amazon:

Rita Wray said...

I enjoyed the post, thank you.

Unknown said...

That's good to hear. Thank you, Rita.

Nikolina said...

Happy to be a part of this tour, thank you for sharing!

Unknown said...

I'd like to thank Lisa for the invitation to participate in this community and to thank you all for your kind welcome and the encouraging words.

I'll be popping in at regular intervals, so if you've got any questions, then please ask. Alternatively, drop past my Facebook page ( and say hi.

And don't forget, Clementina is available for free until Friday. Make sure you grab your copy:

All the best