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Friday 20 September 2019

ℚ Simon Says - Jo Wesley

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Simon Says (, Jo Wesley, 328 pages), a Dark Psychological Thriller.

"Extremely well written, very dark and anxiety ridden...I was up past 1am finishing this as I could not put it down!"

"This was a compelling read that kept me rooting for the main character, and turning the page. I look forward to Jo's next book."

"A dark and twisted read that really gripped me! Thank you for keeping me up all night!"

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Q&A || About the Author || Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Jo Wesley; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for Simon Says?

"After I wrote my first novel – a thriller about a controlling relationship – a commissioning agent advised me to find a hook for my next book.  The issues around grooming children seemed to be a growing concern for colleagues in social care at the time, so I decided to write Simon Says from the perspective of the child/her adult self but – importantly – without being explicit.

In 2014, a senior commissioning editor saw my first chapters at a conference and really liked these and the book’s premise.  She told me to contact her when I had an agent.  But I failed to find an agent and at another book event later that year, one agent remembered me and explained that no one would touch a book about a child being groomed.

Simon Says sat unloved on my PC for a further five years.  In the meantime, I part-wrote another thriller, had a break from writing, and then wrote and published another book in a different genre.  When the humorous novel did really well, my writing friends asked about Simon Says and encouraged me to publish it as they hadn’t forgotten the storyline.  I’m pleased I did as I really love this book."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"The council estates featured in Simon Says are similar to places I have lived or where my friends lived.
Flats on the White Lion Road, Amersham, UK, taken in the late 1970s, where the author used to live.
Also, at one time, I worked in the same office as the community safety team, so I was able to speak to colleagues from the Drug & Alcohol teams, etc.  When I needed the sequence of events reviewing in chapter one, I approached a colleague who worked at the local fire station to see if she could find a friendly fire officer to read the scene.  She managed to find the whole of Red Watch who had a ‘book club’ session during their lunch break.  They gave me helpful tips but I squirmed when imagining them acting out the parts!"
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Simon Says - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"More Visual undertook the cover.  I provided them with links to two covers I liked and explained that an original idea had been for my cover to show a girl playing hopscotch with a packet of B&H cigarettes, while Simon lurked in the background with his jacket draped over his shoulder – but this would probably be too busy for a cover.

Richie [Cumberlidge] at More Visual took my comments on board and made a fab cover, which is as dark as the novel.  He also made a play with the title and tagline so they are styled on hopscotch."
Why should we read Simon Says and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"It’s a thriller with a difference.  In one timeline, the first-person point-of-view enables the reader to live Cindy’s experience as her world crumbles.  This perspective lends greater understanding as to Karis’s action in the other timeline as she confronts her past."
Can you tell us something quirky about Simon Says, its story and characters?
"None of the names were taken from people I know, but they worked well for the book.  Simon’s name was chosen as it fell into place when Cindy’s mother calls him ‘Slimeball Sime’.  The title was chosen after the book was finished.

There is little quirkiness about this book.  The foam poking through the arm rests or mildew in the bathroom were taken from childhood memories but I’d only seen items such as the chain-link fly screen depicting a horse reaching the finish line in a betting shop.  I could imagine it hanging at Cindy’s back door though, with Bill puffing a cigarette nearby and proudly observing his latest acquisition."
Who would you recommend Simon Says to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"Although this book features childhood grooming, my intention was never to portray the specific abuse but to demonstrate the wider impact of the mental and physical trauma.  What isn’t shown is more powerful than what is."
If you could / wished to turn Simon Says into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I can’t imagine Simon Says ever being turned into a movie but Alex Ferns, who played evil Trevor Morgan in Eastenders, reminds me a little of Simon.  Or his character did, as almost twenty years after his episodes were aired Alex is no longer the right age to play a 27-year-old.

I must confess that I don’t watch many films, so I’ll pass on who would produce or direct as I’ve only heard of two directors – Quentin Tarantino and Steven Spielberg – and I can’t see this novel appealing to either of them."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I used to write psychological thrillers until last year, when I wrote a humorous novel which did well in the Kindle charts.  I’m currently writing the second in the series and then I’ll complete the thriller which I aim to finish next year."
What is your writing process?
"If I had time I would have a writing process.  But currently work takes up much of my time, so when I do have a spare moment I grab the laptop and bash out a few more words."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I adore dogs.  Due to the demands of my job, I can’t have one at the moment – but I plan to in the future.  I choose to have rescue dogs as they need loving homes.

Elsie, who died in 2015, was gorgeous.  This picture was staged by my daughter, then aged 14, who was home alone and bored.  It makes me chuckle."
Great pic :-) Elsie seemed like a gorgeous girl; thank you for sharing her with us!

Once she ran. Now she'll fight. But is it too late?

Simon Says
Available NOW!

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