Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Making of a Monster: Guest Post by Simon Wood

Today I welcome back one of my favorite friends and writers, Simon Wood. Simon Wood is a California transplant from England. He's a former competitive racecar driver, a licensed pilot, an endurance cyclist 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 latest thriller is THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY that came out on March '15. He also writes horror under the pen name of Simon Janus. Curious people can learn more at

SIMON WOOD: Making of a Monster

Marshal Beck is the villain is THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY. He's a monster—he abducts and kills women—but he's not a traditional monster. He's not a rampaging nutcase. He's thoughtful and lives by a manifesto—that just happens to involve murder.

For me that’s the crux of a villain or a monster. They can’t be megalomaniacs or indiscriminate psychopaths. There has to be something more to them than that. Moustache twirling villains just don’t do it. They need to have an added dimension not only to be interesting but in order to be scary. So I put a lot of thought into an antagonist.

So how was Marshall Beck made?

I have to be careful about what I say here, as he's inspired by a couple of acquaintances. While neither of these two people have ever met, they both have a tendency to view the world in black and white terms which lead to them to make sweeping and harsh judgments that would likely result in some form of capital punishment for large sections of society for failing to live up to their ideals if they were in charge. I should mention that the guilty have ranged from terrorists to jaywalkers. It’s kind of amusing because it’s nothing more than hyperbole.

But what if it wasn’t? What if they were serious? What if they thought the laws in place failed to punish people for certain crimes, so they personally exacted the punishment society chose to ignore? It’s an exaggeration, but one I wanted to explore.

To add more flavor to the character, I turned to an urban legend from my childhood. As a child of the 70’s, things that happened within the family home stayed within the family home whereas today child services would have been called in to investigate. I grew up around a couple of brothers that I can’t say I particularly liked. They were always mean, but they were their father’s sons. Their father was mean-spirited. The rumor was that when the sons stepped out of line, the father beat them with a switch made from a thorned blackberry vine that grew all around their house. Whether it was true or not, just the idea of a barbed switch is scary. It’s been something that’s stayed with me, so when it came to the weapon Marshall Beck would use on his victims, I took that switch and made it bigger and badder.

Marshall Beck is a man who deals out punishments. Marshall Beck isn't hidden from the reader. You get to see the world as he sees it through his distortion. To him, what he's doing is just and not out of bounds. He doesn’t see the distortion, even if we do. The reason for this is simple. No one sees themselves as the villain. They're the heroes of their stories. It may be a conscious or unconscious delusion. Delusion or not, they don’t see themselves as the bad guy.

So that’s Marshall Beck—part exaggeration, part bogeyman and part manifesto. I hope you'll read THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY and ride his dark highway until he selects the wrong woman and it all comes to an end.


Reine said...

I've met the great Simon. Now I need to meet the longhaired dachshund!

Janet Rudolph said...

I have met Rufus, and he's truly special. The last time I saw him was at a book talk. Simon brought him for show and tell. He's very well behaved..Rufus that is.. not Simon..LOL

Janet A said...

I love his books. I have two in my book bag right now to read.

Janet Rudolph said...

Oops, Royston is the dog's name..

Simon Wood said...

Thanks for the comments. My hound isn't making too many public appearance now that he's getting on. Also he's far more popular than me. :-(


ana manwaring said...

Simon is one of my favorite writers. What more can I say?

Priscilla said...

Great article, Simon! Very intriguing plot.

Simon Wood said...

Thanks Priscilla.