Name: Chris Simms
Where are you from: Sussex
A little about your self, ie your education Family life etc:
My first novel in the DI Spicer series, Killing The Beasts was selected as a Best Crime Book for 2005 by Shots magazine. Shortly after, I was selected as a Waterstone’s Author for the Future, one of 25 writers tipped by publishers, editors and agents to produce the most impressive body of work over the next quarter century. Since then I’ve been nominated several times for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year and for Crime Writers’ Association Daggers for my novels and short stories. I live near Manchester with my wife, a physiotherapist, and four children. When not writing novels, I freelance as a copywriter in the advertising industry and run workshops on writing skills for students in Further Education.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I have just launched a supernatural thriller called Rats’ Nest that is only available over the Christmas season. After that it will…disappear. The plot is based on the trade in human hair – and features a beautiful, fame-hungry young lady called Mandy Cost. She has some very distinctive silvery extensions fitted – without bothering to consider how the hair had actually been obtained.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I always did well at creative writing while at school – and continued writing short stories throughout my twenties. I wrote my first novel just after I turned thirty – mostly because I reasoned if not now, when?
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’ve worked as a freelance copywriter in the advertising industry for many years. Advertising copy needs to bounce along while being riddled with hooks to keep the reader’s interest. After all, who really wants to read advertisements? I’ve been told my writing style also has a direct, stripped-back style.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
A rat’s nest is a phrase that describes particularly messy hair – and it’s also a good description of some of the avaricious, shallow and generally unpleasant characters who crop up in the novel.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
First and foremost, it’s meant to be an entertaining and – at times – scary tale. If it carries any kind of message it’s this: you might know the price of what you’re buying, but do you know the cost? We’re all guilty of rushing to own things and, particularly in the case of luxury products, not pausing to think how that item came to be available for purchase.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
All the detail about the trade in human hair comes from my own research. It’s an industry where the raw material (hair) is mostly sourced from the desperate in poor countries and sold to the rich in developed nations. The potential for exploitation and wickedness is enormous.
Fiona: What books have influenced your life most?
I’ve always enjoyed books that feature a central character who is flawed, tormented or just plain weird: The Wasp Factory, Butcher Boy, The Ninth Life of Louis Drax, The Collector, Blood Meridian. These books have influenced me strongly as a writer.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Algebraist by Iain M Banks – for me it’s a fond delve back into the work of a writer whose imagination was just incredible.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I really enjoy Belinda Bauer’s novels and respect her as an author. She’s writing highly successful crime novels that are also startlingly original. That’s quite a feat given the ‘please play it safe’ tendencies of the big publishers.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’ve been turning all my previous novels – 12 of them – into ebooks that are available on Amazon. It’s a slow process but almost done. After that comes the next instalment in my DI Spicer series.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Not if you mean in the sense of it being a sole source of income. Very few writers manage that nowadays. As a life-long pursuit that occupies a huge chunk of your time? Definitely!
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The usual procession then followed: footballers, soap star actors, a couple of TV chefs, a sprinkling of model types, a comedian turned chat-show host. Joe’s camera clicked away with all the rest.
At two-forty, Mandy stepped out. Joe found himself thinking it again: her new look was a stroke of genius. Immediately, the photographers’ calls picked up a level. She had on a black satin dress, sleeveless with a slit running to the top of her right thigh. The front collapsed in rippling folds, low enough so her tits were nearly falling out.
But it was her hair that did it. That was what set her apart from all the other women.
She’d had it looped in coils that teetered on top of her head. A collection of thinner strands hung loose, and all of it seemed to shimmer in the camera flashes, the near-whiteness of it like something from another world. An exotic life-form that somehow was, and wasn’t, part of her.
The photographer by his side spoke with a thick voice. ‘Imagine reaching up and freeing that lot. Feeling it thumping down on your naked chest.’
The comment caused a flash of realisation in Joe’s head: she’d done it. She was a living, walking, sex fantasy. And now she’d be worth a fortune.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
An extremely talented guy I used to sit next to in an ad agency. He now runs his own outfit: Considered Creative.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I coach a junior side at my local rugby club.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I like to imagine I’d have made a decent presenter of nature programmes for kids. My knowledge of the animal world isn’t bad, and I came within a whisker of doing biology at ‘A’ level…
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?