John Worsley Simpson is a Canadian crime fiction author of four novels, the latest Missing Rebecca is on tour right now with Partners in Crime Tours. I recently had the opportunity to interview John which for me was fascinating because I once dreamt of being a journalist and author, both of which John has accomplished. I love mysteries and a good crime novel so I am looking forward to reading Missing Rebecca in the very near future. In the meantime, won't you join me for a visit with John? PS I am in italics, John's answers are in normal type.
- I read your favourite quote is, "If a cluttered desk signs a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?" ~ Albert Einstein. Is your desk cluttered, empty, or an organized state of chaos that only you understand? What does your answer say about you?
My desk is always cluttered, like my mind. Both are the product of ADHD.
- Your first novel "Undercut" was a runner-up for best first novel by the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award. To whom did the award go? Undercut was published in 2007 but I understand you have two previously published books. Are they both crime fiction? (Here John corrected me with the publication date. Mercury Press lists Undercut as as published in 2007 but that was perhaps the paperback edition, not hardcover). Note: Undercut received the Harlequin Prize.
Undercut was published in 1997 and the award for best first novel went to Kathy Reichs for Deja Dead. Undercut was the first Harry Stark novel. There have been three subsequent novels: Counterpoint, Shadowmen and A Debt of Death.
- Do you consider yourself a series writer? It seems Harry Stark "stars" in most if not all your novels. Do you foresee Harry in future novels?
The Harry Stark series hit a small wall because my publisher, Mercury Press, in Toronto, went out of business. I am, however, working on a fifth Stark novel, in which he has taken early retirement from the Toronto Police Service and is working as a private enquiry agent in Britain.
- How did you find your first publisher? Did you approach an agent first? Would you mind describing the process in short? Do you believe your career in journalism gave you an advantage to being published?
I was fortunate in finding a publisher. I tried to find an agent, with no luck, and one of the ones I approached suggested I try Mercury Press directly, and they liked my book and took it on board. The "secret" to finding an agent or a publisher is simple: either you have a track record (and it has to be an impressive one) or you write a terrific pitch. Expecting a kid who just graduated from university with an English degree to be able to judge what is and what is not a well-written work is expecting far too much. Their lights go on only when they see certain magic words that suggest the book being offered is almost the same as a previous best-seller.
- How many re-writes do you do on average before your manuscript enters the publication stage?
Novel writing IS rewriting and rewriting. I couldn't count the number of "rewrites" that go into a novel, because it's a constant process of rewriting: a sentence is reworked several times, words are changed, characters are given new roles and so on.
- I understand you are an editor for Bloomberg News in Toronto. Over which section are you the editor?
I am one of the night editors for Europe for Bloomberg News. I'm based in Toronto.
- With whom was your first job as a journalist and what kind of assignments did you receive? Did you have a favourite "beat"?
My first job as a journalist was with a weekly newspaper, the Perth Courier, in Perth, Ontario. My favourite beat was court.
- Do you see yourself varying from crime fiction? If you were to write in another genre, I'm talking novels here, what would it be and why?
I would write children's poetry--examples of which you can find on my website http://www.johnworsleysimpson.ca. I would also write black humour and young adult/children's literature.
- What is your favourite genre to read?
My favourite genre varies the way all things vary to people with ADHD: one day I read Madame Bovary in French; the next day, I read Elmore Leonard; the next day, I read about political non-fiction; the next day I read history.
- If you were to compare your writing style to another, whose would it be like?
I would compare myself to Colin Dexter.
- If you could meet one author, alive or deceased, who would it be and why?
I would like to meet Graham Greene and John Mortimer.
- Describe a typical writing day in the life of John Worsley Simpson.
I don't have a typical writing day. I write in snatches when I find the time. Actually, I make the time, but it varies. My latest gig is to write in Starbucks on my one-hour lunch breaks from Bloomberg.
- Have you always had a passion for crime writing? Please elaborate. What is your inspiration for crime writing?
I love crime writing because I love stories. Crime writing is all about telling stories. I don't have much use for non-linear modern "literature." When I read literature, with a few exceptions, it's all stuff written before the twentieth century -- Dickens, Flaubert, Thackery, Thomas Hardy: all story tellers, not self-indulgent, self-important 30-something trendies who haven't lived long enough or hard enough to have anything to say worth reading.
- What is your greatest passion?
My greatest passions are music and golf. I cook, but it's not a passion.
- What is your favourite movie and/or television series? I'm curious to know if you watch programs like Criminal Minds, Bones or Law and Order or if you prefer comedies or something "light" to remove yourself from the "crime scene"?
My favourite movie is Chinatown. I don't watch any commercial television. I do watch HBO series: Treme, Boardwalk Empire, the Sopranos, Wire. I watch PBS (U.K. series): the likes of Frost, Morse, Lewis. I loved to a fault Rumpole of the Bailey.
- I truly appreciate this opportunity to better know a successful Canadian author. Is this your first experience with a virtual tour? What is your feedback on the process so far?
Yes, this is my first experience with a virtual tour. I'm quite impressed with it.
Thanks again and I do hope my copy of Missing Rebecca shows up so I might have the opportunity to read it as well. (I moved recently and wonder if it got mixed up in the mail with the move). John kindly offered to send me another.