DEBORAH CROMBIE: Here at Jungle Red we are celebrating a
RED, white, and blue 4th of July with a few words from a chap from the other side of the Pond--those folks that, um, were the losers in the victory we're honoring with all those pop-pop-pop fireworks. But we're all the best of mates now, right?
Here's Jungle Red friend, award-winning author, and BRIT Simon Wood to give us--
An Outside Perspective
I’ve been living in
the States for fifteen years and while I know how America works, I still
consider myself an outsider. I have done my best to assimilate (in a
futile attempt not to embarrass myself in public) but there's only so
far I can go. The problem is although I’ve spent a third of my life in
the US, my cultural touchstones, my social sensibilities and dare I say
it, even my sense of humor is hardwired into where I was raised—Britain.
Naturally, I‘m going to see things a little differently from the
average American. Things you people might take for granted may take me a
moment to adjust to. For example, the US is very security-conscious.
Picture ID is required for just about everything. Nothing is taken on
trust, which I miss. But when it comes to mail delivery, everyone is
happy to have it shoved in a tin box on a wooden stick that anyone can
gain access to, which is something I’m not okay with.
an English person in the US makes me somewhat of a rarity. I’m not the
kind of foreigner that Americans expect to come across and that creates
some interesting dynamics. Waitresses hang on my every word—much to my
wife’s chagrin. But on a more serious note, my being English has
diffused awkward situations as well as kicked off intense conversations
on everything from politics to culture. I got into a long talk with a
black guy about race in America where he told me I was “white” but not
“white American”. My non-Americanness took the heat out of the
discussion and he talked to me in a way I don’t think he could have had
with anyone American born, because he saw me as an outsider. I’ve had
conversations with people about politics, religion, sport and every
other hot button topic you can imagine, but every time, the tone changes
when they talk to me. Somehow, my being English makes me neutral, so
people open up on neutral terms.
I’ll be honest. I like being an
outsider because I see oddities that I’m not sure I would see if I had
been born here. I used this sensibility for my first book, ACCIDENTS
WAITING TO HAPPEN. I thought the practice of selling life insurance on
the living was kind of hinky, but it was perfectly legal. But something
I hadn’t done was to write a book from an outsider’s point of
view—until now. My new book, NO SHOW, features Terry Sheffield, an
Englishman on his first day in America. What should be the start of an
amazing new life with his American wife goes immediately off the rails
when she isn't at the airport to pick him up. When it becomes apparent
that his wife is missing, he searches for her while navigating his way
through a country he neither knows nor understands. The book is the
first in a series featuring Terry, giving me the chance to explore crime
in America seen through the eyes of an outsider. I think it’ll be
eye-opening for Americans and non-Americans alike.
problem I see is the longer long I live in the States, the more I’ll
lose my naivety of all things American, which means I’ll have move
somewhere else. Sorry, rest of the world.
DEBS: A former racecar
driver, licensed pilot, animal rescuer, endurance cyclist, and
occasional private eye, Simon Wood is also an accomplished author with
more than 150 published stories and articles under his belt. His mystery
fiction, which has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, has
earned him both the prestigious Anthony Award and a CWA Dagger Award
nomination. In addition to No Show, his books include Accidents Waiting
to Happen, Working Stiffs, Asking for Trouble, Paying the Piper, We All
Fall Down, and Terminated. Originally from England, he lives in
California with his wife, Julie. People can learn more at www.simonwood.net. and you can find No Show here.
(I've already bought it... couldn't resist such a great premise!)
From all of us at JUNGLE RED, here's wishing you a safe and relaxing 4th of July, with a little time to read a good book.
And do drop in and say "hi" to Simon. We wouldn't want him to feel left out of the fun, now would we?