Friday, May 31, 2013


If I could encourage any writer to start a kid detective series it would be Johnny Shaw.  I found myself grinning and giggling so much while reading about this hard-boiled, fedora-wearing kid detective, Simon Sez, that I finally had to leave my work desk and finish the story in the stairwell just so people would leave me alone and let me read in peace. Let's just say that if Simon Sez had been around in my younger days I would have been offering him bites of my cookies every day of the week... and, no, that's not a euphemism.  I'm thrilled that Simon Sez in the Snickerdoodle Kerfuffle debuts in FEEDING KATE, and I really, really, really, really, really hope to read more detective adventures featuring this truly lovable character. 

Simon Sez in The Snickerdoodle Kerfuffle

I’m not one of those writers that always wanted to be a writer. I didn’t write my first short story at 5 or a picaresque novella at 8 or a trilogy of novels known as “the puberty cycle” at 12. I don’t really remember what I wanted to be. Probably some bastard combination of super-hero, architect, and farmer (Superarchifarmer?). The idea of putting stories down on paper didn’t occur to me until college and even then it was as a screenwriter (and as screenwriting falls somewhere between bumper stickers and greeting cards in terms of literary merit, I’m not even sure that counts).

And while I wasn’t a writer as a kid, I was a voracious reader. I may have grown up on a farm in the middle of the desert, but that house was filled with books. Not a bookcase against the wall in the den, but overflowing with books. I’m talking tonnage. When I packed the books up after my Pop passed away, there were over 10,000 volumes.

And a big part of my early reading other than comic books was mystery series books: Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew (yes, boys read Nancy Drew), Encyclopedia Brown, and The Three Investigators.  This was, of course, before I graduated to Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs, another teenager converted by the awesome power of Frank Frazetta.  It took me a while to get back to reading mysteries, but I never forgot a lot of those childhood bookventures.

When I sat down to write a story for FEEDING KATE, I knew that food had to be an integral part of the story. The first idea that jumped in my head was stolen cookies.  Don’t ask me why. Maybe I was hungry. Not too hard-boiled, to be sure. I mean, I have a reputation to uphold (or so I sadly tell myself). Stolen cookies? It sounded like an Encyclopedia Brown story.

But Encyclopedia Brown was too Sherlocky. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were the Poirot and Marple of the teen mystery set. And while the Three Investigators had some edge (their hideout was in a junkyard!), they used their brains too much to be considered badass. Where was Li’l Phil Marlowe or Sammy Spade? Where was the kid who was willing to ask the hard questions, play rough with the boys and rougher with the dames, and at the end of the day, have the grass stains to prove it?

That’s how the hard-boiled kid detective Simon Sez came to be. At eleven, he’s got ten good reasons you shouldn’t mess with him. His fingers when they’re in fists.

FEEDING KATE inspired me. I enjoyed the hell out of writing the story, and I’m considering writing more stories with Simon.  We’ll see.  I did see the titles “The Boy Who Was Not It” and “The Dill Pickle Stickler” written in the margins of some notes. That might be enough to get me started.

But for now, the only place to read “Simon Sez in The Snickerdoodle Kerfuffle” is in the pages of FEEDING KATE.  Simon Sez says buy it.

Johnny Shaw is the author of the novels DOVE SEASON and BIG MARIA. His work has also appeared in Thuglit, Crime Factory, Plots with Guns, and various anthologies.

He is the creator and editor of the online fiction publication BLOOD & TACOS, a loving homage to men’s adventure paperbacks of the 1970′s & 1980′s.

You can find him online at or follow him on Twitter @BloodAndTacos

Feeding Kate: A Crime Fiction Anthology is available from Amazon. All proceeds from Feeding Kate benefit the Lupus Foundation of America.


Sabrina E. Ogden said...

Is it wrong that I envisioned this story in a little hardback book with sketches throughout? I really love this character and I want a series with him on my bookshelf. Thanks for being my guest today, Johnny.

Anonymous said...

I can totally see that, Sabrina!