Monday, November 25, 2019

Simon Landry Interview - Chestnut Street

Photo Content from Simon Landry

Simon Landry was born in Montreal in 1979. He graduated from Laval University with a bachelor's degree in education in 2003. He has since then been teaching high school mathematics. An avid reader, Simon decided to plunge into creative writing in 2017 during his spare time. Chestnut Street is his first published novel. He currently lives with his wife and two children in Montreal.

Tell us your latest news.
Chestnut Street has been available for about two weeks now in print version and it’s starting to get a buzz. While the sales in Canada has been steadily growing thanks in large part to my network of friends, family members and co-workers, sales in the US have been going well but could pick up a lot more steam. I will be launching a marketing campaign within a week or so, once the eBook version is out, to try and reach more readers.

Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in the suburbs of Montreal, Canada. I’ve traveled back and forth to Philadelphia for two years while my wife was working at the Children’s Hospital there. It’s where I fell in love with Philly and where I got the inspiration for this book. I’ve traveled back to Philly half-a-dozen times since we moved the family back to Montreal, but Philly will always be like my second home. I’m now living in Montreal with my wife and two daughters.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
What I love most about this experience is getting in touch with people I never would have met otherwise. People write to me, telling me they loved my story, and it feels wonderful to know that I got to bring a dash of happiness in a stranger’s life. I’ve even been recognized in the streets a few times, which is a new and strange feeling for me!

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
Well I certainly hope they will like reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. While I’m fully conscious that not everyone will love it, I just hope that most people will find it interesting.

In your new book; CHESNUT STREET, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Here is a short synopsis, as shown on the back matter or the book:

Philadelphia; 1969: The city is in turmoil as the race riots rage on. James Monroe, an up and coming journalist, stumbles across a dangerous plot that could turn the tides in the civil rights movement.

Philadelphia; 2013: Sam Brighton, a humble high school math teacher enjoying his life with his family, is framed—incriminating pictures of one of his students has somehow been planted on his phone, and he quickly becomes a pariah, is labeled as a pedophile, and is found guilty of the crime. His world suddenly crumbles to pieces as he loses everything he holds dear. Sam can’t make sense of what happened but he knows one thing for sure – he’s innocent.

Little does he know that he has been sacrificed in order to protect powerful men that want to make sure the forbidden information discovered in the late ’60s never sees the light of day. Sam quickly realizes that he is the only person who can prove his innocence and immediately springs into action. He navigates through the seedy underworld of Philadelphia, fighting for his life but more importantly, the truth.

In desperation, Sam scrambles about the city to discover his connection to this sordid plot, clear his name, and return to his family. What he uncovers is a conspiracy spanning almost a half-century that could rock the City of Brotherly Love to its core.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I wrote the book while on parental leave for my second daughter, Marguerite. So I guess the worst distraction would be when she woke up from her nap, which meant that couldn’t work on it anymore. My dedication actually reads: To Sophia and Marguerite; Thank you for the long naps. Love, Daddy. My family always came first while I was working on this book, which is the reason it took me so long to finish it.

What part of James did you enjoy writing the most?
James is not the main character, Sam is. I enjoyed writing about Sam because I drew a lot from my personal life to get inspiration for this character. It’s a way for people who’ve never actually met me to get to know a part of me, through the story they are reading.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
If I could find a way, and at the moment I couldn’t fathom a single instance how it could happen, to make Sam Brighton meet Jack Ryan, the hero of so many Tom Clancy novels, it would be awesome. I absolutely love this question as it gets my creative juices flowing!

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Don’t be afraid to take the plunge. Whatever dream project you’ve had floating in the back of your head for a long time, give it a try. I’ve been thinking and dreaming of publishing novels since I was a teenager. I finally took the plunge (with a little push from my wife Veronique) and I don’t regret a single second. Even if your project fails (which many of my life projects have), at least you can lay your head on a pillow at night telling yourself you gave it your all. You don’t want to look back on your life thinking on everything you wish you would have done, rather you want to think of everything you tried to accomplish.

Best date you've ever had?
Third date or so, with my wife. We actually went to see the Bodies exposition at the museum. My wife is a doctor (also inspiration for Sam’s wife in the book) and she explained everything to me with such passion that I found her simply fascinating. Even though I had a nasty cold that night and at first I was hesitant to kiss her goodnight, just before we parted ways I thought “What the hell!” and dove in. I’ve never looked back since.

What's your most missed memory?
That’s a really tough question. I’m not someone who generally reflects on his past, I’d rather look forward to what might be coming ahead. I’d say that at times I miss the days when my girls were little babies, who spent most of their days sleeping on my belly and cuddling up to their dad.

What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
My first born child. I had absolutely no freakin’ clue what I was doing. That and parachuting out of an airplane. Upon reflection, parachuting wasn’t as scary!

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
I don’t think I’d call getting married an “incident”, but it made me grow into a more mature and thoughtful person. My own personal needs didn’t come first anymore, and it changed my perspective on life.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
Middle school/high school. I was kind of a weird kid, a loner at times. I’d like to tell myself: ”don’t worry about a thing, you’ll grow out of this phase and it’ll all work out for the best.”

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Charity work/volunteering. There’s hardly anything more gratifying in life than taking time from your life to give to those who are not as lucky. It puts things in perspective and makes you a more wholesome being.

American Assassin by Vince Flynn. The Scorpio Illusion by Robert Ludlum. Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy. The Camel Club by David Baldacci. The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry. America by Stephen Coonts. Christine by Stephen King. The Einstein Enigma by J-R Dos Santos. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. Playing For Pizza by John Grisham.

It all started almost 10 years ago. My wife was living in Philadelphia, working at the Children’s Hospital. I was traveling back and forth between Montreal and Philly as I still had a full time job teaching in Montreal. I fell in love with Philly and its people. There’s an energy there that can’t be found anywhere else. While I was in Philly, as I didn’t have a job to occupy me, so I spent a great amount of time walking around town, taking in the sights and sounds of the city. Ideas for a story taking place in Philly started gathering in my head but the idea of creating a novel wasn’t in my mind just yet. We had our first child shortly after moving back to Montreal and I started putting down in a notebook all the ideas for a story I had gathered over the years. Whenever a new thought would pop into my head, I put it down in writing so I wouldn’t forget it. 

While I was on leave for my first child, I slowly started organizing all these thoughts and ideas and a vague story came out of it. My first-born started day-care when she was a year-old and I resumed teaching full-time, so the project was put on hold. When our second child was born, I took a full year of parental leave. I finally decided to give writing an honest try, so whenever the baby would nap, instead of watching TV or reading a book, I would get on my laptop and write from the general storyline I had wrote in my notebook. 

The first draft I wrote was only 20 000 words, but I showed it to a few friends and to my wife and they all agreed that while there was still a lot of work to do on it, the story had potential. I worked on the second draft whenever I had free time, either once the kids were asleep or if I finished early on a school-day. A few months later, I finally had something worth showing to agents and publishers. I knocked on every possible door and was finally rewarded with a contract offer from Sunbury Press. They have since been invaluable partners in this adventure. And now here we are today, almost a decade later, talking about a book I never thought I would ever be able to write and slowly working on book #2!

When Sam Brighton's quiet and peaceful life is ripped apart by false accusations of sexual misconduct, he loses his job, his family and everything he holds dear. Little does he know that he's just been sacrificed by powerful men who will do anything to protect a dangerous secret.
Fighting for his life, Sam navigates through the seedy underworld of Philadelphia in order to find the truth and get his life back.

What he uncovers is a conspiracy spanning almost a half-century that could rock the City of Brotherly Love to its core.

You can purchase Chestnut Street at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SIMON LANDRY for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of Chestnut Street by Simon Landry.