Simon Toyne


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Author’s Bio: (taken from the authors web site)

I’ve been hooked on thrillers ever since I picked up my dad’s dog-eared copy of Alistair MacLean’s ‘The Satan Bug’ and discovered there was more to life than Paddington Bear and Roald Dahl.  But the journey towards actually becoming a writer of such stories was a gradual one.

At first I wanted to be an actor, until a degree in English and Drama at Goldsmith’s College in London made me realise I really didn’t.  Actors told other people’s stories.  I wanted to tell my own.  So now I had a new dream.  I wanted to write screenplays and direct films.

To try and achieve this slightly ambitious goal I wrote and directed a few shorts and produced a couple of full-length screenplays that were designed to be my ticket to the big time.  To fund this work I also freelanced in television, starting as a runner in an editing facility in Soho making tea and toast for people, then gradually working my way up the production ladder.  My show-reel of self-produced, self-written, directed and edited films got me noticed and I suddenly found myself a director, aged 25.  The master plan was working.  Surely the step from TV director to feature film-helmer was just around the corner.

Fifteen years later and I’m staring down the barrel of forty.  I’m a fairly successful TV producer with a good track record, particularly as a scriptwriter, and a good job in a leading UK independent production company.  I’m married with two kids.  I’m not going to direct feature films.  But I still have the ambition to tell a big story.  But when am I going to find the time?

My eldest is about to start school and I know that once she does I’ll be locked in a cycle of school terms and holidays.  If I ever want to write something big – now is the time.  But not a screenplay.  A screenplay is just the beginning of something.  I need to write something that once written is a finished thing.  I also need to write something commercial.  I can’t afford to take time off from a well-paid career and turn my back on my responsibilities as a husband and father on some kind of self-indulgent creative whim.  We had enough savings for me to take a sabbatical.  After that the dream was over.

So, a couple of ideas in my head and the fear of failure lighting a huge fire beneath me, I quit my job and moved with my family to France for seven months with the intention of writing a commercial thriller.  We nearly didn’t make it at all.

Setting sail on the midnight ferry to Dieppe on Dec 1st 2007 a force eight gale battered the ship, destroying not only the entire contents of the duty free shop but also any hope we had of sleeping in our tin-box cabin.  Consequently we arrived in France, exhausted but relieved to be alive, with all plans of driving for eight hours to our new home flapping tattered in the wind.  We limped inland, to Rouen, where in the pre-dawn light, I saw the twisted spires of the cathedral rising up into the lightening sky, and a new idea started to form.

As it turned out I only managed to write a third of my novel during our time in France.  We returned, as planned, when the money ran out.  My little girl started school and I went back to work freelancing at the same TV production where I’d once held a nice, safe, staff job.   It took another year and a half of writing in the evenings and in between bouts of more paid TV work to finish the book.  SANCTUS is the result, the first book of the Sanctus trilogy.  To date it has been published in over 50 countries and translated into 28 languages.  In the UK it was the biggest selling debut thriller of 2011. The Key was published in the UK on April 14th 2012 and sold twice as many copies as Sanctus in the same period, debuting on the Sunday Times Hardback Bestseller chart at number 4. It will be published all over the world in 2012 starting with America on June 19th.

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