About Simon Kernick

Simon KernickI was born way back in 1966 in the less-than-quaint London satellite town of Slough. After leaving school in the mid 1980s with not much in the way of qualifications, I worked in a variety of jobs including labourer in a roadbuilding gang, which was probably the most enjoyable one I ever had pre-writing; barman; stockroom assistant for an IT company; and fruitpicker. After a fair bit of drifting and several years spent away living and travelling in Canada, the USA and Australia, I returned home and, for want of a better alternative, went back to college. I took a degree in Humanities at Brighton Poly as it was then, the far more posh-sounding University of Brighton, as it is now.

Unfortunately, when I graduated in 1991, it was right in the middle of a recession, and after a lengthy spell on the dole, interspersed with a job as a Christmas Tree uprooter (probably my second favourite job of all time after the writing), I found work in London as a computer software salesman and, despite my best efforts, I remained one for the rest of the 1990s.

The thing was, though, I'd always wanted to write- particularly crime books- so I wrote two in my spare time: one in 1995-96, the other in 1998. Sadly, neither was met with much of a welcome (in fact I think every agent in the country rejected number two: a huge gangster tome entitled FINE NIGHT FOR A KILLING).

But I persevered, embarking finally on THE BUSINESS OF DYING, the story of a London detective who moonlights as a hitman, which was finally completed in early 2001. After another couple of rejections, I managed to get an agent, and in September of that year, much to my amazement, the book was sold to my current publishers, Transworld. It was released in July 2002, to much critical acclaim, wth the Guardian describing it as 'a gem', and The Independent hailing it as 'the crime debut of year' (see all reviews). In the United States, THE BUSINESS OF DYING was shortlisted for the prestigious Barry Award for best British novel, and has since been translated into fifteen languages, including Japanese, Greek and Russian. THE MURDER EXCHANGE, a tale of intrigue and double-cross in the murky world of London gangland followed in 2003, and was also shortlisted for the Barry Award, as well the Theakstons Old Peculier crimewriting prize for best British Crime paperback (although by some terrible miscarriage of justice, it won neither).

Since those heady days I've written a further six books. A GOOD DAY TO DIE, my long-planned sequel to THE BUSINESS OF DYNG, which saw the hitman cop Dennis Milne returning to London to avenge the murder of his former colleague, was shortlisted for the CWA Steel Dagger for best thriller of 2005, but it was my fifth, RELENTLESS, which became what publishers call the break-out book. Described by The Observer as 'unputdownable', RELENTLESS, a race against time thriller about an ordinary family man who finds himself chased by killers who will stop at nothing to kill him, even though he has no idea what he's meant to have done, was one of only eight titles picked for Richard and Judy's Recommended Summer Reads for 2007, and to date has sold more than 300,000 copies. My latest thriller, STAY ALIVE, is on sale now.

The research for the books involves me talking both on and off the record (but usually off) with a number of contacts in the police and security services, including Special Branch, the Anti-Terrorist branch, and SOCA (the Serious and Organized Crime Agency), and it's their input that gives the books their authenticity. However, I've been told to point out that, unlike some of my own police characters, these guys (and girls) are all scrupulously honest, and none of them have ever killed anyone for money. Not that they're admitting, anyway.

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