Simon Mayo

Historical Fiction

Love, gambling, smallpox and a remarkable production of Romeo and Juliet in one of the world’s most notorious prisons.

Simon Mayo is one of England’s most admired radio presenters. He has worked on BBC radio since 1982 and is now the presenter of Drivetime on BBC Radio 2. He lives in London. He is the author of the historical fiction novel Mad Blood Stirring.

Read BookTrib’s review of Simon’s book, Mad Blood Stirring.

Visit Simon’s website for more.

ITCH (2012)



BLAME (2016)

Mad Blood Stirring (2018)

Biggest literary influencers:

Patrick Ness, Lee Child, Stephen King, Philip Pullman, James Lee Burke, Douglas Adams

Last book read:

In a House of Lies by Ian Rankin

The book that changed your life:

The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments by Robert Brent. This is a children’s chemistry book from 1960 which, due to its somewhat casual approach to heath and safety, ended up being banned. It was the inspiration behind my first book ITCH, the story of 14 year old element hunter Itchingham Loft. Without it, I wonder if I would ever have written a word. If you’ve ever wondered how to blow up your kitchen, this is the book for you.

Your favorite literary character:

Arthur Dent from The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.  The most English it is possible to be.  Hurtling around space with his just his towel, tea and dressing gown, he still manages to tackle the Vogons, their terrible poetry and master the golden Infinite Improbability generator.

Currently working on:

A contemporary thriller set in London.

Words to live by:

Nil desperandum (never despair).

Advice to new and aspiring authors:

For younger writers-read as much as you can. In fact, for older writers-read as much as you can. Just read (is that clear enough)? And whatever you do write, once you start, make sure you finish. Don’t just polish your fabulous first chapter or you’ll get nowhere. Everyone can write one fabulous chapter. Plough on! Even if you just write one paragraph a day! You can always go back and make your corrections later. Onwards. Always onwards.


“Wonderful – a story I never heard before, told with style, pace, character, texture, and tension … bliss.” -Lee Child

“If you like your historical thrillers dark and emotional, you’ll absolutely love getting swept up in this one.” -Sarah Hughes Heat

“Well researched and full of action, Mayo brings a forgotten moment in history to life …”-Sun

“Bristling with energy, written with passion, Mad Blood Stirring is a joy to read.” -John Boyne

Mad Blood Stirring is an astonishing account of an explosive piece of neglected history. It’s a rapid page turner with dark humour, intellectual heft, and a gallery of deeply human characters that shake our spirits.”

-Sir Kenneth Branagh

“Rollicking fun, written with rude energy and humor.”

-The Wall Street Journal

“Vividly imagined.” –Guardian