Simon Mason grew up in the great city of Sheffield, where his father captained Sheffield United and his mother worked as a sex therapist. He attended local comprehensive schools, which first instilled in him a love of poetry. In due course, he studied English Literature at Oxford University, a strange place of extreme erudition, which he didn’t really like very much. After graduating he went into publishing, and over the next thirty-five years worked for a variety of publishers, eventually becoming managing director of the newly independent children’s publisher, David Fickling Books, where he also had the opportunity to work with some wonderful authors, including Philip Pullman, whose book of essays on storytelling, Daemon Voices, he edited.
Throughout, in the evenings and weekends, he wrote his own fiction. At first he wrote books for adults, then books for children, which grew up at roughly the same rate his own children grew up, and now he is back writing books for adults again. He has been fortunate enough (and it really is a matter of fortune) to have won or been shortlisted for a number of awards. In 1990, The Great English Nude won the Betty Trask Prize for Best First Novel. In 2002, The Quigleys, for 7–9-year-olds, received a Special Commendation in the Branford Boase Prize for Best First Children’s Novel. Moon Pie (2011), for 8–12-year-olds, was shortlisted for The Guardian Children’s Fiction prize. In the crazy years when his own children were teenagers, he wrote three crime novels for young adults featuring the sixteen-year-old slacker genius Garvie Smith. Running Girl (2014) was shortlisted for the Costa Prize for Best Children’s Book, Kid Got Shot (2016) won the Crimefest Prize for Best YA Crime Novel, for which Hey, Sherlock! (2018) was also shortlisted. More recently, he has written two crime novels for adults featuring mismatched detectives who both happen to be called Wilkins. Mick Herron called A Killing in November (2022) ‘a terrific crime novel’. Val McDermid said of The Broken Afternoon (2023) ‘Move over Morse. Simon Mason’s Oxford crime novel confounds all our expectations. If you read one police procedural this year, make it The Broken Afternoon.’
In addition to his fiction, he has also written a work of nonfiction, The Rough Guide to Classic Novels (2007), for which he chose, read and wrote pieces on 200 classic novels from all world traditions, from the time of Don Quixote to the present day.
For the academic years 2021–22 and 2022–23 he has been an RLF Fellow at Exeter College, Oxford, a role he has loved, working with a great variety of students on their essay writing. He is also Fellow of Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University.