“I found out at the end of November, and there were plenty of zipped lips since then, particularly at Christmas when we had all the children around and there were plenty of occasions when I could have made an announcement, but didn’t!”
The award comes for services to literature.
“Who knows why these things happen, but I think it has been because I have done a lot of stuff around writers’ organisations, like being chairman of the Society of Authors, being involved with the Crime Writers Association and president of the Detection Club.”
In addition, of course, there is the little matter of 96 books in just over 40 years: “I think it was Emile Zola who said ‘If you can’t overwhelm with quality, you can always overwhelm with quantity!”
Simon, who lives just outside Arundel, added: “I am always particularly pleased when there are honours for the arts because the arts are so much more difficult to define in that way. There are certain jobs that when you get to a certain level, there is some kind of public recognition with a gong, but there is no career structure in something like writing or acting which obviously makes it all more unpredictable.”
Simon is the author of the Charles Paris, Mrs Pargeter, Fethering and Blotto & Twinks series of crime novels. In 2014, he was awarded The CWA Diamond Dagger, one of the highest accolades in the crime writing world. His writing also includes comedy in radio and television series including No Commitments and After Henry.
As for the OBE, Simon was able to start letting people know on December 30 when it was clear news was filtering out: “I rang the children and they were suitably pleased. We had just had a very good Christmas with all of them around, during which my role seemed to be as a climbing frame for two small grandchildren!”