Award-Winner Fiction: Gay & Lesbian

2013 International Book Awards

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The intimate and dramatic confessional of a gay ex-cult member as he battles substance abuse in his desperate search for love on the darker avenues of Hollywood


Simon Says on Facebook


"Stark and gritty, Poe's story about the search for self-discovery is a sobering testament to the author's own personal journey through Rev. Moon's Unification Church, which makes the story resonate that much more." - Publisher's Weekly 4/22/2013

Star Rating:, 4 our of 5 "Most compellingly, Poe gives a striking account of what it takes to finally seek help after a soul-crushing decade of drug addiction. While a fuller account of life in the Moonies would have been intriguing, Powell's journey through post-church days and drug-filled nights is rife with powerful moments." Elizabeth Millard for Clarion ForeWord Reviews


"A coming of age story of finding what really matters, Simon Says is a choice read, not to be overlooked." - Midwest Book Review

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 "The book is well-written and remarkably smooth to read, despite its dark storyline . . . a snapshot of a dark period in a young gay man's life, and will leave readers hungry to know whether or not Simon succeeds in picking himself back up again." -
San Francisco Book Review

"Simon Says is a journey of self-destruction, self-discovery and ultimately, redemption. And while Poe depicts a familiar story of downward decline, his novel has more complexity than the traditional "downfall tales" we've come to know. While Poe's Simon begins at a low point--the reader knows almost from the start that he's destined for a fall--there is also an inevitable and heart-warming rise that makes this a book worth reading." - Rebecca Nichloson for IndieReader

Goodreads reviews for Simon Says



A gay man escapes the cult of Reverend Sun Myung Moon after ten years and becomes a successful movie distributor in Hollywood. But the deep self-loathing that brought him to the Reverend Moon’s congregation leads him down a dark path of drugs and broken relationships until one final, traumatic moment defines whether he will live or die. A profound journey of self-discovery and acceptance, William Poe’s latest novel is a probing look into the darker reaches of the human psyche.


Simon Powell has spent ten years of his life as a member of the cult of Reverend Moon. Unfulfilled, he breaks free of the Unification Church and returns home to Arkansas only to be rocked by the death of his father. In desperate need of feeling grounded, he ventures to Hollywood and reconnects with a former lover and the lawyers he once hired to defend Reverend Moon on income tax evasion charges. Before long, however, he splits with his lover and embarks on an unending series of soulless, drug-filled nights and broken relationships. Just as his money is running out, however, he gets an interview that just might get his life back on track.


Quickly becoming a successful movie distributor, Simon’s drug problem merely spirals into the dark abyss. Cocaine gives way to crack as he spends money faster than he can make it to feed his drug and sex habit. But they both fail to fill the void deep inside and his life careens hopelessly out of control. Finally convinced to enter rehab, the continued abuse for being gay drives him towards one final, desperate decision that will leave his life hanging in the balance.


Exploring the struggle of reintegration into society of a gay man after years of self-denial and repression, Poe’s newest is a fascinating portrait of cultism, drugs, the Hollywood gay scene, and the motion picture industry. A masterpiece full of an aching longing and desperation, Simon Says is a troubling, provocative, and ultimately triumphant look into addiction, recovery, and our need to be loved.


Simon Says (ISBN-13:978-0-615-55957-5), begins the story of Simon Powell, an artistic young man struggling with his sexual identity against conservative mores in the fictional hamlet of Sibley, Arkansas. As a young adult, Simon finds solace in Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. After leaving the group, despite finding success as a film distributor, Simon turns to drugs and alcohol while seeking love on the darker avenues of Hollywood, a lifestyle that ends with Simon entering rehab. Simple Simon (ISBN-13: 978-1-4776-2499-9) takes readers on Simon’s journey of self-discovery as his counselor encourages him to explore his past through writing. Simon's fate, both emotional and physical, remains in question. The story continues in the soon to be published, Simon's Mansion. Simon returns to school and pursues his dream of becoming an artist, but his past dealings pornographers and Spanish mafia threaten the life of his lover.



Gay man battles religious cult, drug addiction in new novel


William Poe draws on his own experience with recovery and Reverend Moon’s Unification Church to portray the life of a young man in over his head in “Simon Says”


SILVER SPRING, Md. – In “Simon Says” (ISBN 0615559573), William Poe writes the fictional life of a man whose destiny has not been so different from his own. For nearly a decade, Simon Powell was a follower of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his cultish and highly controversial Unification Church. After breaking with the church, protagonist Simon returns to his home in Arkansas where he is haunted by the personal struggles that forced him to leave, including his drug addiction, his inability to accept himself as gay and a painful breakup with a lover.


While out drinking at a gay bar, Simon runs into a former church counselor who reveals that Simon’s ex-boyfriend Lyle is out in Hollywood living with Sandra, a lawyer who defended Reverend Moon on tax evasion charges. Against his better judgment, Simon returns to California to seek out Lyle and Sandra. They were his only friends outside the church, even though they turned him on to cocaine. In Hollywood, Simon quickly begins to ramp up his cocaine use, picking up men in seedy hustler bars and taking up work for a shady European film distributor.


For a time, Simon seems to develop a real relationship with a stable man named Thad, but this too proves to be an illusion, and after their breakup, Simon tailspins into freebasing crack and laundering money for his boss through corrupt film deals. At a desperate end, he flees to New York, only to quickly lose himself in an orgy of sex and violence. With nowhere else to run, he returns to Arkansas for a fresh start.


In the conservative South, however, he is ostracized by group members for being gay and is driven to the very ends of despair. To make his way out, Simon will have to draw upon inner resources he never knew he had and friends and family who must push past their prejudices to save him. With its examination of religious cults, Hollywood’s gay scene, drug addiction and the seedier fringes of the motion picture industry, “Simon Says” is a novel cinematic in scope and timely in its themes and message.


“Simon Says” is available for sale online at and other channels.




William Poe


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