Monday 17 November 2008

An Interview - Tom Bale

Tom Bale is the author of SKIN AND BONES, a fast-paced thriller set in the Sussex countryside. He lives in Brighton with his family.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

I’m just finishing the first draft of my next book, provisionally entitled TERROR’S REACH, which introduces a possible series character, a former undercover cop. The book is set on a fictional island in the vicinity of Chichester harbour in West Sussex, and the story can best be summed up as “DIE HARD on Sandbanks”!

Q2. Can you give us an idea of Tom Bale’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

I drag myself out of bed in time to take my daughter to school, then go for a walk around my little corner of Brighton. During the morning I do my best to write but often seem to lose a few hours on household chores, surfing the Internet, drinking coffee and watching Homes Under The Hammer (oh, the shame!) When the kids get back from school I flee to my study and usually fare a bit better. And recently I’ve developed the habit of returning to work late at night, sometimes till one or two a.m., which doesn’t seem quite such a good idea when the alarm goes off a few hours later.

Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

A lot of reading: mainly crime and thrillers, plus some non-fiction and dozens of crime-related websites and blogs. I really do spend far, far too much time on the Internet. Other than that, I try to give my family the benefit of my scintillating company (ha!); in the summer I swim in the sea as often as possible, and I have something of a love/hate relationship with DIY. I’m putting up a fence at the moment, which so far has entailed fewer tantrums and a lot less swearing than usual. Perhaps I’m finally getting the hang of it…

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the crime fiction scene?

Only the tried and tested. Read voraciously. Write what interests you. Rewrite again and again. And when you come to submit, make use of the incredible wealth of information about agents and publishers that can now be found online.

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

I really enjoyed SHATTER by Michael Robotham, Mo Hayder’s RITUAL and KING OF SWORDS by Nick Stone.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

I usually have several books on the go at once, and I’m currently reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s THE BLACK SWAN, I SEE YOU by Gregg Hurwitz and NO KISS FOR THE DEVIL by Adrian Magson. I’m also re-reading John Sandford’s PREY series featuring Lucas Davenport. They’re a masterclass in thriller writing.

Q7. Plans for the future?

I hope to go on writing and being published, but I’m taking nothing for granted. It’s a very precarious industry, so best to approach it one book at a time.

Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

Going back to my teens, when I first started submitting work, I’d do a lot of things differently. Seek more advice, for a start. Submit more widely is another thing – but this was the era of the typewritten top copy and a carbon. After just one or two submissions the top copy was battered, so I would simply ditch it and go on to the next novel, the next short story. I sound like a terrible old fogey, but the advent of home computers and printers has made it so much easier to get your work out in the market.

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

I had my fair share of heartbreak over the years. One of the worst occasions was when I submitted the opening chapters of a novel to an agent, who replied very quickly by email, saying she was loved it and wanted to see the whole book. I sent it off, thinking I’d made a significant step forward and was in with a good chance, but after waiting six weeks I was woken one morning by the thud of a parcel on the doormat. It had been returned with just a pre-printed rejection slip: not so much as a scribbled signature or comment. I was devastated.

Q10. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

Just to thank you for the time and effort you put in to Crime Scene NI. Sites like this are an enormously valuable resource for crime writers and readers alike.

Thank you, Tom Bale!

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