Interview: Tom Wood

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Tom Wood burst onto to the crime thriller scene in 2011, with the excellent debut novel The Hunter. Now an international hit with German, Polish and American editions of the book available, Tom Wood has come up with its sequel. The Enemy sees the return of Victor, an assassin with far too many enemies. Tom joins us here for a chat about the book…

The Enemy is out now, but can you tell us more about The Hunter, where the story begins?
My first novel, The Hunter, is about a ruthless freelance assassin known only as Victor who is set up by his unidentified employer. What follows is a frantic chase with Victor pursued by all manner of enemies as he attempts to find out who betrayed him and why.

So Victor is back in The Enemy. Did you always plan for him to return?
I went back and forth for a while on whether The Hunter would be a standalone or the first in a series. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to write more than one book about the same character or whether Victor would be the kind of hero who could sustain a series. Ultimately, by the time I was nearing the end of writing The Hunter I knew Victor would be back. Someone with so many enemies wasn’t going to be able to sneak off into retirement and I had so much fun writing about him that I wanted to see what he would get up to next.

Is there more to Victor than what you show in the books, and do you intend on revealing more about him as the series develops?
I know everything about Victor there is to know. I wouldn’t write about him if I didn’t. But I don’t consider him a closed book. Victor is a forward thinking character who almost never dwells on the past. In those rare moments he does, the reader learns a little more about his background. I could have artificially inserted exposition about his past, but I don’t think it’s necessary to the character to identify such facts as which military unit he was in or where he was born. Nor is it appropriate  – Victor doesn’t think about such things. No-one Victor encounters knows the full details of his past, so why should the reader?

Besides, I prefer to learn about a character via a more organic and gradual revelation, and there are many instances in both books where the reader can infer details about Victor from dialogue or internal monologue, and this will continue. For example, in The Hunter Victor remembers a time as a small child hunting with his uncle. In The Enemy he remembers a train station outside his dormitory window. I prefer to allow the reader to deduce the subtext in moments like these than to make explicit statements.

Your novels are very fluid in setting. How much research goes into setting scenes in so many different countries?
It depends greatly on the scene. I’m more interested in story and pace than in setting so I probably don’t do half as much as an author who really wants to bring the locations to life. I prefer a less-is-more approach with most of my descriptions, whether it’s a room, a person or a whole town, but I’ll do as much as I think is important. I certainly haven’t been to every country that features in the two books – I’d be penniless and have no time left to write – but I’ll watch documentaries, pour over maps, read travel guides and blog posts, and talk with those who do have firsthand experience, depending on how much information I think I need.

Your books are quite cinematic in nature, are you influenced by film when writing?
Absolutely. I’ve been a film fan my entire life, but I haven’t always been an avid reader. Now, I love both, but I spent my youth watching films instead of reading and that has had an impact on how I write. Obviously, the two media are very different, but they are both designed to entertain and I think there is a lot that film does well that is transferable to books.

What are your future plans?
Keep writing. I’m contracted for another two thrillers, but I’ve also written a novel that is the first in a detective trilogy. Besides that I’d like to lose a few pounds, join a boxing gym and drink more water.


The Enemy is out now on paperback and ebook from Sphere. Join us tomorrow here on Crime Fiction Lover when we’ll launch a special competition – we have five copies of the book to give away!

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