I love to discover new authors and recently I read and reviewed the debut novel Lies by TM Logan and thoroughly enjoyed it (you can read my review HERE) I’m delighted to have him join me today to talk about his author influences.
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Some of the first books I can remember include The Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl (which I’ve since read to my own children), the seven-book Narnia series by CS Lewis, countless Enid Blyton stories, Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books, The Rats of Nimh by Robert C O’Brien and Watership Down by Richard Adams.
From there I moved onto The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien, lots of other fantasy books and also science-fiction – novels like The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I was in my early teens when I discovered Stephen King – starting off with It, Carrie, The Dead Zone, Misery and Pet Sematary – and I’m still reading his books today.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved English at school and took it to A-level. I wasn’t a natural at maths or science and had to work harder in those subjects. But with English, things just seemed to click and I enjoyed it a lot more, including the creative writing side. We had some great books on the syllabus like Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household, which is a fantastic, taut, old-school thriller about a lone sniper on a mission to rid the world of a warmongering dictator. I hoped to read English at university but couldn’t get a place (I made a bit of a hash of my A-levels) so I switched to history. Fortunately I ended up really enjoying that too.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I get a lot of recommendations from my wife, Sally, who reads faster than me and has a good eye for a great story. I tend to read thrillers, crime, historical, horror, the occasional sci-fi novel, chicklit and non-fiction books too. But the dominant genre for me is crime and thrillers, and I think it’s inevitable that this is an influence on my writing in terms of plotting, and pace, and character dynamics. I’m always trying to learn from other authors, to appreciate what they do well and how they do it.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’d like to have a go at historical fiction. I love Bernard Cornwell – he’s managed to write so many good books in many different historical periods and places, creating some memorable characters along the way. I’m a history graduate and retain a fascination for the subject. I guess the challenge would be finding that niche, a time and place that you can make your own. David Young has managed to do this recently with the brilliant Stasi Child and Stasi Wolf, set in the former East Germany when it was still a divided nation.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I’ve wanted to be a published author for a lot of years but there were certain books during that time that have helped show me the way. I remember being bowled over by Harlan Coben’s Tell No One: it was the first time that I’d read one of his thrillers and it featured his trademark combination of a gripping story, great dialogue, compelling bad guys and a protagonist you’re rooting for from page one. Before that, there was A Simple Plan by Scott Smith, which showed me how much power a good thriller can exert over the reader. It grabbed hold of me in such a way that it became like an addiction – I would read on the bus on the way to the office and then carry on reading it under the desk when I was supposed to be starting work. That got me into trouble a few times. But that was when I decided I’d love to write stories that had the same effect on people – I hope LIES does that.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
I’ve tried to resist this urge recently as I’m halfway through writing my second standalone thriller (deadline looming), and my TBR pile is already starting to block the light from the window… But I’m always tempted when there’s a new book out by Michael Connolly, Gillian Flynn, Harlan Coben, Tana French, CJ Carver or Sophie Hannah. I find it really hard to walk into Waterstones and walk out again without buying something.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – one of many great recommendations from my wife. I loved this book. The slow unravelling of the truth about Amy Dunne takes the story in ways you can’t predict, and the plot is brilliantly constructed. Is she alive or dead? Is her husband involved in her disappearance? Is the truth simply what we tell ourselves? The blurring of fact and fiction, the creation of different versions of the truth is one of the themes of LIES.
Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris – it goes without saying this is an absolute classic in crime thriller terms. The depiction of Hannibal Lecter is perfect, and it’s no wonder many regard this as the daddy of the serial killer genre. It blazed a trail for many, many books by other authors that followed, but it still stands the test of time. Lecter remains one of the most memorable bad guys ever written – I would have loved it if he was one of mine. I re-watched the film again recently and that’s still great, too.
In the Woods by Tana French – demonstrated that beautiful, evocative writing can go hand-in-hand with a cracking crime story. The only problem is that Tana French is so good, reading her work can be a double-edged sword for the aspiring writer. On the one hand, her prose is such a pleasure to read. On the other, it can be a bit dispiriting – in that you wonder how you’re ever going to match her.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
One of the core ideas for LIES was inspired by a story about some friends who were fundraising for charity, and how they used Facebook in a particular way to help them publicise what they were doing. I don’t want to give too much away here as it could be a bit of a spoiler for the plot! But I certainly take inspiration from real life events. Often it’s a case of looking at a real event and saying ‘What if…?’ Then building it out from there, seeing where it takes you.
Quite a few of my characters have elements of people I know – sometimes they will be compounds, combinations of two or three individuals. Friends and family who have read LIES say they’ve spotted traits of familiar people. Some of which are my own, some of which belong to other people. For example in LIES, the protagonist’s son William has a fair bit in common with my own son, Tom. My wife is a keen tennis player, like Mel, although she doesn’t have much else in common with her. Ultimately what I try to do is create recognizable, real people who bring the story to life for me – and for the reader.
A huge thank you for taking part.
Thank you for having me!
TM Logan’s cracking debut thriller Lies is out now! If you haven’t read it yet is definitely needs to go on your TBR pile!
About TM Logan
TM Logan was born in Berkshire to an English father and a German mother. He studied at Queen Mary and Cardiff universities before becoming a national newspaper journalist. He currently works in communications and lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children. Lies is his first novel – published on January 17th 2017 (ebook) and May 4th 2017 (paperback).
Connect with TM Logan