I am beyond delighted to have one of my favourite thriller writers joining me today to discuss his author influences…it’s Tom Bale!!!!
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Enid Blyton was the first author that I really remember who made an impact on me – particularly with her fantasy adventure stories like the Enchanted Wood and the Magic Faraway Tree, as well as the Wishing Chair books. I was also an avid reader of comics like the Beano, the Dandy and Whizzer & Chips, and a huge fan of comic books like Asterix and Tintin.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
Not initially: I was apparently quite slow at learning to read, and my parents became so worried that they devised a word game that they played with me in the evenings to help me catch up. Then something must have clicked, because by the time I went to junior school I was reading books intended for children two or three years older. Towards the end of junior school and the beginning of secondary school, my English teachers seemed to spot some potential and often had nice things to say about my essays and compositions – though as a painfully shy child I was always mortified to be singled out in class, even if it was to be congratulated on something.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
Absolutely – there’s always been a close correlation between what I love to read and what I write. The first genre to hook me was science fiction, at the age of ten or eleven, and so my first stories were nearly all SF epics – little surprise given the impact that Star Wars had on my generation! Within a few years I started shifting towards horror, particularly because of Stephen King, but also James Herbert, Ramsey Campbell and others. Then horror fiction seemed to go out of fashion, with gruesome serial killer novels taking their place – I think one of the first out-and-out crime novels that I read was Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs, and from then on I was hooked.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Horror, probably! I have several ideas with a very supernatural flavour to them, and one in particular has been nagging at me for several years, pleading to be written.
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I think there are lots, but I’d have to say Enid Blyton for really introducing me to the power and potential of storytelling; and then Stephen King for giving me the inspiration during the key period in my adolescence when the desire to write became a truly serious ambition.
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
There are – John Sandford is probably still the author whose books grab me most immediately.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
So many books make me envious, but the one that floored me more than any other is probably The White Hotel, by DM Thomas, which I read when I was sixteen. Then again, these questions have reminded me of the impact that The Silence of the Lambs had on me, and since that’s just about the perfect thriller – imitated thousands of times since but never bettered – I could equally nominate that book.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
I’m safe here, because I can emphatically say no. There might well be elements of real events or even real people in my stories, but always so jumbled up that they no longer have enough of a similarity to trouble the lawyers.
A huge thank you for taking part.
My pleasure, Abbie. Thank you!
Tom’s latest novel All Fall Down is out now. You can read my review HERE.
About Tom Bale
Tom Bale has had a variety of jobs including retail assistant, claims negotiator and project manager, but none was as exhausting as the several years he spent as a house-husband with two pre-school children. Tom has been writing since the age of seven, and completed his first novel at fifteen. After twenty years and hundreds of rejection slips, his first novel Sins Of The Father was published under his real name, David Harrison. With his next book, Skin And Bones, he acquired an agent, a pseudonym and a book deal that allowed him to write full time. He lives in Brighton with his family.
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