Posted on 02/05/2018 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Thriller author Tom Claver dedicated the paperback version of one novel to his writing instructor, but one could argue he should’ve credited a long-ago obnoxious neighbor as well.
In the 1970s, Claver was pursuing a degree in economics and renting a rather dismal apartment, where another tenant’s favorite recreational activity was playing Home on the Range on a Hawaiian steel guitar.
To escape this musical nightmare, Claver signed up for a creative writing course. What happened next? Read on to find out.
SADYE: When and why did you start writing?
TOM: While studying in London for an economics degree in the 1970s, I went to a creative writing class there run by Dr. Rod Whitaker, an American professor from the Department of Radio, Television and Film at the Austin School of Communications in Texas.
He was late for his first class because he told us that he’d just come off the phone from speaking to Clint Eastwood, who was going to turn his debut novel, The Eiger Sanction, into a film. After that entrance, I was all ears.
I think it was Whitaker’s excitement over selling his hit book to Eastwood that left an indelible impression on me. I’d never thought at that time of writing a thriller, and it eventually became my holy grail.
After getting my degree, I did produce some film scripts and the BBC showed interest in one, but nothing happened. Many decades later I took another look at the script and turned it into my novel Hider/Seeker.
SADYE: You worked in TV and print journalism for many years before becoming a full-time writer. Did the state of the journalism industry have any effect on your gradual switch?
TOM: Newspaper publishing has always been a precarious profession to be in, and its decline over the past few decades has been not only sad but truly worrying. I had a long career in business journalism, both in print and television, and became disillusioned by the dwindling budgets editors had to work with.
It was around that time that I rekindled my desire to write a novel as I’d started reading classic thrillers by writers such as Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake), and Patricia Highsmith. I only really wanted to see how much these books varied from the film versions, but it led to wanting to write again.
I read books on writing and taught myself to put 90,000 words together in a comprehensive way. It initially resulted in two unpublished thrillers before I finally wrote Hider/Seeker. During this period of writing part-time, I think I knew I was repositioning myself towards a new type of career ahead.
SADYE: What was your reaction to seeing Hider/Seeker shoot up the Amazon charts?
TOM: Amazon was all very new to me at the time, and I have to admit it was very exciting to watch the book climb so quickly into the top 100 of all ebooks in the Kindle Store in the U.K. It reached an overall No. 11 in general fiction and No. 2 in crime thrillers. The following year, it also broke into the top 100 in the U.S.
SADYE: After such an exciting run for Hider/Seeker, did you feel any pressure about Scoop of the Year, or did you find yourself worrying about comparisons?
TOM: Not really because Scoop of the Year is a completely different type of suspense novel to Hider/Seeker and should be judged differently.
Martin, a hapless journalist, is the polar opposite to Harry Bridger, the hero of Hider/Seeker. My new book is a satire on journalism and ambition, but is framed within the structure of a thriller. I just had to write the story as soon as the idea entered my head.
Martin is a dubious character who initially has no ambition apart from derailing the career of a rival reporter. But when a scoop lands in his lap, his ambition turns to outshining his rival despite the danger it lands him in. Martin is a questionable hero you can’t help but root for as he aims for greatness.
SADYE: Was there any particular incident that you saw that may have inspired the hapless Martin?
TOM: Yes, working 35 years in British newspaper and television newsrooms. I can assure you that a common theme evolves over that period of time.
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Categories: Author Interview