No long intro from me today as this will require your full attention…and Scottydog is getting a bit big for his britches and created his own intro…but it’s a cracker…so I let it go! ? Enjoy CrimeBookJunkies!
She never told me until about 6 months into our relationship that the first time we met I made a huge first-date faux pas.
Well, two first-date faux pas (faux pases? faux passesses?) but I’ll only accept responsibility for the first one.
Having briefly studied in Spain, I purposely selected a nice, quiet Spanish restaurant in the vain hope of deflecting her attention away from my typical bloke cluelessness, and onto some pretty snappy Spanish. Turns out the restaurant and food was Spanish, but that was where the Iberian connection ended, as the place was run by Chinese and the girl who served us was an Italian who was in the UK studying for a law degree. My surprise soon turned to beetroot-cheeked embarrassment when my date trumped my mediocre Espanol with near flawless Italiano.
So here come my (according to her) faux pas . . .
When I asked her how she was so proficient in Italian she told me the truthful answer . . . and not only did I NOT believe her, I actually snorted and said, “Yeah, RIGHT!” — I’m sure that any ladies reading this right now are probably cringing and making ‘tutting’ noises whilst inwardly thinking, ‘typical bloke,’ but bear with me on this one.
“I worked in Italy for a bit . . . Malta and France too.”
“Oh, that sounds great.”
“Yeah, it was. I had my dream job!”
“Really? What were you doing?”
“I was an animal trainer . . . I used to train dolphins and killer whales.”
(Cue animal snorting noise, like a huge pig snuffling for truffles followed by . . . ) “Yeah, RIGHT!”
Uneasy silence with her staring at me, a look of hurt and disappointment on her face as though internally she’s thinking ‘Why couldn’t you just be different to every other bloke?’
“No, really . . . that’s what I used to do.”
“Pha! Oh sure . . . and I used to be an astronaut before I left to work at the Cadbury’s chocolate factory. You know Cadbury’s flakes? I was the bloke who stood by the conveyer belt and twisted the ends of the Flake wrappers before they hit the shops.”
Cue yet another uneasy silence from her as she looks on disgust whilst I chortle merrily away at my own wit, blissfully unaware of the salsa splodge making its way down my chin. She reached into her handbag for her Iphone, and after some quick dabbing and swiping I was staring, open-mouthed, at a version of my date, 20 years younger, standing on the snout of a bloody killer whale.
CrimeBookJunkies, I kid you not. This woman had, at one time, my dream job. She genuinely trained dolphins and killer whales before jacking it in to return to the UK to start a family. More pics followed of her in various sexy wet suits, frolicking with dolphins, riding on the backs of killer whales, and basically getting paid to do what many of us would gladly do for free.
So that was my first faux pas . . . acting like every other bloke she had met, dismissing her honesty with a snort and not believing her. In public. On a first date. Whilst simultaniously committing the second faux pas which was, apparently, NOT wearing a nice shirt with my expensive jeans, but opting for a hoodie instead. In my defence, it was very cold.
I was only told about the second faux pas 18 months later as I was clearing my stuff out of my allocated drawer in her bedroom. As to why she chose that particular moment to point out the error of my ways, I can only opine . . . but it probably had something to do with her being a smelly pirate hooker (thanks for that one, Ron Burgundy, I’ve used it a lot) who had the brain of a dolphin and the arse end of a killer whale. Hang on . . . dolphins are really intelligent, aren’t they? OK, scrap the dolphin bit, but the rest is true.
So as I put my crash helmet on and went outside to start my bike, she followed me out and continued to berate me for my uncouth first date behaviour and my general lack of knowledge relating to the fairer sex.
“Sticks and stones . . .” I started to say . . .
“Bounce off your thick skull and lardy arse!” she finished for me.
I countered by telling her that I’d finally found her elusive G-spot after 18 months of fruitless searching . . . turns out her sister had it all the time.
I swear that crash helmet saved my life that day.
So the point I’m trying to make in a roundabout sort of way is this: not all of us clueless blokes fully appreciate the importance of first impressions and of not making a huge faux pas on the first meeting. So I suppose it’s just as well that Noelle runs and organises everything CrimeBookJunkie, and not me. When Noelle e-mailed me to see if I wanted to do an interview with my (seriously) favourite author my initial reaction was, SNORT, “Yeah – RIGHT!” But then why wouldn’t she be able to organise that? Noelle is widely regarded as one of the more important book bloggers in the UK and is pals with many authors and publishers alike. (Ahem…Noelle here…as much as I would like to believe this…and trust me…I would…thank you for the compliment Scottydog…but this is where I <snort> and say I wish!!…as you were…?)
Having learned from my relationship with Orca Arse, I kept my scepticism in check and jumped at the chance to interview Tom Wood.
CrimeBookJunkies who read my review of Russell Blake’s assassin series will know that I discovered him after a viewing of ‘Day of the Jackal,’ as I wanted some good assassin books. A bit of Googling and Amazoning turned up Tom Wood as well. I was really surprised that I’d never heard of him before as his books are right up my street and I initially (and wrongly) assumed he was a new Brit indie author who, like salad, sarcasm and cars that handle properly, would not be available in America.
Oh boy, how wrong I was, and it wasn’t long before Tom made it into my top five favourite writers hall of fame. He now holds the number one spot. He’s a seriously good story teller and word-smith. If you’re in any doubt, he’s the only author whose books I have purchased BOTH in paperback and Kindle formats.
So having interviewed hundreds of criminals over the years, but never an author, Noelle made sure that bloke-ish faux passesses (faux passi?) did not come into play during CrimeBookJunkie’s first date with Tom Wood.
“Make sure you have a good list of questions for him, ten to fifteen is usually acceptable . . . and make sure none of them are the usual, trite ‘so where do you get your ideas from’ rubbish. OK?” she said.
“OK!” I thought as I crossed out ‘where do you get your ideas from.’
“And I know he’s your favourite author, but try not to . . . you know . . . act like a love struck 14 year girl old in front of a boy band or something.”
“OK!” I thought out as I wrote ‘do not throw knickers at Tom Wood’ in place of ‘where do you get your ideas from.’
“Just remember, INTERESTING and DIFFERENT questions go a long way . . . those ‘where do you get your ideas from’ questions just piss authors off. And we don’t want to do that, do we, young man?”
I suppose I’m a pretty lucky bloke – I mean, seriously, how many book lovers have had the chance to interview their favourite author? So a big thanks to Noelle for arranging it, and a bigger thanks to Tom Wood for indulging me. For those who have not yet had the good fortune to read Tom’s books, they are action packed crime thrillers surrounding the exploits of the positively lethal and terrifying anti-hero, Victor the Assassin. All are superbly written with brilliant assassin / spy tradecraft . . . I’m sure MI6 could learn alot from Victor . . . or maybe even employ him.
Anyway, enjoy the interview (sans faux pas) . . . and enjoy Tom’s books. They’re worth every penny.
CRIMEBOOKJUNKIE’S SCOTTYDOG SPEAKS WITH TOM WOOD
CBJ: Tom, many thanks for speaking with CrimeBookJunkie today – this is something that we here have been looking forward to for a while! So let’s jump right in and kick off with a killer . . . where do you get your ideas fro – just kidding . . .
TW: Don’t even joke about it. It’s the one question every author dreads and I’m no different. I’ve now taken a stand for all authors: no more!
CBJ: Victor the Assassin is a truly superb character, definitely up there with the ranks of Mitch Rapp and Jack Reacher. Can you tell us about the process you went through developing him?
TW: Thank you, that’s very kind. It’s hard to articulate as it was so long ago and I really didn’t know what I was doing at the time. In short I wanted to write about an antihero—the kind of character who would be the bad guy in any other novel.
CBJ: Something which strikes me every time I read your books, Tom, is the very well thought out and skilled tradecraft which Victor employs . . . not the just the methods of killing, but the counter-surveillance and spy craft. In this respect he reminds of Jason Bourne. Where does your knowledge of this come from?
TW: Long before I wanted to be a writer I used to read a lot of military nonfiction, special forces memoirs and such, so much of how Victor operates has its origins in that reading material. For example, I read Black Hawk Down long before the film was made, and long before I wrote about Victor, and it taught me all sorts of little nuances about real firefights, so when I did come to write about Victor I already had a lot of general knowledge about such things. But, lots of what Victor does is just common sense. When he finds into a sticky situation I’ll ask myself what I would do to get out of it (assuming I could actually put that theory into action.)
CBJ: We share the same hobby, Tom – I train with Elite, part of Eyal Yanilov’s Krav Maga Global. Can you tell us a bit about how your Krav Maga is going, and where you are with it?
TW: I haven’t trained in a quite a while because I broke a bone in my right hand and it took months to heal properly. Probably because I didn’t know it was broken until about a month after it happened. That said, I could do a mean goose-neck wrist lock and other such moves, but now I’m out-of-shape and out-of-practise.
CBJ: Tom, please tell us about any writing mentors or tutors you’ve had over the years. What was the most important thing you learned from them?
TW: No mentors. No tutors. No one taught me anything. My secondary school education was a joke. I was about thirty before I even knew what an adverb is. No one gave me practical advice. I stumbled and fumbled my way to where I am through youthful idiocy and arrogance. But the single most important thing I remember was when I was doing my degree and a lecturer who had never taught me nor met me before stopped me in a corridor to tell me how much he liked my writing. That vote of confidence made all the difference. I emailed him a few years ago to tell him so.
CBJ: I saw a really cheesy Facebook post once which said, ‘I hope somewhere in the world there is an animal that no one has ever seen . . . and I hope no one ever sees it.’
Cheesy, I know, but I kinda feel that way about Victor’s past. You’ve dropped the odd hint in your books here and there, mentioned a military background, hunting with his uncle, scars on his body . . . so part of me wants the answer to this question to be a resounding “No!” but I’m going to ask it anyway . . . will we ever get a book from you which describes Victor’s background, upbringing and how he came to be the world’s best assassin? (Kind of like a ‘Hannibal Rising’ by Thomas Harris).
TW: Almost certainly not. When I first started taking writing seriously and I was trying to read everything I could I would get sick to death of the endless reams of backstory that infected every so-called ‘action-packed’ thriller. If the backstory is so interesting then it should be the STORY. Victor’s lack of explicit backstory comes from that, but is also in character: if he doesn’t think about his past how how would we know about it? He drops lots of hints as it is, and let’s not forget what happened when they revealed Darth Vader’s background…
CBJ: Which leads onto the next question . . . obviously you know all about Victor’s past and what has made him the person he is. If Victor had made a different life choice and was not an assassin, what would he be doing?
TW: Bloody good question. I could make something up just to provide an answer, but quite honestly I have no idea.
CBJ: Can you give your adoring fans a few titles from your DVD and CD collection? Just a few often played favourites will do!
TW: Films, in no particular order: Drive, Heat, Groundhog Day, Old School, The Usual Suspects, Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead, Grosse Point Blank, and The Goonies. As for CDs: I tell people I’m over music.
CBJ: So, from Staffordshire to London – what prompted the move? Were there any places in between that you called home?
TW: If you’d ever been to my hometown then you wouldn’t need to ask that question.
CBJ: You’ve got a well deserved following out there now, Tom, and both you and Victor have an ever growing group of fans and avid readers. Noelle has a Stephen King tattoo on her right bicep, and a John Grisham one on her left. Personally, I think that’s going a bit far, but I understand the sentiment. What has been your weirdest experience with a fan so far? (Other than this interview.)
TW: I get the occasional inappropriate email or social media message, but I couldn’t possibly share the details of such here!
CBJ: When I read The Darkest Day I really enjoyed the character, Raven. Will we be seeing her again?
TW: We should see her back in a book or so’s time. I don’t tend to bring back secondary characters but I think I’ll make the exception. No one really believes she didn’t make it, do they?
CBJ: Victor leads a very ‘unique’ lifestyle . . . is there any scope there for a love interest in the future?
TW: Traditionally, I dislike romantic subplots because a: I have a heart of stone, and b: they always seem out of place in a thriller; tacked-on, if you will. But never say never.
CBJ: Let’s have a quick best and worst . . . best thing about being a writer, and your writer’s top peeve (apart from being asked for interviews)?
TW: Best thing is not having to work a nine-to-five. Worst thing: no paid holidays.
CBJ: OK, final question, Tom, and it’s a scenario one . . . you’re in your living room at home, alone with Victor – and you have no idea why he’s there. What do you say and do?
TW: After a moment of sheer terror I would realise none of my enemies could ever afford his fee, so I would offer him a bourbon and say ‘So, what’s your real name?’
CBJ: Tom, thank you for taking the time to chat with us at Crime Book Junkie. We wish you and Victor every success for the future.
Tom’s latest book in the Victor the Assassin series, A Time To Die, will be available from 14th April, and is number 6 in the series. Good news for those who have never read Tom’s books before, you have between now and then to Kindle the time away and meet the terrifying but brilliant Victor. You won’t regret it.
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A note from Scottydog . . .
By the way, grammarist.com says, ‘The plural form is spelled the same, but while the singular faux pas is pronounced foh-PAH, the plural faux pas is pronounced foh-PAHZ.’
See? Told you.
The crash helmet which saved my life now hangs in my garage, along side 25 years of motorcycle memorabilia, and is often admired by my biker buddies hanging out in my man-cave.
“Whoa,” they exclaim, “look at the damage on that! That must have been some crash! Were you racing? What speed were you going when you took THAT tumble!”
“Actually,” I sheepishly reply, “it was caused by my ex who used to train dolphins and killer whales.”
SNORT – “Yeah, RIGHT!”