by Rick Reed
Tom Bale is the author of SKIN AND BONES, a fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller about a shooting spree in a small Sussex village, and a second book, TERROR’S REACH, which introduces Joe Clayton, a former undercover cop with a price on his head.
Now, in BLOOD FALLS, Joe is forced to go on the run, taking refuge in a small Cornish town where a serial killer holds sway. Tom Bale writes full-time and lives with his family in Brighton, on the south coast of the UK.
For those of you who have sweated blood and ink onto the pages of your work, you must go to Tom Bale’s website and read about his journey on the road to becoming an author. It will make you laugh and cry, but mostly it will infuse you with a contagious determination to achieve the goal of every writer. To be published. I don’t want to give away too much here, but I will tell you that Tom Bale is the pseudonym of the author of SKIN AND BONES, TERROR’S REACH, and now BLOOD FALLS, and not his true name. But soon the name of Tom Bale will be on the lips of every reader that enjoys a whirlwind mystery or crime novel. He can count me as one of his followers.
Praise for Tom Bale:
“What truly sells SKIN AND BONES is Bale’s almost cinematic storytelling style, along the lines of what Lee Child does with his Jack Reacher series.” –Jim Winter, January Magazine
“This is a mystery and a thriller that is satisfying on every level. Rich characters and a plot that grabs hold and won’t let go…. This book gave me chills.” –Jon Jordan, Crimespree
In most of my interviews I generally start with a question about the protagonist. In your case, Tom, I think the story of how you came to be a writer is deserving of a question, or perhaps a book of its own. So, my question: “Please briefly tell us your true name, and how you became Tom Bale?”
My real name is David Harrison. My first book, SINS OF THE FATHER, was actually published under that name, by a small UK press. It was then that I discovered many other writers called David Harrison, including one who had written some travel books about Sussex, where most of my stories are set. To avoid confusion my agent suggested I use a pseudonym, and thus ‘Tom Bale’ was born. Recently, though, the rights to that first book reverted to me and I decided to self-publish it as an ebook, keeping my own name on the cover, so it may be that in future I’ll end up writing under both names.
Your protagonist, Joe Clayton was featured in your 2010 book, Terror’s Reach? He is also in your newest novel, Blood Falls. Are we looking at a series?
I hope so – although ultimately it’s a decision that rests with my publishers. I have ideas for two or three more Clayton books, as well as several standalones. Ideally I’d like to do a mix of both.
Your first book, SKIN AND BONES, came to you in a dream. Where did the idea begin for BLOOD FALLS?
It was far more mundane, I’m afraid. Because it was a second book, I wanted to feature a little more of Joe’s past. The reason he lives this kind of fugitive existence is because he has a price on his head, so the story starts with a chase through the streets of Bristol. Then he needed a place to hide out, and for that there were several features I wanted to incorporate. First, a beautiful, remote town that seems idyllic but is actually ruled by fear (I’m a sucker for that kind of setting!) I wanted a very particular type of terrain, because that – and the weather – play an important part in the story. Then, for the bad guy, I wanted someone whose influence is out of all proportion to his ability: a swaggering bully, the classic ‘big fish in a small pond’ – or, as one of my characters says in response to that description: ‘A shark.’
You obviously hold a passion for writing, and this shows in BLOOD FALLS, but is there any other thing you are passionate about?
The flippant answer is beer and chocolate. And books, obviously – I was quite late learning to read, to the point where my parents were concerned about my development. Then it suddenly clicked, and from that moment on I spent every spare minute devouring books of all kinds.
In terms of the themes that drive me as a writer, I’d say the main one would be fairness. I suspect it’s the preoccupation of a lot of writers, especially in this genre, where we’re dealing with good and evil in their most explicit forms. Every day in the real world we’re confronted with so much unfairness and injustice that we’re powerless to correct, so we write stories where those same issues can be tackled, this time with the outcome that we want to see.
What did you do before you became a writer? Did this employment help you develop the ideas and/or characters in your series?
I had a few different jobs, mostly in the financial services industry, and mostly pretty dull nine-to-five white-collar office work. But for a few years I was in charge of an office that dealt with insurance claims, and there I became involved in some outside investigation – attending inquests and court hearings, and looking into quite large-scale frauds. That provided inspiration for SINS OF THE FATHER, where my main character is a fraud investigator.
What is a typical day like for you?
Most days I try to work away from my home – and more importantly away from the Internet. I usually cycle to a cafe somewhere in or near my home city of Brighton. I’ve found that years of working in offices means that I find it actually easier to focus when I’m surrounded by noise and bustle, whereas at home the temptation is just to sit around, watching TV or going online while eating and drinking too much. If I can get a thousand words or so done in the morning I don’t feel as guilty about a bit of procrastination later in the day. Then I often work until very late at night, especially during the rewriting stage, where I love to work very intensely, sometimes fourteen or fifteen hours a day.
What’s next? (Eg. Any other stories in the works? Book or movie deals?)
Another Joe Clayton story, I hope, although I also have a standalone book underway at the moment. And believe me, I’d dearly love to announce a big US publishing deal, or tell you that Hollywood was hammering on my door. Sadly, neither of those things has happened yet.
Tom Bale is the author of SKIN AND BONES, a fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller about a shooting spree in a small Sussex village. His next book, TERROR’S REACH, introduced Joe Clayton, a former undercover cop with a price on his head. In BLOOD FALLS, Joe is forced to go on the run, taking refuge in a small Cornish town where a serial killer holds sway. Tom Bale writes full-time and lives with his family in Brighton, on the south coast of the UK.
For more information about Tom, please visit his website.