ED – The Eerie Digest Magazine is honored to have this interview with British author Tom Cain, whose exciting series of the character Samuel Carver has gained popularity world wide. This action packed thriller is a must read for lovers of thrillers and explosive story lines. Tom tell us something of the Character of Samuel Carver.
ED – Tell us the title of this thriller and the follow up stories in this series.
TC – The first Carver novel was The Accident Man. That was followed by No Survivors (which is confusingly called The Survivor outside the US: not my decision) and Assassin. I’m currently working on the fourth novel in the series, which has the working title Dictator. They all follow Samuel Carver, a hitman who specializes in creating non-attributable ‘accidents’, a process complicated by the fact that he works for people who are, by definition untrustworthy, ruthless and devoid of conscience … none of which can be said about him. We all are blessed, or cursed with a random selection of talents (or lack of them) which determine what we do. Carver happens to be very, very good at the business of killing. It’s also the only way he knows to make decent money. He tries to tell himself that he is performing a socially useful, morally justifiable task by ridding the world of people whose continued existence would cause far more misery, criminality and bloodshed. But for anyone who isn’t a psychopath, the taking of human life is extremely traumatic. So Carver can only continue in his work by becoming progressively more detached from his emotions, personal relationships and sense of guilt. Right from the start of the series, he’s painfully aware of the price he’s paying and his desperate need for some kind of redemption … And then, by complete chance, he finds Alexandra ‘Alix’ Petrova, the woman who may just be able to provide it … Because as far as I’m concerned these books are love-stories just as much as they are action thrillers …
ED – Who is your Publisher ?
TC – In the UK, I’m published by Bantam Press. In the US and Canada it’s been Viking/Penguin up to now, but that may change in the US at least.
ED – How long have you been writing and what is your inspiration?
TC – I’ve been a professional writer of one kind or another – books, scripts, journalism – since I was 20 years old … which was a depressingly long time ago! My inspiration I guess is a boundless curiosity about people, events stories, pretty much everything that goes into the brief flicker of human existence. Plus, I’ve long since had to accept that this is the only thing I can do. So I don’t have much of a choice!
ED – For what we have learned about your work this would make a great movie. We understand that you may already have a studio interested in making a feature length film of it. Can you tell us something about this prospect?
TC – It’s hard to go into this in great detail, partly for contractual reasons but also because I don’t want to jinx it. But, yes, The Accident Man has attracted a lot of attention in Hollywood since it was in manuscript, back in January 2007. The option has already been bought and lapsed at one major studio, but we’re now in the process of tying down a deal – with a producer and screenwriters attached – at another one of the majors. Can’t yet say which one, though.
ED – Is there a possible television series in the works as well?
TC – Not as far as I know. But I certainly wouldn’t object if it were.
ED – What other plans do you have in the near future?
TC – I’ve somehow got to get the next Carver finished by mi-January, which is terrifying because it’s nowhere near to being done at this point. After that, I’m going to give myself a bit of a break … but I do have a lot of ideas for more Carvers, a spin-off novel from the series and a whole bunch of standalone books, some in very different fiction genres (e.g. historical) which I’d really like to get written before senility sets in and I forget what the hell it was I wanted to write.
ED – We have many young writers in a college program that we have created. What words of advice can you share with them?
TC – Traditionally, I’ve always answered this sort of question by saying that the best advice I can give is to be prepared to fail. I mean, really crash and burn, be rejected, starve, get absolutely nowhere. Because it’s when that happens that you know whether you really want to be in this business and have got what it takes to hang on in there until you get the chance to show what you can do. That’s how I spent the first two years after graduating from college, sinking lopwer than I’d ever been in my life, and it’s also how I spent another two years when I was writing the early drafts of what would become The Accident Man. I went over the fiorst 30,000 words again and again and again, before I got anywhere near a proposal that could be sent out to publishers. In both cases, I was lucky. Just over two years after getting my first part-time job as a magazine researcher, I was given my first magazine editorship. And after months of total despair and heartache over Accident Man, the book sold for six figures within 48 hours of landing on publishers’ desks.
Now, though, I have a different answer … Find another way of making a living! No, really, I say the same thing to my daughter, who is an incredibly talented writer, nominated for a national student journalism award (which she may win: at the time of writing it’s yet to be determined) and just about to graduate from college. With the apparently unstoppable tyranny of the internet and free content, and the parallel decline in respect for intellectual copyright or the skills of professional writers, I really wonder how anyone is going to make a living from the professions that have sustained me for the past three decades. I mean, I truly believe that a properly-informed democratic society requires professional news-gathering organizations, trained specialist journalists and paid-for news media. I also note that the bloggers who most loudly proclaim the death of print would have nothing to blog about if old-fashioned journalists weren’t digging up the stories they then comment upon. But that seems to be an opinion which the market is rejecting, as the diminishing salaries, word-rates and job-opportunities for journalists clearly indicate. Likewise, I think it could be very difficult for conventional fiction writers to stay in business as the book trade, and indeed the whole pastime of reading, appear to be in meltdown. Clearly, humans need and want to be told stories. Equally clearly, some people have more of a gift for that than others. But I think it’s going to be harder and harder for authors who are not already celebrities or do not happen to luck into a market phenomenon like the Harry Potter, Twilight or Da Vinci Code franchises to make a decent living. So at the risk of seeming negative, my advice to all but the most talented, most determined and most obsessive young writers would be to get a job that allows you to make a decent income and have time to write on the side. Either that, or head for Hollywood in the last few moments before network TV and the movie studios crumble into dust! Oh … or go write the stories for video-games. That may just be where modern storytelling is actually being regenerated and redfined.
ED – Tom, our readers love mysteries, thrillers, tales from Hollywood, and stories that go ‘bump in the night’. We are thrilled and honored to have this interview with you today. Please keep in touch as we would like to have another interview with you again in the near future.