Welcome Tom Savage. Tom Savage is the author of the novel Mrs. John Doe. I got to ask Tom 10 questions. Here is the interview.
If you had a choice to live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
I already live there–New York City. Why? Because New York City.
What is your writing process?
When I get an idea I like, I think about it before I do anything. I usually let it gestate for a few weeks. If I can gather enough good ideas for a story, I’ll do an outline, a sort of sketch before the actual painting. If I can tell myself the story in a few paragraphs, and they’re interesting to me, then I write. I start at the beginning and go through to the end. Then I edit myself, usually twice. When I’m reasonably okay with it, I give it to my agent. I say “reasonably okay” because I’m never satisfied. I don’t know a single writer who’s ever completely satisfied with his or her work.
Describe your journey as an author so far.
I’ve written all my life, but I became a published author in 1993. Since then, I’ve published eight novels and a couple dozen short stories, and each new story is a bit more complicated than the last. At this rate, I figure I can just leep going, because I’m always growing and expanding my work. I haven’t yet written a perfect novel, and I probably never will, but I intend to keep trying until something stops me. Death, probably–it’s usually death that finally stops writers from writing.
Great title for a book, how did you come up with it?
I didn’t. My editor did. I wanted to call it something else, but cooler heads prevailed. It’s funny, because now I love the title, Mrs. John doe. And everyone else seems to like it, too. It really is the perfect title for this story. I guess I should always listen to my editor.
How do you stay motivated?
That’s easy. At the beginning of every month, the bills arrive. If I lose my motivation during the month, I just have to wait until the next month when the bills arrive again.
What has been your biggest obstacle while writing and how have you overcome it?
I stopped publishing in 2000, when America had hundreds of publishing houses and thousands of bookstores. I didn’t stop writing, but I did stop publishing for personal reasons.
In 2009 I wrote a new novel (A Penny For The Hangman) that I wanted to publish. I had to go out in the marketplace and find a new agent. Then she had to find a publisher. It was like the first time I tried to get published, only I was 20 years older, and the industry had changed a lot in those 20 years. There are fewer editors at fewer houses than ever before, and they’re publishing smaller lists of titles for fewer bookstores and a smaller reading audience. Everything has shrunk alarmingly, except for the recent boom in electronic self-publishing, but I don’t count that–I’m talking about professional writers and major publishing houses. This new publishing industry has been my biggest obstacle. But here I am, so I guess I overcame it.
Why did you write this book?
With every new book, I present myself with a challenge, then I try to meet it. In the case of Mrs. John Doe. I set myself two challenges. I wanted to write an espionage/spy novel, and I wanted to set it outside America. I’d never done either of those things before. Why spies and international espionage? Because the world is in very bad shape right now, and I wanted to maybe try to figure out what we can do about it. The answer is: Not much. You can’t communicate with fanatics, and some of the richest, most powerful men on earth are determined to keep these lucrative conflicts going. It’s really disheartening. Still, I like the idea that there are brave people like my protagonist, Nora Baron, taking up the fight against all the madness. I wrote this book to give myself some measure of hope for the world, and I hope it does the same for readers.
What do you hope readers would take away from this book?
I just answered that. See above. But mainly, I just want them to have a good time. I grew up reading the great espionage writers–John le Carré, Helen MacInnes, Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth. Six Days Of The Condor by James Grady thrilled me as a teen, and my all-time favorite movie is Hitchcock’s North By Northwest. I remember the sheer fun I had with those stories, and I hope to provide that sort of fun for my readers. And now for my Geeky Fan Moment: Mr. Grady was one of the first readers of Mrs. John Doe, and he gave me a lovely endorsement, so I’m really excited about it.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Eighteen months, start to finish. That includes editing and copy editing.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a new novel, also set in Europe (Switzerland and Greece). It’s about con artists, but not the charmingly colorful types you see in Times Square. These are very serious con artists–they’re actually dangerous people. I’m also preparing a story about an impersonation–I always wanted to do one of those. After that, who knows? But I’ll definitely keep writing. I can’t seem to stop telling stories.
Title: Mrs. John Doe by Tom Savage
In the adrenaline-laced new novel of suspense from Tom Savage—hailed by Michael Connelly as “a master of the high-speed thriller”—an American actress in Europe races to find the truth behind her husband’s mysterious accident. What she uncovers makes her the target of a shocking conspiracy.
Nora Baron’s life is perfect. She lives on Long Island Sound, teaches acting at a local university, and has a loving family. Then one phone call changes everything. She’s informed that her husband, Jeff, has died in a car crash while on a business trip in England. Nora flies to London to identify the body, which the police have listed as a “John Doe.” When she leaves the morgue, a man tries to steal her purse containing Jeff’s personal effects. Clearly, all is not as it seems.
At her hotel, Nora receives a cryptic message that leaves her with more questions than answers. She follows the message’s instructions to France, where a fatal encounter transforms her into a fugitive. Wanted for murder, on the run in a shadowy landscape of lies, secrets, and sudden violence, Mrs. “John Doe” must play the role of a lifetime to stay one step ahead of a ruthless enemy with deadly plans for her—and for the world.
About the Author
Tom Savage is the author of six suspense novels: Precipice, Valentine, The Inheritance, Scavenger, A Penny for the Hangman, and Mrs. John Doe. He wrote two detective novels under the name T. J. Phillips, Dance of the Mongoose and Woman in the Dark. His short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and anthologies edited by Lawrence Block, Harlan Coben, and Michael Connelly. His short story, “The Method In Her Madness,” was nominated for the Barry Award. His bestselling novel, Valentine, was made into a Warner Bros. film. In his younger days he was a professional actor, and he also wrote a Broadway show, Musical Chairs.
Tom was born in New York and raised in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. He attended Point Park College and Hofstra University, majoring in drama and minoring in English. After acting and writing plays, he worked for many years at Murder Ink®, the world’s first mystery bookstore. He’s a member of Actors Equity Association, ASCAP, the Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, the International Association of Crime Writers, and International Thriller Writers. He has served as a director on the national board of MWA, and he’s served several times on the Best Novel committees for MWA (Edgar® Awards) and IACW (Hammett Prize). He is a founding member of MWA’s Mentor Program, assessing and encouraging new mystery writers. He lives in New York City.