Today I'm delighted to welcome
to share his BEST OF CRIME (ACTION THRILLERS) ...
The big three are the ones who had the greatest influence on my own writing in the genre, the authors who set the benchmark. First and foremost, Robert Ludlum – best known these days for the Bourne franchise, but also the man behind great novels like The Osterman Weekend and The Holcroft Covenant; Tom Clancy, the father of the modern technothriller; and of course Ian Fleming, who crystalized the idea of the popular action-espionage thriller.
I’m a lover of movies on a big scale – the bigger the blockbuster, the better! – but I also love lo-fi cult films and stuff at what some would sniffily call the trashier end of cinema. My list of all-time favourites changes and grows, but in terms of the films that have had the strongest influence on me, Blade Runners sits at the top of the list. I love the future noir world it creates, the darkness and rain-slick reality of it all. It’s a film I’ll never get tired of watching.
... TV DRAMAS
There’s been such a surge in good telly over the last decade that now I’m finding I can’t keep up with it all, but I try to at least get a sense of the big hits just so I can stay in pace! Recently, I’ve really enjoyed WestWorld, Mr Robot and Strike Back – three very different shows that together scratch my itch for drama, intrigue and action.
... FICTIONAL KILLERS
I’ve always liked the female assassin trope in fiction, and one of my favourite examples is the titular Nikita from the Luc Besson movie of the same name. A broken, human killer, she’s forced into the life of a gun-for-hire and her odyssey is a compelling one. And I love that the character has been reimagined so many times, in American and Chinese remakes and two different TV series.
... FICTIONAL HEROES
While I’m a big fan of the three JB’s - James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer - each of them exemplifies a classic trope of the action hero/secret agent archetype, and as much fun as they are to watch, I prefer my heroes to be a little more vulnerable, a little more everyman. Richard Hannay from The 39 Steps, Jack Ryan from The Hunt for Red October, John McLane from Die Hard – these are all guys who have to work hard for their victories, coming through bloody but unbowed at the end.
... MURDER WEAPONS
With this one, I’m immediately thinking of that scene from John Wick, where the mob boss talks about seeing Wick killing three men...with a pencil. Then in the sequel, we get to see him actually do it!
... DEATH SCENE
A particularly grisly death in my friend Ben Aaronovitch’s Broken Homes involves the murder of a book thief whose is burned to death...from the inside out.
I scour technology, science and military sites for source material for my thrillers – among my most often-opened tabs are Havocscope, New Scientist, War Is Boring and Wired. If MI5 are monitoring my computer, they must have a very interesting file on me by now.
... WRITING TIPS
There’s lots of advice to be given, but I found the most important piece boils down to two words: Finish It. I often hear inexperienced writers talk about starting projects only to drop them half-done and move on to something else, but I believe if you can’t “land” a story, you’ll never be anything more than a dabbler. No-one wants a half-cooked meal or a taxi that doesn’t take you all the way home – and an unfinished story is no different. I firmly believe finishing what you start is how you grow and improve as a writer.
If it’s got caffeine in it, I’m interested.
About JAMES SWALLOW
James Swallow is the BAFTA-nominated New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of over fifty books, including the Marc Dane thrillers NOMAD, EXILE, GHOST and SHADOW. He has also written for franchises such as 24, Star Trek, Doctor Who and several high-profile videogames.
SHADOW is the fourth in the fast-paced action thriller series that began with the bestselling NOMAD; in this novel, ex-MI6 field technician turned intelligence agent Marc Dane and his partner – former US Delta Force sniper Lucy Keyes – are pitted against their most dangerous challenge yet, when a genius researcher with the ability to create a deadly biological weapon is kidnapped by a ruthless terrorist.
Their desperate search for the missing scientist takes them across the world, from the streets of Singapore to the desolate wilderness of Iceland and the dark underbelly of a fracturing Europe, where they discover a shocking atrocity in the making.
Backed by sinister interests operating above the laws of nations, a cadre of hard-line ultra-right-wing extremists plan to unleash a lethal virus among the population of a major European city – and unless Marc and Lucy can stop the attack before it happens, it will set off a chain reaction of events where thousands of people will perish, and the continent will be plunged into chaos...
Shadow is published by Zaffre on 30 May 2019.
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