Author Snapshot: Derek Thompson

Which is true about Derek Thompson?

  4. All of the above

(Answer at the end of the profile)

Derek Thompson is British author who spent a year in the US. His love of film noir and thrillers began with The Big Sleep. Much of his fiction involves death, loss or secrets. As the saying goes: write about what you know. His Spy Chaser series follows Thomas Bladen in the Surveillance Support Unit, combining intrigue, action and sardonic humour.

SpyChaser series 2018

SR: What’s your new book/work in progress about? What inspired you to write it?

DT: As the security services scramble to deal with the aftermath of a coordinated terror attack in London, undercover operative Thomas Bladen is in deep trouble. His department is taken over by MI5, his girlfriend’s gone, and he’s “lost” a handgun during unofficial surveillance of a politician. Then two of his senior colleagues disappear. Who’s taken them and why? Bladen’s search for answers is blocked at every turn, but what he discovers may change the rules forever.

I’d always planned to set a novel at the time of the 2005 London Bombing. As Thomas Bladen’s team is based at Liverpool Street, London, it would have been moral cowardice not to reference the real and terrible event that took place there. I also wanted to explore the effect on my central character, and on the story arc across the novels of the battle between the self-appointed pan-European ‘Shadow State’ and the ‘Alliance’ that opposes them.

SR: What’s one thing that you and your protagonist have in common?

DTC-colourDT: We’re able to compartmentalize the different parts and people in our lives – essential for keeping secrets!

SR:  How do you think your protagonist would respond if aliens landed in the center of town on page 57?

DT: He’d observe them undetected to learn their intent, and more importantly learn about their weaknesses. After that, it’s a judgment call! By the end of the book he’d either be doing a deal to protect them or fighting alongside the resistance.

SR: What’s your personal life motto?

DT: You always have a choice.

SR: Is there something you’ve experienced that’s affected your view of life? Tell us about it and how it changed you.

DT: My brother died in 2005 after an epic battle with cancer. I think that loss made me want to live and write more authentically.

SR: Your protagonist has to flee the country. Where are they headed to and why that location?

DT: Either Halifax or Winnipeg in Canada; it’s mentioned in one of the books. He chose Canada because of the language, access to vast open spaces and wildlife photography, and the unlikelihood of meeting anyone who ever knew him. Thomas Bladen always has a plan!

SR: What conspiracy theory is your protagonist most likely to believe in? Roswell? JFK? Princess Diana? What about you? Any conspiracy theories that you think might have some truth to them?

DT: Thomas comes to believe in the conspiracy that underpins the Spy Chaser series. That a group of politicians, military leaders and industrialists took Churchill’s call for a United States of Europe (from a 1946 speech in Zurich) literally and made their own arrangements! Think of it like a Europe-wide equivalent of Eisenhower’s warnings of a Deep State.

One of my mantras is ‘People only tell you what they want you to know’. There’s always more going on than we are aware of – sometimes that’s for our own good and sometimes it’s for other people! I’m always partial to a good alien tech story, or theories about the work of Nikolai Tesla. I also like the theory that we are probably living in a computer simulation.

SR: If hell was watching one movie over and over and over again, what would the movie be for you? For your protagonist?

DT: For me, it’d be Mamma Mia, The Break-Up, or Signs (although Sixth Sense remains a classic). I couldn’t get on with any of them. For Thomas Bladen, it’d be any of those plus the Bridget Jones films (I disliked them initially but learned to appreciate them – Thomas would give only them one shot).

SR: Is your protagonist more likely to go insane or end up in prison? FLASHPOINTmini 2018

DT: For the things Thomas has done or is willing to do – prison. Desperate times call for desperate measures. But I think he’d use what he knows, and who he knows about, and be on a plane to Canada before it came to that.

SR: What movie world do you wish you could live in? What movie world would you be most likely to be living in if you lived in a movie world? Why?

DT: Aren’t we all living in The Matrix already? If not, I’d opt for In a Lonely Place and The Big Sleep – writer by day and gumshoe by night! Cinematically, they portray a time of optimism and change (remember those?), when a few good people could make all the difference. Plus the music and styles appeal to me. I think Thomas Bladen would be more suited to The Ipcress File – he and Harry Palmer would get along fine, until they find out they’re spying on one another!

SR: Do you have any special events coming up? Where can people catch up with you in person or on a podcast?

DT: Nothing in my diary at present, but I’m always open to invitations. I’ve done a couple of slots on radio – some would say I have a face for radio! I live in the far south west of the UK, so most contact is online. I’d come back to the US for a book tour though – it’s been too long!

My Twitter handle is @DerekWriteLines if you want to come find me.

SR: What’s the first book you remember reading that had a huge impact on you? How did that story affect you? How do you think it shaped your desire to be a writer?

DT: One of the earliest books I can remember being affected by is The Guardians. My memories are pretty sketchy, but it focused on a runaway caught between two divided classes or societies, and the consequences of his decision to rebel against the life planned for him. A key theme of the book was secrets and half-truths. Looking back, it was quite a grown-up read for an 11 year-old! I always loved escaping into books and this one presented me with a world I could relate to. As a writer I try to get under the skin of my characters to reveal the layers – there are few absolutes in my books.

SR:  What do you think the hardest emotion to elicit from a reader is? Why?

DT: Empathy or sadness. It’s relatively easy to shock readers with a violent scene, or get laughs from dialogue. But having readers actually care about your character/s and their causes, even when they screw up along the way (because, let’s face it, who wants a perfect heroine or hero?) requires a subtle balance between the needs of the story and the protagonist’s nature. Much like moviegoers, readers have to sign up for the ride and totally buy into it, even when you want to push the boundaries on the journey.

SR:  What’s the best thing about writing?

DT: The freedom to explore and experiment with ideas, and to express yourself creatively. Feedback from readers is awesome too.

SR:  What’s the worst thing about writing?

DT: The uncertainty in whether anyone will ever read your words, and if they’ll connect with what you’re trying to say. Reviews some with the territory, so no complaints there – a review means someone has at least read your book (usually…).

SR: What detail in your writing do you obsess over the most? Character names? Locations? Description? Dialogue? Research?

DT: Writing is an obsession, so all of the above! Dialogue is key for me because it informs character, allows your creations to interact authentically in the world you’ve created, and that puts living, breathing people on the page.


SR: What’s your protagonist’s greatest fear? Why?

DT: Loss of self-control or loss of self-determination.

SR: Would you prefer you see your novel/s on the big screen or as a TV series?

DT: My preference would be for TV because of the recurring relationships, double-deals and overarching story lines.

SR: Where can we find out about you and your books?




Author Central page


Which answer was true? D) All of the above!


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