Thom Collins has fourteen books out there. His current series, Jagged Shores, has two stories out there. Both are total thrill rides and I am in awe of how Collins writes action scenes. Plus they are set on the North East coast of England which is one of my favourite parts of the world. Perfect.
I persuaded him to take some time off from writing the next instalment to answer a few questions. I hope you enjoy.
What is coming up in the world of Thom Collins?
I’m currently writing the fourth novel in my Jagged Shores series of contemporary romantic thrillers. The third book won’t be out until later this year, but it’s best to get ahead with these things.
I have the loosest of ideas for how I’ll wrap the series up in a fifth and final book, but that’s some way off yet.
The Jagged Shores series is set on the North-East coast. What is it about this part of the country that inspires you?
I was born and raised in Northumberland and most of my family are still there. So it’s a place that’s very special to me.
I live in Durham now, which isn’t too far away, but the coast is where my heart lies. I was really lucky to grow up in an old house right next to the sea. I can remember wandering along the cliffs and beaches when I was a teenager, dreaming up stories. So it’s always been a hugely inspiring place.
Jagged Shores didn’t even start out as a series. It was a standalone book called North Point which was set in a fictional coastal town. My editor asked me if I’d be prepared to develop it into a series and I realised pretty quickly that there were so many stories I could tell about the men in that area.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
100% plotter. I love the whole process of outlining and developing characters and storylines. I’m also such a control freak that the idea of starting a story without knowing where it’s going fills me with dread. I’m the kind of person who goes on holiday and has every moment of every day planned weeks in advance.
I read interviews with pantsing authors and actually get quite panicky when I hear their chaotic processes. I couldn’t do anything without some sort of plan. As a reader, I can often tell when a book has been pantsed as opposed to plotted.
I also find the more time spent developing the story in advance, the easier the first draft goes. Once I know the story and characters, it’s really just a case of downloading the book from my brain to page.
Which authors do you like to read?
I know this is a romance blog, but I actually don’t like to read too much of the same thing. If I read romance, then the next book needs to be a thriller or a biography.
I would also never read two books by the same author in a row. Just to throw out some random names that I’ve read recently: Stephen King, Melanie Blake, Anthony Horowitz, Dale Chase, Romeo Preminger, Jackie Collins, Harold Robbins, Val McDermid.
I’ve also got some books on my holiday reading list by someone called Kristian Parker.
Who is your favourite character of yours?
Max LaFranchi is a supporting character in The Anthem Trilogy and I absolutely love her.
This name won’t mean much to many people now but there was a famous child star in the 1970s called Lena Zavaroni. This tiny little girl with a massive voice. She was successful into her teens with lots of TV specials in the 1980s but she died in 1999 at just 35 years old.
I was watching some of her videos on YouTube one night and started to wonder what her life would have been like if she hadn’t died, so I created the character of Max to give Lena the happy ever after she didn’t have in real life.
How many plot ideas do you generally have swirling around?
Too many! I only ever write one story at a time. I won’t seriously think about the next one until my current story is finished and edited.
Like all writers, I have so many ideas and it’s always tempting to put the current book aside in favour of something shiny and new. I just scribble those ideas in my notebook and put them away, knowing that if they are good enough, I’ll come back to them eventually.
Do you have a time of day when you are the most creative?
Mornings are the best for me. I do the bulk of my writing on a Friday, so I have to be strict with my time. I’m at my most creative from 9.00am to 11.00am but don’t have the luxury of sticking to that.
I work Monday to Thursday at my day job, so I’ll do a little bit of writing most evenings after work. I aim to write 5000 words per week, as long as I hit that target, it doesn’t matter when I do it.
What is your writing space like?
Due to lockdown, it’s changed a bit. I have a home study but now that I have to work from home so much for the day job, I don’t like to use that room for my writing anymore. We’re currently working with 50% of our time in the office and 50% at home so I need to keep things separate.
Thankfully I only work 4 days so I always have at least one full day of writing per week. Now I’m happiest at the kitchen. My laptop, notebooks and a comfortable seat are all I really need.
What is the difference between writing a series and writing a standalone?
Series are a tough one. The Jagged Shores books work as standalones because each story focuses on different characters in the same time. The Anthem Trilogy was much trickier because the story and the characters continued each time. I’m not sure which I prefer.
As a reader, I actually prefer standalones. I know that series are the choice for readers and publishers. My current publisher recently changed their policy and will only accept series books now, so for any standalone titles I will probably look at self-publishing.
Do you prefer first draft or editing?
First draft without a doubt but editing is essential. I don’t really edit as I go, other than running a grammar and spell check at the end of each chapter.
I prefer to complete a full first draft before going back to the beginning to work through the edits in that order. I also realised there comes a time to stop editing because it will go on forever if I don’t set a deadline. I aim for three drafts and a polish, then I submit to my editor and move on to the next story.
Can people find you on social media?
I’m pretty terrible at social media but you can find me at: