Thriller Author Tony J Forder

The thriller genre produces some of the most popular fiction in the market, encompassing many subgenres. The elements thrillers have in common are action, suspense, excitement, and maybe a touch of mystery. They are also all written by a curious species known as the thriller author. Who are these thriller authors? Where compels them to write such intense stories? Where do they get their ideas?

We are going to find out as we dive into this edition of Inside the Thriller Author with Tony J Forder!

About Thriller Author Tony J Forder

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed, internationally best-selling crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first three books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, and If Fear Wins, are now joined by The Reach of Shadows, published in January 2019.

Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This is a stand-alone novel. Another book that was written as a stand-alone was Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller. Before it had even been published, Tony had decided to write a sequel, and Cold Winter Sun was published in November 2018.

Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK, and is now a full-time author.


Writing is a labor of love. What made you want to become a writer?

I’m not conscious of ever wanting to become a writer, I just picked up a pen and did it. After reading The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, which is a fantasy book in the tradition of Lord of the Rings, I realised that stories need not be about the real world, that they could be about absolutely anything. I was still very young, but I wrote my first short story shortly afterwards, and my love of writing grew from there.


You’re now a full-time writer. This is every aspiring author’s dream. When and how did you achieve this?

In December 2016 I was made redundant from my long-term job. I set up a business in a similar field, but my wife also suggested I start taking my writing seriously. Two years later and it is all going so much better than I could ever have imagined. I gave up my other business in August and now write five days a week.


In your beginnings, you wrote horror and dark fantasy. Why did you switch to the thriller genre? Will you ever try horror and dark fantasy again?

Not only did I feel the genre had become a little stale, but also I knew I was reflexively copying styles and not finding my own voice. I had read a little crime, a few thrillers, and so I decided to think about potential storylines. The first, written many years ago, was Degrees of Darkness, which was eventually published last year.


What books are you currently reading? Who are your favorite authors today?

I’m currently reading a John Sandford book. My favourite author is Michael Connelly. I think he is a crime-writing genius, and Harry Bosch is such a wonderful creation. I’m also a big fan of Robert Crais, David Wilste and UK crime-writer Angie Marsons.


Some of your characters include detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler? What is your inspiration for your characters?

Characters come to me all the time, often without a role to play in anything immediate. Bliss is pretty much an amalgam of several people I know, with a sprinkling of myself thrown in. If I need a character for a book I first of all figure out what kind of person I want them to be, but I confess that the inspiration is seldom real-life people.


You have many books out. How long does it take you to write a novel? What is your writing process?

I had completed two novels with a third partially written before any were published, so my output is a little skewed. It also depends on two main things: how long the book ends up being in terms of words, but also how much of it I had worked out inside my head before I started writing. I can usually average around 15,000 words a week, after which there are several edits. I guess I probably go from a blank page to completion in around 4-5 months.


Tell us about your upcoming book, The Reach of Shadows.

This is the fourth book in my DI Bliss series, which is set in Peterborough, UK, where I live. In this book, the Major Crimes team are hunting for a killer they also believe to be a stalker, but at the same time, Bliss is fighting against his past which has caught up with him and now threatens to derail both him and the investigation. It’s my favourite Bliss so far, and pulls many threads together.


What advice do you have for writers who want to begin writing in the thriller genre?

It’s become a cliché, but if you want to write it, read it first. Work out how a thriller comes together – do that by re-reading a book you’ve enjoyed, only this time breaking it down chapter by chapter to see how its component parts fit together to form the whole. Crime procedurals must have logical and often complex storylines, throwing the reader off the scent for as long as possible, whereas the action type thriller can be more linear and enticing the reader to keep on turning the pages. Don’t imitate, but do learn from what has come before.


You’ve signed on with Bloodhound books. How did that come about and what advice do you have for writers who want to secure a publisher?

I initially self-published both Degrees of Darkness and Bad to the Bone, but just two months later I saw a Twitter ad asking for submissions and I just gave it a go. If you want to go down the traditional route, then you need to get yourself a good agent, but be prepared to have a long-term plan and meet tight deadlines. Many independents allow a little more freedom and flexibility, and without the need for the agent, either. Either way, if you want to secure a publisher you must sell yourself with your book – any publisher will have to be convinced that whatever up-front costs they lay out on you, in terms of editors, proofreaders, cover design and promotion, they will recoup from sales. The most important thing is to get your book written, and then have faith in it yourself.


What is your ultimate goal as a writer? In what way do you want to serve your readers?

I don’t aim to win literary prizes. My aim is simple: I want to entertain the reader. I want them to close the book after reading it and feel the journey I took them on was worthwhile, that the story and characters will live on with them for a time, and that they would like to experience it again at some point with a new story, maybe even new characters as well. I write the books for me, books I believe I would like to read, but also for others to enjoy and remember fondly. My aim when I set out was to see one of my books on the shelf in a book store. I’ve achieved that, seeing all of them so far in the biggest book store in the city. And I can’t begin to explain how wonderful that was, and still is.

Many thanks to Tony J Forder for sharing his insights with us. Order his books and follow him on social media using the links below. Look for The Reach of Shadows to be published in January 2019


Connect with Tony J Forder



Twitter: @TonyJForder 


Barnes & Noble:

Bloodhound Books:



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