The Hunter is an action thriller about a ruthless professional assassin known only as Victor who is betrayed and hunted by the very people who hired him. It’s a fast paced, explosive read that was huge amounts of fun to write. I actually began writing it around a decade ago, though I didn’t realise it at the time. I’d loved writing stories ever since I was at primary school, and creative writing was the only type of homework I was guaranteed to put my full effort into during my secondary school years.
By the time I was in my early twenties I had countless short stories, films scripts and even the odd woefully bad poem filed away on my PC, and I was adding others all the time. At that age I didn’t yet have the work ethic, or even skill, necessary to write an actual novel, though I did aspire to such a feat. The short stories I wrote varied wildly in style and genre, but my favourite was about a contract killer who found himself ambushed by a team of other hired killers. It wasn’t even a complete story, but a single scene that took place over a few chapters. I wrote it purely for my own enjoyment, but envisioning this sequence could one day form the climax of a book, though I hadn’t a clue about the rest of the story that led up to this point. As I said, writing was still a pastime for me then and this scene with Victor was filed away on my computer hard drive and left to gather electronic dust.
As I got older I continued with the short stories and scripts, but as my writing improved I was thinking more and more about penning my first novel and what kind of book I ought to write. Thrillers had always been one of my favourite genres and writing one myself was a natural step to take when I finally decided to take the plunge. It wasn’t the smoothest of transitions going from short stories to a novel, at least until I realised that my first book shouldn’t be what I felt I ought to write, but what I actually wanted to write. Once I’d had this epiphany I went straight back to Victor and set about building a book around him.
Immediately I took the decision to open The Hunter with the original ambush scene. I’d always thought of it as the climactic encounter of a novel, and typically in literature a large action set piece like that would have only taken place after a long build up, but as I was writing the book that I wanted to write I just had to kick it off with a bang. And as I was sure I wasn’t the only person who skim read on occasions to get to the good bit, I felt readers would respond to this style. My whole philosophy was to write a thriller with the boring bits taken out.
That’s not to say The Hunter is only bang-bang-bang, but it certainly has a higher percentage of bang than the typical thriller. I think we’ve all bought a book that sounded exciting and fast paced from the blurb, yet turned out to be slow or even plain boring. I absolutely did not want that. I wanted to write a book that actually lived up to its back cover promises and was just as exciting and explosive as any Hollywood blockbuster.
As for Victor, and I chose to keep him as the same character he was in the original sequence, which makes him a darker protagonist than is the genre norm. He doesn’t have a code or rules or only kills those who absolutely deserve it; he’s not haunted by what he does, and doesn’t have a back story carefully constructed to evoke sympathy and excuses his actions. In fact, in most other books he’d make a great bad guy, but in The Hunter he’s our hero, and his enemies really should have thought twice about betraying him.
The Hunter by Tom Wood, is published by Sphere, £6.99