Interview with Tom Savage, author of The Woman Who Knew Too Much
30 Mar 2017
What can you tell us about your new release, The Woman Who Knew Too Much?
This is the second entry in my new series about Nora Baron, the New York-based wife, mother, actor, and college acting teacher who accidentally becomes a field agent for the CIA. The “accidental” recruitment occurs in her first adventure, MRS. JOHN DOE. When she gets a call from London telling her that her husband, Jeff, has been killed in a car crash while on a business trip, she flies there to identify the body. From that point on, her life is in danger, and she ends up being pursued all over England and France by people who clearly want her dead. Why? Well, that’s one of many secrets Nora learns while on the run, but it involves the safety of the entire world. In the new story, THE WOMAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, Nora is approached by the CIA to help them with another European op, this time in Venice, Italy. A famous Russian actress wants to defect to America, and she’s offering to share some vital secrets with the U.S. in exchange. Nora’s job is to get the woman safely out of Europe, which turns out to be a deadly assignment, especially when Venice is shut down by a massive snowstorm. Unlike actual, trained CIA operatives, Nora is learning her new job on her feet–and those feet are usually running.
Name a book that you feel has impacted your life significantly. Why was it so impactful?
There were two, and I read them both when I was 15. I was laid up in bed with the flu, so I (reluctantly) started reading my English class assignment, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. To my great surprise, I loved that book. I didn’t want it to end, but it did, so I asked my older sister what I should read next (she was the reader in our family). My sister gave me Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. By the time I finished reading those two books back-to-back, I knew I wanted to be a writer.
Say you’re a host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
That’s a tough one–all my giants are no longer with us. It would be difficult to get Agatha Christie on a talk show at this point, but she would be my first choice. I’m a mystery writer, and every time I sit down to write, I have to come up with fresh new ideas. Christie wrote 65 mystery novels, 6 romance novels, 12 plays, and more than 100 short stories between 1920 and 1976. She gave us not one but two immortal detectives, Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot. Her sheer stamina amazes me. I guess I’d ask her what she eats for breakfast.
If you could invent anything, what would it be?
A time machine, so I could go back and interview Agatha Christie for my talk show.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’m from a show business family. My late mom was an actor and director. She also read mystery novels voraciously, and she passed this love on to her children. I trained as an actor in college, and I minored in English. I knew from an early age that acting and writing were my two great loves, so I always knew my life would involve them. I was a professional actor before I began publishing my novels. Now I have Nora Baron, a series detective who is a professional actor–she’s the result of my twin obsessions.
Where is your happy place? Why does it bring you joy?
I guess every writer would say that the “happy place” is wherever we’re writing. That’s certainly true for me. I’m happiest when I’m creating stories because it allows me to live in a fantasy world without being a deadbeat. That’s the great thing about the arts–what most people would consider “escaping reality” or “hiding from the real world” is actually what we do for a living.
What scene in The Woman Who Knew Too Much was your favorite to write?
There’s one sequence that was especially fun for me. I’ve loved Venice ever since I first saw it as a teenager. I stood in the massive Piazza San Marco, and I just knew it would be a great setting for an action scene in a thriller. Now, 40 years later, I finally got a chance to write that scene. Nora is in Venice to “extract” a famous Russian actress and bring her to America while eluding Russian agents bent on stopping her. The busy piazza is selected as the ideal place for the defection. Unfortunately for Nora, it doesn’t go smoothly. As a matter of fact, she–well, I won’t spoil anything; you’ll just have to read it to find out.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
H. G. Wells: “The first man to raise his fist is the man who has run out of ideas.” Despite my action-oriented stories, I’m a big believer in civilized communication. Our continued existence depends on it, now more than ever. Peace on earth.
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