After having read and been blown away by See How They Run earlier this year I was thrilled to be offered an ARC copy of this little beauty. As I settled down to read it I was filled with trepidation, would it live up to my expectations? Would I love it as much? Could Tom Bale do it again? Well read on to find out!
All Fall Down is the story of an ordinary family who find themselves in a terrifying situation seemingly through no fault of their own. The Turners are enjoying a family barbecue in their own back garden one sunny Sunday afternoon when they hear noises coming from the other side of their fence. When Rob goes to investigate a dying man, beaten beyond all recognition stumbles through the gate uttering the words Help me.
Surely it was just a coincidence that this man arrived at their gate, they had music playing so that must have drawn a man desperate for help, but is it really that simple?
It soon becomes clear that this is a family full of secrets but is it one of these secrets that has sent this dying man straight to them?
The police conclude that there's no obvious connection between the family and the unknown stranger so, wanting to put this unfortunate event behind them, Wendy and Rob decide that the best course of action is to stick to their plans and take their children Georgia, Josh and Evan away on holiday to Norfolk. Getting away from the scene of the crime and enjoying some quality family time together is just what they need after their traumatic experience but little do they know what horrors lie ahead.
Once again Tom Bale has written a book that should come with a health warning! This is definitely not a book for the faint of heart as some of the characters are undoubtedly the most twisted and depraved I've ever encountered. Starting off gently compared to See How They Run, the story builds slowly but there was always a little voice in my head telling me not to be fooled, it's like getting on a roller coaster ride and feeling the adrenaline build up inside you as you wait for the ride to start moving.
Delving into the dark depths of a dysfunctional family and making it believable is a hard task but one that is pulled off very skillfully in this instance. Tom Bale's writing is going from strength to strength and I hope that with the release of All Fall Down it will gain him a whole army of new fans as this is one author who deserves to be on every crime, thriller and psychological thrillers fans radar.
I'm so excited to welcome the man himself Tom Bale to my blog today for a Q&A.
|Photo courtesy of Tom Bale
Hello Tom and welcome to my blog. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.
Thanks for asking me, and thank you for the fantastic support you’ve given to me and my books!
Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself and your background?
I’m one of those odd people who wanted to be a writer from the moment I could read. For years I collected rejection slips while working in a variety of jobs, but ironically my breakthrough came after a spell as a house-husband, when I’d returned to work as a project manager. My first novel, SINS OF THE FATHER, was published in 2006, and a year later I got an agent and a book deal that enabled me to write full-time. I live in Brighton with my family, and most of my books are set in this beautiful part of the world.
How did you decide on the title All Fall Down?
I can’t claim any credit for that, unfortunately. In recent years I’ve become pretty terrible at titles – if the right one doesn’t spring to mind when the idea first strikes, I seem to be unable to come up with anything. The working title for this book was The Secrets, but Bookouture rightly wanted something more beguiling, and All Fall Down was their suggestion, to sit neatly alongside See How They Run with the same sinister nursery rhyme connotations.
How would you describe your book to entice someone to read it?
Rob and Wendy Turner are a middle-aged couple with grown-up children, enjoying a family barbecue on a summer’s afternoon when a dying man blunders into their garden, pleading for help. The Turners do what they can, but the man dies en route to hospital without managing to identify his attackers. In the days that follow, the family experience a number of unsettling events, and slowly begin to realise that they, too, might have been targeted, perhaps as a result of something in their own past. But by the time they understand the scale of the threat that faces them, it’s too late…
Can you describe how your novels take shape? Do you start out with an idea that you find changes over the course of writing it?
Each novel is different, but generally I’ll come up with an opening scene or situation, and then build on that. If the initial spark of an idea is strong enough to sustain a novel, then other ideas will start to grow from that. It’s always a wonderful feeling when the characters spring to life in my head and start pestering me to write their story (and I know that sounds weird, but it really does feel that way sometimes!) Similarly, quite a lot can change during the course of writing the first draft, as I don’t tend to plan more than a few chapters ahead – something I’ve found to be both a blessing and a curse.
In your letter at the end of the book you say that often writing one novel will lead to other ideas that you want to expand on. Did this happen when you were writing All Fall Down?
Good question! Yes, it did – writing about a protagonist who wasn’t always completely honest and straightforward gave me an idea for another character, this time a young woman in the midst of a painful divorce, who is given the opportunity to do a good deed, but one that also indulges one of our guiltiest pleasures – to snoop around the house of a stranger…
Do you feel guilty for putting your characters through so much trauma in both See How They Run and All Fall Down?
If anything it’s the opposite – sometimes I become too attached, and have to resist the temptation to make things easier for them. As readers, I think we’re drawn to crime fiction precisely because it gives us the thrill of experiencing life-threatening situations from a position of safety, so if you lose some of the trauma I suspect you’d lose readers as well. I do often wonder, though, if I’d be capable of writing a novel where nothing unpleasant happens.
How do you think you would have coped if you found yourself in a situation like the Turners?
I really have no idea. Obviously I have an overactive imagination, so I’d probably pick up on the fact that there was something sinister going on – but as to how I would respond to it, I don’t know. (Just trying to think if I have any friends like Jason Dennehy…)
See How They Run was a huge success for you, does this make you more nervous about the reception for All Fall Down?
Yes, absolutely. It’s always nerve-racking when a new book comes out – and all the more so when the previous book was well-received – but so far the reaction has been fantastic. It’s particularly gratifying to hear quite a few people say they think it’s better than my last book.
Do you have difficulty sleeping at night with all these dark and twisted ideas running around in your head?
Lots of things keep me awake at night, actually, not the least because that overactive imagination turns the slightest noise into a potential intruder – something that got even worse after the attempted break-in that provided the inspiration for See How They Run. But in general I’d say that dark and twisted ideas are to be welcomed, even if it means I feel a bit tired the next day!
How has your life changed since you became a full time author?
It’s been a very interesting experience. By far the biggest benefit is the freedom, both in terms of being able to indulge my imagination and get paid for it, but also because there are few constraints on where and when I can work. I love to be able to walk or cycle to a café in the morning, or stay up working till 2 a.m. if I want to. The main disadvantage, of course, is that financially it’s a very precarious way to make a living, and it seems to be getting harder for anyone but the most successful authors to sustain a career over a significant length of time.
Is there a book that you’d like to have written and why?
There are hundreds, but if there’s a current author that I’m most envious of, it’s probably Robert Harris – he writes wonderful thrillers across an incredibly wide range of subjects and historical eras, and for the most part his books are both critically acclaimed and huge bestsellers. I would love to be able to write a novel as interesting and compelling as, say, An Officer and a Spy, about the Dreyfus affair that rocked France in the late nineteenth century.
Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers?
Yes, I’d love this opportunity to thank everyone who’s ever bought or borrowed one of my novels. To my mind, a book doesn’t properly exist until it has been read, and writers have no way of knowing whether their work is being enjoyed unless they hear from readers – so I’m particularly grateful to everyone who has taken the time to add reviews or to contact me with their reaction. That sort of positive feedback is the biggest thrill a writer can have.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat and good luck with the novel.
All Fall Down is available now
You can follow the rest of the blog tour on these fantastic blogs:
With kind thanks to the very lovely Kim Nash at Bookouture and Netgalley for the review copy.