Meet the Author: Back Home by Tom Williams

Today we welcome Tom Williams to Meet the Author. We’re headed to Richmond in south west London to learn how dancing, the Andes and Buenos Aires come together with the Argentine tango to the beat of Tom Williams life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Richmond, in south west London. I street skate and ski and can dance a mean Argentine tango. I’ve spent a lot of my life writing very boring things for money (unless you’re in Customer Care, in which case ‘Dealing With Customer Complaints’ is really, really interesting). Now I’m writing for fun. I blog regularly, mainly about history, but quite a bit of random stuff as well (link below for my website).

In which genre do you write?

Historical fiction, although I’ve been experimenting with something contemporary.

How many published books do you have?

Six – three about a spy in the age of Napoleon and three set in the mid-19th century.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

I’ve always wanted to write, but I found it very difficult to write fiction around other stuff, especially when I did a lot of non-fiction writing for my work. As I got older, I found that I could afford to work less and write more, so that’s what I did.

What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?

I’m a spectacularly lazy writer. I spend far too long staring out of the window. I aim for a thousand words in a day, which really isn’t very many.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I dance a lot of tango and do a little bit of dance teaching.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

I have a very dark sense of humour.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?

In ‘Burke in the Land of Silver’ my hero rides across the Andes rather too late in the year and is nearly caught in the snow. This is based on something that really happened but I just couldn’t visualise it so I went to Argentina and rode up into the Andes at a stupid time of year when there would be snow around. I spent three nights in an unheated stone hut at 3,000 metres and I have never been so cold in my life. In the end it contributed less than a page to the book but I wouldn’t have missed it for worlds.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary?

Not regularly. I take a lot of photographs and use these instead of a diary.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

I went to what I suppose you could call an immersive theatre performance in Buenos Aires. It was set in a famous bar and various people came in and recreated life in a famous tango bar during the Golden Age of tango. There were quite a lot of people in the bar but it slowly became clear to my wife and me that we were the only actual audience and everybody else was actors. It went on for hours and was most surreal experience of my life.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Nothing. Anybody who thinks that their childhood was the best days of their lives has done remarkably little since.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

‘Blind Date’. (Un peu, beaucoup, aveuglément.) I like watching rom coms with my wife and French rom coms can be very good. We both loved this one.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

“You really need to cut down on the drugs.” Because you really need to cut down on the drugs.

Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?

Some things happen for a reason. You work to make something happen and then it happens. Other things are completely random. A few friends have died over the years. In many cases it was totally unexpected and at a time when they were full of life and plans for the future. Stuff just happens. Life is not fair.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

My pet ferret has been dead for years and I still can’t face owning another. So in the unlikely event of ever being able to talk to him, I’d have to ask him about the after-life.

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Mid-Wales (if you could call that my country because I live in England). My wife lived there when she was a girl and we often go back. Where we stay is almost totally off grid (no main water, no landline phone, very limited Internet access, no TV). It’s beautiful and peaceful and I always feel better for being there. There are some photos on my website at (link for my website below).

Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.

The last book I had published was ‘Back Home’ which completes my cycle of three books about a mid-Victorian character whose adventures take him into the real-life worlds of the white ruler of Borneo (in ‘The White Rajah’) and the Indian Mutiny (‘Cawnpore’). It completes the trilogy but it stands alone if you just want to read a book set in London in 1859 – a world which had astonishing parallels with the England of today.

There are a couple more books about James Burke which are awaiting publication.

Thank you Tom for being a part of Meeting the Authors. It was a whirlwind dance doing the interview tango with you. – Camilla

Learn more about Tom Williams and where to purchase to the book:

Tom Williams website:

UK Amazon:

US Amazon:

In America it’s distributed through Simon & Schuster:

Tom on Twitter: @TomCW99

Tom on Facebook:

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If it feels right and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” here … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …

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