If Jason Bourne was just a little more, well, ruthless, you’d have Tom Wood’s fan-favorite antihero Victor The Assassin. That’s probably the best way I can think of to describe Victor, one of the thriller genre’s true bad boys.
Building a series around an antihero isn’t a new idea entirely, and it’s certainly not the first time an author has attempted such a feat in the spy genre. However, nobody has stuck to their guns quite like Tom Wood. Another strong comparison would be to Mark Greaney’s Court ‘The Gray Man’ Gentry. However, in recent years, Greaney has lightened up his hard-hitting assassin… Tom Wood has not.
For me, reading one of Wood’s books is a bit of a guilty pleasure. Normally, these types of books feature a strong, patriotic lead character who kills for his country. Their actions are violent, but they’re also rather justified in the grand scheme of things. When it comes to Victor, though, he’s just so good at being so bad. And following him around is an experience unlike anything else the genre has to offer.
A big fan of Wood’s work, I was thrilled when he agreed to do a quick Q&A ahead of the release of his new novel, The Final Hour. You can see his responses below, which make it clear–Victor isn’t about to become a saint anytime soon!
TRBS: The Final Hour is the seventh book to feature your beloved antihero, Victor The Assassin. Did you plan — back when the first book (The Hunter) came out in 2010 — to build a series around him?
Wood: “When I started writing that first book, which is a very long time ago now, I wasn’t thinking about a series or even a sequel. I was so determined to finish that it wasn’t until I was maybe 80% of the way through and the end was in sight realized I didn’t want to stop writing about Victor. In fact, the earliest ending ideas saw him not making it through the story alive. Needless to say, I’m pretty glad I didn’t go with that idea. Still, I was thinking about a sequel not a series at that point. I made sure to leave some threads unfinished and sow some seeds to follow up on. The idea of a series probably came on the run up to publication when I dared to dream that I would get the chance to keep writing about Victor.”
TRBS: In this book especially, there are moments when Victor seems to be softening, even slightly, more than before. Of course, often times he heads right back in the opposite direction, but do you ever feel tempted to lighten your character a little bit?
Wood: “No, never. Victor in an antihero, not a hero, but he’s not a stone-cold psychopath either. You’re right, though, there are some softer moments, but also some pretty dark stuff too. I think because we’re so used to Victor being pragmatic and ruthless, any time when he isn’t makes up sit up and take notice. I have readers who tell me they hang onto those moments in the hope that one day Victor will see the error of his ways and come to the light side, but that’s never going to happen. I set out to write about a character who would be a villain in any traditional thriller and that’s what I’m going to carry on doing.”
TRBS: One thing that stands out about your series, is how realistic you’ve handled Victor. For example, he’s had surgery to alter his appearance, etc. That’s one example of the many things that make Victor different than other series protagonists in your genre. How fun is it to embrace the ‘antihero’ character?
Wood: “Oh, it’s great. It’s huge amounts of fun. Victor’s world is an inherently fascinating one, and I’m learning about him all of the time. I can’t even imagine how restricting it is to write about a character with anything approaching a ‘real’ life.”
TRBS: Will fans ever get to see Victor on the big (or small) screen? And if so, who is your dream casting pick to play Victor?
Wood: “I’m confident it will happen someday. I’ve spoken with producers who are very passionate about bringing Victor to the big screen, but these things take time. As for casting: I’m going to respectfully decline to answer. I’ve managed to avoid getting swept up in such a what-if, and I really don’t want to be thinking about a specific actor when I picture Victor. However, I will tell you who other people have told me they would pick: Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender, and Tom Hardy. They would all be great in my opinion but I’m always interested to hear other ideas.”
TRBS: Lastly, now that the book is out, what’s next for you? Do you take time off or start working on the next one?
Wood: “I usually take time off and don’t think about another book, but I have a pretty strong idea about the next storyline so I’m already playing around with scenes and characters. I like to tell people that writing is the easiest job in the world, but to me finishing a novel is such an intense experience I’m completely burned out by the time I get to the end. I’ll be a bloated, sleep-deprived mess with a hair-trigger temper. The manuscript I’ve just finished, however, didn’t seem to tax me in the same way and I don’t feel the urge to do nothing for a while. Which has to a sign I’m starting to get the hang of this.”
My favorite part of this interview is when Wood mentioned that he “set out to write about a character who would be a villain in any traditional thriller,” because that, in my opinion, epitomises Victor.
If you’re not reading this series already and love nonstop action and breathtakingly violent characters who possess a lethal skill set, picking up The Final Hour is a no-brainer. Get your copy, now available wherever books are sold, today!