An Interview With… Tom Ashton

Hi everyone, and on the blog this evening I’m delighted to welcome Tom Ashton. Tom is an editor and award winning novelist, currently working for Northodox Press.

He joined me on the blog to chat about his career to date and what he looks for in submissions.

Over to you, Tom…

1) How did you first become involved in the publishing industry? Was it something you always wanted to do? Did you have any other career plans?

I’ve always been publishing something or other.

At Age 5 I published a school newspaper, called Playground News consisting mostly of size 36 font and blown up clipart. 

Fast forward to university, I published a Creative Writing magazine showcasing the work of unpublished student writers and poets, which is where I met the other members of the Northodox team. 

Publishing’s always been the career path for me, whether it be my own books or other peoples. The world needs more books.

2) You studied Creative Writing at University. What was your experience of the course like and how has it helped you as a writer?

If I hadn’t gone to university, I would never have met the two chaps with whom I created Northodox Press.

The creative writing course at the University of Derby taught me how to critically analyse writing independently and in a workshop situation, and I gained a lot of contacts who’ve helped me throughout my career.

3) You have worked for independent publishers and literary agents. How did you find your experience? Did you find your previous roles were good experience for Northodox?

I’ve done everything from flogging books off a market stall to haggling over rights at London book fair – and frankly I loved doing both.

Working in independent publishing, allowed me to study the publishing process from start to finish, whereas working for a leading literary agency allowed me to communicate with the ‘Big Five’ and see how they do things on a wider scale. 

Both were good experiences for seeing what Northdox needs to be, and what it could be.

4) Why did you choose to specialise in crime fiction? What do you feel Northodox can offer a new writer?

All of the staff at Northdox have a natural fondness for crime fiction – and it sells well! Everybody seems to love a juicy murder.

We offer editorial support, pre and post publication marketing, and quality cover design, along with bags of enthusiasm, tenacity, and regular communication. 

We want to champion your book.  

5) Where do you start with the submission package? The cover letter, the synopsis or the sample writing?

We ask for a 5000-word extract or your opening three chapters, along with a blurb and a short author bio of no more than 200 words

6) What are your views on the fiction market currently? Across the crime genre, what would you like to see more of that hasn’t been submitted before to you?

The fiction market, particularly the crime fiction market, is booming!
Personally, I love an antihero, a dirty cop, a whiskey swigging detective with anger issues. Send me your noir detective stories and anything with a serial killer in it.

7) When you leave your desk, on a Friday afternoon, what’s the first thing you do? On a Friday evening/the weekend, what do you do to relax?

I take the dog out for a long walk usually. Then the rest of the evening consists of pizza, Netflix, Fifa, and, of course, books – editing, writing, or reading. The grind never stops.

8) During lockdown, what have you been watching on television? Do you have a favourite drama that you watch religiously?

I’ve been trawling through Netflix mainly, watching F is for Family, Gogglebox, and Trailer Park Boys. The best thing to come out of Netflix for a while, in my opinion, is Mindhunter. Seriously check it out!

In terms of stuff I watch religiously… The Sopranos. 

9) During lockdown, what have you been reading? Have you found that your habits have changed?

Lockdown has been a great opportunity to read all those books I’ve always felt like I should have read, so I’ve been wading through the classics. 

I’m also trying this thing where I read anything a friend recommends, so I read lots of stuff that I might not necessarily pick up whilst browsing Waterstones… it’s been a very hit and miss experience. 

10) If you could only listen to Rod Stewart, Freddie Mercury or Brian Johnson (AC/DC), who would you choose and why?

I’m an enormous AC/DC fan, but Freddie Mercury… the guy’s elite.

Thank you for your time this evening Tom. It was a pleasure to interview you. I wish Northodox Press all the best for the future!

Bio: Tom is an award-winning novelist, from Cumbria, who holds a degree in Creative Writing. He has worked for independent publishers, literary agencies, and often speaks at universities and literary festivals about his career. Tom is interested in zany characters – send him your weirdos.

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