Tomasz Chrusciel - Engrossing Thrillers Inspired By Wanderlust
When Tomasz Chrusciel isn't working on his latest book, wanderlust draws him to exotic settings where he explores nature, different cultures and details of historical events. His experiences find their way back into his books, making readers feel like they can smell, hear and truly experience the locations where the story takes place. Today, Chrusciel chats with us about what motivates him, which countries he still wants to visit and the secret behind making Fast Track To Glory so hard to put down.
Please give us a short introduction to Fast Track to Glory
Professor Nina Monte is Head of the Department of Historical and Geographic Sciences and the Ancient World at the University of Padua. When one day she receives an invitation to a confidential meeting in the Heidelberg Castle in Germany, she is too intrigued to refuse. What is expected from her doesn’t seem to be extraordinary, until she examines a mysterious artefact found on a forgotten galley that sank in the fifteenth century in Lake Garda, Italy. Soon, her life is turned upside down as she is whisked around the world following the discovery. From that moment, not only is Nina’s life in danger, but the freedom of all humankind is at stake.
How much do your own travels influence your work?
With a few rare exceptions, all the settings in my novels are the exact places I travelled to, so the influence is very strong. It goes even further, because before a new book idea starts to grow in my head, I will first know the locations where that story takes place.
I’m quite sure that every author is influenced by the places and the people he or she encounters in their lives, although I can’t say that any of the cities I’ve lived in or been to predominantly affected my writing. My feelings, my characters’ feelings and perception of the world around are shaped by everyday happenings, what I see, read, experience, and with whom I speak.
When writing a novel like this, how do you immerse yourself in the lives of the main characters? Do you observe people from certain cultures or do you try to walk in their shoes?
I believe there is no escape from injecting the author’s personality into his or her writing. This means that some of the characters I’ve created are a little bit like me or, in some circumstances, act the way I would act. In part, it’s like being in a dream where you can do whatever you want and see what happens.
In order to create compelling characters, which is the very gist of being a writer, I like to observe and try to understand human behaviour. Although it varies from country to country, I can safely say that deep down we’re all very similar.
Your scenes are very detailed and readers say they could "feel" and "smell" the environment while reading the book. How did you manage to make the locations come to life?
When I visit a new and sometimes exotic country, I’m always interested in the people and their culture. I observe them and their environment very closely, gathering as much information about them as I can: I take a lot of pictures, pick up leaflets from every place I visit, and speak to locals. After I return home, it’s only a matter of time before I start to draft my next novel. I find the greatest pleasure in building a fictional story around real locations.
On the train in India
What would you say is the secret to creating a thriller that is hard to put down?
The element of surprise and tension are indispensable in every thriller. The biggest challenge is coming up with a captivating storyline people want to read and talk about, and creating characters readers would care about and identify with. But, I think that the most important thing is proper research before starting the first draft.
When drafting Fast Track to Glory, it took a lot of time to collect all the historical and scientific data so I could smoothly weave everything into a fictional storyline and still make it plausible.
Tell us a bit about your writing habits. Do you work against a deadline? Aim for a set amount of words per day?
Every day, except Sundays, my aim is to start typing around 8:30 am (45 minutes of meditation and breakfast come first). I don’t believe in keeping a strict word count a day. That would cause needless pressure on me and lower the quality of my work. Besides, writing only to clock up a certain number of words makes no sense if 80% of the text has to be deleted the next morning. Usually, I write between 2,500 and 3,500 words a day, and try to keep it that way so I don’t have to worry about meeting a deadline. Typically, my workday ends at 5 pm, although there are days (and I’m very grateful for them) when the right words flow effortlessly, so I shut down my laptop around 9 pm.
What is your favorite motivational quote?
What motivates me in my writing is this quote by Stephen King:
"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
My wish is that when a reader turns the last page, they will be satisfied and happy and feel as if they also visited the fabulous destinations my characters’ lives revolved around.
But there’s also that deeper meaning to the story about Nina, Alessandro, and what they have to go through. Their internal and external journeys are intertwined. They cannot move forward and face their enemy without conquering their personal fears first. So I believe there is an important message in Fast Track to Glory, but I’m sure every reader’s personal experience will be different.
My friend’s cat unpacking and reading Fast Track To Glory
You have traveled extensively. Which countries are still on your wish list to visit?
That’s true. I love traveling and discovering new places. So far I’ve been to India, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Tunisia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Canary Islands, and most of the countries in Europe. If I could, I would be on the road for at least six months a year.
The next destinations on my list are the USA and Canada. I can’t wait to visit the greatness of the national parks with their pristine, often untouched nature. I know I will find there an inspiration for yet another captivating story to write.
Which genres do you enjoy reading? Any favorite authors?
My favorite genres are Mystery (also humorous mystery), Thriller & Suspense, and Travel Writing. Favorite authors: David Baldacci, Liane Moriarty, Matthew Reilly, Stephanie Bond, Stephen King, Alan Whicker.
What are you working on right now?
At the moment, I’m working on the sequel to Fast Track to Glory. This project is in an early, developmental stage, but I can’t wait to start writing the first draft. Also, on the horizon is the second edition of my debut novel, Illusive Intrusion; I’ve decided to make a few small corrections to breathe new life into this romantic suspense.
Where can our readers interact with you or discover more of your work?
Readers can find out more about me on my website, tomaszchrusciel.com, or connect with me on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.