Journalism alumnus pens first novel, a Nashville thriller

Your loved one is murdered and you have the necessary skills to do something about it. Do you want justice … or revenge? For Jackson Stone, a Nashville advertising executive, former Marine and avid outdoorsman, his journey to answer that question begins with an extraordinary press conference to announce his deadly intentions.

Tom Wood

Tom Wood

That’s the plot for the novel “Vendetta Stone,” published in 2013 by Tom Wood, who graduated from the MTSU School of Journalism in 1977. In his fictional true-crime thriller, the main character’s sensational comments concerning the murder of his wife and his intention to seek revenge quickly go viral, and reaction is swift — from the police to Stone’s family members to his church family, from bloggers to victim’s right advocates to anti-violence groups. Everyone takes sides and his comments divide Music City like never before. Soon, the hunter becomes the hunted, and Stone’s fate is decided in a suspenseful showdown at one of Nashville’s iconic landmarks.

What makes Wood’s novel unique is narration provided by fictional journalist Gerry Hilliard, there to chronicle it all, who also recounts his own role in tracking down the killer in his first “true-crime” book, Vendetta Stone.

Vendetta Stone is Wood’s first novel. He is a veteran sports writer and copy editor who has covered a wide variety of events, ranging from Nashville universities to boxing, from the Iroquois Memorial Steeplechase to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games for The Tennessean, where he also wrote a number of entertainment features. Since his retirement from that newspaper, he has continued to contribute freelance articles to several news outlets including the Knoxville News Sentinel, Nashville Ledger, The Associated Press and Ft. Myers News-Press.

“My career at The Tennessean – and this book, to a large degree – would not have been possible without the training I received and the experiences I had at MTSU,” Wood recalls. “Dr. Glenn Himebaugh and Dr. Ed Kimbrell were great journalism instructors, challenging me to do my best at all times. I also had some great creative writing teachers in Dr. Charles Wolfe and Dr. John Paul Montgomery.

“The practical experience I got while covering MTSU athletics for Sidelines helped me land a part-time summer job at The Tennessean in 1976, then I did an internship at the paper and that experience helped me turn it into a full-time job in 1977. I made lifelong friendships at MTSU, covering the Blue Raiders’ glory years in NCAA Division I-AA under Boots Donnelly and Jimmy Earle. … Some of my MTSU memories made their way into Vendetta Stone, one way or another, and the school and other Middle Tennessee references are also mentioned.”

Vendetta Stone coverWood says the idea for Vendetta Stone germinated while watching the local news. “This all began in 2008 when my wife and I were watching a Channel 4 newscast. A man’s son had been murdered and he was very angry in the interview. I turned to my wife and said, ‘Wow, that guy doesn’t want justice, he wants revenge.’ I thought it was a great line, and I couldn’t let go of the idea,” he says. “An hour later, I was writing. I don’t have the skill set to hunt down a killer, but Jackson Stone does.”

Wood had a fiction short story published in the 2012 Civil War anthology Filtered Through Time and contributed an interview to the 1989 collection Feast of Fear: Conversations With Stephen King. The native North Carolinian is also an actor and has appeared as a background character actor in numerous episodes of the ABC series Nashville (the first two seasons) as well as several other film and multi-media projects.

What They’re Saying About Vendetta Stone

“As a former newspaperman and a Nashville resident, I especially enjoyed the book because of its reporter protagonist and its Music City setting. The plot is believable, provides action and suspense, and the characters are well-defined. It also offers insight into how the media functions that “civilians” should find interesting. It’s a good, quick read and I enjoyed it.” Larry Woody, former Tennessean sports writer/outdoors editor and author, three-time Tennessee Sports Writer of the Year and member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Martin Methodist College Sports Hall of Fame

“Tom Wood’s journalistic background is perfectly showcased in his suspenseful first novel, Vendetta Stone. Its clever premise as a true crime novel, written from the point of view of journalist Gerry Hilliard, works so well that readers may question why they didn’t know about these serial murders earlier. Vividly drawn and complex characters join a well-crafted plot to create a “can’t turn the pages fast enough” winner. … [It] practically cries out for a sequel. Michelle Broussard Honick, co-author of Ghosts, Gangsters and Gamblers of Las Vegas

“It is a gripping thriller … an excellent social and psychological piece of literature, especially looking into the mind of a serial killer.” Nick Sullivan, former Tennessean sports writer, outdoors editor and copy editor

Vendetta Stone is available for purchase (hard copy or Kindle) through, or you can order it through your local bookstore via ISBN: 1490331522. Signed copies are also available for $20, including tax and shipping. Cash, check or money orders can be sent to:

Tom Wood

7378 Bridle Drive

Nashville, TN 37221


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Categories: Alumni, News

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