Here’s your chance to get to know him a little better……
Wendy: How do you write?
Mark: I’m a scribomaniac, Wendy, like Charles Bukowski. I cannot not write. I am always writing, but its only recently I started writing novels.
Generally, an idea comes to me, I plot it in my head, spend hours thinking about it, come up with an opening line and then I’m away.
I write fast, like old school pulp writers. One of my heroes is Jim Thompson, who wrote After Dark, My Sweet and Hell of a Woman. He could bang a novel out in a month. They had to do so, or they didn’t eat.
Besides, I need to write fast. I get bored easily and on top of the current six, I have ten half written novels which bored me before I could finish them. How a novelist can take eleven years to write a novel is beyond me. Hollywood Shakedown, my first novel, took about a year with help from my proofreader and friend Kelly Sherwood, and by the end, I was glad to move on.
My last book, Carla, took about six weeks and I was happy with that. A book should never overstay its welcome in your head. There are always other books to read and write.
I’ve done nothing but write in the past two years, to the point where I have RSI in my fingers and have to write with my index finger taped to the second finger with green masking tape.
I change my mind all the time. In the horror novel, The Ritual, I worked backwards from the ending, which I visualised on the bus, and then, when it came down to it, I couldn’t go ahead with the plan.
That’s the great thing about novel writing. You are God. Your characters are your subjects. You can do what you like with them, go where you want with them.
Wendy: Do you have a writing ritual?
Mark: I’m writing this in my dressing gown, wearing an Inuit hunting cap with those dangly bits on either side,and a pair of thermal socks. I’m watching horse racing. I won’t get dressed till twelve. I drink green tea and suck glacier fruits. I eat yoghurts and chocolate biscuits and listen to music – metal and progressive. I packed in smoking five years ago, otherwise I would be dead by now. In my online horse punting days, I would smoke sixty to eighty Benson and Hedges per day. I once had three cigarettes in the ashtray and I didn’t know I had lit any of them.
I like writing in the morning and I like open prairie writing. That means I know I have four or five days ahead of me with no commitments so I can lock my door, shut my curtains, turn on Pink Floyd or Tangerine Dream, and just write, only leaving the house to go to the chippy or the Co-op. I wrote Carla in similar circumstances. 42,000 words in four days in the middle of April. I try to emulate Martin Amis’s 2,000 words a day, but it doesn’t work for me. I’m a binge writer, Wendy, and besides, writing is affected by mood and if you spend too long on a book, the beginning and the end are sometimes two very different places.
Wendy: Aside from writing, what makes you tick?
Mark: I go to the gym every day and I’ve developed my father’s appetite for running. He’s a race winning multi-marathon runner at seventy and I’m following suit. I love my family, conversation, music, reading, horse racing and Notts County football club. Life, too.
Wendy: What five items would you take on a Desert Island?
- CD player and a box full of my CDs.
- A laptop with unlimited Internet access
- A pen with unlimited ink
- A pair of sunglasses
- My Inuit writing hat
Wendy: Five desert island books
1 Martin Amis – Money: Simply the best book written in the English language in the last fifty years. An astonishing piece of work. Every sentence is its own masterpiece. I cannot believe this only reached eighty odd in the Times Best 100. I worship Martin Amis. Yes, he became contented after meeting his second wife and thus his writing lost its crackle, but in the early eighties, there was none better – none – and its better to write one masterpiece than twenty mediocrities.
2 Jim Thompson – Omnibus Two: Four novellas including A Hell of a Woman and A Swell Looking Babe. Psychological masterpieces. Not a single redeeming feature in any of the characters and plots squeezed tighter than a raisin. Beautiful writing from a forgotten genius.
3 Paul Auster – The Music of Chance: America’s finest living writer and after a long think (Book of Illusions and Oracle Nights are a close second and third), this little gem gets the verdict. An existential classic with one of the bleakest endings in modern literature.
4 Magnus Mills – All Quiet on the Orient Express: If you’ve never read any Magnus Mills you’re missing a treat. I discovered him quite late. A proper novelist who makes you wonder why you bother writing. He’s that good. This book, about a laid back fellow who gets asked to do a series of odd jobs at an out of season campsite in the Lake District, took me about two hours to read and I still haven’t got over the ending a month later. How did he do that to me? Ninety nine percent of writers wouldn’t be able to do what he does here. You can be bitter about published writers – there are some seriously poor published writers too – but not this fellow. Love to meet him to work out how he did this.
5 Miguel De Cervantes – Don Quixote: I’m going to need a cool coffee table book to rest my keyboard on. Ulysses, Finnegan’s Wake, Gravity’s Rainbow and Underworld were all seriously considered, but no unread classic wins you more literary friends like Sancho Panza’s tale of his airhead interlocutor and windmill tilting boss. (I have a good friend who will read this book, and probably already has done and I admire him for that.)
Wendy: Invite a famous person to dinner.
Mark: Can I have three dinners? I’ll pay! I just can’t make up my mind, Wendy, between superbitch actress and racehorse owner Claire King, cult actress Maggie Gyllenhaal or Addison Timlin from Season IV of Californication. Please let me have three, Wendy! It will make me very happy.
If you’re going to be tough, I suppose it would have to be Maggie Gyllenhaal. Something about that woman. I love intelligent women and she has intelligence seeping from her ears.
Wendy: What are your current projects.
Mark: I’m three quarters of the way through The Illustrated Woman, Wendy, an urban romance set in inner city Nottingham on the border between New Basford, Forest Fields and Radford. It’s about a brilliant Cello prodigy who rebels, has her first tattoo, falls pregnant at college and is subsequently abandoned by her parents. Living in a small flat in the inner city and embracing a nihilistic new life of hip hop clubs, estate parties, one night stands, and local gangsgters, she charts her fall from grace through a grand illustration tattoed across her left side. Just before the illustration is completed, she gets involved in a love triangle between a safe, rescuing, nurturing older man and a handsome and alluring young hoodie. The decision she has to make affects everyone’s life, including her own and her young child, and forms the final tattoo of the illustration. But what is it going to be?
This is the final book of the City Trilogy which began with Ultra Violence, a novel about an ex football hooligan having a nervous breakdown, and carried on with Carla, a dark romance set in Southwell.
Carla is my favourite book so far, Wendy. If you have female friends and readers, they’re going to love this. It’s a real absorbing odd couple romance. It will be on Createspace on July 9th and its going to be a lovely paperback to have on your bookshelf. Until then, it will be an e-book available on Kindle Amazon. It’s getting extremely positive reviews.
This trilogy is my lifetime achievement. I’m a professional bid writer and have won large amounts of money for various organisations, I’ve lectured, been a psychologist and I survived for two years as a professional horse gambler, but skillwise, writing this trilogy is the act I’m most proud of. The trilogy deserves to sell thousands, but really, that’s irrelevant. It’s a nice piece of work. Like every writer, I can produce some utter bollocks, but these three books are about the best I can achieve and sometimes that’s enough.
I’m a prodigious blogger too. I write a blog which charts Green Wizard’s progress and is currently charting the progress (or otherwise) of The Illustrated Woman. I have a book coming out in August called Gyrospoons about five unemployed Newark ne’er do wells and I’m about to start a co-writing project with Dawn Smith, my new friend and talented cover designer from Dark Dawn Creations, who designed all my covers and my Green Wizard Publishing page. That’s scheduled for July with an EPD of August 10th. So it’s really busy at Green Wizard. Look forward to meeting you all.
Facebook: Green Wizard Publishing.
Handle: Wiz Green 9
Thank you Mark for sharing a little of your writing life, loves and passions on this blog.