Some of my most creative thoughts happen when on a dog walk, as do my best conversations with my dog-walking buddy. So I thought I’d invite some of my author friends along to join me and my girls and see if I can find out a little more about them and the book they’ve just released.
Joining me today is Mark Barry who is a multi-genre writer and novelist. His work includes the minor cult hit Ultra Violence about football hooligans at a small Midlands football club and Carla, a quirky, dark, acclaimed romance with shades of Wuthering Heights. He is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people.. He has one son, Matt, on the brink of University, with whom he shares a passion for Notts County Football Club. Fast food, comics, music, reading, his friends on the Independent scene, and horse racing keep him interested and he detests the English Premier League, selfish, narcissistic people and bullies of all kinds. He is based in Nottingham and Southwell, the scene of most of his fiction.
I’ve loved several of Mark’s books, Carla, The Night Porter and Ultra Violence and I highly recommend all of them. I’ve been waiting for Mark to release his latest novel, the working title of which has been the mysteriously named Project X… and the time has finally arrived.
Hi Mark, thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. I hope you’ve had a good journey down here and now we’ve got going tell me all about the book you’ve just released.
The novel is called Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals. I know you have been dying to know this, but I wanted to surprise you ha ha. May I give you the blurb of the novel, Georgia? (Of course!)
By day, Terry Valentine clears the houses of the dead while by night, he drives alluring lesbian prostitute, Chloe, to her “tricks” – members of the “Feminocracy”; Nottingham’s increasingly powerful strata of senior civil servants, businesswoman and female professionals.
Despite himself, he falls in love with Chloe. And so does Hope Calder, impossibly rich COE of Calder, a multi-national conglomerate. A woman who stops at nothing to get whatever she wants.
When Chloe declines her advances, the spurned tycoon swears drastic action. With the cunning Neville, Chloe’s boss, manipulating the situation to his own ends, and Hope’s small army of corporate shills in the shadows, Chloe finds her life in danger…
…and only one man can protect her.
Terry Valentine, Loser, Jailbird, Hooligan.
Fifty year old crackhead.
It is definitely a crime novel – all the characters are criminals from across the social strata – and, as you have read most of my recent books, I can tell you it is a very, very loose connector to Carla and Ultra-Violence, my two most popular books. Naturally, it’s completely different and new readers can jump right on board with no seams whatsoever. It’s short, fast, pacy, pulpy and though my usual obsessions are there (as usual, Georgia!), I keep the digressions (and the footnotes ha ha) to a minimum this time. It should take an average reader no more for than a few hours to read – if it doesn’t, I’ve failed. This is my most modern book, written for the most concentration-challenged, time- swamped reader, though, as usual, it draws its inspiration from the seventies greats.
So if you could choose one piece of music to be the soundtrack to this book what would it be? And why?
OUATITCOC (Catchy abbreviation Mark!) has a disco soundtrack from the late seventies. I’m not one for imposing my musical tastes on the reader, but all the way through there are references to Rose Royce, Gloria Gaynor, Diana Ross and (memorably, I think) Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff, which I am listening to now. I am a metalhead, as you know, but my son Matt will tell you I have this (probably treacherous) love for the disco music of that era. It fits. My favourite? Let’s go for Hot Stuff. Readers who encounter Chloe may feel that’s appropriate too.
We’re all busy in this business so how do you manage to fit in the process of writing around your working and home life?
I write from November to January each year, one book per year, and sacrifice all my social life to do so. I am lucky that I am obsessed with the annual novel, so it is already written in my head by the time I sit down on the laptop. I find the marketing of my work far more laborious and time consuming than writing which has always come easy to me. The marketing, however, does not come easy as I am fundamentally a shy, modest person and the narcissism necessary to be a successful artist in the age of social media is anathema. (Sometimes I hate Twitter with a venom that surprises me). It’s not much of an issue actually, as I also don’t have much of a home life. My son is off to Uni and the number of women prepared to take on a fifty year old starving writer decreases each year, so this leaves plenty of time for Independent writing and internet based hi jinks.
I know you’re an indie author Mark, but we all need help at various stages of writing and I’d like to know more about the team you have behind you. Who helps you pull your books together until they’re ready to be published?
I am almost impossible to work with on anything artistic. My beta reader was Brenda Perlin, a great friend of mine from The Wizard’s Cauldron. She was absolutely brutal to the book and for a time, I was worried shitless that she didn’t like it. In fact, she made me excise four key pieces that were very experimental (I mean, Night Porter experimental) because she hated them. Brenda is a prodigious reader and has read every single word I have ever written, so when she said she hated it, I immediately listened. Thanks, Brenda: You were right.
My cover designer is Dawn from Dark Dawn Creations right from the beginning and I’m going to blog about the making of the cover in April, if that is okay with you, Georgia. Other than that, and great supporters like my son, my family, Clive, Phil, Bodicia, Lelani, Terry, Rebecca, Lorraine, and of course, your incredibly good self, I do it my way. I like it like that. Just need a marketing assistant. Are they expensive? Where can I find one? ha ha.
Which character in any book of your choice do you most relate to or would you like to be and why?
Damon in The Ritual or Simon in Hollywood Shakedown. The former is my favourite character in any book, but sadly, no one will ever know (apart from me Mark!) as I pulled the mini-series last week because of spectacularly low sales. I keep Hollywood out there as four readers I know and respect consider it my best book, including Carla and TNP, so I guess, it might be a slow burner.
(I have been present in a live conversation with my close friend Clive and my one time children’s writer friend Ngaire Elder, where both of them voted that one top – and these have read every word I have written). Simon, in HS, is a wise cracking comics dealer and shady salesman who takes the novel’s anti-hero Buddy on a quest to find a missing manuscript. I like him. I got him right. Damon’s appearance at the end of the first half of The Ritual is my favourite self-written chapter of my career.
Let me say now, I am nothing like Terry Valentine. And definitely nothing like his best friend, Pike ha ha. Though I know who is!
A few quick fire ones then Mark.
The Beatles or The Stones?
Beatles, every time. Strawberry Fields Forever, Georgia.
If you went to a Convention – Game of Thrones, or the like – who would you be dressed as?
I would go as the fat bastard out of George Martin’s “Monkey Treatment”, one of the best short stories I have ever read. Game of Thrones? I so don’t do goblins and ghoulies, madam. 😀
Which superpower would you like to have? And Why?
Oh EASY. Invisibility ha ha ha.
What piece of advice would you like to give your 16 year old self – if you were given the opportunity… and the use of a time machine!?
I was an arrogant lad who thought I was much, much cleverer than I actually was, so I would tell myself to take less risks and play safe more often than I did. I would also tell myself that the grass is almost never greener, but hey, I’m fifty – I would say that!
I believe that perfect days are unplanned, BUT if you were to plan your perfect day what would it look like?
I have plenty of these throughout the year. I had a good one at Fleetwood the other week with my brother and his family and my son, plus all the Notts County lads on a day out. I like nothing more than getting on a train with a full wallet and going to the football on a special day out, especially with my lad. We’re going to Milton Keynes soon. I also love horse racing and our annual trip to York Races for Magnet Cup day is a belter.
Thanks for joining me Mark and I wish you every success for the sales of Once Upon A Time In The City Of Criminals.
It’s been a pleasure, Georgia.
You can follow him on Twitter @GreenWizard62
And on Facebook
If you fancy reading an excerpt of this book I posted one a short while ago and you can take a peek here.
So keen am I on Mark’s work that I have already read and reviewed this one, it’s terrific, and you can find the review right here
To buy your own glorious copy here are the all important links:-
To check out more of Mark’s work click on the links to his Amazon Author pages below:-