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.
‘My girls’ are Poppy and Ruby
I’m delighted to welcome back Mark Barry who has just released his latest novel, A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice. He was here in 2015 and 2016. (Click the links if you want to find out what we discussed on those occasions)
Mark Barry 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 the highly acclaimed Carla, a quirky, dark romance with shades of Wuthering Heights. A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice is a loose sequel to Carla.
Mark is the co-designer of the innovative Brilliant Books project aimed at engaging the many, many reluctant readers amongst young people. He is based in Nottingham and Southwell, UK, the scene of most of his fiction and runs Green Wizard Publishing, an independent micro-publishing company that promotes his work as well as that of others.
I believe I’ve read all Mark’s books that are available and have posted reviews of them here: Carla, The Night Porter, Ultra Violence, Violent Disorder, Once Upon a Time in the City of Criminals, Hollywood Shakedown and Kevin and the Atomic Bomb. (Click on the links to go and read them)
I, along with many others, are always waiting for Mark to release his latest novel and after hearing on the indie grapevine that one was on the cusp of release I invited Mark along to the rather flat lands of Cambridgeshire for a chat about it.
Hi Mark, thanks for taking the time to talk to me today, I know how busy you are. So tell me all about A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice?
Shiny Coin, as it is affectionately known in my house, is a psychological love story set in a small and prosperous English town. Carol goes home, after four years at University, to sort out her deceased father’s affairs. She’s afraid of the town, after a horrific experience in her teenage years and her return is all about coming to terms with her demons, so she can move on with life. It has elements of mystery, puzzle, romance, thriller – and I have been told it is VERY YA – but mostly, it’s a return to those dark and absorbing novels of the nineteen seventies you could pick up on a spinner rack in the newsagent.
I’m proud of the book. I think its my best and I think, given a bit of luck, it could be successful.
Carla was published in 2013. Did you know then that there would eventually be a sequel, or has this idea only come to you recently?
I wrote Carla at the end of the lowest period of my whole life and its critical success was a major factor in my improvement in mental health. I love that book, deeply flawed though it is. I would LOVE to rewrite it based on what I know now, five years later, but I was young and reckless back then and it will have to stand. I still think the last eight chapters of that book are different class – I reckon Shakespeare’s crazy monkeys possessed my spirit when I was writing those.
I don’t really do sequels – I generally have one story to tell about a main character and that’s it – but I love connectivity within books and I knew the themes in Carla were too good not to continue. Criminals could not have existed without Carla and neither could Shiny Coin. It’s a loose trilogy in which there is an older man and a younger woman at the core and for the final piece, I had to write from the point of view of the younger women to complete the set.
I know you love your music so if you could choose one piece of music to be the soundtrack to this book what would it be? And why?
I have whole soundtracks to my books – don’t you, Georgia? But this is all about Portishead. The two main characters play Dummy during the revelation chapter, the one where Carol reveals her horrifying secret. I also played a lot of Floyd with this – but then I always do. It’s quite a sombre book, quite a reflective book and that type of music works.
I know you have high hopes for this book, based on the considerable interest in it so far and the reviews to date…
I do. I love this book. I worked hard on it and thought it through page by page. I removed over 15,000 words too to make it a more modern (i.e. shorter) read. I cannot write any better than this. If this one tanks, then I’m offski. I think I shall end up in beekeeping, tree surgery, or banana straightening, well away from the arts. It’s a brutal game selling books, absolutely brutal, and its even harder when you have a really sound, clever, well written piece of work which gets overlooked – which happened to some extent to my last book, Criminals. That one was good, but this one is better and I am seriously hoping for some exposure, to be honest. The reviews are excellent so far. None of which have come from my Aunty Betty, for the cynics out there, Georgia!
Who is your muse, if any?
For Shiny? A certain special woman who lives among the rolling shires of the beautiful south. You might know her – you live down that way, don’t you? (Ahh, there are many women down here Mark, in fact I caught sight of one who reminded me of Carol Prentice just the other day in the multi-storey at Bedford Bus Station, that must be her! :-))
Here come a few quick fire ones.
Sunsets or sunrises?
Depends who I am with – probably sunrises: That’s always a great night!
If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
What was your favourite childhood injury?
Deep mental scars from watching that evil hunter kill Bambi’s mother.
If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
Nearly Man – I always feel I have just missed out on the big stuff in life. Never by much (except sport – crap at all sports), but enough to leave me with a mild sense of frustration. Hopefully Shiny Coin is a turning point.
It is at this point that Mark gave me a prophetic tip for the National, if only I’d posted this earlier, we’d all be better off!!
It has been a pleasure, as always, chatting to you Mark. Thanks for joining me and I wish you every success for the sales of A Shiny Coin for Carol Prentice – I’ve already read it (of course!) and my review is here!
Always lovely to have a natter Georgia, thank you, I’ll head back to the glorious North now!