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 

Girls in the garden

Summer is here!

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 Author Photo

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.

Shiny Coin Final

Love this cover!

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?

Mike Champagne.

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!

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23 Responses to #Author #Interview with multi-genre novelist, Mark Barry @GreenWizard62
  1. A great first post to read this morning folks. Mike Champagne it is then. Hmm… Judith Merlot…. nope, doesn’t have the same ring to it somehow!

  2. Ah, interesting. I don’t think Shiny Coin is necessarily your best, I think Criminals is, but they all have their own areas of brilliance. And really, are you serious, that you’ll give up writing if this one isn’t a best seller? Some tough speaking here, then: you might as well shut the laptop now, then. Unless you have the time and money to put into an advertising campaign, you’ll always be out-shadowed by bigger publishers and the writers who already have a huge extended readership. SC isn’t a super-commercial genre and it doesn’t have a super-commercial cover. But it’s terrific. If you write a novel with fantasies of it becoming a huge success, you’ve got a 99.999999% chance of being disappointed – 1000s of books are published every week and few make it big. And you’re not finished yet. You don’t know that you can’t write better. Perhaps you will write as well but differently, later. Sometimes, the successful work is not the one you consider your ‘best’. Look at all the fabulous bands who hit the high spots only when they brought out something with wider mass appeal. For the record, Aerosmith always hated ‘Angel’ and brought it out only because obliged to produce a chart-orientated ballad for the record company.

    As for Mike Champagne – do it 🙂

    • I know T! Mark packing it all in is a shocking thing to hear, so we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed he has more yet that he wants to say 🙂

    • Heyup Terry, thanks for commenting in such depth. I do appreciate your forthright approach too. Let me explain further.

      I don’t really do PR based interviews, and I answered these questions late at night. Bit of background. The last six months have been the toughest I’ve had for many years and, to be frank, I’m tired out.
      You of all people know how tough writing books is. It is brutal. I mist have redrafted Shiny five times. I could publish the outtakes!!
      Sorry, let me change my mind: its easy writing books, but its writing decent books that people might like to read is a challenge. Around the time I spoke to Georgia, I discovered that someone I interviewed for the Cauldron three years ago has had a book downloaded one million times. It’s not a great book. It’s quite juvenile – a bit silly, and makes serious errors almost all the way through – errors neither you or I would make – yet, it’s extremely popular, apparently.
      As well as writing SC, I finished off The Waiter (which is still not ready, really, especially now Trump has gone off the deep end, which has made a lot of it redundant), and worked, on average, with the exception of Christmas, about 60 to 80 hours a week on business outside writing. I sometimes wonder what the point is. I don’t really want to be famous, or rich, but I do have goals which are not being met and I would like to cover costs, which are sometimes considerable (BCD cost me a fortune). So, taking all this into account, I need this to sell a few copies for me to once again go through the hell I went through this winter to get these books out. I probably won’t pack in writing – I’m like you, a scribomaniac 😀 – but my goals will change. Plus I have “the surprise”, which I cannot NOT write – it niggles away at me daily. But yes, the million download thing for a pretty average book really got to me. I’m fine now though 😀
      As for whether SC is my best, it certainly feels like it, but I’m not a reader and I always listen to people who read me before I consider my own views.
      Hope everything is well. Always makes me laugh – Paranoid, Black Sabbath’s most famous song, was more or less an outtake, a filler they wrote in about an hour to complete the second album. They didn’t even give it a second thought ha ha.

  3. ps, just realised that comment sounds as if I’m saying that SC definitely won’t fulfil your dreams – that wasn’t what I intended. What I meant was that they high spots are being hit by grip lit at the moment, and established best selling authors. And it would be a crime for you to stop writing.

  4. Christoph Fischer April 9, 2017 at 12:16 pm Reply

    Fabulous choice for an interview guest and great choice for a soundtrack. Loved “Dummy”. 🙂

    • Thanks Christoph. I was unaware of Dummy until I read Shiny but thoroughly enjoyed my YouTube research 🙂

    • Heyup Christoph – big Portishead fan here. Love the albums – though I have to be in the right mood; they can be a bit, er, challenging 😀

      Hope the books are going well – and the festival!

  5. A wonderful interview – I love the rapport you two have. I wish you all the luck in the world with Shiny Coin, Mark but whatever happens you can’t stop writing. That would just be downright cruel to those of us who love your work xx

    • Indeed it would E – thank so much for stopping by, it’s lovely to ‘see’ you 🙂

    • Hi E,

      That’s really nice of you to say so. I hope you are enjoying Shiny. As I said to Terry, I’ll always write, but I am adamant that these need to sell as I am literally walking around with matchsticks holding up my eyelids. I am going to invest, though – I am a gambling man, as anyone who has read my books, like your very good self will attest, and I am serious about Shiny. I think it could places, so I’m going to put some money int0 it. We’ll see. Looking forward to seeing what you think, E – thank you for your support as usual 😀
      Mark x
      Oh, and Georgia always gets me to relax when we’re out walking the pooches – that’s how she gets me to talk ha ha.

  6. Bambi’s mother – how did Disney get away with it? 😉 Simba’s father was my scar (pardon the pun).

    Thanks for this Georgia; great questions and I’m looking forward to reading Mark’s work.

    • It has scarred so many children A – but I’m totally with you on Simba’s father – I remember sobbing, while my children were not… I do hope you enjoy Mark’s work, there is a great variety so something to suit all, but everything is very well written 😀

    • Nice to meet you, AK and thanks for commenting.
      That Bambi thing – I was talking to my brother in Carlisle on Saturday. We’re both traumatised! How DID Disney get away with it – it’s not like Kung Fu Panda is it 😀
      Hope you enjoy Shiny too – and thanks again.

  7. Georgia, thanks for this. I really enjoyed it 😀 First one I’ve carried out for two years too! 😀

    Best of luck with everything. Mark x

  8. Great interview, Georgia. I haven’t caught up with all of Mark’s writing yet but this interview was an eye-opener. I understand perfectly well what he means about writing. I don’t think I’d ever be able to stop writing but publishing, or at least trying to sell books…

    • Thanks for stopping by Olga and I do hope you get to read Mark’s other work. It’s all so original and refreshing 🙂

      I don’t think many of us enjoy the marketing side, at all…


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