This week please give a very warm welcome to MARK KING, author of the fast paced thriller FRENZY. Amazon reviewers give FRENZY glowing praise, with phrases such as: ‘Keeps you up for hours’ and ‘A gripping story’ cropping up again and again. ‘Thank goodness there is a second book on the way as the ending is really just the beginning….’ says one reviewer, and I’m convinced. A copy is on my Kindle and I’m raring to get started!
So what of the author? Allow me to introduce you to Mark and we’ll let him take it from here.
Alison – Hello Mark, and welcome. Thank you for taking the time to take part in this interview. Please would you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
Mark – FRENZY a Daniel Jones Story (ISBN 9781846248771) my first book was published in March of this year by Book Guild Publishing. I am also the author of the successful world-wide blog, Always Hanging Around and have recently joined the Twitter world, alongside writing articles for various local media outlets. This is a far cry from my previous job as an Area operations Manager from which I resigned two and a half years ago during the worst economic melt-down seen in living memory, so I could follow my dream to become a published author. I’m also helping a friend follow his own publishing dream, and I’m always happy to freely give advice to other virgin authors either through firstname.lastname@example.org or my FRENZY page.
Alison – FRENZY sounds like a gripping read. Do tell us a little more about it.
Mark – Frenzy is the story of a young man whose stability in life, and dreams for the future, is shattered when he discovers a terrifying secret about the new ruling class called the Over-seers. In grave danger he has no choice but to flee for the safety of his family. Enter Gwendolyn who saves his life and seeks the help of Mary, the only person still alive over forty, and the three heroes are forced onto a quest to find the one thing that could save their lives. My main influence for the book came about when the financial system collapsed, and the world found out the truth about that these new gods we had called Bankers who have spent the last three decades having a feeding frenzy on the wealth of humanity.
Alison – I couldn’t help but chuckle at your inspiration for FRENZY; the good old ‘untouchable’ bankers! What was it that initially inspired you to become an author?
Mark – After the unexpected death of my father-in-law it became clear to me that you had to do whatever you want to achieve in life now, because you can never tell if tomorrow will come. So in November 2010 while I was driving to work one morning feeling miserable I knew the point had come where I needed to take a new direction in life.
Alison – I’m sorry to hear about your father-in-law’s sudden death, but it does go to show that even bereavement can have a positive outcome. Thank you for sharing this with us. I’m sure as an author you are a voracious reader; what are you reading at the moment?
Mark – I like History so at the moment I am reading a very large volume titled ‘A History of Christianity’ by Diarmaid MacCulloch. It’s a very slow read. It feels as if I have been reading it for months and I’m only a third of the way through, but at least I’m getting my money’s worth.
Alison – I’ve just had a quick look at the description on Amazon. It does sound a fascinating read as, like you, I love history. My attention span is more suited to TV documentaries though; book wise I tend to be purely fiction. I see you have a highly successful blog, please tell us more about that.
Mark – www.always-hanging-around.blogspot.com is the title of my blog. I picked this title because as a hopeful new author all you seem to be doing is always hanging around for other people. From the first time you give your precious new manuscript to a friend to read; when two months later you ask them how they are getting on with it, only to be told, ‘well I’ve read the first three chapters!’ This carries on all the way through to waiting for responses from publishing houses, agents, editors etc. etc. It is hard work keeping a blog alive so you must make sure you update it on regular bases (I post two-three times a week) or people will just drift away, and lose interest.
Alison – I’m finding out just how hard it is to maintain a blog as there are so many other good writers all vying for the readers’ attention. I start to panic if I haven’t written for a couple of days! What is your personal writing style? Are you one who likes to plan or do you see where your imagination takes you?
Mark – By the time I had served out my notice at work it was May 2011 and I had the basic story of FRENZY in my head, although at the time it had a totally different title. I had the very first chapter planned out as well as the ending, but the middle part of FRENZY I had to just let my imagination flow to join the two ends up together.
Alison – Some authors find their characters become real enough to start talking to them. I know mine do, especially in the middle of the night! Were your characters talkative?
Mark – There are three lead characters in FRENZY, Daniel Jones, Gwendolyn and Mary, with half a dozen other very strong sub characters. When I’m writing about each one I try to place myself in their shoes. They don’t so much speak to me, it’s more of a case of how I would feel in their situation. I think it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, in certain situations we all feel the same emotions. Fear is fear and love is love, sadness is sadness and joy is joy.
Alison – Do you think you will stick with one genre in future, or would you like to experiment with multi-genres?
Mark – I am presently writing the sequel to FRENZY which I have initially titled ‘DOOM a Daniel Jones Story’. I believe the character I have created in Daniel Jones is strong enough to last through a series of books, although I have many other stories in my head in different genres that I would like to one day tell.
Alison – The reviews on Amazon certainly suggest that Daniel Jones is a very strong character, and your readers all seem very eager for the sequel. When you were working on FRENZY did you need to do any research?
Mark – FRENZY is set in the near future so you don’t need to be accurate with the facts so much because nobody can predict the future. We can only dream and then hope our nightmares don’t come true. But, and as I say there is always a ‘but’, I still had questions that needed answers and the only way to complete this is by research.
Alison – I’ve mentioned the excellent reviews that FRENZY has received. Would you like to add some links?
Mark – FRENZY has received some very good reviews through sites like www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.mrrippleysenchantedbooks.blogspot.com, www.massmovement.co.uk, and even on Amazon in America. The most recent review was in issue 2 of the Iceni magazine on page 35 www.icenimagazine.co.uk.
Alison – Wow! It must be fabulous to get such positive feedback for your writing. As this is your debut novel did you learn much from the publishing process? Are there things you would do differently in future?
Mark – I am still learning on a daily basis all the pros and cons of the publishing industry. What I have learnt so far is to be prepared to be disappointed, then be prepared to pick yourself up again, dust yourself down, and try again; but there is nothing I would have done different from the beginning. You should learn from your mistakes, and if you are a virgin author then be prepared to make many.
Alison – Do you post in writers’ forums? Have you received any good or bad advice as a result?
Mark – I don’t post in writer’s forums at present. It’s not because I don’t believe in them, it’s just that since the release of FRENZY I really haven’t had the time. I joined various forums before I became published. They can be a help, especially when you are given a chance to review other hopefuls’ work because some of it can be awful, and a good pointer to where you are going wrong, or right as the case may be. I remember one manuscript were the first two pages were so gripping I thought to myself if this person can’t get published then how will I? By page four the writing had gone downhill so fast I struggled to carry on, then by page eight I couldn’t read any more because it was so badly written.
Alison – Hmm, yes. I’ve read similar books that have somehow managed to get published! There is so much competition out there for new authors, would you consider any other sort of writing work, for example editing or book reviewing?
Mark – Like all new authors until your book is selling enough to make a living then I would consider any type of writing work that brought in some money or free publicity for FRENZY. I’m writing articles for the local media at present, and have thought about writing the screen version of FRENZY, but there are only so many hours in the day in which you can work, and most if these at present are concentrated on making FRENZY a success.
Alison – I read a quote recently saying that an author never runs out of ideas, only time. It’s so true! As a debut author, the first time you held a copy of FRENZY in your hands must have been pretty amazing. How did you feel?
Mark – The first time I held a copy of FRENZY in my hands I felt numb. I was scared to even open it or start reading it in case I was disappointed, or found a terrible error that would have destroyed it at birth. I needn’t have worried, after looking at the gold cover for nearly an hour feeling its smooth printed page I opened it, and slowly began to read through it. I read the book from start to finish over the week and loved every moment of it.
Alison – I can relate to that feeling. The first copies of my own debut novel arrived last week, and I haven’t progressed beyond sniffing the print! On the subject of fiction in general, what is your opinion on prologues and epilogues? Would you include them in your books?
Mark – I can’t see the point of prologues or epilogues. If a book is well written it shouldn’t need them as your story should contain all the information the reader needs.
Alison – I agree, particularly on the subject of epilogues, which usually seem to be a self indulgence on the part of an author who doesn’t know when to let go. There would have been one such piece of self indulgent nonsense in my own book had a friend not been honest enough to point out that it was awful! Most authors are probably daydreamers; I think it goes with the job! Have you ever imagined FRENZY being made into a film? Who would you imagine playing the lead roles?
Mark – I would love FRENZY to be made into a film. I think it’s such a good story it would transfer well to the big screen and look forward to the day this will happen. I just hope I have some control over it so it not totally destroyed in the process. I would have Justin Bieber the singer play the lead of Daniel, Emma Watson from the Harry Potter movies play Gwendolyn, and Dame Judi Dench would be perfect for the part of Mary.
Alison – What made you decide on the setting for FRENZY? Do you base your characters and settings on people and places you know?
Mark – All authors have to use places and people they know as reference points when they write. You have to jumble up the clues sometimes, especially with characters as you don’t want to be sued for defamation if one of them is particular nasty one! Even the most wacky scripts will be based on memories of events that have taken place somewhere in that person’s life.
Alison – There’s always that lovely disclaimer at the beginning of any work of fiction: ‘Any resemblance to real people, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.’ Thank you once again Mark for sharing your views with us, I’ve very much enjoyed this interview. To conclude, please would you share a few of your favourite books with us?
Mark – My favourite book is ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne followed by the ‘Pillars of the Earth’ by Ken Follett, then comes George Orwell’s ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’, with Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code not far behind.
Alison – I’ve not read either ‘The Secret’ or ‘Pillars of the Earth’ so they’re two books I shall certainly add to my list.
Once again I’d like to thank Mark King for this excellent interview. You can follow Mark’s news via his excellent blog Always Hanging Around or by joining him on Twitter.