It’s Wednesday, so that means it’s Author Spotlight time again and I’d like to introduce you to – Mark Barry!
What inspired you to write your first book?
I was challenged to write a substantive work of fiction by two friends, in different places, but at the same time. That became Hollywood Shakedown. I’m about to release my seventh novel, so that was an inspiring challenge!
Do you have a specific writing style, Mark?
No. I write all sorts. Third person, first person. I have also written a football hooligan novel called Ultra Violence in second person omniscient. That is my best seller so far, so maybe I ought to do that again. It was tough to write like that– and not universally popular. It was a real experimental method. Chuck Palahniuk wrote Diary in this style.
Describe a typical writing session or your typical writing area
I live in a flat and I write on an old wooden writing desk. I write volume on an old PC tower and keyboard that I cannot bear to throw out, and I edit on my Toshiba laptop with all the modcons, all the good stuff. I wear an Inuit writing cap for inspiration (the 230 words for snow!), and I often write after a run, a pastime, which inspires me. I listen to music all the time, non-stop, except for when the Horses and Greyhounds are on the TV. I never watch general TV. My writing sessions are usually Goliath-sized and I can sometimes, be sitting here for eighteen hours.
So Mark, what are your current projects?
I have just completed the sequel to Ultra Violence. It is called Violent Disorder and it is about over-aged football hooligans at Notts County Football Club. I am about to write a novel about the recession and the changing face of Nottingham – it’s called Keith the Philosopher. I am also compiling another anthology and have plans for a 300,000 word Indie epic called The Castle, which I shall write next year.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Martin Amis’ Money and London Fields. The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart and Paul Auster Music of Chance.
Simply put, Sarah, these books push the boundaries of writing and what is possible. Some of the construction of sentences in these books makes me want to cry. Every book I write – and Violent Disorder is my most experimental book – is influenced by the four books above. The former is possibly one of the top ten books of all time, in my humble opinion. Amis WAS a genius as a young man. Not so much now, though. Age and the condition known as expatriatism. Ruined him. He needs to come back to London Fields, but he won’t.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Amis as a thirty-five-year-old. No question.
Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work, Mark?
Martin Amis. Simply because he took fiction to another level. He made everyone around him – Rushdie, Barnes, Byatt – at the time, look pedestrian and hackneyed, as if they were an irrelevance. Some of the paragraphs in Money are different class.
What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading comics and graphic novels– Shade The Changing Man, Watchmen, Sandman, Swamp Thing – all the classics from the mid eighties, particularly Peter Milligan’s underrated Shade.
Mark, are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Obscura Burning by Suzanne Van Rooyen is a sumptuously written book. Sanguinary by Emma Edwards is great fun and The Briton and the Dane: Concordia, by Mary Ann Bernal, my editor, takes historical fiction to some new places. Maria Savva’s Haunted was good, too, though I thought she rushed the ending, a common problem in Indie. All four deserve to rock and roll. I have to say indie writers don’t generally work for me – the sector is so dominated by writers I cannot relate to. I am increasingly looking at published work to satisfy my lust for reading. Sad really, though I’m sure it will change. Things are cyclical.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, not my latest book. I would change the middle section of The Ritual and de-eroticise my banned book, The Illustrated Woman, so more people can read it without blushing.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
All of it. Writing is hard. The people who say writing is easy aren’t writers and are doing it wrong. I don’t like editing either, and I hate going over stuff.
What was the hardest part of writing your book, Mark?
Editing out stuff I like and should be included.
Do you have any general advice for other writers?
Ignore the gurus with their novel writing 101 advice. Ignore the Creative Writing lecturers, too. If you need to go on courses like this, pack it in before you start. You are not a writer. You do not have a strong enough voice. There is no such thing as an introductory level novel. Is your work good enough to publish? If it isn’t, then don’t – you effect every single one of us if your novel is a load of badly written cobblers. Go away and wait for your voice to speak and practice into the cold, dark night.
Do you write an outline before every book you write?
No, I’m the ultimate pantser. Never written notes in my life, even for my degree.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I think I’ve said enough, don’t you! “:)”
Mark and His Latest Novel – ‘Violent Disorder’
My thanks to Mark Barry for agreeing to be interviewed. If you’d like to find out more information on Mark, you can check out his website at:
Mark’s latest novel, entitled ‘Violent Disorder’ is available now on Amazon – just click on the links below! You can also read more information on ‘Violent Disorder’ and his thoughts behind it, by checking out my Share Saturday post here.