A few weeks ago we gave you the chance to write in with all the questions that you wanted to ask Mark, and we’ve finally got the answers! Anyone who has their question answered will win a copy of the book, so if you spot your question here and you haven’t already provided us with your address then please it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pop a copy in the post. Enjoy!
I am also a motorcycle fan, and think I’d find it very difficult to not have a cameo of a motorcycle in anything I wrote. Do your real life interests ever come out in your books? Is it a struggle to stop this happening? Or do you just give in and let sports or bikes appear when appropriate? Beverley
Funny that you should mention motorcycles – I can sense that one is going to appear in my next novel (after a forced break of one book)! I try and resist the temptation to pepper my stories with personal interests, although they inevitably work their way in, as indeed they should. It’s good to write from a position of natural enthusiasm.
Do you ever start a book and then leave it unfinished because you cannot find and end to the story? Jill Dawson
Thankfully, this has only happened once. The Savage Garden started life as a story set in nineteenth century Java – the opening 60 pages of which still languish somewhere on my laptop’s hard drive. After nine months of research, including an abortive trip to Indonesia, it became clear that I wasn’t up to tackling a story of that size and complexity. Maybe one day I’ll revisit it.
The French Riviera in the 1930s, murder, intrigue, humour… how could you possibly resist, Jeff? Seriously, though, I like to think it’s a gripping read which also offers a glimpse of a fascinating period of European history.
What would be the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out as a serious crime writer? Sarah Eastham
Try and find your own voice. Literary agents and publishers are always searching for authors with distinctive ‘voices’ – that special quality, hard to define, that sets a writer apart from the crowd.
Do you have to set or be in a particular environment to write or does it come to you naturally anywhere, anytime? Kelly Erhan
I’ve definitely grown more precious over the years about when and where I can write. I wrote my first film script at a desk in a darkened corridor in a cramped flat, and never once questioned the working environment. I now need a private space, preferably with lots of light, where I can shut myself away. I’m currently renting an old school house as an office, and it’s ideal.
Who do you think would win in a fight between Luke Skywalker and Severus Snape? Katie Bancroft
A tough one to call. I suspect Snape would shave it, though, being more ready than Luke to fight dirty. Personally, I would be rooting for Snape – a far more compelling character.
Which book have you started to read but just could not finish and why could you not finish it? Claire
I was unable to finish London Fields by Martin Amis. I came to it on the back of Money, which I loved. London Fields felt forced and contrived in comparison, and his attempts at Notting Hill ‘street’ were woeful. A great writer, though – just not a book that worked for me at the time.
Do you prefer to read reviews of new books by contemporary authors and then buy if interested or do you search out new authors and read their books with no preconceived ideas? Helen Jones
As with films, I prefer to know as little as possible about the books I’m about to read – maybe the basic premise, but not much more. This means I work almost entirely from other people’s recommendations. I sometimes receive advance copies of novels from publishers looking for a quote, and I’ve discovered a number of amazing new authors this way.
Do you base your characters on real people, and if so how do you stop them from recognising themselves? W. Davidson
I make a conscious effort not to model my characters on people I know, although friends and family are quick to identify themselves or others in the novels!
What has been your scariest experience in life so far? Rhiannon Duggan
The ten minutes of utter terror I lived through when I thought our young son had been abducted from a remote beach in Spain. It still chills me when I think about it.