Desert islands, leeks and writer’s block: Killer Reads chats to self-publishing sensation Mark Sennen


Some of you savvy crime readers may have already heard of self-publishing sensation Mark Sennen, whose ebook debut, Touch, recently rocketed up the bestseller lists. Following this success, he’s now been warmly welcomed onto the Avon crime list, and the whole team are extremely excited to be publishing his unforgettable thrillers.

Obviously we love to quiz our authors when they join us, so scroll down and find out what Mark had to say for himself when we were lucky enough to chat to him recently.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which book would you take with you?

My Kindle? I’ve got hundreds of books on it and… oh, OK, if that’s not allowed I’d try to sneak along my set of Patrick O’Brian ‘Aubrey/Maturin’ novels.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I resist watching much TV in case I’m unduly influenced, although I do read a lot of crime fiction, but inspiration tends to come from innocuous little things I see around Plymouth, at the coast or up on Dartmoor. A location is often enough to set up a scene in my head and then it is just a matter of letting the characters do their stuff.


Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes – although I haven’t always wanted to do the hard graft associated with being one!


What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?

I once spent a couple of weeks on a leek farm planting seedlings by hand. By the end I had a bad back but had planted over 100,000 leeks (oh, and I’m still partial to leeks).


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In my office (shed in garden) by nine. Numerous cups of tea and lunch later and I often haven’t written anything much. Things usually spring into life around mid-afternoon and a couple of hours later I might have reached my absolute minimum requirement of a thousand words. If things are really flowing then I’ll carry on after dinner, but by 9 pm I’m always ready to stop. I envy writers who can get up at five am and start writing immediately or those who work late into the night.


Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, how did you cope with it?

Often! The best advice I ever received (and now give out at every opportunity) is don’t get it right, get it write. Writing is the answer to most plot or character problems so I just put a character in a simple scene (supermarket, drive to work, dealing with some trivial problem) and see what happens. Usually after a few hundred words a nugget of information will emerge and even if the passage has to be discarded the nugget remains.


Do you have any secret ambitions?

I’d like to sail around the world on a small yacht. My wife and daughters think it should be a very large yacht.


Which five people, living or dead, would you invite to your ideal dinner party?  

Oscar Wilde – for some witty one-liners

Cleopatra – as played by Elizabeth Taylor

Gandalf – for after-dinner smoke ring display and magic show

Steven Spielberg – he’s a big fan of Dartmoor and I fancy pitching a couple of ideas at him

J.K. Rowling – purely to get her autograph for my daughters who are massive Harry Potter fans

Alternatively (in order of rank):

Police Chief Marge Gunderson (Fargo – Cohen brothers)

DCI Jane Tennison (Lynda La Plante)

DI Charlie Resnick (John Harvey)

DS Logan McRae (Stuart MacBride)

Ex DC Paul Winter (Graham Hurley)


Get your copy of Touch, the book that started it all today, or get your mitts on the paperback when it hits the shelves in April.

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