Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Featured Author of November: Mark Billingham

*FEATURED AUTHOR* for this month is best selling crime author Mark Billingham. Here is the first part of his Q&A interview by Susan Lobban.

Mark's books: UK link/ USA link 

1. How did you decide to become an author? What/Who inspired you?

Well, I’ve always written something – bad poetry, TV scripts, stand-up comedy – but a novel was the one thing I was scared to have a bash at. I was
passionate about crime fiction and eventually plucked up the courage to try my hand. One year, on holiday with the family I sat outside each evening and wrote in a notebook. By the end of that fortnight I had around 30,000 words and suddenly I wasn’t so daunted by it all. I sent those 30,000 words off to agents, found someone who wanted to represent me and from then on I just got incredibly lucky. I got my book deal on the strength of those first 30,000 words. It’s got far harder since then!

2. Can you describe your typical writing day?

I don’t have one. I always mistrust those writers who have a set routine. There are times when I try and get my thoughts down (usually late at night) but the book is being written all the time – when I’m in the supermarket or walking the dogs or taking the kids to school. It’s always in your head.

3. Where do you write?

In my office at home. I find it very hard to write anywhere else. I can jot things down on planes or in hotel rooms, but I can’t really get stuck in unless I’m at home.

4. How do you come up with your plot lines/characters?

I wish I knew. Usually it’s two different ideas that come together and create something else. Often it’s a small thing – something somebody tells you or a small story tucked away on page 12 of a newspaper. Most of the time it springs from character or at least it should do. That said, any day you come up with a nice twist or a clever reveal is a very good day at the office.

5. Do you know how and when the Thorne books will end? Have you always known? How far in advance do you plan your book series?

I’ve no idea other than to say that it will end when I get tired of writing about him. Who knows? He might fall under a bus or perhaps an old enemy will catch up with him or he might wind up running a small antiques business in the Cotswolds if I wanted to be really cruel to him. I certainly don’t plan ahead and am rather envious of those writers who do.

6. Do you prefer writing standalone books or series?

It’s very important to me that I do both. A standalone is a great way to take a break from the series and come back to it fired up. Sometimes of course, a story comes to you that simply doesn’t work as a Thorne novel. I always regret writing a standalone when I’m halfway through it, but it usually ends up working out. Actually, every book I’ve written has felt like that! It’s important to step out of your comfort zone and do something different every so often. You need to find a way to keep a series fresh and stepping away from it once a while has worked for me so far. I think.

7. Would you ever write a book in another genre?

I don’t think so. Even if I wrote a cookery book or a slim volume of poetry, I’d be tempted to chuck a body in after a few pages. I’m fairly obsessed with violence, with what it does to people, by the chaos and grief it leaves behind, so I don’t think I could leave it behind for very long.

8. Do you ever get writer's block and if so how do you get through it?

You have good days and bad days. There are times when you are convinced that what you are writing is rubbish and sometimes you have to leave a story alone for a while and try to figure out where you’re going with it, but I have never suffered from that crippling stagnation that some writers describe. If I’m honest, I’ve always been dubious about writers block and didn’t think it actually existed, but several writers who are friends have gone through it, so I have to concede that it exists for some people. I suppose it’s like not believing in ghosts. All fine and dandy until you see one standing at the end of your bed.

9. What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Work hard. Finish things. And be lucky...

Part 2 coming soon!
To see all of Mark's books:  UK link/ USA link 

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