Mark Swain was born in Singapore in 1958, where his father was stationed in the RAF. He has lived in many countries, and as a young man found it hard to break the habit of a nomadic life, so fascinated was he by the variety of cultures he experienced as a child.
With a low boredom threshold, Mark has had dozens of jobs and quite a few careers. This provides him with endless source material for short stories and is probably the prime reason for the sense of authenticity people see in his work. Studying Graphic Design at Hastings College of Art at 16, he ran off and joined the Army in search of adventure. Later he found himself travelling the world on the QE2 as a silver-service waiter and going to the Falklands war. Training as a TEFL teacher took him to Tokyo in 1984, where he met his wife Lorna. Setting up a successful Risk Management Consultancy business, Mark took a year out to cycle 10,000miles from Ireland to Japan in 2008 with his teenage son. This resulted in them writing Long Road Hard Lessons, which became an Amazon bestseller.
In 2010 Mark Swain won the Kinglake Prize for Modern Short Stories for "Special Treatment".
Mark and his wife Lorna have three grown-up children and live in Canterbury, Kent. There is not much in his life that he does without passion, although he will do anything to avoid having to dance or empty a kitchen bin. Asked about his ambitions, desires, or his sense of right and wrong, he says, “I trust in instinct. Like a plant, I simply grow towards the light.”
Mark particularly enjoys the Short Story form, admiring American short story writers such as Raymond Carver, Richard Brautigan and Richard Ford as well as classic short story writers Franz Kafka and Anton Chekov. He is also a great admirer of George Orwell, John Steinbeck, Norman Maclean, Albert Camus and the contemporary travel writer Jonathan Raban.
Two collections of Mark's own short stories - including the award winning story 'Special Treatment' - have been released by his UK publisher, Tinderbox Publishing Ltd along with the bestselling "Long Road, Hard Lessons" a non-fiction book with photographs and maps about a 10,000-mile life-changing cycle journey he made with his teenage son from Ireland to Japan.
Mark is at home in England, but is constantly drawn back to Asia, Morocco, and to Dingle in Ireland.
Where to find Mark Swain online
Where to buy in print
Pat Carmichael was a talented Premiership footballer until a crippling injury ended his career at 27. His glamorous lifestyle suddenly ended, Pat hit rock bottom. Soon after, his wife left him.
"I was in love with Pat Carmichael the football star, not Pat Carmichael the drunk with sick in his beard," she said as she handed him the keys.
Booze and gambling did the rest. But could he bounce back?
English Down The Pub
English Down The Pub is a book written for use by both students of English and teachers of English. It will also be of interest to those wanting to know about modern English culture. What readers will not be anticipating in a book of this type, is comedy. The book could be described as 'tongue in cheek', except that its mission is very serious. Provides interesting information on Beer and Pubs.
The Truth In The Lie
A sparkling collection of short stories that entrance us with telling glimpses and powerful insights into people’s lives. In so little precious time we feel we know these characters and what drives them – their secrets, their desires, their fears and their regrets. Real people, caught in the author’s spotlight or under his probing microscope. 'Mesmerising'.
Special Treatment - Single Story
A small Welsh town. Brenda runs a hair salon and employs her son. Perhaps he's gay, they say? However, after winning a competition and working in London, he returns changed. A wow with the ladies he is seduced by a young mother and begins offering personal services to salon clients. After taking on an apprentice to help with demand Rhys finds himself answering questions for the Police. Humorous.
His Perilous Throne
A young man is wrongly imprisoned for the manslaughter of his kindly employer. Michael has mild learning difficulties and was raised in a children's home. Unable to explain to the court that the death was an accident, he is incarcerated with a sadistic killer, who forces him to become his butler and becomes progressively deluded that he is a member of the aristocracy. Revenge lurks in the shaddows
A traditional Moroccan tale of a widowed baker who cherishes the donkey who was his dead wife's dowry. The donkey, like his master, is despised by his old friends in the village due to hardship and envy. Their one consolation is found in their days at the market in a nearby town, where one day they both find their way to a happier future. A modern parable set in a world that has changed little.
Open This Box!
Jim and Carmen, a couple, taking the Trans-Siberian Express train from China to Germany, meet a tragic German businessman in a Shanghai bar and are warned of the pernicious border guards en-route who confiscate food and valuables. On the train Jim devises a cunning plan to avoid the problem but is humiliated in the process.
Two competitive Englishmen go cycling together in France. Each attempts to out-do the other as they pass through rolling countryside and villages. Stopping for water in one village they are helped by an odd woman. One man witnesses a grotesque scene in her cellar but keeps the information from his colleague, hoping to punish him for having 'beasted' him on the last hill. Revenge, then regret.
The Deadly EPOS
Bob, an elderly supplier of restaurant tableware is regularly taunted by a spiteful young restaurant manager. Other staff delight in the amusing fracas created, including Thierry, the restaurant owner. One day Bob snaps and causes a scene in front of customers. It is an amusing event for Thierry until he receives a call from Bob's solicitor.
Awakenings - A teenage boy secures a summer job helping a gang of telecoms workers erecting telegraph poles in the wilds of Scotland. Directing traffic by day, he enjoys the banter and antics of the men. By night he sleeps in the site tent. One night he meets a mute woman who lives in an old railway signal hut. The encounter is frightening to him yet he is drawn back to her.
Two friends meet regularly in a pub they used to frequent as pupils of a local boarding school. Here the conversation usually centres around old anecdotes which they endlessly repeat and amuse themselves over. Some of these involve the misfortune of others. Sometimes this could even be described as cruelty. On one such visit, their conversation is overheard and an unknown man confronts them.
A victim of a workplace accident, Dave lives alone. His Postlady's daily visit is one of the highlights of an otherwise dull life. One day a woman from an accident claims company call-centre telephones him to offer help making a personal injury claim. Happy for the company, Dave tells her all about his accident. Soon the whole call-centre is listening-in. But all does not end well.
Special Treatment & Other Stories
Mark Swain describes these 12 short stories as: short excursions into the lives of others.
It is the characters we are drawn to: A divorcee hairdresser doting on her son. A resentful victim of a construction-site accident. An elderly man victimised by political activists. A boy’s summer job – lovers; adventurers; workers; travellers; prisoners – they all open their lives to us, their secrets.
Long Road, Hard Lessons
(4.00 from 1 review)
A father & teenage son cycle from Ireland to Japan. Physical challenges, border bureaucracy, health scares and traffic hazards were all anticipated. The conflict they faced, spending 24hrs a day together under such arduous conditions was not.
On one level, a life-changing travel adventure, this book also takes time to look at the psychological journey made by parents and children.
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