Interview with Mark England

What is your writing process?
I'm very much an early morning person; when my mind is fresh and alert, which in turn always produces my most prolific results. I work in the water industry, which involves about 75 minutes of driving to site in a morning, so it isn't unusual for me to climb out of bed at 4am to knock out a couple of hours of writing before my proper working day begins.
How do you approach cover design?
Like most budding writers, I have a budget to keep to, so my cover design process has been adapted to meet the tight restrains. I usually have an idea in my head and trawl the many stock photo websites for something that strikes me; using a variety of keywords in relation to my vision. It can be a long, very particular process but once I find the right image I can usually buy the correct rights for under £15 and then it's just a matter of adding the relevant additional text.
What do you read for pleasure?
I really enjoy the work of diverse, leftfield British contemporary thriller authors, like the genius of David Peace and the alternative raw grit of Irvine Welsh. I also like to get captivated by the sheer beauty of a Cormac McCarthy novel, or the madcap schizophrenia of Chuck Palahniuk's best works.

I'm also a real sucker for historical books.
Describe your desk
Haha, usually just a laptop on a pair of jeans.... I have to be in my own company. The slightest distraction results in a closed laptop and a grumpy mood. That's one of the beauties and benefits of early morning writing, where I can feel isolated and content. That also means that a productive morning can often start the day off in a particularly positive manner.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I'm born and bred in a small industrial town, called Mansfield, in the English north midlands. My father was a coal miner and my mother a hairdresser. The town has very much always had a tough working class reputation, although the industry has almost completely left town over the years, leaving it a shell of its former self; but the people have a uniqueness like nowhere I have ever been, which I've drawn much inspiration from.

All of my three novels have been mainly based in this community and the struggles that it has battled against over the years. It's a place with more stories than most places and I like to think that I've benefited from its troubles and degradation by have the seeds of creativity planted inside my mind to introduce real working class stories from much underwritten and neglected working class environments.
When did you first start writing?
I'm very much a late starter. I left school pretty much gradeless, and with a dim opinion of education. I couldn't begin working adult life quickly enough to be honest. It was only later in life, after developing a fresh thirst for learning that it dawned upon me that it was beneficial towards a fulfilling life.

An accident and a ruptured Achilles tendon saw me spending several months away from work when I was 34. I took advantage of all the unexpected spare time by taking an Open University degree in English from home. Succeeding in it gave my self esteem a huge boost. I'd always had an interest in creating stories, since drawing up comic strips when I was a teenager. My parents had bought me a typewriter when I was 18 after I'd declared my desire to write something, but it had been very much shelved in preference of socializing and a aching desire for personal debauchery.

So a seed and desire had always been there, however the ability and the confidence wasn't properly exploited until 2009, when I was 37 and wrote my debut 'Dancing With Strangers In Dark Places'.
What's the story behind your latest book?
'Insularfield' is the accumulation of a variety of ideas that I'd stored for separate stories. However, on their own they each lacked a depth and left me dissatisfied. So I basically threw them all together, entwining the elements of each story in to a melting pot of really strong characters, and I think that it's worked better than I'd have ever imagined.

The characters are really diverse and they clash in more ways than one, helped by the fact that they were all meant to be lead characters in their own personal novels in the first place. The main essence of the story is corruption in the police force with a particular rogue detective, but there are so many more important threads to the tale: about love, loneliness, greed, innocence, aging, and dealing with loss, abuses and excesses.

I think Insularfield has something that will strike a chord with pretty much anymore.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
With such an expanding market and vastly increased competition, largely helped by the assistance of modern technologies, I think it's unrealistic to expect to be plucked out of thin air by a publisher.

Admittedly, like everyone else, once I'd finished my first manuscript and forwarded my submissions to dozens of literary agents, I fully expected to simply sit back and await the offers to come rolling in.

I'd even drafted up a letter of resignation for my work!

I think that dealing with rejection has helped me rather than hindered me. I've learnt much of how clinical and aggressive the industry is, which can be disheartening, especially when you can come across a fair chunk of sub-fair works by published authors. Yet I think we are all blessed these days with the opportunity to be heard and I've had the ability, thanks to modern technologies, to have my stories read and enjoyed, recommended and applauded. That opportunity wasn't there a number of years ago.

My advice to any new budding writer is to go in to it wide-eyed, with realistic expectations, but confident that if their products are good enough they have the chance to be appreciated and not just have their pride and joy littering an agents floor, unread and unloved like 99.9% of other unread artists.

I've long stopped wasting valuable time and expense sending off submissions. If you put the time and work in to it you can be a successful indie artist, with a decent following; and still with just as much chance of being spotted by the industry.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on another crime based thriller, with an original twist. I'm going out of my comfort zone and basing it in mainland Europe, with two main characters: a police informant trying to deal with the boredom of being placed in to police protection in Belgium and his chance meeting with a mysterious dancer on the run from Spanish authorities. He's in hiding from a dangerous criminal gang but just might have accidentally stumbled upon someone even more threatening.

It's called Beneath Ponderosa and I'm hoping to have it completed before the end of the year.
Published 2015-02-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Beneath Ponderösa
Price: Free! Words: 126,070. Language: English. Published: August 20, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
Henry Stiffkey is disillusioned with his successful life as a criminal mastermind in London's underworld. Betrayed by his boss and feeling undervalued by his dubious associates, he plans a new life. A secretive, hidden life in witness protection on Belgium's Flanders coast; in a place with a dark and shady history.
This Lonely Incubus
Price: Free! Words: 116,100. Language: English. Published: September 28, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
When army special forces hero Paul Cable is critically injured during a covert operation in Afghanistan, he slumps in to the depths of a deep coma. In his hospital bed he discovers himself barely alive in 'The Waiting State'. Joined by a surprise ally he is taken on a torturous journey of the past. One of dark times in an unforgiving place, during the harshest of circumstances.
Insularfield
Price: Free! Words: 131,930. Language: English. Published: February 19, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Psychological, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Crime
Detective Chief Inspector George Flaxman is a cop on a collision course with destiny. A man ruling the paranoid Nottinghamshire streets of 1996 with his own set of rules. Rules ingrained with unhinged power, menace, violence and intrinsic corruption. Nobody will stand in the way of him getting what he craves: not the aging hitman, or the world renowned novelist; the TV star in hiding, or the anony