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, spending a great deal of his youth hitchhiking around Europe.
With a low boredom threshold, Mark has had dozens of jobs and quite a few careers, but only one wife. Studying Graphic Design at Hastings College of Art, 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. This life has given him plenty of source material and inspiration for writing.
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 Jonathan Raban. A collection of Mark's own short stories - including the award winning story 'Special Treatment' - has 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.
Shoehorned into his busy life, Mark enjoys film, motorcycling, long-board surfing, cycle touring, English micro-pubs, growing vegetables, travelling in his VW Camper-van, drawing, painting and sculpture. He 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
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.
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