Mark has loved the fantasy genre since he accidentally stumbled onto Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion masterpiece, “Jason and the Argonauts”, while channel-hopping one Christmas-time Saturday afternoon, somewhere between the ages of 5 and 8.
Ever since then he has been obsessed with stories of sword-wielding heroes battling monsters in fantastical lands, and is now attempting to create his own.
CONNECT WITH MARK
Welcome to SPFM, Mark! Since we already have your bio, describe yourself in three words.
Introspective. Imaginative. Adventurous.
Summarize your book, Little White Hands, using one gif.
If you could recommend three self-published books, which would you choose and why?
Can I give a cheat answer? Even though the third one – Spirits of Vengeance – isn’t out yet, I’d have to say Rob J Hayes’ Mortal Techniques books, because the first two, Never Die and Pawn’s Gambit, are just so, sooo good. The books can be read as standalones, but there are connective tissues between them that can make them a trilogy if you’re looking for one. They are inspired by multiple branches of Asian mythology, and are action-packed thrill rides with amazing characters. The fight scenes are all amazing and the character moments feel so real. And there are monsters, which will always get two thumbs-up from me.
What is your favorite part, and your least favorite part of self-publishing?
My favourite part is the fact that I have complete control over how my work is put into the world, and the freedom that comes with not having to work to deadlines that are set by someone else. I can write at my own pace and not feel like working against the clock. It’s also pretty cool knowing that I had to figure out the self-publishing process by myself, which was often difficult and frustrating, so it’s satisfying to know that I accomplished that.
My least favourite part is definitely the marketing. It’s almost as difficult as writing the book itself. I’m not a person who likes to ask people for things, so promoting myself and my work does not come naturally to me at all, and it sometimes makes me feel a bit gross. I don’t know if that’s because I have imposter syndrome or if it’s just because I’ve never had to do it before, but hopefully I’ll get better at it over time.
Who inspires you?
My biggest inspiration is probably Ray Harryhausen, who was a film-maker best known for his stop-motion fantasy films, the most famous of which are probably Jason and the Argonauts, and Clash of the Titans. Anyone who is a fan of fantasy will be aware of the skeleton fight at the end of Jason, or the scene in Clash where Perseus confronts Medusa, even if they have not seen the entirety of the films themselves.
I was very young when I first accidentally came across Jason. I was channel-hopping one day, and I’m pretty sure I happened to switch it on during the part of the film where the Argonauts are being chased by the bronze giant, Talos. From that moment I was absolutely hooked. Ray Harryhausen’s films and the stop-motion monsters in them are the reason why I love fantasy so much. I can confidently say that without them, Little White Hands would not exist.
When did you start writing?
I can’t remember exactly what age I was, but I think it was about 10, give or take a year or two. Back then I was a massive fan of the Goosebumps books, and I decided one day that I wanted to write my own. At the time we didn’t have a computer in our house, but I was best friends with the neighbours next door, so any time I was in their house I would use their computer, and write my own Goosebumps stories. They were only a couple of pages long at most, and were definitely rubbish, but I vividly remember being quite proud of them at the time.
I don’t have them anymore, sadly.
How did you know you wanted to write this genre?
When I saw Fellowship of the Ring in the cinema, I knew instantly that I wanted to tell my own epic fantasy stories, just like that one. Sure enough, the first couple of things I ever wrote in the genre were basically Lord of the Rings rip-offs, but as time went by and I got better at writing, I veered away from those copy-cat tendencies. I think most writers start off like that, though. It takes a while to develop your own voice.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
On the cover art, without question. A cover can make or break a book, in my opinion. It took me a while of long and frustrating searching before I found my artist, Jeremy Adams, but as soon as I saw his work I just knew I had to work with him. His style is a perfect fit for the kind of whimsical story I was telling.
I couldn’t be happier with my cover. I think it’s a perfect blend of simple and eye-catching, and will hopefully make whoever sees it want to open to the book to learn more.
If you could have any superhero power, what power would you have and why?
My answer to this is pretty boring, to be honest – I’d have the ability to make litter disappear just by pointing or clicking my fingers at it. Like some kind of environmentally-friendly Thanos, but without the universal genocide.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A knight. And not the modern definition, where it’s just a ceremonial title with ‘Sir’ before the name. I wanted to be a full-blown armoured knight, with a sword and shield and all that jazz. I don’t really know what the job role would have entailed; I clearly didn’t put a great deal of thought into it. But yeah, that’s what I wanted to be.
Later my aspirations became only a little bit more realistic when I decided I wanted to be a cross between Indiana Jones and David Attenborough—some sort of tomb-raiding adventuring animal fanatic. I have no idea how I would have made a living out of that, either.
Nowadays I just want to be a successful author. Which, to be honest, is probably just as difficult!
Tell us what lies ahead for you.
I am currently working on the two sequels to my debut, Little White Hands, which will complete the Garlan Greatheart trilogy. I’m aiming to release book 2 in the first half of 2022, and book 3 will hopefully follow around the same time a year later. I’m hoping to also release a collection of short fairytales and fables in 2022 as well, towards the end of the year. But that will depend on how quickly I’m able to finish book 2 in my current trilogy.
About Little White Hands (Garlan Greatheart #1)
Almost five hundred years have passed since the Seasons were at war.
Half a millennium since Winter defied Spring, and lost.
Generations have come and gone, not knowing the bitter freeze and howling snows of Winter ever existed.
But now, after centuries of silence, the participants in this ancient struggle have resurfaced and reignited their feud on the doorstep of an unassuming little kitchen boy.
Garlan’s dreams of being just like the knights he idolizes may not be as impossible as he has always been led to believe, when he is chased from his home and thrust headlong into the kind of adventure he had only ever read about in books.
Setting out on a journey that spans the entire kingdom of Faeland, Garlan will traverse impossible mountains and stormy seas and battle terrible monsters, all to keep the world he knows safe from an enemy who will stop at nothing to bring about a never-ending winter.
With a cast of fantastical characters to aid him in his quest, can Garlan overcome his self-doubt and find the courage he needs to rise above his humble station and become the hero he always dreamed of being?
The fate of the world rests in his hands.