Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Friday, 6 November 2015

The Lowdown with... Mark West

Mark West was born in Kettering, Northants in 1969 and grew up in nearby Rothwell, which serves as the basis for his fictional town of Gaffney.  He's married to Alison and they have a son called Matthew (who's more often than not referred to as Dude).

Since 1998, he's had over seventy short stories published, a collection (aptly titled “Strange Tales” in 2003), two novels (“In The Rain With The Dead” from Pendragon Press in 2005 and “Conjure” from Rainfall Books in 2009), a novelette (“The Mill”, originally in the “We Fade To Grey” anthology from Pendragon Press, 2008), a novella ("Drive" from Pendragon Press in 2014, which was nominated for a British Fantasy Award) and has more novellas forthcoming.  Both of the novels and “The Mill” have been reprinted in digital and print editions by Greyhart Press, whilst PenMan Press released a 'special edition' (digital and print) of "Strange Tales" in 2013. Mark has also been known to tweet, which he does here.
1. Tell us three things about yourself.
I have been writing fiction since I was eight, I can play adequate rhythm guitar and I’m a very good shot with a Nerf gun.

2. What was the first thing you had published?
A short piece in a school magazine, which filled me with pride.

3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of?
“The Mill”, a novelette I wrote for Gary McMahon’s “We Fade To Grey” anthology, which was later published as a stand-alone title by Greyhart Press. I lost my sister and the grief blocked me for a long time - Gary pulled me out of that and I wrote a story about someone consumed with grief who has to come to terms with some supernatural activity. People seem to like it.

4. …and which makes you cringe?
Probably that first piece in the school magazine, if I read it back today. With my earlier published stuff, going back to the late 90s and early 00s, I’m sure there are bits and pieces where the technique or blood and thunder content might make me raise my eyebrows now.

5. What’s a normal writing day like? 
I don’t have one, to be honest. I know the prevailing wisdom is to write every day but I never have and I learned long ago not to beat myself up for it. I can write at home, in silence (or with noise, if Dude comes in to see what I’m doing), I can write in my office during my lunch break.

6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first?
“The Mill” seems to have developed a wide range of fans, so that’s perhaps a good start and my novella “Drive” is nominated for a BFS award this year, so that’s clearly doing something right.

7. What are you working on now?
I am just about to start a short for Stormblade Productions, which’ll be the first of my stories to receive the audio-book treatment. I’m excited about that and also looking forward to the writing - a female-centric tale set in a fogbound Paris where a necktie murderer is on the loose…

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