Introducing Mark Cantrell
- #IndieBookBanter today welcomes Indie Author Mark Cantrell. Please tell us a little bit about yourself, and the best place for us to find out more.
My name’s Mark Cantrell and despite being a Tyke in exile these days, I was born and bred in Bradford. Quite how I ended up living in Stoke-on-Trent is too long a story, so I won’t bore you with it here.
Broadly speaking, I write science fiction (well, that’s what I’m mostly accused of) and it’s probably the one I’m happiest with, though there’s a streak of horror and a flourish of fantasy in there too.
On the whole, I get an idea that fires me up enough to write, I worry about the genre (or genres) it might slot into later. Never really been all that keen on being boxed in by marketing commissars, even if in practical terms I might have to grin and bear it.
My favourite writing place closed down years ago – I’ve had to slum it where I can ever since.
What motivates me? Laziness. No, really.
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2. Briefly tell us about your work in progress, what are you planning next?
Lately my efforts have been focused on the new edition of Citizen Zero Inspired Quill is set to release later this year, when the novel will be making its paperback debut. We’ve been working on the manuscript, editing and revising the text I originally self-published back in 2010.
I’d say I’ve written about 15,000 words of new material and we’ve really honed the story. We’ve sharpened its contemporary cutting edge. We’ve brought to the fore some of the themes that were in the background when I wrote the original draft, so we’ve been able to give the story an added kick.
At risk of stock PR-speak, it’s a really exciting edition and – barring any last minute gremlins – it should be hot off the press at the Indie Lit Fest.
Next on the agenda, I’m working on a few short stories. They’re a mix of work to try and place somewhere and some tales I intend to write exclusively for my blog. After that, I’m contemplating my next novel.
3. What was the most unusual source of inspiration for any of your books?
Sleep deprivation. Actually, that’s probably not all that unusual. I always say that the inspiration for Silas Morlock slithered down my neck with the last dregs of a pint. Does that count?
4. Who was your favourite character to write about?
Caxton in Silas Morlock is a particular favourite, I think. Explaining why is a little difficult, without giving spoilers, but I’ll do my best. Caxton is a flawed character, a conflicted soul, but he’s hiding it behind a façade of streetwise confidence. He’s tough, uncompromising, committed to what he believes is right, but humane with it. Even so, he has a dark past.
There’s a terrible crime haunting his conscience. Caxton’s driven by guilt, wracked by shame, but determined to atone and redeem himself by saving humanity from the shadows of an evil presence that has overwhelmed our world. But that guilt will be his undoing. Getting the balance between his different traits right was quite a challenge, but it was fascinating getting into his head. I also think he helped purge the smoker in me.
I have to say I also enjoyed writing the character Christine in Citizen Zero. Strangely enough for not entirely dissimilar reasons, though their character and circumstances are hugely different. Like Caxton, there’s more to Christine than meets the eye.
Again, I can’t really explain why without giving away spoilers, but she is critical to the story in ways you could never imagine when you first meet her. You might mistake Christine for a simple soul and you’d be right – for all the wrong reasons. In her own way, Christine is a powerful character.
5. Finally you are invited on a mission to a New World (unfortunately you cannot take any members of your family, friends or pets). Please tell us:-
a) Your favourite fictional character to accompany you?
Probably Rincewind. He’s a survivor, right? Stands to reason, we’re going to a new world, bound to be all kinds of unexpected dangers, so we have Rincewind as a kind of canary. Mind you, he seems to attract the very dangers he manages to evade. Hmm, might want to rethink his deployment on the mission…
b) Your favourite book?
Just the one – singular – favourite book, is that even possible? No, I’m not going. That’s it. You can’t force me. Hey, put me down. No. I said I’m not going. Just one book it’s inhuman. Hey (bangs on airlock door). Let me out. You can’t strand me on an alien planet with just one book. What’s that rumbling noise? Why’s everything shaking? Is anyone listening? Hello? Um, Ground Control – I forget my book!
c) Your favourite song?
It’s just going to have to be the Red Dwarf theme tune, isn’t it? It’s cold outside, no kind of atmosphere…
d) Your favourite food & drink to take with you (we don’t know what will be available on the New World).
Well, I’m quite partial to a raspberry jam and Cheshire cheese sandwich. Everyone at work thinks I’m seriously odd because of that, but what do they know? Now, if I can wash that sandwich down with a cup of good coffee or a pint of Salamander…
e) Finally, tell us the one (Yes, that is just ONE) item you cannot live without?
My glasses. Can’t see a damn thing without ’em.
Here are Mark’s books with a short description:-
In a bitterly divided nation where security trumps civil liberty, unemployed David is on the verge of sinking into the ‘zeroes’ – a destitute underclass numbering millions. But then JobNet’s advanced virtual reality world offers him a gateway to a worthwhile future, and a chance to rejoin society.
But David is an unwitting pawn in a deadly conspiracy to topple the Government: he’s the ideal carrier for an intelligent virus designed to shatter the system and set the zeroes free. When the virus activates, chaos ensues and the zeroes rise. David is left trapped inside a corrupted reality. If it doesn’t shatter his sanity, the secret he finds there will change everything…
Sometimes even a pawn can hold the balance of power.
“Humanity built its monolithic spires of hopes and dreams and tried to believe that the whole sordid mess actually meant something.”
Terapolis is an urban sprawl of global proportions. The vast city state has smothered whole nations and liberated humanity from the tides of history; the place is ripe with secrets…
Here, billions of people live only to give themselves to The Gestalt. An esoteric technology, said to unlock the secrets of creation, it offers humanity the chance to realise its most-cherished and forbidden desires.
For Silas Morlock, enigmatic Master of MorTek, The Gestalt is his greatest achievement, but little time remains to fulfil his purpose and save Mankind from itself; death gathers, an ancient struggle between good and evil nears its peak.
On the other side, the Incunabula peddle the most powerful drug ever devised; a substance most poisonous to the hold The Gestalt has on human minds.
And then there’s Adam, the misfit dreamer pulled into a conflict beyond his understanding. His own desire will take him on a terrifying journey into the heart of darkness.
Poor Adam, he will learn the secrets of Terapolis; if they don’t shatter his mind, he’ll become the unlikely saviour for good… or ill.
It’s a struggle played out in the shadows, where the lines are blurred, and nothing is quite as it seems. For the lost souls embroiled, the stakes are the very highest.
Secrets are for keeping, in the dark places…
But some secrets are so terrible they are the darkness…
One for the Road – digital short
Escaped killer Daniel is sure of himself. Armed and dangerous, devil-may-care; he’s a hunter – a vampire – on the run from the police and enjoying the ride. Sarah, she’s just, running, escaping a troubled past. Until she meets Daniel, she has no idea she’s actually running from herself…
Deadly Night Shade – digital short
She was the one who was afraid of the dark, that’s why the other vamps in her gang laughingly called her Shade, but now the joke’s on them, and she’s the one still breathing. In the dead of night, Shade faces a horror she never expected. She will learn there are worse things to fear than the darkness…
At Death’s Door – digital short
Crawling from the wreckage of his car, delirious, surely hallucinating, Jeremy finds himself haunted by the spectral figure of a woman calling him to follow. Lured onwards, he finds himself stumbling over the edge of reason. Out of body, out of mind, out of his depth: Jeremy’s journey into the heart of the macabre is only just beginning…
Isolation Space – short story collection
There’s a wild mix of short fiction in this collection, including the digital shorts listed above. All together, Isolation Space brings together 20 tales, from flash fiction pieces to longer works, the esoteric and the satiric, through to science fiction, fantasy, and a little horror to curdle your soul. There’s darkness and light, the strange and the macabre.
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