Today we have an interview with published writer Mark Woods. He has been busy recently with book releases and working on several projects. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to talk to him during this busy period in his career.
I met Mr. Woods via a Facebook writers group while I was asking if any authors would be interested in an interview. He gladly volunteered to answer some of my questions. Mark came across as very positive and enthusiastic, and I am honored to have him on my blog.
Mark Woods donating his book to the local Norfolk library.
Short Bio: Three years ago Mark Woods was just a chef who wrote book reviews, but when horror author, Catt Dahman, persuaded him to write his own stories, she unwittingly created a monster. Since then his short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies to critical acclaim, his debut novella, Time Of Tides, proved phenomenally popular upon release; he was one of six authors responsible for the ground-breaking Vampire novel, Feral Hearts; and a collection of his stories, all linked together by one central story, Fear of the Dark, was released early last year to rave reviews.
Mark is currently working on numerous projects including his first full length novel, a follow up to Fear of the Dark, and several other short novellas to hopefully all be released sometime in the next year or so.
- Twitter - @sparkymarky1973
Published works: Fear of the Dark, Feral Hearts, Time of Tides collector's edition, various anthologies including most recently, Sinbad and the Winds of Destiny - the first seven voyages and more.
Current projects: The Go-lem and Archnattack: attack of the False Widows
Now on to the interview!
When did you begin writing?
I began writing in 2013, completely by chance. I was writing reviews for Catt Dahman's Z is for zombie series and she contacted me to tell me I had a strong voice and should consider writing something, not knowing this had always been a dream of mine but that I had never known how to start. From there, I began writing short stories until eventually I released my first novella, Time of Tides - a Lovecraftian inspired horror set on the Norfolk Broads.
Did you receive any special training or attend a school?
I was always good at English at school and in hindsight probably should have tried pursuing a career in journalism perhaps, but at 16, I didn't know what I wanted to do and kind of fell into being a chef. Despite that, I always dreamt of being a writer, I just never knew where or how to start until Catt gave me a kick up the bum and told me to write something already. I guess you could say she was my mentor and my inspiration because without her, I wouldn't be here, where I am today.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
All around me - in the news, from Facebook, from things I see and note everywhere I go. When I visited Disneyland, Paris, I started thinking of Disney characters as Zombies and that got me started writing a series of zombie fairy tales for example, that are still in progress as we speak. Time of Tides stemmed from a love of Lovecraft and a series of ideas produced in a brainstorming session that I brought all together to form one single narrative. Arachnattack was inspired by the False Widow media panic here in the uk a few summers back, and Fear of the Dark was the result of a story I'd had in my head for years and that I then incorporated to combine several of my published and unpublished short fiction into one cohesive story.
Do you use any special resources when writing? (other books, computer programs, etc)
Not really. I never go anywhere without a pen or paper and often write in longhand and then transcribe/ edit later into a word doc whatever it is I've written. In that way, I guess I'm pretty old school.
What is (in your opinion) the most important thing to remember when writing, and why is it so important?
Make it believable. Many of the things that happen in Fear of the Dark are based on real things that happened to me but that I exaggerated or embellished for the purpose of telling a story. Similarly, I based Time of Tides on the Norfolk Broads because I have lived by them my whole life and grew up near them.
Also, always always always backup your manuscript on Dropbox or Onedrive or something external. I see so many writers lose works-in-progress and that is heartbreaking stuff right there so always back-up, back-up, back-up!!
What is (in your opinion) the most challenging part of writing, and how do you overcome it?
Seeing an idea through to completion. Some writers struggle with short stories but those are my bread and butter. I can write them, no problems - longer works though, take me more time. I'm actually determined to try and finish at least some of my many projects in progress this year as I have lots of half-started novels that need completion.
Fear of the Dark has been described both as a novel and a collection because of the way each story flows together, but before that, my longest piece was Time of Tides.
Did you use an agent? (why or why not?)
No, because as of now, I don't think I need one and I'm not famous or successful enough. I've reached the point where people are approaching me for stories instead of the other way round, but I'm trying to limit myself this year as the last couple of years I have found myself mostly writing for non-paying anthologies, just exposure, and I need to start earning some money for my work if that doesn't make me sound too ruthless.
As much as I love all the positive feedback I get from my readers (is it too early to call them fans? I don't know...) I also want to make some money at some point as well.
Did you use an Editor? If not, what process did you use to edit your work?
So far, I have mostly published through JEA, and they have their own editors but I have been told my work often needs few edits so I am going to try and self publish as well this year. As a general rule though, you should always use an editor because writers seldom see their own mistakes.
How did you get your book published? (self-published, Vanity publishing, Mainstream publisher).
Catt was starting JEA just as I started writing, and gave me a job editing and promised if my work was good enough, they'd publish it. It was and they did. But I gave also subbed to other presses and been accepted in their anthologies and I am looking to self-publish this year as well, just to say I've done it and cross it off my writing-bucket list.
Do you handle your own marketing?
I use sites like Photofunia to create clever marketing posters and post them on social media, but JEA often feature new books on their website and help a little in that regard also. At the end of the day though, it is often up to a writer with most presses I see other than the big 6, to handle their own marketing.
What is your best marketing tip?
Be original. Don't just post buy me links. Join writers forums and readers forums and get involved in discussions - then you can slip in casual references to the fact you are a writer and if people see you are someone who likes to openly get involved and not just there to plug your stuff, then nine times out of ten someone will ask 'so, what have you done?'
Writing reviews for other authors often helps and you will sometimes get authors saying 'if I can ever return the favour...' Which is always good.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don't be put off by rejection. One of the biggest highs in the world is seeing your name in print and holding a book by you in your hand. Believe in yourself and keep at it and listen to advice from other writers, but be selective what advice you take.
There is a minefield of writing advice out there and sometimes, you need to listen to your own voice to decide what's best for your story/ novel/ play/ whatever and not be distracted by people telling you you shouldn't have a prologue for example, whilst others say there's nothing wrong with that. A lot of the advice out there can often be conflicting, so be careful which you choose to listen to and don't ever let yourself be dissuaded.
I was very very lucky, and I know that, to start writing and be discovered so quickly but if you believe in yourself, in time you will find someone else who believes in you too.
In closing, I would like to thank Mark for doing this interview, especially while dealing with the chaos of a publishing deadline. As someone who is still in the process of finding himself as a writer, I found his story to be quite motivating. I look forward to hearing more from him in the future.
Until Next time,