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Meet the Author… Mark L. Fowler

Blue Murder Blog Tour

Welcome to Mark L. Fowler’s Blog Tour! As mentioned in my interview with him last March, I’ve known Mark L. Fowler for a few years now. We both joined One Stop Fiction Authors’ Resource Group (on Facebook) when it only had a few members. Of course I said ‘yes!’ when Mark asked me to be a beta reader for his new book, Blue Murder, book 2 of the Tyler and Mills series. As I’m part of his blog tour, I’d love to give him another boost 🙂 .

Mark L. Fowler

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Biography

Mark L. Fowler has five published novels under his belt, and he recently contributed one of his many short stories to the Dark Minds charity collection. Mark’s most recent book, Blue Murder, is the second in a police detective series featuring DCI Tyler and DS Mills. The first book to feature the detectives, Red Is The Colour, was published by Bloodhound Books last year and shortlisted for the 2018 Arnold Bennett Book Prize. Mark is also the author of The Man Upstairs, featuring hard-boiled detective Frank Miller, and Silver, a psychological thriller. His first book, Coffin Maker, continues to defy any attempts to categorize it. All of his books can be read as stand-alone works.

Who is the most famous author you have ever met?

Peter James. I met him at the Winchester Annual Writers’ conference many years ago. I attended his workshop and was lucky enough to have a one: one session with him, during which he looked over the opening chapter of my first novel and gave me some sound advice.

What do you love most about the writing process?

I love setting off on new adventures, not always certain of where they will take me. I love exploring new characters, watching them develop as I work on them, and finding what makes them tick.

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

Mark_Fowler_RedIsTheColourFor me, being a writer is absolutely a gift. Yes, it is hard work, yes there are frustrations getting your books out there, but the creative part of the job, the putting pen to paper, developing storylines, creating settings, sharpening dialogue – I just love the whole business of writing.

Do you outline or just write?

A little of both. I like to have a strong idea of my main characters, and a vivid sense of place, of where the story is happening, before I begin writing. I will usually have a clear idea of the primary situation or conflict that will need to be resolved before the story can reach its ending. But detailed plotting is not something that I like to do before beginning the writing. If I had too much plot before I started the book, I would feel constrained and my characters would not have sufficient room to develop. I know writers who plot intricately before they begin a book, leaving little or nothing to chance, while others just go for it. It is whatever works for the individual writer. I’m somewhere in between.

What is your favorite genre? Why?

I read more crime fiction than any other genre, and my writing has increasingly moved that way too. I have always loved detective stories, both on the page and on screen. Most of my published work so far has been in the detective genre, one way or another, most clearly in my Tyler and Mills books and The Man Upstairs. Whilst Silver is more a psychological thriller than a classic detective novel, the main character, the writer and journalist Nick Slater, is effectively playing the role of detective, trying to get to the heart of a baffling and intriguing mystery.

What genre do you consider your latest book and have you considered writing in another genre?

Blue Murder, like its predecessor Red Is The Colour, is a British police detective novel. But the books are also historic crime, set in 2002-2003. Part of my reason for doing this was my interest in a style of policing that is a little less dependent on technology, and more about detectives going door to door, face to face. The action takes place on the streets of a North Staffordshire city, not in forensic laboratories and on computer screens. I have also written in other genres, Coffin Maker being a good example. It’s just that no-one, including the author, can quite nail the elusive genre that can define it! A lot of people really love that about the book.

What is your book about? Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

Mark_Fowler_Blue_MurderThe sub-title of Blue Murder is: Fame. Fortune. Murder. And here lies the first clue to what the book is about. Johnny and the Swamp Seeds are a local band on the cusp of success when the singer Johnny Richards goes missing. Then the body of a young man is found in the local canal. The detectives, DCI Tyler and DS Danny Mills, not only find themselves trying to solve a baffling mystery, but at the same time their efforts appear to be doing nothing more than catapulting a now singer-less band to fame and fortune. What a lot of people most enjoyed about Red Is The Colour was the relationship, strained at times, between Tyler and Mills, and in Blue Murder I have worked hard to develop these two characters further. So the book is as much about the detectives, and also about the city in which they live and work, as it is about finding out what happened to Johnny Richards.

What gave you inspiration for your book? How did you come up with the idea for Blue Murder? Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas.

I suppose that the inspiration for Blue Murder initially came from being in a band many years ago, though I have been careful to write a work of fiction and not an autobiography. I had the initial idea about the singer going missing at the point at which he and his band were about to break into the big time. Then I began to ask questions about why this might happen, and who might stand to gain. But once I had the basic ingredients, I didn’t want to plot any further. I wanted my detectives to do the work for me. I wanted Tyler and Mills, rather than the author, to dig into the mystery and find the truth. As far as possible, I handed the investigation over to them. After all – they are the detectives!

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

I wouldn’t say ‘hijack’ exactly. While giving the story over to my detectives, in one sense, I still retain the last word. This is why I like to have some idea of the shape of the story from the outset, and why theme is important – to stop the book from veering off course. Some plot developments would seem inappropriate to the story I want to tell, and this comes through experience. The more I write about Tyler and Mills, for example, the more I know when I’m on track. If characters start to act in bizarre ways that give no meaning to the story and for no good reason – if their behaviour ceases to support the theme of the book – then I know I’m getting off-track and need to pull things back. For me this would be one of the dangers of just writing a book completely from scratch, without first getting to know my characters a little bit, and where they come from and where they are heading.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Have you written any other books that are not published?

Mark_Fowler_SilverI have at least half a dozen completed, unpublished novels and quite a number of partially completed books too. In some cases I am simply still not satisfied with the books, and need to return to them afresh to bring them to publication. Others may never see the light of day for one reason or another. In some cases I may have set off writing them too early, without thinking about the characters, the locations and/or the basic plot sufficiently, and then getting into more of a mess than I know how to get out of. It’s all experience though, and I have learned a lot from writing some books that I know may never be read. But these days I would rather set off on my writing adventures with the knowledge that I have enough to get me through to a satisfactory ending. As a writer you never stop learning.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Publishing my books has made me think differently about the whole writing process. I am more aware these days of writing for a readership, an audience. It has made me more disciplined in my approach, asking more questions at an earlier stage in the development of an idea, and a lot less self-indulgent. When I began writing short stories, a long time ago, I used to just let my imagination soar. These days I only allow that once I have a solid base beneath. I do the groundwork first and then allow the imagination of my characters to soar. And on good days they always seem to do just that. Bless them.

Thanks again, Mark, for sharing more about your writing with us. I loved reading Blue Murder and can thoroughly recommend it to anybody looking for a good crime story to read during the holidays!

For those of you who’d like to know more about Mark L. Fowler, you can follow him via:

UK Amazon Author Page

US Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram


What to Watch? Incredibles 2

Excuses for posting this a day late. I’ve been working my ass off to get my second newsletter out (in online magazine form). It takes a lot of time to do the editing, but I love it. You can sign up for it on my home page, if you like :).

Last weekend we watched Incredibles 2. For those adults who say ‘I don’t watch animated movies,’ let me tell you that Incredibles 2 is the  ninth highest-grossing film of all-time domestically and the highest grossing animated film domestically. That’s got to say something, doesn’t it?

Incredibles 2

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Cast

Obviously, this movie only has voice-overs. The most known ones are done by Holly Hunter (Elastigirl), Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone)(surprisingly, he actually never says ‘motherfucker’ in this movie 😀 ), and Usher (as Lucius’ best valet). You can check out the full list of the cast on Wikipedia.

Plot

The new movie starts where the first movie stopped; chasing The Underminer. He escapes, but as the superhero family tries to stop his mining machine, there is a lot of damage done to the city. As a result, the relocation program is shut down and all superheroes find themselves not only illegal (they can’t use their superpowers) but also homeless.

Not to worry, a superhero fan called Winston Deavor, owner of DevTech, and his sister Evelyn, creator of the communications technology of DevTech, come to the rescue. They propose a publicity stunt to show the world that superheroes do good things. They choose Elastigirl to head the stunt to defeat Screenslaver, a supervillain who hypnotizes people through TV screens.

Bob is slightly disappointed that they have chosen his wife Helen as the superhero to battle Screenslaver, but he agrees to look after the kids, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack. While Helen is away, Jack-Jack finally starts to show his superpowers.

What I liked about Incredibles 2

This movie is as entertaining as the first movie. Obviously, there is a bigger theme underlining the concept of good vs. evil. The interactions between the family members are so funny as they portray common teenager issues as well as seeing Bob’s resentment against having his wife doing all the hero stuff while he has to deal with the kids at home. It’s probably slightly over the top, but shows oh-so-well the problems most mothers have to deal with on a daily basis. Except for the superpower part, of course!

What I didn’t like about Incredibles 2

Honestly, I don’t think I can mention anything here. It was clear who was the supervillain early on, but it didn’t take away from the entertainment at all.

Summary

This movie is a great one to watch, by young and old. It contains lots of humor, surprises, and most of all recognizable situations. Go and see it with the whole family!

 

 

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Blog Tour: Mark L. Fowler – Blue Murder

Mark L. Fowler with his new book Blue Murder

Mark L. Fowler with his new book Blue Murder

Today is the day that the Blog Tour of Mark Fowler starts, promoting his new book Blue Murder, second in the DCI Tyler and DS Mills series (but can be read as a standalone)! Check it out, follow Mark on Twitter (@MFowlerAuthor), and drop in if you can on the 30th of July 😀 .

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Meet the Author… Ian Campbell

I met Ian under the name of Devin Salesman on Twitter. His book, And the Salesman Came to Town, intrigued me. As my love for Terry Pratchett explains, I love it when stories contain a fair share of humor. Ian let me wait weeks for the image (blame was put on the Zon), but it was worth it! So, without further ado, let me introduce me to Ian Campbell, so you can also have a laugh.

Ian Campbell

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Biography

I am a 53-year-old man, who is married with two adult sons – both of whom still live with me!  Professionally, I am a high school English teacher. And now that I have put this on paper, I’ve realized just how boring I am. I was born in Toronto, Canada, but when I was still a baby my family moved to Winnipeg, where I learned the meaning of a what cold winter is!  When I was young, I was diagnosed with learning disabilities in primary school, and needless to say – I was not what could be considered a model student.  Let’s just say I was heavy on the hyper activity! Unfortunately, when I was 12 my mother passed away after a battle with cancer, and when I was 13 my father sent me to a military school in southern Ontario, near Niagara Falls. I spent the next 5 years at the school – consider it a reward for being a perfect child! My father during my time at school moved back to Toronto, so that I wasn’t too far away from family, and after I finished my education, I too stayed in Toronto. I worked for several years then went to York University, where I studied English Literature, and later I received my teaching qualifications from D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY.  During this time, I started my novel And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, and available on Amazon! (subtle plug, right?) I also got married, and my lovely wife and I had our aforementioned sons.  As my life got busier I got away from writing, sending most of my free time with my sons.  We went swimming, biked, watched moves and went to amusement parks and so much more. We were thick as thieves. My sons are still very active, they just don’t take me along anymore! I never thought I would be the 3rd wheel! Honestly they would bring me along too, but now that I’m getting older I’ve developed a bad back and cannot do all the things I used to do.  Summers had become boring, and I had an idea – start my book from scratch!  The rest is history – exciting NO! No, no – it really isn’t, but I have started my second untitled novel! 

If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be/if you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

Be yourself and get over yourself! The first draft of my book And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, and again the – it’s available on Amazon thing, (yes, it’s plug number 2) was written about 20 years ago. I was trying to be all dark and sardonic, somewhere between Kurt Vonnegut and Evelyn Waugh, two of my favorite authors. Then, while I was editing the first half of the novel, a thought came to me. ‘What kind of self deluded idiot would write this kind of preachy and pretentious bull sh**!’ Let’s just say I knew it needed some revisions. The first draft was in truth complete crap, but I still thought it was overall a good idea, and never really gave up on it. And now you know why it took 20 years! Here is my advice, be yourself and get over yourself – to be an author, and you need to find you own voice!  Being self critical, and being able to take criticism from others, will also help enhance your prose.

Who is/are your favorite author(s)? How much is your work influenced by his or her works?

Obviously, Kurt Vonnegut, Evelyn Waugh, then J. R.R. Tolkien, Hemingway, Mark Twain, Johnathan Swift, of course Shakespeare, Harper Lee, Frank Herbert, Shirley Jackson, Eric Walters, Arthur Conan Doyle and J. K. Rowling. I know the last one is an author of kid’s books, but tell me – who doesn’t love Harry! Really, it’s a longer list than this, but in my defence, I’m an old guy so I’ve read a lot of books.

Ian_Campbell_And_the_Salesman_Came_to_TownWho is the most famous author you have ever met?

Austin Clark.  I don’t think he is that famous, but he has won some major literary awards. I don’t get out much!

What made you want to become a writer?

I love stories: books, movies, TV, plays – and of almost any genre. Although I like satire and fantasy/science fiction the best. At heart, I’m still a child!  And, according to my wife, every other part of my anatomy as well.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

Everything!  I wrote And the Salesman Came to Town, by Ian Campbell, I guess you’ve gotten the whole Amazon thing by now (plug number 3 – nice huh?) without having any idea of what I was doing.  Here’s the thing though, I’m pretty sure that I still have no idea of what I’m doing.

What do you love most about the writing process?

Everything, from the outline to the rough draft, and the revisions and editing. I have to admit that I’m not very good at editing myself as I see what should be there, and in many instances, not what is there.  Apparently, neither did the professional editor I hired, he left spelling and grammar mistakes for god…!  Anyway, after some complaints from readers, I have put And the Salesman Came to Town, by… (Well, you know the rest by now – plug number 4!) through an online editor – but I digress.  Even if I had no way of sharing my writing with others, I would still write.  I love every part of it!

Is being a writer a gift or a curse?

For me, a gift – absolutely a gift! I can create my own little world, and get a short reprieve from the somewhat messed up real world we live in. I’m a humour/fantasy writer, and all I can hope for is that my audience is having half as much fun reading my writing, as I have had writing it. If that is the case, in my opinion, I’ve done my job as an author!

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

Ian_Campbell_Spirit_AnimalThis cat right here.  We share the same world view.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Energize! As I already said I love writing, especially humour. Like my novel And the Salesman Came to Town – Ian Campbell – Amazon (Didn’t think I’d get one more in did you?  Last one, promise!)

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

Oh, very part time. As they say “Don’t give up your day job!” I would be thrilled to be able to write full-time, but at this point, being a somewhat newly self publish author – who has no idea what he is doing as far as publishing goes, I think I’ll have to keep the day job for a while.  And the Salesman Came to Town – Ian Campbell – Amazon (Okay, I lied!).

Thanks so much for sharing your enthusiasm for writing, Ian. I’m glad to hear you’ve used an editor for your book. Yes, folks, the edited version is online now! I’ve started reading it and am enjoying it very much (although I’m terribly time deprived working on my own books, but I promise I’ll write a review when I’ve finished!).

If you wish you can follow Ian Campbell, aka Devin Salesman, on Twitter.

Just in case you didn’t get it, you can get And the Salesman came to Town on Amazon! Here’s the teaser:

The devil has come to town – but this time he is the CEO of a multinational corporation. This multinational advertises a soul back guarantee for all potential customers – for their purchase of their very own dream life. A semi-alcoholic priest is anointed as – The Chosen – the one who is destined to fight off the evil, and to stop this latest incarnation of the devil. He is sent unwillingly into the battle between good and evil, and what can only be considered to be an excellently executed marketing campaign. John Murdock, a self described crappy priest and aforementioned semi-alcoholic, wakes one morning to a radio commercial outlining the benefits of buying one’s own dream life for the low – low price of their soul. He sincerely hopes that the commercial is a bad joke made by the radio station, or at least a hangover induced hallucination. But finds out to his dismay that it is all real, and that it is his job to fight the devil incarnate, or more accurately stated – the devil incorporated.

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What To Watch? Immortals

Last Thursday, we were deciding what to watch on Netflix. We read the blurb for Immortals, but the rest of my family wasn’t too convinced. As I held the TV remote (a rare occasion), I pressed play and, to my surprise, everybody was pleased I did afterward.

Immortals

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Cast

The movie has a spectacular cast and, for the life of me, I don’t know why I had never heard of this movie before. As the main characters, it has Henry Cavill as Theseus and Mickey Rourke as King Hyperion. The role of Zeus is shared by Luke Evans, in the role of the god, and John Hurt, in the role of the old man-form of Zeus.

And then, for the vampire-lovers amongst us, there’s Kellan Lutz (aka Emmett Cullen in Twilight) as Poseidon, Joseph Morgan (aka Niklaus “Klaus” Mikaelson in The Vampire Diaries and The Originals) as Lysander, Stephen Dorff (aka Deacon Frost in Blade) as Stavros, and Daniel Sharman (aka Kaleb in The Originals) as Ares.

The two women in the movie are Isabel Lucas as Athena, goddess of wisdom and daughter of Zeus, and Freida Pinto as Phaedra, an Oracle priestess who joins Theseus on his quest (and being the love interest).

Plot

King Hyperion, who wants to free the Titans (to revenge the death of his family) and hopes to slay the gods this way, is hell-bound to find the Epirus bow, the only weapon that can free the Titans. He uses the visions of Phaedra, the Oracle priestess, to locate it.

Immortals2In the meantime, Theseus, his mother, and many others try to flee from Hyperion and his approaching Heraklion army. Unfortunately, Theseus’s mother gets killed by Hyperion and Theseus is imprisoned. At a chance meeting, the Oracle Priestess sees Theseus being part of the future and organizes to set him free. Zeus tells the other gods not to interfere with the troubles of men, but, of course, they do.

What I liked about Immortals

The first and foremost thing that struck me watching the movie was the beautiful aesthetics. The director, Tarsem Singh (The Cell, The Fall, Mirror Mirror, Self/less), is known for his unique visual style, and Immortals is a wonderful example. The colors and texture jump off the screen when the story is good and beautiful, yet are bleak and colorless (except for the color red) when dark and gloomy. You could say it is the enhanced version of 300 (I actually only found out it was from the same producers as 300 after I watched the YouTube trailer 😀 ).

With such a cast, you can’t expect otherwise than the performances to be excellent. They draw you into the story from beginning to end.

As this is a movie based on Greek mythology, there are quite a few fight scenes. All done impeccably, easy to follow, and believable, with lots of blood gushing out of inflicted wounds (I can see why they did a 3D-version of the movie).

What I didn’t like about Immortals

Immortals3As the common critique was when the film came out in 2011, it could do with a bit more character development and (hence) better script. I actually quite liked the overall story.

I must admit I didn’t like Luke Evans in the role of Zeus. They should have taken someone to match, if not surpass, the physical appearance of Micky Rourke.

Summary

This is a beautiful movie to watch if only for pleasing the eye. Beautiful colors, beautiful people, beautiful scenery. The story isn’t real (at least, it’s not a ‘real mythological’ story), but I thought it believable (as far as Hollywood movies go). It does have quite some gruesome moments (crushing of testicles, cooking of humans, and the necessary blood-shed) in it, so I’d recommend it for older teenagers and up.

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