Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Release Date:20th October 2015
Publisher: David J Publishing
Publisher: David J Publishing
Genres: Alternative History
Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to welcome a local author, Mark Lynch from Holywood in County Down. That's just a few miles up the road from me! Thanks Mark for agreeing to be interviewed.
Do you write under your real name or is this a pen name you use?
I write under my own name. I did consider using a pen name for a while because I was worried about people’s reactions to some of the more controversial aspects of my stories. When I first self-published my novel ‘The War of Zero-Sum’, the book was called ‘The Red Star of Ulster’, and I used the pseudonym of ‘M A Way’ (doing it my way!). However, when the novel was picked up by David J Publishing we changed the title and it was published under my own name. They also put a photo of my ugly mug on the back cover! This took me some getting used to, and I’m sure the picture gave my readers a bit of a fright!
Where are you from?
I’m born and bred in the beautiful town of Holywood in County Down. I still live in the town today with my wife Jackie. Like most authors I believe my writing is at least partly influenced by my background and by where I come from. To date, two of my novels are set in Northern Ireland (albeit an alternative history version of our wee country!). That said, one of my stories is set in America, and the other on an alien moon, so I don’t restrict myself in terms of location!
List 3 interesting facts about yourself.
Three things…That’s tough, because I reckon the most interesting thing about me is that I’m a writer. I guess that doesn’t really count when I’m giving an interview to a book website!
Well, let’s see…
I once spent a summer working in Florida cutting lawns and cleaning swimming pools. Not all that interesting, although I did once stand on a fire ant hill. That was an experience!
I first met my wife Jackie in the office. That was over seven years ago now, and we still work together; on the same team and sitting directly opposite to each other! Working and living together can be a challenge sometimes, but we make it work.
Finally, I have a minor claim to fame through family connections. My great-grandmother was called Frances Griffith and she is famous for photographing fairies in Cottingley, Yorkshire back in 1917. There was a film made about the event called Fairy Tale: A True Story and there’s also a novel in the pipeline (although not written by me!).
What was the first thing you ever had published?
My first published novel was entitled Veritas Dawn. The genre is science fiction and the story revolves around a small community of human colonists living on a moon located in another solar system. The settlers struggle to survive in a harsh alien environment but they are forced to pull together in order to fight a common enemy, namely an indigenous species which is determined to destroy the human colony and reclaim their ancestral homelands.
Veritas Dawn is still available for digital download through Amazon. Also, we have recently re-released the novel in paperback format, under the new title of The Rogue Colony.
Do you have a writing routine?
I work full-time so I fit in my writing whenever I can. Luckily my job is 9-5, Monday to Friday. I don’t take my work home with me, so this leaves free time in the evenings and weekends for my ‘second job’. I try not to let it take over my life. I generally write three nights a week and I’ll take Wednesdays and Fridays off, usually to go out for a drink or two with Jackie! I’ll also work for a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays. There’s a lot more to writing than I imagined when I first got into it. Working on the novel is one thing, but next comes the editing process, the promotion work and so on…And the more books you release, the more you have to manage your portfolio. It’s all good though!
Do you have any writing rituals?
Not really. I think I’m fairly laid back in my writing technique. I know some writers need to lock themselves away in a darkened room in order to focus, but I’ve never really had to do this. I’m happy enough to just sit on the couch and type away (as I’m doing right now!). It doesn’t bother me if the TV is on in the background or even if someone is talking to me. I can dip in and out. I usually become a bit more focussed whenever I’m coming to the end of a project, or when I’m working on the final proof edit for a new book.
In terms of process, I start by doing my research and writing out detailed notes. I also do my character biographies and a rough synopsis. Up to now, I’ve always written out my chapters by hand in the first instance. When a chapter is finished I will go ahead and type it out. This process is inevitably quite cumbersome and time consuming. This time around I’m trying a different technique, which is to scribble down a rough first draft and then type out the full text. Hopefully this new process will work for me…We’ll see!
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
My latest release is actually the sequel to my 2014 novel, The War of Zero Sum. Book number two is entitled Insurgent Town. The concept behind the story is an alternative history version of the Northern Irish Troubles. My background is in History and Politics (I studied a joint honours degree at Queens) and so most of my fiction is strongly influenced by my continued interest in these subjects. I’m interested in the history of the Troubles and note how the legacy of that conflict continues to impact on our society. I’ve also studied 20th century European history. I tend to think that, in this country, we tend to think of ourselves as being in a ‘bubble’. We have our own Troubles and we don’t think the wider global politics will affect us too much. This is why I imagined a scenario where 1960’s Ireland was divided between the Cold War superpowers (i.e. America & the Soviet Union). In this story, the North is occupied by the Soviet Army and governed by a Communist puppet government. Some locals support the Reds whilst others support the Resistance, which is an uneasy underground alliance of republican and loyalist paramilitaries. This is the basis of the story, and I plan to write a third and final book within the next couple of years.
Who was the first person you shared your book with?
My beloved wife Jackie is always the first person to read my work. I wrote my first ever chapter in March of 2012. I didn’t know whether it was any good or not, so I asked Jackie to read it over. She liked it, and I continued writing my first novel. That was three and a half years ago now, and I haven’t stopped writing since!
My missus still reads over my books and she works as both a critic and a proof reader. My mum has a keen eye for detail and so she also does proof reading for me. I like to keep it in the family…that way, I don’t need to pay them!
Do you have a current work in progress?
I’m currently working on my fifth novel, which is entitled Lebensraum: Descent into Hell. This is another alternative history story and is set in a world where the British made peace with Hitler in the summer of 1940, and the Nazis went on to conquer Russia and win the war. My main characters are two brothers from England who, for different reasons, decide to leave Britain and defect to Nazi Germany. They travel through France and Germany before arriving at their new home, an ‘Aryan’ colony located in war-torn Eastern Europe. Naturally, it soon becomes apparent to both men exactly what horrors the Nazis are capable of.
The ‘Nazi victory’ storyline is one of the most popular in the alternative history genre and so I’m hoping that the novel will find an audience. All being well, the book will be finished and ready for release in mid to late 2016.
Do you have any advice for budding authors?
Unfortunately I don’t have too many tips for becoming a best-selling author! I don’t think many (if any) people go into writing just to make money. It’s really something you need to have a passion for. I will say is this; if you have a decent idea and you’re willing to put in the hours, there’s no reason why you can’t write a novel. And once you’ve written one, you’ll be ready and eager for your next project! There’s more opportunities than ever for new authors to get their work out there, mainly thanks to online platforms such as Amazon KDP, Kobo, Smashwords etc. At the same time, there’s also a lot of competition, so you need to make your work stand out from the crowd. That said, I’ve found the writing community to be a supportive one, so I’d definitely recommend linking in with other authors.
About the Author
My name is Mark Lynch, I'm 32 years old and hail from the town of Holywood in Northern Ireland. I live in the town with my wife Jackie. My day job is working as an administrator in the Health Service. When I’m not at work or down the pub, I’m usually writing. I studied History & Politics at Queens University and I still maintain a keen interest in both subjects. I’m also a Manchester United fan (for my sins!).
I’d long held ambitions to write science fiction, and I was scribbling down ideas for years but not getting any further. It was only when my 30th birthday was looming that I decided to try my hand at writing a Sci-fi novel. I completed the first chapter and let Jackie read it over. She liked it. That was over three years ago now, and I haven’t stopped since!
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By Mark Lynch © 2015
“Now people, rise up and let the storm break loose!” Theodore Korner
The riveting follow-up to Mark Lynch’s debut ‘alternative history’ thriller THE WAR OF ZERO SUM.
It’s July 1969 and the struggle continues, as Sean McCann and Josie Ferguson return to the Soviet-controlled North East of Ireland. Josie is determined to avenge the death of her father, while Sean reluctantly re-joins the underground resistance in Belfast.
But neither reckon on the dogged determination of Special Branch’s Alec Lynch, who wants McCann dead or alive. And so begins a deadly game of cat and mouse, played out against the backdrop of a city in a state of open rebellion against Russian rule, as Protestants and Catholics unite to fight a common enemy.
Action packed, fast moving, thought provoking, INSURGENT TOWN picks up where THE WAR OF ZERO SUM left off. It is a gripping alternative look at what could have happened had the Irish Troubles developed differently in the late 1960s.