Tuesday 31 December 2019

My writing decade.

I have been occupied with the business of authoring for the whole of the decade just about to expire.
Here's an email I got in January 2010:

Sent: Monday, January 18, 2010, 11:27:34 AM GMT
Subject: The Hundred War

Dear Mark, 
Thank you for approaching the agency. I enjoyed the opening chapters and would very much like to read the rest of the script. This is exactly the sort of fantasy I enjoy and for which there is a buoyant market. You can send me a printout at the address below or email it to me.
Two minor housekeeping points: please (1) indent each paragraph by one hit on the tab key and (2) don’t leave a line between each paragraph.
I look forward to seeing how the story develops.
Kind Regards
& then in March less than 2 months later:
Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 5:09:48 PM GMT Subject: You have a deal Dear Mark, I am delighted to report that we have a deal for PRINCE OF THORNS plus two sequels. There will be others to follow, as the main deal with Ace books is for World English Language rights; we are now negotiating for translation rights and indeed, have just concluded a deal in Germany. The interest in PRINCEOF THORNS was so great that it went to an auction between publishers both sides of the Atlantic with four of the big British companies bidding and three American. Editors kept saying that Jorg is exactly the character they have been looking for, and loved the verve and style of the whole thing.

I remember being stunned by the phone call that preceded the email, and floored by the size of the advance being offered. My research had led me to expect something in the $5,000 range, and what I got instead broke into six figures and kept on going for a fair way after that. I had my very disabled daughter on my lap during the call, and afterwards I 'hung' her on my shoulder (she was able to be carried at that age) and went into the kitchen to tell my wife. She took one look at my face and thought that Celyn had died on me or something. Anyway, it has been a privilege to write books for publication for the past 10 years. It added colour and hope into a very stressful existence at the time. It also meant that when the Advanced Research Group I worked in closed down unexpectedly five years later, making ~150 Ph.D scientists redundant, I was able to transition smoothly into full time writing. I've no idea how long my luck in these endeavours will continue and I've taken care not to define myself by the success of my writing as it's an ephemeral thing that contains large elements of chance. But if the 2020's allow, then I shall endeavour to put many more books before you. Have a great new year, all. Mark



  1. Incredible decade Mark. Congrats. Looking ahead, I know about the new trilogy coming and look forward to it. Will you be returning to Jalan and the Broken Empire after that? I really hope at some point you will. While I have enjoyed all of your books, I have a special place in my heart for Jalan, Jorg, Snorri, the road brothers and the incredible world you built there. Please return soon!

  2. Awesome! Can you share some anecdotes on how did you decide to start writing and what resources helped you to create your first novel? I'm starting to learn more about narrative and, coming from a more technical background (I'm a computer engineer), I'm greatly inspired by your work and transition. Also, wish you another decade of success and hope you keep creating amazing worlds. Thanks.

  3. You keep writing, we keep buying e reading your books!!!

  4. It's really incredible all you've done in this decade, and I look forward to more from you in the future! I'm currently listening to the audiobook of One Word Kill. By the time I catch up to The Girl and the Stars you'll probably have an entire additional trilogy of books done.

  5. Congratulations! I do not only like reading your books, I also love following your blog entries, they are much more interesting than those of other authors I also love to read. That's odd, because blogs of authors I like are usually empty or not interesting, or the blog is sadly more interesting than their books, so you are indeed kinda special!
    I remember how I was very prejudiced before reading Prince of Thorns. I was hoping it would be good, but the main character seemed to be a wannabe cool over-the-top psycho kind of person. I thought it would be cheap, the sort of "uber grimdark" stuff you are apparently constantly accused of. I remember how I read on and Jorg and Sageous met, I already before got much better into the book than I anticipated, and it was just awesome. I think I remarked something about this having been "clever", "smart" or "intelligent", IIRC it was on now defunct Google+ when talking to a friend. Or maybe it was on Goodreads, didn't use it in ages anymore. Then there was this thing with reading a book on the butt cheeks of a whore. I still remember that, I still didn't manage to fulfill that fantasy. I would use my Kindle anyways. I loved the entire trilogy.

    Then came along Jalan Kendeth. Didn't like him one bit. Put down the book. Returned a year or rather two later, the third book was not yet released, bought the 2nd book right after reading the first and was waiting for the third... well, seems your main characters or your writing is convincing, somehow!

    Now there is the trilogy "Book of the Ancestor", first novel "Red Sister": Didn't get into the sample, but... the trilogy is complete now, maybe I should give it another shot, given my previous experiences.

    I just realized that I read your blog more than your books over the last years. Seems its time to catch up. Partly to blame is a huge backlog of presumably great scifi novels I still haven't read.

    Best wishes to you and your family, I hope I will never like one of your books right away! ;)

  6. I, for one (and I am certain not the only one), will buy and read everything you write over the next decade. I'm confident none of it will disappoint. I also hope "many" is a large number and that you enjoy writing them as much as I will enjoy reading them. Happy 2020s.

  7. congratulations on an amazing decade; I hope to enjoy your thoughts in my head for decades longer.

  8. Congratulations, you deserve to enjoy having been rewarded for making the commitment of writing a book-- and then repeating the process more than ten times now!

    Seeing another engineer/scientist with imagination successfullysuccessfully transition into a world outside of academia and analysis (though I'm sure you still find yourself doing random research) is inspiring to me. As all the others have said above, I'll be supporting you through all the books.

  9. Thank you for the Broken Empire trilogy. It changed my reading life.
    I felt like I had really found something that I could really dig into.