interview with self published author mark dawson | Polygon PR

Self-Published: Mark Dawson

Posted by: Polygon PR | Posted on: January 21st, 2013 | 0 Comments

We chat to self-published author Mark Dawson on how and why he decided to self-publish his novel, The Black Mile.

Tell us a bit about yourself Mark

I’m a lawyer by trade but I work in the film industry now. Before I went to law school I worked as a DJ in Manchester (including the Hacienda––happy days!) and sold ice cream in Chicago. But writing has always been the thing I’ve enjoyed doing the most and it’s what I always come back to. I’ve got a three hour commute into London at the moment and rather than being a chore it is valuable and worthwhile time––and often not long enough.

When did you start writing and why?

I’ve been writing since forever. I finished a novella when I was in middle-school. They used to let me stay in the computer lab after hours. I think they had BBC Micros in those days. Of course, the writing was dreadful but it was a start. I made a proper attempt when I was in my twenties after a friend pushed me to do it. There were a few wrong turns along the way but The Art of Falling Apart excited some interest amongst agents and was then picked up by Macmillan.

What was your thought process behind self-publishing?

I was initially sceptical, but after getting to enjoy using my Kindle I thought it might be a good way of going straight to readers and putting out material that might otherwise struggle to find publication. I had just finished The Black Mile, a thriller set in Soho during the blitz, and although we had some interest from legacy publishers we couldn’t quite get it away. So I took it back, made a few changes, had a good friend paint the cover for me, and uploaded it to Amazon through their Select programme. And, I have to say, the results have been amazing. It’s been downloaded around 40,000 times since I started taking it seriously in October and has been the most downloaded book on the UK store on more than one occasion. I’ve been lucky enough to garner some great reviews and it has introduced me to a world of talented and professional people who help make the process quicker and easier.

What was involved in self-publishing your book?

I did the formatting myself for this one, although I’ve been using a guy in Australia for the books I’m working on since. (It’s pretty easy to format if you have a decent grasp of HTML but I’d rather be writing than trying to get my head around that.) My agent and my beta readers edited the book for me. I also edit as I go along, so there isn’t––usually––too much in the way of obvious errors that need to be cleared up. Most fun of all has been working with designers to sort out the cover. I made the mistake of getting too involved in that process when my first novels were published but I’m older and wiser now, and I know that I don’t have a very good eye for that kind of thing. It has been a relief to be able to write a short brief and leave the talented people I’ve worked with to do what they do. I worked with the designer of some of Bret Easton Ellis’ UK covers for The Black Mile and with the designer of some of Stephen King’s work for The Art of Falling Apart and Subpoena Colada. They were both brilliant.

What is your genre and where do you get your inspiration?

I write a little bit of everything. The Art of Falling Apart is a literary thriller, set in the world of rock and roll and with all of the accoutrements that you would expect to find therein. Subpoena Colada is an introspective book, dealing with the collapse of a lawyer after he is dumped by his glamourous girlfriend. And The Black Mile is a straight-up, balls-to-the-wall thriller. After that, who knows? I’ve got a great idea about a James Bond character on his uppers in Dalston. And I’d quite like to write more pulpy novels set in the 40s and 50s. And I’m starting to play around with ideas for a big dystopic fantasy. That’s the thing with self-publishing––write what you like. If it’s good enough, people will read it.

Can you give us a brief synopsis about your latest novel?

London, 1940: the Luftwaffe blitzes London every night for fifty-seven nights. Houses, shops and entire streets are wiped from the map. The underworld is in flux: the Italian criminals who dominated the West End have been interned and now their rivals are fighting to replace them. Meanwhile, hidden in the shadows, the Black-Out Ripper sharpens his knife and sets to his grisly work.

Henry Irving is a disgraced reporter on a Fleet Street scandal rag. Genius detective sergeant Charlie Murphy is a fresh face in the Metropolitan police, hunting corrupt colleagues but blinkered by ambition and jealousy. His brother, detective inspector Frank Murphy, searches frantically for his runaway daughter, terrified that she will be the killer’s next victim.

As the Ripper stalks the terrified streets, the three men discover that his handiwork is not quite what it seems. Conspirators are afoot, taking advantage of the chaos to settle old scores. The murders invade the lives of the victims and victimizers on both sides of the law, as everyone is sucked deeper and deeper into Soho’s black heart.

Where can we buy your book?


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