Tell us a little bit about you outside of being an author.
My name is Mark Jackman. I am about to turn twenty-nine, which is technically old to teenagers. I am a research scientist, by trade, and, in my relatively short career, I have stabbed a syringe full of drugs into my chest cavity, started a fire, and splashed concentrated acid on my face. If I don’t make it as an author, I may not reach thirty.
I was born in Great Yarmouth, a tacky seaside resort on the east coast of England. Currently, I live in Loughborough, which is just south of Robin Hood country. TALLY-HO! I love playing sport, going to the gym, and I am more than partial to a beer with the boys.
What is your earliest writing memory?
It was a painful experience. I had written all over the walls of the lounge and my mum walked in. It’s amazing I picked up a pen again. My mum has a great left hook.
What feelings do you experience once you are satisfied with your completed manuscript(s)?
I was ecstatic when I finished The Great Right Hope as I had finished writing an actual novel. Then I read it and realised that the editing process would take a long, long time. I struggle with the idea of “completing” a piece of work, and I could iteratively change a manuscript until the sun burned out. At the start, I found it really difficult to edit, and cut things out. When I started writing, it felt like I was typing sixty words an hour so to delete something that took days to write was heart-breaking. I soon got the hang of it (and of typing-thank God).
Tell us a little bit about your work in progress and/or your upcoming release.
LL-Publications recently released The Great Right Hope, my debut novel, as an e-book. The Great Right Hope is the tale of Sid Tillsley, a forty-six year old disability benefit-fraudster, from the north of England, and one thing sets him apart from his northern brethren. Yes, he's an overweight alcoholic, and he's also sexist, homophobic and a lazy git... but what makes him different is that he can kill vampires with a single punch.
Now, as you can imagine, killing a vampire with a big right hand is pretty amazing. After all, the undead are big, tough guys who can regenerate and stuff, and if anyone could kill them, the first time Dracula tried to break into a virgin’s bedroom, he would have been maced by the safety-conscious lady, tasered, arrested, sent to prison and turned into Big Dave’s bitch. So, when Sid kills a vampire, the whole vampire world is thrown into a state of shock.
In the north of England, another monster has arisen, and one who doesn't subscribe to 'Tits' magazine. A vampire beast is stalking the Yorkshire moors, mutilating and destroying everything in its path. The vampire elders realise that the Firmamentum has cast its shadow on the world once more. A phenomenon, which happens every few millennia, where a human and a vampire are born ultimately powerful and destined to oppose each other. If Sid doesn't face the vampire monster, it will jeopardise the relative peace between the species and full-blown war will be inevitable.
That's all well and good, but Sid just wants to get drunk down the pub with his mates, and, maybe, just maybe, end his two year drought with the ladies. Besides, Sid has more important things to worry about... the Social Security Disability Benefit Fraud investigators are on to him, and, if they see him fighting, they'll realise that he has been illegally claiming disability benefit for his bad back and dodgy heart.
I am half-way through the second book of The Sid Tillsley Chronicles (of three), and I am having a lot of fun with it.
In your upcoming release or newly released book, how did you come up with the idea of your main character(s)?
I love superheroes, but I didn’t want to write a traditional superhero tale. I decided that my hero would be a little flawed. Sid is most definitely a real person, who just happens to be able to kill the undead with a big right hand. A lot of stories place normal people in abnormal situations, and that is something I wanted to do, but I wanted to put a different spin on it. Sid Tillsley couldn’t give a damn about the abnormal, and he somehow manages to bring the abnormal down to his level, rather than rising to the occasion.
Everyone knows someone like Sid. A miserable old bugger who is stuck in their ways, and isn’t willing to change for anything or anyone. Not even for a two-thousand-year-old, super fast, super strong vampire immortal.
Even the best vampires need a good smack.
I’m a big believer that word of mouth creates more sales than advertisements. Let’s say I’ve never read any of your books before, how would you pitch the idea of your latest release to me?
Most people, outside the UK, don’t know that there is actually a big divide here, between The North and The South. With a massive sweep of my stereotyping brush, The South is more affluent, the people are well-spoken and when you think of the traditional English gent, you are most certainly thinking about The South. You’re thinking of Hugh Grant, aren’t you? Bumbling along and acting quite the klutz in his delightful charming way. STOP IT!
OK, I want you to add hundred pounds of flab to Hugh’s delicate torso. I want you to rub some cooking oil in his hair, and over his face. We need to break his nose, now, several times (that felt great!) and for the coup de grace, a healthy dose of alcoholism. Now, let’s give him a compass and send him north to his new home. The North is VERY different, but, The North is where the laughter is. In The North you will find the best pubs, the best beer, the most laughter and a beautiful down-to-earth manner that makes everything that more enjoyable. If you are not from the UK, then chances are you have not experienced this different English culture, and that is where The Great Right Hope comes in. The book thoroughly embraces everything about The North, and then adds some vampires for good measure. Why not?
Move over Hugh Grant, Sid Tillsley is coming through, and you’d better move fast because he had fifteen pints of beer and a curry, last night, and if he doesn’t make it to the gents’ toilets...
I consider myself a tough critic when reviewing books. What do or would you do when you receive a mediocre or less than average rating from a reviewer or reader?
After I have no more tears to shed and the vomiting has passed, the depression really kicks in. Seriously though, I love constructive criticism. The Great Right Hope is my first novel, and it is going to take me a long time to hone my art, and become the master of the written word that I want to be. There are so many of them damn word things to learn. Dictionaries are bloody massive, you know? Feedback on how to improve what I do is very well received. If someone doesn’t like my comedy or my story, then that doesn’t bother me too much. Comedy is probably the most subjective genre there is, is never to everyone’s taste. That said, I think most people will have a chuckle at my work.
What authors influence your writing dreams, goals and aspirations?
Writing has the potential to be the greatest job in the world. A laptop is all that is needed, and on writing my first chapter I dreamt of a life where I could play a few holes of golf in the morning, stop off at the clubhouse for a couple of pints, write a chapter, if I felt like it, play a few more holes in the afternoon, in time for 5pm when I could meet my mates for a beer after work. Sailing round the Mediterranean with a laptop was another dream. It took me a while to realise that I would have to sell forty-five million books a week to fund my desired Playboy lifestyle. It’s one of life’s tragedies that Bunnygirls are expensive to keep. My feet are now planted firmly on the ground.
At the start, there was no-one in particular who I aspired to be, and, to be honest, there still isn’t. However, on joining various writer’s groups, I have seen a number of individuals who give a helping hand to us newbies, starting off on what, in my opinion, is the second hardest career path in the world (a prize to anyone who can guess the first). Guys like Brenna Lyons and Jolie du Pre who take time out from their busy schedules to offer advice, make a difference. Even a quick word from an experienced writer helps. Rick Reed dropped me a hello, and wished me luck. The guys on the Jeanie and Jayha Yahoo group are brilliant, and make me laugh every day. It all adds up to give a new guy confidence in “getting out there.” In the future, if I ever find myself in that sort of position, and I can do something similar to help, I’ll be a happy man.
I read a lot of Terry Pratchett when I was growing up, and was so sad to hear that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It is such a cruel affliction for anyone, especially an author whose creative mind is their life, to suffer from. I am giving half the money I receive from e-book sales to charity. Half of which will go to the Alzheimer’s Trust and the other half will go to a baby hospice in Middlesbrough, the town where The Great Right Hope is set. To find out more about these charities follow this link: http://www.mark-jackman.com/MJ/charity.php
What books would you recommend on writing?
Unfortunately, I can’t give an answer to that. Writing has snuck up on me. I had a story to tell, and, before I knew it, I had told it. The internet has been my biggest resource (surprise, surprise).
If you could change one thing you did during your road to publication, what would it be and what would you have done different?
I should have taken advantage of more groupies.
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Write. Just write. It doesn’t matter if it is good or bad, you just need to write. When you start, it isn’t worth getting tied up with grammar, spellings, etc, as the important thing is to be creative and have fun. If you don’t enjoy that, then you are not a writer. Once you realise that you are, it is time to learn the art.
Where can readers learn more about you and your books?
That’s the first easy question that you have asked me. If you are interested in little old me, then my website is the best place to go: http://www.mark-jackman.com/MJ/MJ_main.php and if you want to hear me ramble on, then I guess my blog is the place to be http://mark-jackman.com/blog. As for The Great Right Hope, it has its own website: http://www.mark-jackman.com/GRH/GRH_main.php From my website, you can drop me a mail and say hello. I’d love to hear from you! I am also a member of the world’s oldest, fattest, least-talented boyband. I started “Five Inches of Steel” in a bid to promote my book, but now it is just a good laugh! Check it out: http://www.mark-jackman.com/MJ/5inches.php New releases are monthly. Sorry.
I nearly forgot the most important thing! If you would like to buy The Great Right Hope, it is available from LL-Publications, direct: http://www.ll-publications.com/greatrighthope.html A big thanks to Jim and Zetta for putting up with me.
Thank you Mark for taking the time to share with us. We wish you much success on your future endeavors.