Welcome to the first A Cup of Conversation of 2019! I'm kicking off with author Anton Marks who I was introduced to by Anne John-Ligali at the London Book Fair in March 2017 and who I have since not only had the pleasure to talk to about books and his works but have also read his book 69! I am starting off here with a real bang as Sci Fi, Fantasy and supernatural Thrillers are genres so many readers enjoy and his books have been described as being "fast paced, witty yet very, very dark...", having "some fantastic action and quite really well written scenes of intimacy..." and of his novel 69 as a "futuristic thriller that definitely stirs the reader’s imagination and wonder...".
So I think I've built the anticipation and intrigue enough now so let's join Anton Marks as he spills all about his writing, inspiration and reveals which author he would most like to meet!
1. When did you start writing creatively?
I started writing creatively from a young age? I was bitten by the writing bug from primary school. I watched a lot of TV - nothing much has changed, and I wanted to write continuing stories of my favourite programs. I guess my short stories were more like comics because I had intermittent illustrations running through it. I didn’t care what it was, I was excited to write it and my small audience of classmates was too.
2. In your own words you write fiction ‘that highlights the black experience through the lens of the extraordinary’. What does this mean?
I grew up with an insatiable appetite for reading. I was drawn to stories that had an adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Horror element to them. As I matured I began to realise these stories that were so dear to my heart were written by authors who seemed to believe people of colour did not exist in the worlds they created. I vowed to one day write stories about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Highlighting the black experience through the lens of the extraordinary for me means including my African - Caribbean heritage within the pages of any story I write and not being afraid to include my passion for the fantastic.
3. How have you incorporated your own experiences of growing up in Jamaica in your books?
I tend to incorporate characters in my stories who are of Jamaican heritage giving me the opportunity to add some of my life experiences of growing up there. Like all countries the island occupies its own unique place in the world. It adds verisimilitude to whatever tale I tell when I weave in these personal anecdotes. I think readers appreciate truth, when it's being expressed as the written word or spoken.
4. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?
A steamfunk novella called Black Gods Drums. One of its themes was unity is strength and it was also a wake-up call for me to realize there are some great speculative fiction stories out there. I need to keep improving my craft.
5. Tell us a little about your next release/WIP.
Good II be Bad is the second in what will be a series of supernatural thrillers. It’s the continued adventures of three mystical gifted women who have been ordained with the responsibility of maintaining the delicate balance of good and evil. Their first adventure in the novel Bad II the Bone had the girls battling a very powerful Witchdoctor. In their second outing in the novel Good II be Bad they come up against a ruthless Vampire queen. With ever novel I write about the trio I enjoy the experience more and more. It’s great getting to know them in the quiet moments as well as the fights.
6. Are any of the characters in your novels based on yourself?
Not specifically but I share different aspects of my character with the characters in my books. From the antagonist to the protagonist and even walk on characters.
7. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?
If there is a character in any of my books that I gravitate to the most it would be Joshua N’Gon. Joshua is the fourteen year old protagonist of a Sci-Fi/Fantasy YA novel called Joshua N’Gon: Last Prince of Alkebulahn. I like him because he has a bright spark of passion about him. Everything he does is an adventure filled with vast possibility. Maybe I created him as a reminder that I need to re-capture that spirit of adventure myself. All I know is writing the character fills me with optimism.
8. How do you organise your writing process and how do you prepare your books for release?
My writing process begins with the idea. If it's a new concept I have a scene in my head with the main character. If it's a continuing series then I’ve worked out a rough premise and plot. Depending on the complexity of the story will depend on whether I create a mind- map or a chapter by chapter break down. First draft is to get the rough shape of the novel. I need at least five drafts working with my editor to bang the manuscript in shape for publication. I didn’t mention that the cover idea usually appears with the concept of the story. I get my graphics artist to start working on it from early on. Percolating in the background with everything else that is happening, is my marketing strategy. It is ideally implemented six month before launch date. Within that marketing campaign I have my street team read and review the book in advance. My final task is to produce two versions of the finished manuscript for digital and paperback reproduction.
9. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy? Why?
I enjoy most aspects of the writer’s life; my challenge is the quantity of tasks required to be successful as a self-published author. I definitely need a virtual assistant.
10. If you were able to meet any author, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
Stephen King. His stories are amazing and his imagination is prodigious. He has an uncanny ability to focus on aspects of the characters inner world that you wouldn’t expect to be not just entertaining but vital to the story. I’d want to know how he effortlessly brings his characters to vivid life.
11. Are you a planner or a pantser?
A bit of both.
12. What’s on your current to-do list?
A short story with my son and the second in a YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy tetralogy.
Thank you Anton for a wonderful interview and I wish you lots of continued success with your writing. If you would like to connect with Anton his links and social media accounts are listed below.
Thank you too for joining us and until next time,
Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy you!
Amazon link to books:
Omega Point short story - http://bit.ly/omegapoint1
Bad II the Bone - http://bit.ly/badIIthebone-US
Chauffeur Audio Book - http://bit.ly/chauffeur-audio
Joshua N’Gon:Last Prince of Alkebulahn - http://bit.ly/LPOA1US
Messiah Short story - http://amzn.to/2xs575q
Bushman - http://bit.ly/Bushman1
Dancehall - http://bit.ly/dancehallthenovel