My name is Mark Weir and I am the wrong side of forty but the right side of forty-five. (So that’s forty-four then) I live a very happy life with my artist wife, Julie and my two grown up kids. Writing has always been a passion, ever since I formulated the kernel of an idea after reading a Stephen King novel back when I was a kid. That kernel became the basis of my second novel, due for publication around Christmas 2014. King was a massive influence, as was Dickens, Lewis Carroll and Kipling. Enid Blyton was another favorite. These brilliant writers sparked something in me. I think that I have always been a word man, even when I listen to my favorite songs, I am always looking for the great lyric or the fantastic wordplay. If I hear it, I have to memorize it. The tune is almost secondary to me and the greatest tunes can be ruined by poor lyrics. That’s how I see people, either you’re a tune person or a lyric person. Lyric people are often frustrated writers. I think that good writing is like a good lyric. You will always remember it and it will often pop into your thoughts at the appropriate moments to stir the murky pools of your memory.
I try and make my writing as memorable as possible, but I am never happy with it. My reach for literary perfection is always just around the next corner and I never seem to get there. I think that most creative people are like that. Given the chance, Jimi Hendrix would probably re-write his stuff. (We’d have to work out a way of re-animating him first, and no one wants a zombie Jimi Hendrix wandering the earth, do they? Oh, you do!)
Why do you write?
I write first and foremost because it brings me pleasure. The pleasure that others get, selfishly, is secondary. That’s not to say that it isn't important to me, but if we’re being honest, we all do it for our own pleasure or we wouldn’t do it at all. Secondly, I write because it expands my mind and stretches me mentally. I learn many new things on the journey and feel that I become more of a rounded person along the way. (These days, I’m certainly rounder in the middle. Must stop eating cakes…)
I also love the fact that I can time travel, be someone else and live out the lives of my characters on the page. In my little fictional soap opera, I get to decide what happens, who lives, who dies and even the small things like is it raining or not. I am the God of my own domain. (Cue evil laugh: Mwuhahahaha)
What’s the process like? What inspired you to write Randall Crane and the Whitechapel Horror?
The writing process is always the same. I get in from my boring day job, have some dinner and then retreat to my man cave to write for two hours every night. I never scrimp on that time and I have disciplined myself that if I don’t write for whatever reason (death, disease or something worse) I am bitterly disappointed with myself and I give myself a damn good telling off. I don’t feel privileged enough yet to dish out advice to other would be writers, but here goes: If you are serious about writing find the time. Park excuses, shelve distractions, turn off the telly and pick up a pen or a laptop. (Other devices are available) I have a really good friend, who shall remain nameless, and he has a talent for photography and would like nothing more than to make a living doing it. “It’s alright for you,” he tells me, “your book is being published. I wish we could all have your luck.” LUCK! LUCK! Doesn’t he know the sacrifices that I make en-route to publication, the thousands of hours writing, the millions of hours editing? Yeah right, I wish I had my luck as well. The point is, if he wants to change, only he can do it. I sat down at the tail end of last year, having written, solidly for four years, and said that my aim for 2014 was to get published. Mission accomplished.
I was inspired to write Randall Crane and the Whitechapel Horror because I wanted to see a return to good old fashioned vampires. I didn’t want teenagers with pale complexions fawning over each other and looking a bit moody in the process. (I’m not trying to ridicule the recent blockbusters of that ilk, I think that they have their place in the scheme of things, but I wanted my monsters a bit more…well monstery.) The setting was crucial in giving the book a Gothic feel. Victorian London was a treat to try and evoke and make it leap off the page to the reader. That was my favorite bit, setting the scene with the sights and smells of the slums so that the reader could use all of their senses to place themselves firmly in that world.
I got the idea for the novel from an old TV show called ‘Randal and Hopkirk Deceased’. I imagined what it would be like to have two friends, one a vampire and the other a slightly awkward police inspector, hard on the trail of a real monster. There are references to Jack the Ripper (it wouldn’t be the East End if I didn’t allude to its most infamous son) and there is a feel of Sherlock Holmes in the mix. I describe the book as a mash up of Sherlock Holmes meets Jack the Ripper meets Dracula.
What about writing makes you feel powerful?
All of the above. I don’t think there is a finer creative process than world building. Architects and town planners do it for real, but I get to do the most fantastical things in my worlds, things that mere mortals can only dream about. I have it my way or not at all. Who doesn't like the fact that no one can tell you what you should or shouldn't do. Write about what you enjoy and it will translate onto the page…and have some fun with it, it is fiction after all.
Is the novel scary? What’s it like writing scary parts?
Writing scary bits is the most fun you can have without actually doing it. I should say that at no point in my life have I ever drained a prostitute of her blood. It proved too damn difficult. I’m joking…I am not a frustrated serial killer, although many writers could be accused of it. Stephen King has the greatest imagination and it all had to come from somewhere didn't it. If I were the Maine police dept. I would be looking at Kings Movements in the seventies and trying to place him at murder scenes. You have to admit that it has a certain ring to it. Again, before anyone points out that I am dabbing large stains onto the unblemished character of one of the world’s greatest living writers, I am jesting.
What did you learn about yourself while writing the book?
I learnt that I have far more patience than I gave myself credit for. Hours staring at a blank screen with nothing coming in the way of inspiration has to test the steeliest of resolves. I learnt that the devil is in the detail. It’s no good writing a wonderful scene and then being told by some hawk eyed reader that actually Tower Bridge wasn't built in the period that the book was set etc. Research is the best buddy of fact. Assumption that it’s probably accurate will undermine everything that you strive for. Create the best character, the best plot, but if you get their speech, clothes and surrounding wrong nobody will remember them. You’ll become the writer that got it wrong. Everyone remembers ‘Ben Hur’ for the wrist watch scene and the plane in the sky.
What might readers learn about themselves?
I hope that they learn that the poor in that period really had it tough. I hope that they really care for the characters in the book and in turn want them to succeed. I cannot wait to get their feedback because I want them to tell me how they see the world that I created. We all see things differently and that is the beauty of books. No one can tell you that your vision of the period is wrong or right. It is simply how the reader translates the imagery. You can learn a lot from each different imagining of the world and a lot about the mind set of each reader. Oh, and I want them to learn to become fans and return for the sequel.
Where can readers go to find out more about your writing?
My publisher is http://www.gwlpublishing.co.uk/
My web site is www.markweir.co.uk
My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mark-Weir-author
My twitter is https://twitter.com/Markweirauthor