Mark Tilbury Author Interview
by Kathryn Bax
Tucked away in a beautiful Cumbrian village, is author Mark Tilbury, once a Navy man and now a talented writer. Mark has always enjoyed writing and his latest novel, a dark psychological thriller, has recently landed him a publishing contract with Bloodhound Books. If you haven't heard of this author it is time you did!
You live in Cumbria but most of your books are set in Oxfordshire. Why is that?
I was born and raised in a small town in Oxfordshire. I only moved to Cumbria just over a year ago, so I decided to keep my books local to where I grew up.
You have written several psychological thrillers. Your first book, The Revelation Room involves Ben Whittle trying to rescue his private investigator father from the clutches of a deadly cult run by Edward Ebb. Tell us more about Ben Whittle and Edward Ebb. Which character did you have more fun with and how did they both come about?
I have to say I enjoyed writing both, but for very different reasons. A lot of the time, characters speak to me, often just a line, and then they become much more real. Edward Ebb said something along the lines of “Down the rabbit hole where all the burnt bunnies go.” It was then up to me to work out what the rabbit hole was (The Revelation Room), and who the burnt bunnies were. With Ben, I just tried to create a real anti-hero. Unsure, insecure, bullied at school for his stammer. I wanted to pitch such a character against the likes of Ebb, a dangerous paranoid psychopath in complete control of a group of brainwashed people.
The Eyes of the Accused then became the second in the Ben Whittle series. Although each of these books can be read as individual, stand-alone novels was it a conscious effort on your behalf as a writer to write a series, knowing that these sell well, or was Ben Whittle just someone you couldn’t let go of?
I wanted to carry on from The Revelation and see how things developed. Also, Ben and his friend, Maddie, were getting closer and closer as The Revelation Room progressed, and I wanted to see where that might lead.
You have a new novel set for release in February, 2017 entitled The Abattoir of Dreams. I do like the title as it certainly gets your attention. Tell us more about your latest novel and how it differs from your series. Do you intend to set up a launch team for this new book?
The Abattoir of Dreams is completely different from the Whittle books. That’s not to say it hasn’t got an equally, if more so, evil antagonist. The story involves the lead character, Michael Tate, who wakes up from a coma to find he’s been accused by the police of murdering his girlfriend. Stabbed her twenty-one times with a kitchen knife. Now he’s paralysed from the waist down and suffering amnesia after leaping forty feet from the top of a block of flats. Michael is interviewed by Detective Inspector John Carver, a man who is both corrupt and abusive. A man who knows so much more about Michael’s past than anyone could ever imagine.
Then the pusher comes. A ghostly entity who takes Michael on a series of journeys in a wheelchair, back to relive the parts of his past which have led to his terrible injuries and the death of his girlfriend. With the help of his friend, Jimmy, Michael pieces together what has happened. From childhood to attempted suicide, Michael discovers a past littered with betrayal, murder, physical and mental abuse, friendship and triumph.
I’ve been lucky enough to be signed by Bloodhound Books for this release, so they are dealing with the online launch.
Your first book that covered the religious cult, The Sons and Daughters of Salvation must have involved a lot of research. How much research did you have to do on cult groups and where did this research take you? What did you learn from this research that you didn’t know when you first embarked on the quest to know more?
I looked extensively into cults. I already knew they could be manipulative, but some of the mind-control stuff was pretty shocking. I think the biggest thing I learned was how easily people can be induced to follow something as dangerous and extreme as religious fanaticism when they are vulnerable and at a low point in their lives. These cults really do prey on weakness and turn it to their advantage.
People have said that the dark humour in your writing is your trademark. Would you agree with that? Do you naturally have a dark humour and does that get you into a lot of trouble?
I think it is, but I don’t set out to make the book “funny” as such. It seems to come naturally, although it has more to do with the absurd thoughts of the antagonist than anything else. I don’t think The Abattoir of Dreams has as much dark humour as the Ben Whittle books because the subject matter is far darker, but it is still apparent in places.
Out of the three books that you have written to date, which book is your favourite, and why? Each of them is written in the same genre. Would you say that the psychological thriller is your niche genre or are you tempted to write something else?
The Abattoir of Dreams is definitely my favourite. I feel I’ve made a real step forward with this book, and as such it’s been rewarded with a publishing contract with Bloodhound. The Abattoir of Dreams is definitely the genre I’m keen to write in, a dark psychological thriller with a supernatural twist. And, of course, a little dark humour!
You use a number of social media platforms and methods to market your books; book trailers, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc. What do you find works for you and what would you suggest to new writers starting off their careers that you would have done differently from the start?
When I first began writing I thought I had to be on as many platforms as possible to reach as many people as possible, but now I only use those I enjoy and can create content for. My only word of advice to new writers is don’t spread yourself too thinly, or you won’t have the time to do what is the most important thing of all – write your next book.
The Revelation Room
Whilst searching for a missing girl, private investigator Geoff Whittle is kidnapped by a highly dangerous cult. Close to death, he makes a desperate call to his son, Ben, asking for help. He tells Ben not to call the police because "everyone will die". Haunted by the phone call and terrified by what they might find, Ben and his friend, Maddie, track down one of the cult members spreading the word in Oxford city centre. They soon realise that their only option is to join the cult and rescue Ben's father from the inside.
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