I am excited to be sharing a little slice of the writing career of the brilliant Mark Barry (AKA Wiz Green). There is a new release, The Night Porter that I just demolished in record speed!
Set in a hotel, in November, in the fictional town of Wheatley Fields, (based on Southwell, near Nottinghamshire, deep in Sherwood Forest).
Probably not a tradpubbed one either.
It casts a sometimes shadowy light on modern publishing, the writing business - and the people in it. Writers who like to read about writers and writing will enjoy the book as will readers who enjoy innovative, clever and multi-layered fiction.
"Night porters are generally excellent listeners. It should be in EVERY hotel job description.";-)
"However, my father, with whom I had experienced a strained relationship, was livid - apoplectic, even - and because of my decision, my father and I no longer have a strained relationship, or any relationship at all..."
How about a little Q & A with my brilliant mate Mark Barry!!!
1. First of all, what is your favorite food. I know we are talking books but I am such a foodie!
Large naan doner kebab (gyros) and large chips (fries) with three pieces of Kentucky Fried Chicken on top and lashings of chilli sauce and mint yoghurt. Either that or a Sunday dinner – roast lamb, mint sauce and all the trimmings. Especially parsnips. But nothing green. Green stuff brings me out in strange concentric whorls.
Am I that much of a media tart? Er, I used to teach criminal psychology and offender profiling and the course the three of us designed was the first ever delivered in the UK. Serial killer hunting a speciality.
Contemporary fiction. I love writing about real people and using examples from the things I see as seed corn for a novel. I like horror and comedy, but both are difficult to write.
An ex- friend of mine, who was an escort (I used to drive her to her liaisons), brought home a Night Porter job advert for a local (and very posh), hotel. I actually reached the door to pick up an application form but bottled it. However, I became fascinated with the role for many reasons and the story finally came together in November last year. I also like the title – Cavani’s 1974 film and Harold Pinter’s extraordinary play used the concept to great effect. Both influenced the book, but the tone in my TNP is considerably lighter. I also have to credit Clive La Court, my very great friend, who challenged me to write something fizzier than my usual stuff. So I did.
Fizzier? I will have to look that up. ;-)
No, I’m a reader first and foremost. But if I didn’t write, I would never have enough stuff to read because there is some pretty average gear out there at the minute. For a bloke, unless you like thrillers (not one bit), military fiction (not in this life), or crime fiction (it’s okay), there’s not much going on. So I write for me. I write to entertain myself because, to be frank - and I do not want to be negative - there are very few writers out there writing stuff I want to read. I feel as if I was a 22 year old girl fresh out of college, I would be spectacularly catered for, an embarrassment of riches in the ether, but as I turn 50 in three months, I feel completely excluded from the marketing agenda at the big publishing houses. If there was a great book coming out every week, I doubt I would ever write a word.
6. Who is your all time favorite author and why?
Martin Amis. I adore his work, particularly Money, London Fields, House of Meetings and the sublime Night Train (which, Brenda, you would love with a passion). He’s simply the best writer I have ever read. I can read and reread his stuff over and over again. Yes, he’s gone to seed since he moved to America, but you can never take those four books away from the pantheon.
When I can pick up a book for pure pleasure my friend, I will check out Night Train. Thanks for the tip.
7. Do you have a favorite book?
Money by Martin Amis. Music of Chance by Paul Auster. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Too many to mention. Any Jim Thompson. Fight Club by Chucky P, which changed the rules of the game. Liz Jensen, The Rapture. Loads of comics and graphic novels too…anything written by Jim Starlin and the brilliant Alan Moore in particular. I’m sorry, Bren, I can’t pick one – my flat is chock full of books and comics and I feel guilty leaving them out. This impertinent list doesn’t include non-fiction, particularly history.
Jeez, twenty to thirty hours a week. But most of that is reciprocation and blogging. I have never worked so hard in my life, Bren. I am usually such a dosser always looking for easier ways of doing things, but this is brutal. Totally brutal. And with the exception of two of my books that do quite well, I wonder whether it is all worthwhile. I earn a toilet cleaner’s wage, but at least I don’t have a career obsessed boss screaming at me over my shoulder like a caffeine-overdosing gorgon with a grudge.
Kindle. Pure and simple. I’ve never submitted a book in my life to a publisher and have no intention of doing so. I heard brutal stories of the slush pile when I was a kid and have no wish to have that humiliation inflicted on my work. And in Britain there is an impermeable glass ceiling glazed from the twin forges of Social Class and Which School You Went To. Not for me, Brenda.
Amazon gave me the opportunity to write the type of books I was no longer able to read, without prejudice and with an open vista, and I took it with both hands.
Incidentally, I have never understood why people are insecure about self-publishing and small press publishing. Val McDermid, Dan Brown, James Patterson and Dean Koontz, to name but four, are all multi-millionaire traditionally published writers who consistently disappoint on the same dimensions self-pubs are judged by, bless them, yet we are told that trad publishing is the gold standard.
A journalist and author named Laura Miller on Salon.com, when discussing self-publishing, last week said that with the advent of Kindle, “readers were exposed to the full horror of the slush pile for the first time.” That kind of vicious prejudice is what we’re up against, Brenda. Your work is of a high standard. I like to think mine is. Traditionally published Luddites like Miller are five years behind the times.
Thank heavens Amazon allowed a few others outside the traditional publishing Alamo to express themselves, authors who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do so.
Meeting people like you. I have met many, many good people – AND writers – since starting my business, and that’s worth more than anything. Freedom too. Pure freedom.
11. Do you write everyday?
Yes, when I am on a project. After The Night Porter comes out on PB, I am taking six months off, apart from the bloody marketing, of course. That never ends. Then I’ll be back for Christmas with some more tomfoolery.
Tomfoolery? I will look that one up too!
Oh Brenda, there isn’t an Englishman alive who wouldn’t sell a much loved relative to meet a Real Housewife from the OC. My mate Clive and I seldom missed a show. I even took a day off sick to watch one of the bachelorette party episodes. They’re glamorous, fragrant, glossy-maned, perfumed, fit, toned, tanned, clean, healthy, permagroomed and magnificently designer-dressed. I’m sure you’ll never find a Real OC wife doing the ironing, wearing her comfy old housecoat, fag in gob, avidly watching Falcon Crest reruns on the telly. You’ll notice that one of my characters in TNP is from the OC. I very nearly named her Jo Knickerbocker, in honour of Tammy. I love the show – it’s like Lord of The Rings for Englishmen who don’t read fantasy books.
And you, Miss non-housewife from OC are the absolute tops, but you already know that. ☺ Thank you for having me in your kitchen.
More awesome books by Mark Barry
Cult novel Carla, is an introspective, moody and chilling romance novel with its roots firmly grounded in the work of the great pulp writers of the fifties, particularly Jim Thompson, to whom the book is dedicated.
It is a book for adults and for those who have lived through the occasionally bloody battlefields that are the relationships between men and women.
It is suitable for men and women who enjoy good writing and a book which involves the senses. The book may also interest those in mixed age relationships (in either role) or those who suffer (or is related to someone who suffers from) Borderline Personality Disorder.
This is the second edition of Ultra Violence: Re-released to coincide with the release of the sequel, Violent Disorder.
Easily the publisher's bestseller, the book has 10 5* reviews so far and has been praised for its quirkiness and it's original approach to the genre.
It is new and improved. Minor re-editing has taken place, as well as a new cover (in symmetry with the sequel, featuring some of the characters featured in both books). Otherwise it is the same book.
Keep the original in good nick - it might already be a collector's item!
Violent Disorder is the much-anticipated sequel to Green Wizard’s best-selling Ultra Violence.
This book - written for adults - contains scenes of threat, opinions likely to offend, earthy dialogue, incessant foul language and relentless, sometimes extreme, scenes of urban violence.
Buddy Chinn, the son of a lauded beat poet from the seventies, is happy to follow the dishonourable family tradition of booze, bets, books and broads.
Then, at Hollywood Park one winter Saturday afternoon, two tough guys persuade him to join them on a trip to Damascus, a sprawling mansion off Mulholland Drive, a palace surrounded by a forest of imported trees and lush vegetation.
There, he meets Mortimer Saxon, a, reclusive obsessive manuscript collector with an edge.
A sharp suited zealot searching for Buddy's dad's fabled Lost Manuscript; a one off, a unique piece worth thousands and thousands of dollars, an American literary icon similar in cult magnitude to Hunter S Thompson's "Call to the Post.”
Death. Domestic abuse. Ritual exploitation. The passing of a loved one. Child battery. Horrifying food addiction. Brutal bullying. Friendship gone bad. Drugs. Family collapse. Loss. Despair.
These are the bricks in the walls of Hell.
That would be real hell. Not the imaginary hell of the biblical scribe, the epic fantasist, the horrorphile, the metaphorist, the allegory peddler or the unreliable narrator.
This is the real Hell.
But no matter how bleak things become in that impenetrable abyss, no matter how bleak, no matter how pitch black, there is always the bottom rung of a rotten, threadbare rope ladder dangling from the precipice – and the message is: the rung is in reach.
This is Reality Bites.
Twelve fictional stories by twelve superb independent authors, each of whom is a card-carrying survivor of the abyss. And these are their tales.
Mark Barry is the author of many works of fiction including the cult football hooligan novel, Ultra-Violence, the seriously-reviewed, dark and harrowing romance, Carla, and the feel-good thriller, Hollywood Shakedown.
He lives in the UK and has one son, Matthew, who, so far, shows no sign of following in his father's literary footsteps - though he does fanatically support Notts County (which is a much more important trait).
Mark is also the proprietor of Green Wizard Publishing, a company dedicated to publishing cutting-edge, innovative, and accessible fiction firmly based in reality.
The majority of his books are set in either Southwell ("Wheatley Fields") or Nottingham ("The City"). It is a proud boast that local people who have read his novels can follow the trail of the quirky characters they encounter inside the jacket covers.