On Wednesdays on social media, people use the hashtag #WriterWednesday to chat about all things author, book and writing, including authors promoting their own work. As we love to support self-published authors, we thought we’d join in and we will be featuring a UK self-published author every Wednesday on the website. This week, we met Mark Gorton to find out more...
When did you first become interested in writing?
I went to a primary school where story telling was encouraged and treated as play. We could write for fun and not worry too much about grammar and punctuation, and subject matter might be anything from family life to fantasy. Apart from playtime and games it was the best part of the school week.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I’m not sure it was the first but I remember the journeys of a boy who constructed a massive paper aeroplane from leftover wallpaper and launched it with an elastic band fashioned from an old fire engine rubber hose. The stories were so vivid I began to consider them autobiographical and probably worried my parents.
What genre/genres do your books fall under?
I’d class them as flights of fancy across a world not unlike our own. I am not suited to realism, but neither would I be any good at, say, epic fantasy. At the moment I am writing for both children - so called middle grade - and young adults, YA. If I have a voice as a writer it is one that combines action, comedy and ideas. I like to think there is room within the fantastical stories I prefer for real human beings with real problems.
What is your latest book called, what is it about and what was the inspiration behind the book?
The Utterly Amazing Bumbling-Boy is a middle grade novel with the tagline:
Let’s get ready to Bumble!
The blurb reads like this:
When chubby 10 year old Kenny Lane is stung by a radioactive bumblebee he develops wings and compound eyes.
The good news: against all the odds he can fly. Sort of. The bad news: he’s not sure he is the right shape or has what it takes to be a superhero.
To be like a spider or wolverine, that would have been much more cool. To be just plain and simple super, well, that would have been super.
But when his family and hometown of Blackwater are placed in mortal danger by a ghastly villain Kenny realises that being bee-like has its uses.
Spare a thought for Blackwater's senior police officer, Inspector Potter. His first name is Harry and for many years he's been on the receiving end of jokes. Only days ago someone locked him in the police station toilet and painted CHAMBER OF SECRETS on the door.
The book's inspiration is my own childhood. Blackwater is meant to feel very much like the town in which I grew up.
Besides your current book, do you have any new projects coming up?
I’ve just completed the second draft of a YA novel called WAR CHILD. If I was making an elevator pitch for a movie I’d describe it as ‘Frankenstein meets ET meets Five Children and It’. It’s the story of young people who give sanctuary to the results of a military bioengineering project gone wrong: a creature built for the kill but with the mind of an infant. At first.
Where can people find your book?
Having had encouragement from two agents who then felt they couldn’t go the distance with Bumbling-Boy, I self published him via Kindle Direct. So, people can buy either a print on demand (amazing technology) paperback or an eBook... right here from my amazon Author Page.
What has been the greatest moment in your writing career?
Years ago this short story called The Fall was a runner up in a Sunday Times/Gollancz science fiction short story competition. It received nice reviews in the national press and I thought I was on the runway about to pull back on the stick. Not so.
Besides writing, what hobbies or interests do you enjoy in your spare time?
I read, inevitably. I enjoy movies, devouring shows like the wonderful Stranger Things, and I’m keen on sport. I watch football and play tennis and golf.
Which novelists do you admire?
So many, but right now I’d single out formative influencers from my youth like Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K Dick and Alan Garner.
What has been the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
A few years ago I made a short film with Michael Morpurgo. He said, “Just get the stupid thing down on paper.” He meant capture the story, from beginning to end, without worrying too much at first about style and grammar, or if the plot feels unwieldy or flawed. I am sure most aspiring authors find the most difficult thing to do is actually finish something. The Morpurgo method means that at least you give yourself a chance.
Do you have any tips or advice for other indie authors?
Self publishing is a useful discipline because it encourages writers to be rigorous. If your work is going to be Out There it has to be as good as possible. It also makes you think about what your book actually IS and how you might persuade people to buy and read it. It doesn’t mean your book WILL sell, because the chances are it won't, but lessons about quality and self promotion will come thick and fast. My final tip: build your own website and make sure you visit mine. It makes me feel wanted.
You can find out more about Mark and his books via his website or via Amazon, Instagram, Twitter or WordPress.