One of the great things about running this interview series is that I get to interview people whose books I’ve enjoyed. This is one such interview.
This week’s author is a best seller, a man constantly expanding the ‘mythos’ his stories live in. And, never mind the books, he has an inexhaustible supply of memes, GIFS, and cartoons that range from dark to downright hysterical. (Seriously, if you’re not friends with this guy on FB or Twitter, find him and befriend him now. He’s not overly fussy, I believe.)
Good people of the Internet – the Scribe of the Witchblade, the Stitcher-in-Chief, the Meme-Master himself – Mark Cassell.
Name one book:
1 – everyone should read
My shout here goes to any reader who likes the idea of Russian and British secret services using psychic investigators and spies. Written over 30 years ago, Brian Lumley’s Necroscope still tops my list of all-time favourites, and it’s still a book I’m happy to read again and again.
At just over 500 pages, the novel can be a heavy going at first but sets us up for a thrilling ride through Romanian history and ancient lore. The lovable protagonist, Harry Keogh, has some remarkable talents and is dragged through a story that combines time travel and secret agents with some truly vicious undead creatures.
2 – you would take with you if you were going to be marooned on Mars
Clive Barker’s Imajica, without doubt. At over 1,100 pages long, I reckon it would keep me occupied long enough to survive until Schwarzenegger finds a way to pump oxygen onto the planet.
I believe this is Barker’s finest novel. The epic story follows three vastly different people in search of a universal mystery, travelling through worlds both close to us and far into fantasy-realms. It weaves an intricate story, superbly balancing love and death, horror and fantasies, and makes us question divinity as well as our own obsessions.
3 – you took a chance on and were pleasantly surprised by
Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, and it equally surprises me to discover this book was released back in 2001. Yet to this day, it remains one of my favourites and it’s not even in my typical go-to genre. Expertly written, the story took me on a journey that lasted a day or two while poor Pi himself stayed on that lifeboat for 227 days…with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
Oh, and as clever as I thought the screen adaptation was, it was nowhere near as remarkable.
4 – you’ve written that is your favourite
May I suggest the one I’ve just released? It’s called Hell Cat of the Holt, a novella in the Shadow Fabric mythos. I can honestly say I’m having a whole stack of fun linking – indeed stitching – much of the already-written mythos with this new story.
The tale follows a shy accountant named Anne, who returns to the village of Mabley Holt to piece together her life after a family tragedy. When her cat vanishes, and a neighbour claims to speak with his dead wife, she soon learns there’s more to the village than any resident dares admit. In search of her beloved pet, she discovers not only family secrets but also revelations of a local legend. As she treads an unsteady path between folklore and fact, her confidence in where she grew up begins to crumble. Into hell.
5 – that has influenced you most as a person
As far as books go, I can’t really answer that. However, how about a short story? And again, here I am mentioning Brian Lumley. His “The Thief Immortal” tells the life story of a man named Klaus August Scharme who has the unusual gift of stealing the years from any living thing and adding them to his own. I read it something like 20 years ago, and it remains with me to this day.
It made me realise how insignificant the human race is compared to all the other living creatures on this planet.
6 – that has influenced you most as a professional
I suspect this is going to be such a typical answer: Stephen King’s On Writing. Throughout my journey as a writer, I’ve read many how-to books yet this one is incredibly relatable. I found it almost conversational while informative, whereas many others are simply regurgitated bullet-points.
No matter how you feel about that guy’s writing, you can’t deny he’s up there with the literary Masters throughout history.
7 – of yours that prospective readers should start with if they want to get to know your work and where they can get it.
My debut, The Shadow Fabric, a novel of demons, devices, and deceit.
We follow Leo, a man who remembers little of his past. Desperate for a new life, he snatches up the first job to come along. On his second day he witnesses a murder, and the Shadow Fabric – a malevolent force that controls the darkness – takes the body and vanishes with it. Uncovering secrets long hidden from humankind, Leo’s memory unravels. Not only haunted by the past, a sinister presence within the darkness threatens his existence and he soon doubts everything and everyone… including himself.
At the time, the story was going to be a standalone novel, but leftover scribbles became published stories in anthologies and ezines. And now, as I’ve already mentioned, I’ve just released a novella.
I’ve recently sold three more mythos stories to anthologies set for release in the coming months. Atop that, I’m in talks with a company about creating a Shadow Fabric card game, and also with a Nottingham-based metal band about possible lyrics. I can’t say much more on either of those, but we’ll see.
What I can say is how truly stunned I am at how it seems to be unravelling. I’m humbled, in fact. And there’s still a much larger story to tell in the Shadow Fabric mythos.
You can find Mark at: www.beneath.co.uk
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK and often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and SF stories have featured in numerous anthologies and ezines. His best-selling debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, is closely followed by the popular short story collection, Sinister Stitches, and are both only a fraction of an expanding mythos.