Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers. His influences include writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell, Ian McEwan, Val McDermid and Donna Tartt and movies like Rosemary’s Baby, Single White Female, Fatal Attraction and anything in which scary things happen to ordinary people. He loves hearing from readers and always respond and can be contacted in the following ways:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @mredwards Facebook: www.facebook.com/markedwardsbooks
Firstly congratulations on being one of the best selling authors on Amazon – has the success gone to your head and has fame changed you?
Thank you. I am not actually writing these answers – I am lying back on a solid-gold chaise longue, dictating them to my butler. When I think about my legions of fans, all the many people who love me and my books, it makes me glow in a special place…
But seriously… I’m not famous. I once got recognised in Sainsbury’s, which was quite exciting, but I still feel like nobody has heard of me or my novels. The best thing about being successful is that I can write full-time now, and can support my family through my writing. But I live in a constant state of terror that it will end suddenly and that people will stop buying my books. My greatest fear is being a sad has-been, telling anyone who’ll listen that I used to be an author. Oh god, I’m shivering just thinking about it!
What does it feel like knowing over 1m people have downloaded your books and have you had any strange fan mail or requests?
It’s very, very close to 2 million now – I should reach that milestone at the end of December. Although it’s not 2 million unique people, it’s 2 million book sales. Shall we see how many times I can get 2 million into one paragraph? 2 million! 2 million!
I get quite a lot of strange emails, usually asking me about my sexual preferences, but this is the most disturbing email I’ve received (warning – contains naughty words):
“just finished reading the magpies and I love way you write.I always loved the way Linwood barckley wrote a book,the story was always excellent but the way he told it was expectaional and yours equally brilliant.you are now my fave author.I am now starting to read”because she loved me”.Couldnt put it down from the start. live the life of hell on a daily basis not a neighbour,well sort of but a fucking burger van.its there on my doostep taunting me,my family do nothing even though she has fucking slated the whole family members.its horendous i have pain in my chest.I feel ill all the time,I never want to go outside.I have had alcohol i have to.but i WILL NEVER LET THAT FAT C*NT WIN.im sorry but my health is suffering now.I hate being this swearing hatred cow but this is what life made me,and i hate it yours sincerely…”
Your standalone psychological thrillers; The Magpies, Because She Loves Me, The Devil’s Work and Follow Me Home are really dark and disturbing (a bit like you in real life), where did you get the inspiration for each book?
Most of my books were inspired by bad things that happened to me. The Magpies was based on an experience I had living above a pair of nutters. Because She Loves Me brought together my experiences of having an intensely jealous girlfriend and suffering a detached retina (I’m obsessed with my eyes now). Follow You Home was inspired by the time I got robbed while Inter-railing and The Devil’s Work was based on years of working in offices from hell. I like to take a simple, everyday setting and situation and then turn the screw, make it as dark and scary as possible.
You co-write a series of crime books featuring Detective Lennon (From the Cradle & The Blissfully Dead) with the uber talented Louise Voss and some standalone thrillers (Forward Slash and Killing Cupid) how did that collaboration come together and will you be writing more books together?
Louise and I met years ago after I was on a TV documentary about aspiring writers. She emailed me (not complaining about burger vans on her doorstep) and we became online friends. We didn’t actually meet for about two years, by which time she had a book deal and I was still a struggling nobody. One night in the Groucho Club – where Louise was a member – we came up with the idea for a stalker novel told from the perspective of both the stalker and the victim. That became Killing Cupid and the rest is history (and herstory). I don’t know if we’ll be writing any more books together. It’s so hard to fit it in with the solo books. I do love writing with Louise though – we make each other laugh a lot.
I don’t really want to bring up the “elephant in the room” but you know how much I “loved” What You Wish For! Please for my sanity, explain WHY you decided to write about alien abductions and anal probes?
I’m going to give you a serious, honest answer. I wrote What You Wish For a long time ago, back in the 90s, before I wrote The Magpies. Back then, alien abductions were a trendy topic, mainly because of The X Files. It was a much bigger part of culture than it is now. I think what’s happened is that everyone has figured out that all those people who claimed to be abducted and probed were almost certainly victims of abuse.
The book is actually about belief: ‘what do you believe in if you believe in nothing?’. It’s about what happens when a strong belief system gets in the way of a relationship. It could have been about religious beliefs, politics, etc – but I chose aliens!
Anyway, after The Magpies was a hit I knew there would be a long gap before Because She Loves Me was released. I decided to fill that gap by editing What You Wish For and updating it, but keeping the aliens. It’s my least popular book but a lot of people still loved it. Maybe one day it will be a cult classic 🙂
As you can see from the photo above, you are worshipped by so many and on THE Book Club we actually had to refer to you as “he who could not be named” as it became the Mark Edwards Appreciation Society, can you tell me who you idolise and what famous people you have met?
My first idol was Adam Ant – I was obsessed with him. A few years after that, it was Robert Smith of The Cure. I used to dress like him: I would back-comb my hair, wear dodgy make up and polka dot shirts. It was a good way to attract female Cure fans! The person I am most obsessed with now is Lana Del Rey. I listen to her music all the time and have a photo of her above my desk, gazing down and ‘inspiring’ me. If I met her I would turn to jelly and wouldn’t be able to speak.
In terms of writers, I love Stephen King but my No.1 idol is Donna Tartt. A couple of years ago I went to an event where she talked about my favourite book, The Secret History. Afterwards, I told her how much I loved it and she shook my hand. I floated out of the venue. It was one of the best moments of my life.
Recently, I met Linwood Barclay (he mentioned you, Tracy) and Michael Connelly. Linwood was great but I could tell Michael had no interest in meeting this obscure British author and it was excruciating. I still love his books, though.
My only other claim to fame is that I went to school with Stella McCartney – Paul sent his kids to the local comprehensive, before you think I went to a posh school. I don’t know her, though I did see her fight another girl in the playground when we were about twelve.
As well as writing psychological and crime thrillers you are a HUGE reader and supportive of authors. What books have you read this year that we should look out for?
A couple of my favourite books from 2016 were The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer, which is not only dark and gripping but so funny that I kept reading bits out to my wife in bed (she was delighted); and Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant which is so well-written that it makes me weep with envy. A couple of tips for 2017: Paula Daly’s The Trophy Child is her best yet and also full of wit and brilliant lines; and I’m reading Jane Casey’s new one at the moment, Let The Dead Speak. It’s a perfect police procedural with stunning characterisation.
In between reading, writing, looking after your 3 children, 1 dog, 1 cat and watching more TV than is possibly healthy – how do you relax and unwind?
I sing! I listen to music all the time and sing along – in the car, at home, in karaoke bars… If I’m feeling tense or stressed I play loud music and sing at the top of my voice. It always makes me feel a million times better. I’m sure my neighbours love it too. I also play video games – it’s very relaxing pretending to be Lara Croft and blowing bad guys away.
You’ve mentioned signing and karaoke. What is your favourite song to sing?
My favourite song to sing is ‘Sit Down’ by James. It’s a great one to do at the end of the night, with everyone singing along. As long as none of them try to grab the mic from me. I also love doing ‘Hound Dog’ by Elvis, just because I find it really easy to do. It’s always my first number whenever I go to karaoke.
Finally, what have been your highlights in 2016 and what are your plans for 2017?
2016 has been a wretched year politically but it was pretty good for me. I moved into a much bigger house, got a dog and my youngest son finally started sleeping through the night! I also sold more books than ever before. Going to New Orleans was great fun too.
I have a new book out in June 2017, called The Lucky Ones, which is about a serial killer who tries to make his victims happy before he kills them. I am working on a film script of Because She Loves Me and am aiming to write two books. I want my next book to be the scariest one I’ve written. On a personal note, I am taking my 9 year old daughter to Australia at Easter to see my other daughter. That’s going to be amazing.