Mark is an extremely fast writer, he talks about producing the first draft of his first book in eight weeks. He attributes this to his career in journalism. “That’s just how I write. The idea of writing a book for two years and loving crafting a manuscript – I just couldn’t do it that way.
“Transitioning from journalism and ghost writing business books for people to suddenly writing fiction was a huge change, but one I’m really glad I made myself do. It’s been very rewarding in many different ways.”
DON’T BE AFRAID TO KILL YOUR DARLINGS
Mark talks about the editorial process being one of his favourite parts. “I kind of like that, probably because of my journalism background, and the fact I’ve been an editor. I’ve seen it from both sides. I’m quite relaxed with the idea of manuscripts coming back to me with notes, and with edits, and with queries about, ‘Do we really need this chapter?’ for instance.
“On that first manuscript that came back we chopped out an entire chapter. A manuscript that I had sent off with 150,000 words got whittled down to 134,000.”
Unlike most writers, Mark knew that he needed to let go of parts of his novel. “It had a haircut of 16,000 words somewhere along the way, but I was fine with that. That process actually makes it a better read, which is what it’s all about. I sort of smile wryly when other authors tell me about their great ego battles with publishers about how they’re not going to change this, and they’re not going to change that. I just see it as a challenge to make it better for the reader, really.”
WRITE WHAT YOU WOULD READ
“I would also advise to only ever write what you would want to read yourself. A lot of manuscripts by first timers, they get mired in a sense of how important they might be.”
Listen to the Australian Writers’ Centre’s spine-tingling Murder and Mayhem podcast here.