An Interview with Author, Mark Eklid

mark eklid interview author

By Sarah Morgan

Living the dream.

It’s a phrase we’ve all heard, but few of us are lucky enough to achieve it. Mark Eklid, however, could be described as having lived not just one, but two dreams.

Born and bred in Sheffield, he started his professional life as a journalist on the South Yorkshire Times in Mexborough before moving onto the Derby Telegraph; despite being a Yorkshire lad at heart, he still lives ‘over the border’.

“I came down here to work in 1987 and packed in last March,” he says when we meet for a chat. “I really enjoyed the job. I was doing sport, and then I got onto the cricket, and that was me made. I absolutely loved it and for a while it was the best job in the world, travelling up and down the country watching Derbyshire. Everywhere they went, I went – including five pre-season tours to the West Indies.”

However, despite receiving national recognition at the 2012 and 2013 England and Wales Cricket Board awards, Mark’s bubble was unceremoniously burst when the Telegraph decided it would no longer cover the sport – and that’s when he began concentrating on achieving his second dream.

“They put me on desk duty,” he explains of his immediate post-cricket-reporting career. “In truth, I had a year or so where I struggled with it. I’d gone from a full-on job I loved to being desk bound, and I needed an outlet, and I’d got these sketches of story ideas…

mark eklid interview book cover“I wouldn’t call it a burning ambition, but it was always there – an ambition to be able to hold a book in my hands that I’d written. But practically speaking, it was so difficult to achieve because of my career. So it stayed a dream until I had the time to do it, and I had all this energy to release as well. So all that energy went into writing the novels.”

“Intertwining coincidences”

Many journalists-turned-crime writers focus on the genre because they’ve covered murders, assaults and thefts during their day jobs, but I’m guessing Mark didn’t witness much of that ilk while following Derbyshire CCC around. Instead, it seems he almost fell into the genre by accident.

“I’ve always read all kinds of novels,” he explains. “I don’t like to read the same genre twice.

“I can’t remember sitting down and thinking, ‘I’m going to be a crime writer, I’m going to write thrillers’. It was just that all my ideas were suited to crime thrillers, so I became a crime thriller writer.”

During the summer, his fourth novel, The Murder of Miss Perfect, was released, and he’s keen to point out that, despite being in the same genre, it’s very different to its predecessors.

“Miss Perfect is the closest I’ve come to a procedural. My first novel, Sunbeam, had paranormal overtones to it. The second one, Family Business, was more of a thriller; I wanted to do something more accessible because the first one hadn’t been accepted by publishers.

“For the third one, Catalyst, I decided to write a thriller without a body count. I kept reading books where the murders were piled three or four deep, so I wanted to try writing one without any at all. It’s also got an environmental theme to it. Around the time I was a big fan of the Fargo TV series, so there’s a lot of intertwining coincidences, things like that. It was just an exercise to see if I could write that kind of thing.”

Like many authors these days, Mark initially went down the self-publishing route.

“It’s terrible if you’ve not got people behind you. The first book is a nightmare because you don’t know what you’re doing, so you’re learning from scratch. You lean on whoever you can find to give you advice and guidance. But it is possible, so you do it.

mark eklid interview books“But the marketing is extraordinarily difficult. It’s a bit like standing in a large hall where the big publishing houses have PA systems and they’re yelling out to readers, and you’re standing there, just a single voice, saying, ‘Does anybody want to buy my book as well?’ It’s almost impossible to get heard.”

“Knuckled down”

Thankfully, the cavalry was on its way – Mark was snapped up by SpellBound, a relatively new publishing venture co-run by Nikki East, one of the founders of the Hull Noir crime writing festival.

“Just to be able to work with people who know more than I do… that’s all I wanted,” sighs Mark, with relief. “I like doing the work and I like doing marketing and generating my own publicity and partly being in control, but to have people behind me who can guide me and can make sure my energies are well spent is invaluable.”

SpellBound is all set to reissue his previous three novels, while Mark is already busying himself writing his next thriller.

“I’m about a third of the way through,” he reveals. “I’ve got a title for it – it’s called Blood on Shakespeare’s Typewriter. I was quite happy when I came up with that. Now I’ve got to make the story fit around it!

“But I wish I was a ‘head down, get on with it’ type. That would be far more efficient! I’m dreadful at mornings, they’re a write-off. But if I can get in my study after lunch and have a good few hours, then I’m happy.”

He adds: “I must admit I’ve been a bit lazy since I packed in work, I’ve enjoyed not working too much and I’ve used my time doing other things. So it’s only been in the past two or three months that I’ve knuckled down with the writing again. But two books in a year should be achievable.”

The Murder of Miss Perfect focuses on a cold case involving the killing of a teenager. It’s set in both its author’s native Sheffield (“That’s definitely a thread I’ve got going through all my work so far,” he says) and one of his favourite places – Scarborough, a town he admits he’d love to retire to one day.

“There’s just something about being near the sea… When you spend the rest of your year landlocked, it looks so romantic,” he smiles, wistfully.

Perhaps he and his wife will be lucky enough move there one day – enabling Mark to live the dream for a third time.


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