Jen: Today we welcome Mark P. Sadler to Book Talk. Mark, will you please share a short bio with us?
Mark: Originally from England I first came to the States as a student in 1974. After school I lived for an eighteen year spell in Oklahoma City before moving to Tucson AZ in 1993.
I have always been an ‘outdoorsy’ type and hiking in the mountains in Arizona helped prepare me for a elongated hike on the Appalachian Trail. The three weeks spent camping and hiking became a significant decision as it was the catalysis that I used to writer Blood on His Hands. I wanted to share the story of my AT journey however so many great authors, such as David Miller and Bill Bryson, have already ‘been there done that’ so I decided to make mine a novel instead; just another way to tell the same story.
Jen: Tell us about Blood on His Hands and where it’s available.
Mark: This is the official synopsis.
“Blood on His Hands is one man’s tale of the inner struggles that we all deal with in our lives. Mike Renton struggles between doing the right thing or doing that which will benefit himself; taking the road to righteousness or the one the one leads to deceit.
His life seems to end the moment he pulled the trigger sending his unfaithful wife and her lover into oblivion.
On the lam, his journey takes him from rural Oklahoma to the glitz of Las Vegas. He had not however, anticipated the determined tenacity of private investigator Ian Walker, who tracks him down to northern Georgia on to the Appalachian Trail just outside of the sleepy hamlet of Helen. Was the path chosen by both men the trail to redemption, forgiveness and repentance, or was it one that will eventually pull them into tempest and despair; a black hole into oblivion?
Nine months later, in the spring of the following year human remains are discovered by a hiker just off the Appalachian Trail. How will the decisions made by the White County coroner’s office affect the final outcome of the journey Mike Renton started when he killed his wife and will he be able to deal with the repercussions that come along with the choices he made? Blood on His Hands leads us from wanton despair to the promise of a new life no matter the cost.”
Blood on His Hands is available through Infinity Publishing (http://www.bbotw.com/) and on line through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders. Locally in the Tucson AZ area it is carried by indie stores Mostly Books, Antigone Books and Clues Unlimited.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Mark: Since I was brought up in the English school system an essay for me was 4-5 pages not 4-5 paragraphs as is prevalent in American schools. My mother still has an essay I wrote at about the age if ten, detailing a train journey from the sleepy hamlet of Codsall to the big city of Wolverhampton showing how fields and cows gave way to factories.
I always knew that I would write a book eventually. I was trained as a journalist but only ever dabbled in that field of endeavor; however it was an editorial column in the now defunct OKC Sports Fan Forum that was my first published work. I still have all eight columns framed and hanging in my office.
Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Mark: I start with a general idea of the plot, form a couple of characters and then just try to let the story build around them. Often you can revisit parts of the story that just didn’t work the first time during the re-write. Ian’s dream sequence in Blood on His Hands was at one time how I intended the story line to go but I had to compromise with the character who wanted to go in another direction.
Jen: Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing?
Mark: Roget’s Thesaurus, and a dictionary, however increasingly these tend to be on-line, and so the Internet then becomes an integral research tool.
For those times when I sit in front of the computer and nothing happens a copy of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is essential.
The other essential is quiet; noise is a big distraction for me.
Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Mark: Most certainly. I found that usually 1am was when I woke up with a light bulb going off in my head causing me to get up and write what was keeping me awake. Chapter one for instance was formed after I realized that Mike was experiencing what I was seeing as I lay in bed wide awake not able to sleep.
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Mark: Both Mike, the protagonist, and Ian the other main male character in Blood on His Hands, have enough of me in them that making one a favorite would be like casting aside my alter-ego.
Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Mark: I like the thriller genre and can see my building on that to delve into the police procedural. The research is fascinating.
The romance novel is probably not for me. Not that a man couldn’t do a credible job I just think after four failed marriages I don’t have much to offer in this category, though perhaps my current wife would hopefully disagree.
Jen: What five authors or people, from the past or present, have been important to you as an author? What question or comment have you always wanted to say to them?
Mark: The question of what to ask them is a little easier than naming a list of authors. Knowing how much personal experience I drew upon to finish Blood on His Hands I often wonder how much of what people write is pulled from personal experience as compared to imagination.
Stephen King, for instance, has such a dark warped way of looking at things it makes one go hmmm…
Other influences have been James Patterson, Jim Crace, and as a pre-teen and teenager Enid Blyton, Rosemary Sutcliffe and Louis L’Amour helped fuel my imagination for adventure.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book?
Mark: I think my wife and I just enjoyed dinner out with a nice bottle of wine. Nothing too exceptional.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Mark: The one I like the most I hear from just about everyone that I have spoken to about the novel. It can be summed up by the comment from blogger and book reviewer Liliiana Swistek “I started reading the book in the morning and finished it in the evening the same day.” Since I deliberately wrote each chapter as a cliff-hanger this shows that I accomplished what I started out to do.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Mark: James Patterson – just about anything he has written. I love the close-clipped chapters, and I am in fact currently reading his novel Beach Road.
Jim Crace – Being Dead is a favorite
D.H Lawrence – Sons and Lovers
Recently I have been reading a lot of two of my contemporaries as they also write crime thrillers in Arizona, Elizabeth Gunn and J. A. Jance
Jen: What’s next for you?
Mark: Well I am writing what looks like a series of at least five novels involving a new character I am developing, Nate Duarte. He is Tucson police detective with a hidden past that will surely delight lovers of thriller/police procedurals. Duarte has personal reasons to go beyond his Tucson jurisdiction as a member of a Federal task-force bent on capturing the head of the Sonoran drug cartel operating in Mexico.
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Mark: My website is http://www.markpsadler.com/, however I am also on Twitter and Facebook.
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Mark: Yes, I’d love to ask readers to participate in a couple of contests.
I’ll pick a random commenter who leaves a comment here before the end of the day on Sunday, October 18 to win a copy of Blood on His Hands. If you don’t leave your email address in your comment, be sure to check back to the post on Sunday night to see if you’re a winner.
The second contest is a free copy of my next novel (working title is The Last Resort) to the first 200 people that go to my Facebook fan page – Mark P Sadler – and file a review of Blood on His Hands in the Review section.