Today I’m delighted to welcome Mark Kirkbride, a friend from my Authonomy days, to Writers with Vision to talk about his book Satan’s Fan Club. (On Autho the book was called The Devil’s Fan Club)
Welcome to Writer’s with Vision, Mark. Please would you start by telling my readers a little bit about yourself, your background, education, family, that sort of thing?
Many thanks, Melanie. I’m very happy to be here. And, yes, sure, I was born in Lancashire but grew up in Dorset. I studied English at Kingston and then did a research degree on Thomas Hardy at Oxford. I moved to London for work (subtitling) and now live in Shepperton with my lovely wife Patricia.
For readers not familiar with Satan’s Fan Club please could you give us a couple of sentences on what it’s about?
It’s about a pair of twisted twins, James and Louise, who meet a man at a nightclub who tempts them with prospect of joining a secret society. There’s just one catch: they have to commit a crime, tailored for them. And theirs is the worst one of all. Will – can – they do it? What are the consequences if they don’t?
Where did you get the idea for Satan’s Fan Club?
I think the twins came first with their strange relationship and then the idea for the club followed quickly after that. I deliberately tried to write something almost against the grain of my own character but it was very liberating creatively and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t worry about how it would be received until much later. I toned things down a little but not that much. It’s still a very dark book, on several fronts.
On Autho did you ever reach the dizzying heights of the Editor’s Desk? I never got that far as I simply wasn’t prepared to play the bitchy backbiting game.
I think it got to about 200 and something when it suddenly occurred to me that I could put all the time I was spending on Authonomy into publishing the book myself. I don’t regret the time spent on Authonomy, though, as I read some great books, received some really helpful critiques and made some good friends.
Are you traditional, small press or self-published?
Although the book was initially self-published, it then got picked up by a small press in America I’d approached previously (Omnium Gatherum).
What did you find to be the easiest and hardest aspects of writing the book? Did you need to do much or any research?
The easiest aspect of writing the book was probably the plot, which, although it required a lot of fine-tuning later, came together pretty quickly. The hardest aspect was grounding it all, anchoring it in reality. But it wasn’t really a book that required any research as such.
Why didn’t your publisher let you keep the original title? Satan and the Devil are one and the same and I always preferred the original for my two pence worth.
The publisher already had a book out whose title started with “The Devil’s…”, so mine became Satan’s Fan Club instead.
What is your preferred genre to read?
My favourite genres are dark fiction, crime and science fiction. I also enjoy literary fiction.
Do you think any writers whose works you enjoy had an influence on Satan’s fan club?
I would say that Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden, Thomas Hardy’s later novels and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History all went into the melting pot.
If you could have written any book in literary history which would it have been and why?
The Secret History, again and again and again. It’s as close to literary perfection as a human being could ever hope to achieve.
Are your friends and family supportive of your writing?
My wife and family are incredibly supportive of my writing and always have been. My friends are probably a healthy mix of bemused and amused by my literary endeavours, while my writing friends have the (mis)fortune of sharing the same compulsion.
Do you have any advice for would be writers?
Get as much feedback as possible. Go to conferences. Build up an online presence. Target submissions very precisely. If agents/publishers aren’t biting, you can always publish your work yourself.
What one thing would you like readers of Satan’s Fan Club to take away with them?
Amongst other things, that sometimes the most fertile breeding ground for evil is innocence.
Do you have any writing projects in progress right now? If so would you like to tell us about them?
Yes, I’m working on an end-of-the-world novel, set in the very near future. I’m also working on some short stories and trying to get back into poetry.
Could you share a short excerpt from your book to hook people who haven’t read it yet?
When they got home, he led the way through to the lounge, switched the rolling news on and they sat on the sofa and watched it all again.
“Look,” he cried, as he glimpsed two figures with the same profile standing next to a woman in a camel coat.
“Why do you think he’s getting closer?” asked Louise.
“I don’t know.” He could feel her gaze on the side of his face. His was still fastened on the TV. “Perhaps he’s trying to tell us something.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s as if he’s using murder as a form of communication. The latest is like a message, a reminder, to us.”
“Well, maybe he’s egging us on— egging us on to do it.”
He turned. And importunate eyes stared back.
“You know. It.”
Where can we find you on social media? Please share any Facebook/Twitter/Blog addresses
Facebook (Mark Kirkbride): http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mark-Kirkbride/176401229088382?ref=hl
Facebook (Satan’s Fan Club): http://www.facebook.com/pages/Satans-Fan-Club/229307017091314?ref=hl
Last, but definitely not least, where can readers buy a copy of Satan’s Fan Club?
It’s been great to have you here, Mark. I wish you the very best with your future writing and hope that this interview gets your book some attention.
Thanks so much, Melanie. It’s been a pleasure.