Debut Author Spotlight is a Saturday feature at Book Chick City. We will be showcasing a debut author each week from the genres of horror, urban fantasy and paranormal romance. We will give you all the relevant book information as well as an insight into the author.
MARK D. EVANS was born near London, England. He graduated university with a degree in something not even remotely connected with writing and went on to become a successful consultant. Then he threw it all away to chase his dream of being an author, via a considerable amount of travelling. Today, his life largely resembles that of a nomad, and he can currently be found typing away in a tiny flat in north London, sustained by coffee.
GENRE: Urban Fantasy/Horror | RELEASE DATE: June 2013 | PUBLISHER: Booktrope
“Her hands began to shake as she looked down wide-eyed at the blood-soaked cotton that covered her.” London emerges from the Blitz, and every corner of the city bears the scars. In the East End-a corner fairing worse than most-thirteen year-old Beth Wade endures this new way of life with her adoptive family. She also suffers the prejudice against her appearance, an abiding loneliness and now the trials of adolescence. But with this new burden comes a persisting fatigue and an unquenchable thirst that ultimately steals her into unconsciousness…
What happens next is the start of something Beth will fear more than the war itself. She begins to change in ways that can’t be explained by her coming-of-age, none more frightening than her need to consume blood. The family who took her in and the former best friend who’s taken refuge in their house can never know. Aware of the danger she poses to everyone around her, Beth has never felt more alone. But someone else knows Beth’s secret… someone who understands just how different she really is. He alone can decrypt her past and explain her future. But he’s been sworn to destroy her kind, and as Beth grows ever more dangerous, he’s forced to take sides. Can Beth keep all of the secrets? Can she trust a man sworn to kill her? And can she stop the vampire within from taking her humanity?
What is NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS about?
My book is about the hardships that befall a young girl who has always been different from everyone else, and then discovers she’s more different than anyone could ever have imagined. It’s a true coming-of-age story in so many ways, and in this case the responsibility she must learn to carry is one that could kill those she loves.
But on top of the personal story of a young girl turning into a vampire woman, is also that of her best friend and other family members, and how it affects them even though they don’t truly know what’s going on. And of course, what you as the reader will really want to know, is just how in the hell does a vampire child get mixed up in a human family in the first place? All that’s explained via some shocking revelations, while keeping everything firmly grounded in reality against the backdrop of the Second World War.
Tell us a bit more about the hero/heroine in NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS
The primary protagonist is a 13-year old girl who was adopted as a baby. From her outward appearance it’s clear to everyone that her family isn’t her flesh and blood, and in fact her exotic appearance and darker skin is the initial cause of her out-casting. Because of this she has a natural independence, strengthened when the only friend she had seemingly turned against her not long before where the book picks up. Used to being on her own, she’s determined to get through adolescence in much the same way, until the weird changes start occurring like the heightened senses and what she eventually learns is a thirst for blood. Finally she’s faced with something that truly scares her, and the one person she ends up confiding in is the last person on earth she expected to.
How did you research NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS?
Development was what made up the majority of the book’s lifecycle and I dare say I spent longer researching than writing. Half of that research was done because the book is set in 1941, during World War 2. It was important for me to get the details right, not so that I could be informative about life during the war, but so that the period could blend in to the background and be non-intrusive. The book isn’t about the war, but I needed to know everything about the war to make it feel real. This meant lots of reading, watching films and visiting museums and archives. A lot of the events that happen in the book happened in real life.
The other half of the research (and far more than half, to be honest) was to create my vampires. As you may have gathered, making the book feel real was a priority, and this meant my vampires had to be realistic, too. Gone are all supernatural elements, and instead I’ve used science to explain everything. If I couldn’t explain something using science, it’s not in the book. I love the idea of vampires not having a reflection, but there’s no plausible way I could explain it and so they can see themselves in the mirror. In fact, as the book is set in the real world, I subtly explain away elements of popular vampire myth. As such, my research included a lot of biology and history, going through hundreds of articles in both hard copy and online encyclopaedias. I have medical books and history books falling off my shelves (not really, but I do have a few).
Is NO SHELTER FROM DARKNESS the first in a series or a stand alone novel?
It is indeed the first book in a series, and it’s called The Cruentus Saga. “Cruentus” is a latin word and among other things (depending on context), it can mean “bloodthirsty”. I roughly mapped out the entire series before starting book one, and as such I can say that five books are planned in total. This isn’t to say there won’t be six if I find that the overall story needs expanding, but at present and for a very long time now, five is the number I have in mind.
Each novel is it’s own story, but each is also one part of a larger story. I aim to provide a certain amount of closure with each book, but at the same time pave the way for the next.
When and where is your favourite time to write?
I’m fortunately blessed to be able to write pretty much anywhere, even if it’s in an airport on my iPad. My favourite place is probably the old cliche of a cafe with a latte at my fingertips, but this is expensive and not wholly ideal (going to the toilet always poses a problem – do you leave your stuff at the table risking it being stolen, or take it with you and risk losing your seat?). So, at home at my desk is the usual place. And no matter how early in the day I intend to write, you can be sure I won’t get started until the evening. I have no idea why, other than I am a true master at procrastination.
When did you decide to become a writer?
It was in 2005 when I decided to make the leap and ditch my old life to start anew. Until then I was just playing around with the idea, doing little bits of development and research but not really having any particular plan. I would go around saying I wanted to write a book, this book, but I didn’t really put any real effort into it until then.
What was the last book you enjoyed and why?
Darn. I read two really good books back-to-back and can’t remember the order, so it was either 1984 by George Orwell or The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas. If it was 1984 I enjoyed it because I love reading old books that depict the future that we are now living in. And of course, though not bang on the money, Orwell got a hell of a lot right. I think the book must have more significance now than it did when it was first published. And that ending? Oh, man.
If it was Mr. Y, what can I say? Pure genius. I love books that have originality and this had bucket-loads, and again, what en ending. A few of my favourite books have very mediocre endings, but I enjoy them for the ride. But these two, the endings didn’t disappoint at all.
Which authors do you admire?
Dean Koontz is simply amazing with both his prose and his ideas. Chuck Palahniuk for having the balls to write the stuff he does. But there are authors I admire who aren’t necessarily one of my favourites. I’ve read Stephen King, only a fraction in comparison to his entire catalogue, and while I enjoy his work something always stops me from listing him as a favourite. Yet I still admire him immensely, not least for his sheer capacity of imagination. It seems limitless. But further, there are authors I admire whom I have never even read. I have not read any of the Harry Potter books (gasp), but I still admire JK Rowling for creating such a rich and complete world.
Describe yourself in five words.
Dreamer. Geek. Confused. Complicated. Odd.
The opposite to previous. (That’s been done before, right?) I am currently finishing up the first draft of book two of The Cruentus Saga. After that there’ll be a lot of tinkering with details and plot threads before doing the second draft and beyond. Sometime soon I’d like to do another short story (I have two available already), and there are other novel ideas waiting to be worked on. And there will always be the next cup of coffee.
BUY THE BOOK