Lou Abercrombie on the Bestseller Experiment

I was rubbish at Maths at school, so it would have been wonderful to have to something like Lou Abercrombie‘s book AMAZING MATHS when I was a wee lad. Lou tells me about this new book and her fab children’s novels, FIG SWIMS THE WORLD and COMING UP FOR AIR and how she’s inspired by water.

And if that wasn’t enough, listeners/viewers also get a sneak peek at a special Deep Dive I recorded a very long time ago when director Jon Wright and I answered listener questions on the making of our film UNWELCOME. That Deep Dive goes live on Friday, which is the same day as the film’s release in the UK! Which are you more excited about…???

Cole Haddon on the Bestseller Experiment

It’s common for authors to experience failure and rejection, but if you really want to know what it’s like to be constantly knocked back, then be a screenwriter! So many of the scripts I’ve written will never see the light of day, but that’s all part of the fun of screenwriting. I was delighted to discover that even a writer as successful as Cole Haddon has had the same bumps in the road, but he’s embraced failure as the best way to learn and move forward. Enjoy…

Christian Cameron on the Bestseller Experiment

A rare thing these days: an in-person interview for the podcast! I got to meet the delightful Christian Cameron in the bowels of Hachette’s big publishing castle near Blackfriars Bridge. We discuss worldbuilding, research, and learning to write without doubting yourself (something I’m not sure I’ll ever get the hang of). Also, before the interview, Me and Mr D discuss AI and how it might impact authors over the coming years…

SPECIAL CHRISTMAS EPISODE OF THE BESTSELLER EXPERIMENT!

We don our terrible Christmas sweaters and hats to celebrate the festive season and look forward to 2023. I test Mr D with a super-duper mega quiz, we discover that Americans don’t have Christmas crackers, we reveal where Santa comes from, tell terrible jokes, and we discuss taking stock and setting goals for 2023… and much more! Available on all the usual podcast providers or you can watch it on Youtube on the link below for the full Technicolor Christmas experience…

Margaret Weis on the Bestseller Experiment

Every now and then on the podcast we ask our listeners who they would love have on as a guest, and Margaret Weis was one of those names, so I was delighted when she took the time to speak to me about her extraordinary career. We dispelled a few myths about the origins of Dragonlance, we talked about her collaboration with Tract Hickman, and how she continues to be inspired by the likes of Dickens and Austen. She also answers our listener question

Please note: My interview with Margaret took place on the phone, so our conversation on the Youtube version of this episode is audio only.

Oh and stay right to the end for a few outtakes from me and Mr D (it had been a long week)…

I should also add that the Bestseller Academy is about to open its doors again. Pop along to https://academy.bestsellerexperiment.com to discover more, or take a moment to listen to some of the writers who have achieved their writing goals with the academy here…

Elizabeth Noble on the Bestseller Experiment

I had a great time chatting to Elizabeth Noble on this week’s podcast and she talks about writing novels with huge casts and big families and lots of moving parts etc. And before that, me and Mr D talk about the recent ALCS report that showed that UK’s authors earn only an average of £7,000 a year from their writing, and a bit in Private Eye that noted that so many of our big brand male authors (and their characters) are all getting quite long in the tooth… so where are the new big brands coming from?

Harriet Tyce on the Bestseller Experiment

Great to chat with Harriet Tyce on the podcast, especially about “going too far” as an author. How far is too far for you?

We also pay tribute to Marcus Sedgwick who recently passed away far too young at the age of 54.

You can listen on all the usual podcast providers, and here’s the Youtube version…

The End of Magic edit update

Over lunch today I finished the latest phase of the edit. I’ve been picking away at my editor Simon Spanton’s notes (over 350 suggested changes and comments) for a little over three weeks now.

I started with the easy stuff, namely all the extraneous crap marked ‘Delete’ by Simon. Suggestions to re-word awkwardly phrased sentences, clarity where there was confusion, repetitions…

… and a whole section where I had a character eating stew from a plate instead of a bowl (d’oh!). I find this is a nice warm up before the main event, and a good way to reacquaint yourself with a book that you might not have looked at for weeks or even months.

There was a whole debate about rats on a ship, how fast a ship would sink, and how many lashes with a cat ‘o nine tails would kill a man (Simon is an extremely genial and friendly chap, but knows an awful lot about naval punishment).

We went back and forth on the size of armies, weaponry, lethal farm tools (who knew that the cutting edge of a scythe blade was on the inside of the curve? Simon did, thankfully), dog bites, poisons, rats, crops, injuries, the efficiency of messenger pigeons, the physiology of merpeople…

… putting a saddle on the back of a wyvern, and the mental and physical cost of using magic.

There were a few moments where my characters rushed into action without much thought of the consequences and it was great to have the opportunity to dig a little deeper and think about why they made those impetuous decisions.

It’s been fun if hard and intense work, but there’s no question that it’s improved the book. And it’s not over yet! I’m sure Simon will have a few more notes for me, and then we’ll move onto the copy edit where it gets really forensic.

I’m hoping to have a revised version of the opening chapter that I can share with you soon, in the meantime thanks to everyone who has supported the book so far, and if you’ve not yet pre-ordered you can do so here.

Son of a Beach

It’s been a fun week with a trip to the beach at Whitstable to interview Julie Wassmer. I had hoped to get some lovely audio atmosphere with waves lapping on shingle and gulls screeching overhead, but the tide was out so I had to settle for a gentle breeze buffeting the microphone. Fortunately, Julie is great fun to chat to and she told me all about working on EastEnders, bumping off the locals in her novels, and why all writers should live in fear of a cup of tea and bacon sandwich. Listen here.

I finished the John Yorke Story for Screenwriting course. 16 weeks of pretty intense work. Was it worth it? Check out my thinkings over here…

I also got to visit Hachette’s new warehouse in Didcot. While this may not sound like everyone’s idea of a fun day out, I did get to ride on one of their pickers, which went some 25 metres in the air and the queues were shorter than Disney…

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Getting a lift in the new Hachette warehouse…

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Also, if anyone’s concerned that print books are on the decline, this vast palace of storage and hi-tech distribution should allay those fears. This place was built to pump books out into the world and they’ve left plenty of room for expansion.

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I finished a short story this week. It’s a prequel to The End of Magic in which we meet our antagonist. My agent Ed read it and enjoyed it, though he did have one note: “Maybe the humour could be a little less lavatorial…? But that’s probably my shit to deal with.”

I do seem to have a thing about bodily functions… What do you say? Should I take this crap?

Also, I’m going to be on the new Dominic King arts show on BBC Radio Kent next Tuesday 12th at around 8pm. He asked me to put together a montage of voices from the podcast, which I did, but I’ve also made a “Guess the voice” quiz, which you can play here

Till next time!

Mark

Isabel Ashdown’s secrets and lies

We had the fantastic thriller writer Isabel Ashdownon the Bestseller Experiment podcast this week. Isabel is the author of bestselling thrillers Little Sister and Beautiful Liars, and she walked away from a successful career to focus on her writing and it all stepped up a gear when she entered a competition in a newspaper. I was also joined by stand-in co-host Sam Eades who is always good fun and does a mean jigsaw… You can listen to the podcast here.

Like many science fiction and fantasy authors out there, I found myself sighing in despair at this comment from Liz Thomson in the Bookseller. I am beyond proud to have been published by Gollancz, and I realise that this kind snobbery exists, but you expect better from Liz (who’s always been very chatty and friendly whenever I’ve met her) and the Bookseller, a publication that should celebrate all publishing regarding of genre. Sigh…

And a quick update on my fantasy novel The End of Magicit’s now 80% funded over at Unbound, so it’s not too late to pledge to join the adventure and get your name in the book along with some other cool extras. Click here for more info.

Till next time, happy writing!

Mark