The curious influences of Alex T Smith

We had the excellent Alex T Smith on the podcast this week. He’s one of those children’s authors who gives so much back to the community, not least when it comes to talks and interviews that are choc full of great writing tips. I was lucky enough to talk to him at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators‘ conference last year (a big thanks to the organisers for letting me crash the party!). I particularly enjoyed hearing about Alex’s influences, which included the likes of Frankie Howerd, Frank Spencer and ‘Allo, ‘Allo. Not the most obvious starting points when writing for young children, but he makes it work. It’s a fun interview and you can hear the whole thing when you click here.

In other news, my aunty Marion has a new book out! Actually, she has TWO! If you listen to the podcast regularly, you’ll know that we’ve mentioned her  a few times. Her memoir was an Irish Times bestseller a few years ago, and she’s spent the time since then working on what is essentially a fictionalised version of her life, with an added dollop of romance. I’m indebted to the tireless Andy Bowden who designed the cover art, which really looks the business…

And speaking of new books… did you know that you can get 10% off when you pledge for my new book The End of Magic? Go here, click pledge and type bestsellerxp when prompted.

Till next time, happy writing!



The End of Magic – week 2

Another week passes and I’m currently at 35% funded with 73 wonderful backers. A big welcome to everyone who’s joined the adventure in the last week. Your pledges mean the world to me.

I’m also amazed to see that the ‘Be in the book’ pledges have sold out! Thank you Craig, Phill and Andy… I look forward to giving you all glorious deaths on paper very soon.

I’m currently hitting my target of 1% per day, and if we keep this up then we should be fully funded on 4th May, so if you’ve already pledged please continue to spread the word and let any fantasy fiction fans you know that the book is coming. Word of mouth is the best way to help make this happen. Here’s the link:

We discuss The End of Magic and how Unbound work in this week’s episode of The Bestseller Experiment podcast. Have a listen here…



“Therefore, but…” with Cass Green

We had the amazing Cass Green on the podcast this week and one of the things we touched on was the “Therefore, but…” rule for writers as explained by South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone in this vid.

We also discussed a recent blog by Mark Chadbourn on how writers should be looking for not one, but multiple streams of income to pay the rent. It’s a fascinating piece, and could well change your life!

And we were delighted to see the podcast featured on Buzzfeed as one of the podcast you NEED to start listening to in 2018. Buzzfeed! My kids were actually impressed for about 30 seconds…

And stay tuned for some big news on an exciting new project!



Oh, and my first book Robot Overlords is in the UK Kindle half-term sale. Thanks to everyone who’s bought a copy so far. If you haven’t you can grab a copy for only 99p now!


Jen Williams – Even Aliens Have Issues

Really happy to have spoken to Jen Williams on the Bestseller Experiment podcast this week. Not only is she an award-winning fantasy author and founder of the Super-Relaxed Fantasy Club, but she’s a jolly nice human being, too. I’ve been a fan of her stuff for a while, but if you’ve not read her before then check out The Ninth Rain, which kicks off her latest series. I’m convinced she’s invented a new genre: GrimFun – you heard it here first…

In this episode you will discover…

  • Top tips for building and writing captivating characters
  • When character should come before plot
  • The importance of a complex villain and why even aliens have issues
  • And how you can be super relaxed and meet your heroes

CLICK HERE to listen now!


Oh, and don’t forget to grab a copy of our book BACK TO REALITY now!



We had one of those Youtube live show thingies on the podcast this week…

I’m often stopped in the street and asked, “Hey, Mark. How do those Youtube live show thingies work on the podcast? They look so much fun. How can I get involved, man?”

And I say, “Dude, it’s an exclusive for our Patreon thingy supporters. They get first dibs on all sorts of cool stuff, like the Youtube live shows where they can ask me and Mr. D questions about writing and publishing and stuff, and interact with us via the miracle medium of the Youtubes. We talked about how long your project should be, how to find other writers who will give you feedback, the kinds of deals a debut author can expect from a publishers and tips on building your mailing list, and there’s a whole long debate about swearing. It’s a fuckin’ gas, baby.”

“But can’t I just download the edited highlights a week later on the podcast?”

“Yeah, and that’s a stone groove, but nothing beats actually being there, and you get live pictures on the Youtube and sometimes people get naked.”


“No. Tell you what just check out the highlights of the last show here, and then sign up to our Patreon. It’ll totally wang your doodle.”


PS. We wrote a book. You might like it. Others do…


I was on the Cover to Cover podcast this week…

I had good fun being interviewed by Lee Middleton on the Cover to Cover podcast this week. We talk Star Wars, the Bestseller Experiment, Back to Reality and my thwarted dream to become a firefighter. It’s a fab show for readers and writers alike. Click to listen…

Robot Overlords DVD and book giveaway on Instagram…

To celebrate the premiere of ROBOT OVERLORDS on Sky Movies UK today (Good Friday), the lovely people over at Gollancz are having a book ‘n’ DVD giveaway.

To enter, just pop over to the post on Instagram (via the link below), ‘like’ and leave a comment. The giveaway closes at 23.59 on 29th March. Good luck!


Try the Geek Apocalypse podcast drinking game…

I had good fun chatting with Steven Hesse over at the Geek Apocalypse podcast. We discuss the kinds of people you meet at MCM Comic Cons, 2000 AD, Pat Mills, indie movies vs Hollywood movies, film tie-ins, world building, plot holes, Robot Overlords and all sorts of stuff.

You can stream it here, or if you get your podcasts from iTunes click here.

There will be a video version at some point and I’ll plonk it here when it arrives, in the meantime enjoy and, if you like drinking games, take a shot every time Steven says “super duper fun”, you’ll be plastered before you know it!

The Prologue of the Robot Overlords audiobook is now on Youtube…

I’ve been meaning to do this for ages! The whole of the book’s prologue, featuring an excellent reading by Rupert Degas, is now on Youtube for your delight and delectation. Enjoy…

The full audiobook is available on Audible and iTunes, and if you’re a first time visitor to Audible then you can choose a FREE audiobook, so why not start with an epic story of Robot world domination overthrown by a bunch of kids from the UK? Go on. You know you want to…

Audible UK: (USA & elsewhere):

And there’s more about the book here:

“You’ve got bread on your nose…” Favourite comments from comic-cons 2015

It’s been a hell of a fun year, and one of the highlights has been attending a record number (for me) of festivals and cons to plug and pimp the ROBOT OVERLORDS film and book. If I was lucky enough to meet you, then thanks for taking the time to chat, if you bought a copy of the book, then you have my undying love, and if you torrented the film, then I hope your tiny genitals shrivel and die 😉 winky face!

The year ended with the biggest one of all, the MCM Comic Con at the Excel Centre in London. I was invited by fellow author and all round gentleman Kit Cox to join him selling and signing books for the whole weekend. Make no mistake, this is a huge event; the footfall on the Saturday alone is over a hundred thousand people, and they’re all eager genre fans, many in wonderful cosplay, and the feeling of belonging and bonhomie is infectious. I started keeping a tally of how many books I sold, but then started jotting down some of the comments made by those who visited my stall. It’s a brilliant snapshot of the kinds of people who come to cons, and I’ve broken them down into three sections: THE WONDERFUL, THE BIZARRE and THE HUMBLING…


Comments to make an author’s heart swell…

“Such a cool film, there’s nothing like it.”

“You had me at Robots and explosions!”

“I sell your book in Israel!” A passing Israeli bookseller.

“He’s buying this because he torrented the film after I recommended it!” A punter making his friend buy a copy of the book.

“I’d better get some cash!” A punter, after I pitched the book to them… and they actually came back and bought it!

“I’m Chris Lunt’s agent!” Chris is the show runner on the TV version of Robot Overlords!

“This is our first comic-con…” A slightly overwhelmed father and son (who bought a copy of the book).

“Can’t remember the last time I bought a book…” And he bought a copy!

“Where does the food come from? Where’s the booze? Can you imagine a completely dry country? It’ll never work!” A punter trying to pick holes in the premise. He bought a copy after I reassured him that we’d thought all this stuff through and that there was plenty of illegal hooch in a Robot-occupied UK.

“Dystopia is, like, my favourite, evah…” A wonderfully stereotypical emo teen.

“If it’s rubbish, I’m coming back.” A punter after buying a copy. He didn’t.

“I auditioned for this!” Young actor John Otteson!

“That little guy freaked me out.” Job done, Craig Garner!

“I’m downloading it right now.” Someone who bought the audiobook from Audible right in front of me!

“I love your film!” Several people. I love you, too.


From the adorable to the baffling…

“Do you mind holding my bow while I go for a wee?” A Katniss cosplayer.

“If he finishes it, he gets fifty quid!” A father determined to get his son reading books. Who am I to argue with this carrot-on-a-stick version of parenthood?

“Everybody’s sucking Chinese dick.” A fellow writer/illustrator on the current state of Hollywood film production.

“I hate to be the person who asks where another table is…” Several people who mistook me for an information desk. I was happy to help…

“Oh my God! Monkey Magic!” A punter who was distracted mid-pitch by some fantastic Monkey Magic cosplay.


Comments to bring the ego down to Earth with a bump.

Now, bear in mind that these comments came from folks standing right in front of a table with two showcards featuring the book, big piles of the book, and a bloody great quad poster of the film shouting ROBOT OVERLORDS in big shiny, silver letters with the release date stated plainly below…

“Is the film out yet?”

“Are they going to make this into a movie?” You never know!

“Are you the writer?”

“I think I’ve heard of this…”

“And that would make you… Mark?” A punter squinting at the showcard, then the book, then me…

“That’s a bit of a cliché, isn’t it?’ A kid on the title. I somehow resisted clipping the precocious little nerk around the ear’ole… Too many witnesses.

“I can’t finish long books.” A young boy. Try writing them, mate.

“When is this in cinemas?” Sorry mate, you blinked and missed it.

“Doesn’t look anything like her…” A punter looking askance at Gillian Anderson on the poster (who clearly hasn’t seen her in anything since The X-Files).

“Free book?” No. Buy one or fuck off.

“I haven’t got any cash!” from a punter after I spent a good five minutes pitching the story.

“I only brought thirty pounds!”

“I don’t read and I’m broke.”

“I’ve run out of money!” Everyone after 5.30.

“You’ve got bread on your nose…” My son, who pointed out that I still had some of my lunchtime sandwich attached to me after I spent a long and futile five minutes pitching the book to a couple who, perhaps understandably, spent the whole time looking at me funny.


I had huge fun at these cons, and sold a ton of books. I’m surprised the major publishers don’t have a presence at these. Certainly plenty of indie authors do pretty well, and I hope to do more in the future. If we should meet, don’t hesitate to ask about the film’s release date, plot holes, the state of Hollywood’s sexual peccadilloes, or where the manga books are sold, just don’t boast about torrenting the film, because I will have to kill you with the bow and arrow that nice lady asked me to look after while she was taking a whizz.