Friday, July 29, 2016

Interview with dark historical fiction novelist Mark Carver

Welcome, readers.

I’m wrapping up the week – and July – with author Mark Carver. He’s chatting with me about his historical fiction novel, Nikolai the Penitent: A Novel of the Brotherhood of the Cross.
Mark Carver writes dark, edgy books that tackle tough spiritual issues. He is currently working on his eighth novel. Besides writing, he is passionate about art, tattoos, heavy metal, and medieval architecture.

Mark graduated from Toccoa Falls College in 2005 with a B.A. in English. After living in China for more than eight years, he now lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife and three children.

Welcome, Mark. Please tell us about your current release.
Nikolai the Penitent is a dark and brutal historical fiction novel that takes place in Germany during the Black Death plague of the mid-14th century. It was a time of ruin and despair and many believed that the unstoppable plague was God's judgment for the sins. Superstition and desperation was rampant, and one group that emerged was the Brotherhood of the Cross, a group of flagellants that would travel from town to town, whipping and beating themselves as atonement for God's wrath. What started out as a pious movement soon became mired in corruption and hedonism, even to the point of being explicitly banned by the Pope. The book follows Nikolai, a young man who loses everything to the plague and joins the Brotherhood, on his journey of seeking redemption for his own guilt and trying to make sense of the horrors around him. It is a very grim and bloody story but there is also hope and forgiveness.

What inspired you to write this book?
A few years ago, I downloaded a free e-book from Project Gutenberg called The Black Death and the Dancing Mania. It is a historical account of the terrible things that happened during those times. I came to the part about the Flagellants, and as Smee said the movie Hook, "Lightning has just struck my brain." I knew I had to write a story about these people, though at the time I was writing another book and had another one planned after that, so the story had plenty of time to simmer in my imagination.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now I am working on a contemporary fiction story called Balor that blends the worlds of mixed martial arts and Mississippi hoodoo. It is shaping up to be a very dark and aggressive story that deals with the occult, inner demons, racism, and narcissism. Look for it to release late winter/early spring next year.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote my first story when I was six but I didn't decide to make a serious push into the writing industry until 2012. An idea had been brewing in my mind for a while and one day, I thought, "I'm going to write a book." That was more than half a million words ago.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I would love to be a full-time writer but until I get that Hollywood blockbuster movie deal, I teach ESL classes for international students at a local university. I write for about an hour each night after the kids have gone to sleep. Consistency is far better than waiting for creative spurts.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don't really do happy endings. That's not to say that I only write unhappy endings, but things never wrap up nice and neat in my stories. You know with a Mark Carver book that you're not going to get a pat on the back and reassurances that everything will be okay. I put my characters through the ringer and I know they hate me for it.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A paleontologist. I can still draw an anatomically correct T-Rex from memory.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Any time you read a book, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, social media, etc. Whether you loved it or hated it, authors need all the help we can get from our readers.


Thanks for being here today, Mark! All the best with your continued writing!