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Mark Booth Interview

Posted on 26 February 2008. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to blogger-turned-novelist Mark Booth, better known as WW member Marky_Sparky

Tell us something about your background.

I have no formal education in writing – everything I’ve learned is from doing. I write both professionally (scientific papers) and for recreational purposes. The dryness of the scientific output contrasts nicely with the humour I inject into my creative work – you can guess which I prefer to spend time doing.

I’ve written many short stories over the years, mainly just for fun. Last year I published a humorous novel based on a blog about a fictional scientist called Joseph McCrumble. The blog was written on-the-fly and the book was published to raise money for a charitable venture I co-ordinate to raise money for safe water projects in East Africa.

McCrumble is a parasitologist –My professional background contains a large chunk of parasitology, and fictional parasitologists are a bit thin on the ground. The niche was just waiting to be created/filled. I can confidently say that McCrumble is the only parasitologist in a major role anywhere in literature.

At the moment I’m preparing a sequel to the book. The story in progress is about Denise – McCrumble’s former receptionist who saves him from conviction on assault charges by seducing the accuser (McCrumble’s childhood nemesis, Toby Hancock-Jones). It’s an absurd yet moving tale of self-sacrifice and sexual awakening wrapped up in an odyssey of tramping from Scotland to Kings Lynn.

How, when and why did you first start writing?

I started writing stories whilst a pupil at Sandylands Primary school in Morecambe, Lancs. My favourite lessons were those where we were encouraged to write from our imagination - I would become so engrossed that I’d not be able to finish within the lesson and would therefore ask to take the story home so I could work on it some more. Since then I’ve dabbled in different formats but I’ve always come back to the short story. Even the McCrumble novel is essentially a collection of mini-adventures.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

I tend to go for contemporary writers with a lively and vivid writing style. Annie L Proulx is one of my favourite writers – she paints with words in a way I wholly admire. Iain Banks is a writer I enjoy for his breadth of subject matter and his ability to hold your interest all the way through a book. Will Self comes near the top for his imagination and humour.

How did you get your first agent/ commission?

I’ve been commissioned several times to write scientific articles, but as I write creatively mainly for fun I’m still waiting for the right email to come along.

What's the worst thing about writing?

The time that gets eaten up whenever I sit down to start writing and I should be doing something more useful. Time goes so quickly these days that I feel guilty just answering this questionnaire. I’m keeping my answers deliberately short.

And the best?

The buzz from creating something in my head then transcribing it in a way that I and other people enjoy reading. Recording my ideas for posterity. Receiving positive feedback

Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.

I have a need for some kind of immediate, preferably positive feedback. Usually I co-opt my partner, Jo Tyler, to read my latest story before it’s even been edited. She occasionally smiles. The response I’m looking for in the rest of my readers is at least a wry smile, at most an uncontrollable guffaw. If I can make people laugh then I’m made up.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

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