Mark Carnelley

Today I have the pleasure of talking to Melbourne science fiction writer Mark Carnelley who tells us his retirement gave him the time to pursue his lifelong passion for writing.  He is working on multiple projects at the moment, including the 2nd book in the “Time Detective” series plus two children’s books series. There are also numerous stand-alone book projects which are basically ideas floating around in his ‘ageing grey-matter’.

Could you tell us about yourself?

Thanks for this great opportunity Roger. 

This year I’ll be hitting the big 60 and have been married for nearly 36 years to the rock of my life Jeanette, with 5 great kids, 4 boys and 1 girl, aged 20, 21, 23, 25 (daughter) and 34. Also blessed with a gorgeous, nearly 4yo granddaughter. 

I started work in ‘76 and for the next 15 years my career was in IT as an Analyst and Programmer. From ‘91 to 2002 I had various jobs including telephony and cable TV installations, truck driving and general labouring. Then from ‘02 to ‘14 I was in security as Senior, Duty Manager and acting Chief-of-Security. That career came to an end due to medical conditions and an errant FB post after being lied to and back-stabbed by my two senior managers who were afraid of their own job security. 

My father had died in ‘13 suffering from dementia which affected me greatly and was no doubt the root cause of my depression which was exacerbated by my dismissal. 

I wrote my two books whilst suffering which was a great escape and helped tremendously in fighting the black dog. 

At times it is still a struggle and writing has had to be put in the background while getting circumstances back on track. Even my great love of reading has suffered as that also was a way to escape from the day-to-day struggles. 

I have six WIP’s waiting their chance to see the light. A sequel to The Time Detective, three other standalone books and two children’s book series. They will get finished when things settle down and circumstances improve. 

...the way the author has created a unique and well plotted story has resulted in an excellently written, entertaining and compelling crime novel that's well worth a read!

What are you currently working on? How long before release?

I have been working on the sequel to The Time Detective series, The Time Detective – Between Two Worlds plus two children’s books series. Progress has been slow as circumstances dictated that work must take a priority. Even my reading has suffered which has ALWAYS been my main escape. I know that eventually things WILL improve and I can afford to spend more time at my keyboard.

I have also laid down the bare-bones of three other books, one paranormal and two SF. The ideas are still strong in my head and I needed to get them down before they disappeared. I would like to think that 2020 should see my next release. 

Which is your favourite genre to write and why?

I grew up reading Asimov, Heinlein and Herbert as well as Maclean, Bagley, King and Koontz. SciFi, horror and action were my favourite reads and a lot of that has translated to my books. 

When did you first decide to write and what got you started?

I have written poetry since the age of nine or ten but never really had the chance to fully devote myself to writing until 2002 when I was “forced” into retirement. For me it was a chance to escape into my mind, which is constantly spilling over with thoughts and ideas for writing. I wrote The Omega Chronicles first and then went straight into The Time Detective. I’m not a planner. The words just flowed and and never knew what would happen until is was written down in front of me.

Do you have any inspirations for you writing?  Other authors / people / events?

Honestly, I’d have to say no. My personal library is full of many different authors and genres and it’s entirely possible that certain styles may have been picked up. My mind is always so active and my writing is never planned. I never know where the story is going, it just flows from my mind into my fingers. 
Tell us about your main characters. Are they based on real people or a product of the imagination?

Absolutely from my imagination. My two main characters are Colton Steele (The Omega Chronicles) and Marshall Bellows/Allan Besley (The Time Detective). To me they are totally different personalities but both have strengths and morals that I’d like to think are inherent in myself. 

When you have finished writing the book – what do you do next? By that I mean, do you edit the book yourself? Do you design your own book cover? Do you prepare a project plan to market your book?

Both my books were published by Austin Macauley in the UK. They did the editing and sent the proofs back to me for final checking. I gave them the ideas for the covers and they sent me their interpretations for my final say. I have never had any plans prepared for marketing. I must admit to extreme naivety when I started out on this venture. When I finish my next project(s) I will seek out traditional publishers/agents. If that doesn’t work out I will go down the road of full self-publication.

I know now that these “Vanity” publishers are frowned upon by most other writers, but I didn’t know any better when I accepted their contract.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone starting out on a writing career?

Don’t expect your books to be instant successes and be prepared for a lot of hard work and heart-ache. However, if the spark inside you still glows then follow your dream. The day you get to see your book in print is a day you’ll never forget. 

What are you currently reading?

The Darkest Side of the Moon by Taylor Macneill
Flint of Dreams by Pete Sheppard
My Brother’s Keeper by Sandy Bazinet

Next in line will be :
Lenders by Travis Borne
Death O Death by Ellie Douglas 
The Ka by Mary Deal

Who do you count amongst your favourite authors?

Stephen King
Clive Cussler
CJ Box
John Connolly
Lee Childs
David Baldacci
Michael Connelly
……and many, many, many more. 

If you could sit sit down with any author dead or alive, who would that be and what would you chat about?

Stephen King. I would like to pick his brain about everything he knows about writing and his thought processes. Does he have a step by step plan for his writing or does it just flow?

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing, marketing, or being involved with your book business? Do you have any hobbies?

My hobbies have always been reading and my kids. Love to watch my kids play the sports and activities they love. 

Any fun facts about you that you would like to share?
My youngest turned 20 a couple of weeks ago and it brought back the memory of me delivering him on our bed after my wife’s waters broke whilst in the shower. He had the cord around his neck which I quickly slipped up and over and his cry was a magical moment. I didn’t really have the time to think, those minutes just flew by until the ambulance arrived. They asked if I wanted to cut the cord and I replied that I’d done my bit and it was all theirs from now on.

I can also speak fluent Donald Duck.

I have driven and ridden everything from cars and motor bikes to trucks. (Admittedly my motor bike riding was never crash hot)

Speed boats, sail boats, kayaks and canoes.

I have flown single engine planes and miss that part of my life. Started that over 40 yrs ago.

What do you love most about being an Aussie and if you could choose to live anywhere (lets make that in Oz) where would that be?

I was born & bred in England and our family (Dad, Mum, sister (older by 20 mths) and myself left the UK in 1963 (just before my 4th Birthday) to start a new life in Australia.

I am so glad they did.

I love the warm and hot weather. Hotter the better. Three of our kids have left the nest with a 4th soon to go. They all live close by and that’s the way we like it here down in Berwick, Victoria.

Thanks Mark.  Keep grinding on and good luck with your work.  I myself am in a little hiatus at the moment until the Queensland summer stops making me sweat all over the keyboard.

You can find Mark’s books on Amazon and catch up with him on his web site and on social media.

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