I met Mark in early 2023 through the Tasmanian Indie Author Group. Mark is an interesting guy, with some great stories from his days in the music industry (let’s just say the guy has connections). But he’s a Tassie writer of thriller novels now – and we’re happy to have him.
Mark Mannock was born in Melbourne, Australia. He has had an extensive career in the music industry including supporting, recording with or writing for Tina Turner, Joni Mitchell, The Eurythmics, Irene Cara and David Hudson. His recorded work with Lia Scallon has twice been long-listed for Grammy Awards.
As a composer/songwriter Mark’s music has been used across the world in countless television and theatre contexts, including the ‘American Survivor’ TV series and ‘Sleuth’ playwright Anthony Shaffer’s later productions.
Mark has also been active in music education across Australia promoting student’s ownership and voice in their own educational music journeys. He has won several awards for his endeavours in this area.
Mark is presently writing the successful ‘Nicholas Sharp’ thriller series about a disillusioned former US sniper whose past plagues him as he makes his way in the contemporary music industry. Sharp is a man whose insatiable curiosity and embedded moral compass lead him to places he ought not go. The series is currently read in over 50 countries.
Mark lives in Kettering, Tasmania with his family. His travels around the globe act as inspirations for his writing.
Here’s my interview with Mark:
1. Why do you write – and why did you decide to write a book?
I was once asked why I write songs. The answer is the same for books. If there’s something inside you that needs to come out, let it out. I reckon the process is something between therapy and vomiting. I guess like many creatives, I also grow very restless when not producing something. At the end of the day, we’re probably all slightly insane and need the therapy.
2. What genres do you enjoy reading?
I’m a thriller guy. I need to be totally engaged by a real but slightly escapist plot with strong characters. If find that I relate to the characters, I’ll care what happens to them. I also love a strong but flawed hero. That being said, I love a good biography.
3. How long did it take you to write your first book from first word to publish? If you’ve written or published more than one book, how long does it take you now to write and publish a book?
Gosh, I reckon around two years. I sent the first chapter I wrote to a friend. His only response was “Chapter 2 please…” That’s what got me going around seven books ago.
I usually take around six weeks to do the first draft. Then there would be another four weeks to edit. Then I wait for feedback from my critical friends and have the proof reading done. It helps when your wife is a fantastic proofreader.
4. What’s the most challenging part of being an author for you?
Starting the next book and not letting the business/promotional side dominate my time.
5. What do you love the most about being an author?
Telling stories, creating interesting characters and perhaps giving a couple of unique perspectives along the way. I enjoy the fact that all my lead characters have their own takes on life, even if sometimes they take a while to let me in.
6. If you could give an aspiring author one piece of advice, what would it be?
Just do it, don’t mess about at the edges. Most importantly, divide yourself into two people. Create first, edit later on. Don’t start picking your writing apart in mid-creative flow. If you do that you end up how you started…with a blank page.
7. What is the best line you feel you’ve written in your published work(s)?
Let me think about that. In a song it was ‘the port that harbors pride sees so few ships sail.’ It was a break up song of course. I think my favourite line in a book may have been when one character was talking to another he reflectively mentioned ‘Regret can be a stalker you know’.
8. What’s the shortest time you’ve ever written a story?
Four weeks if I’m consumed.
9. What was the hardest lesson you learned in the writing process, and what did you take from that?
For my first couple of books my editor was God. He was hard on me but turned me into the writer I am today (for better or worse). Also… get rid of words you don’t need, they just get in the way. To me the key to story telling is to keep telling the story.
10. What is the best book you’ve found on the writing process?
To be honest, I’ve never read one. Once a maverick… But I really enjoy the camaraderie amongst the group of people that follow Mark Dawson’s work on self-publishing.
11. Are you self-published, traditionally, or hybrid-published, and why did you take that publishing route? Would you choose that route for your next book?
Self-published. After years of working with record companies I love the creative independence that comes with being an indie. Same for the next books as far as I can see.
12. What drew you to the subject of your latest novel?
I’ve just begun writing a new series where the hero is right on that line between vigilante and serial killer. I love the intricacies of the human mind.
13. What did your discovery path look like, in choosing the genre to write in?
I choose the genre I like to read. That way I enjoy reading the story as I write it. Plus, I understand it. I’ve always believed that authors and songwriters loose their way when they try to be something they’re not.
14. What does your typical day look like, when you are working on a book?
Exercise while watching a seventies cop show (currently working my way through the complete Rockford Files). Then write all day with a couple of hours of business/promotion at the end. End the day with a martini.
15. Do you put yourself into your characters, or are they completely fictional?
I have no control over that. Part me, part others I’ve known, part made up. Just to be clear, I’m not really a serial killer. My main character’s offsider in the Nicholas Sharp series is based on a mate who we lost a few years ago. It’s my way of grieving. Fortunately, his wife loves the books.
16. How much of your own life, and your own experiences, have affected your storylines?
Heaps. The viewpoint, the anger/frustration with the world, the travel, the relationships and of course the humour. My first series, the Nicholas Sharp books, are set within the music industry that I’ve spent a great deal of my life being part of.
17. What’s the most interesting book you’ve read in the last year? Or at least, one that kept you thinking about long after?
I’ve re-read some of the early Bond books. They come across now as extremely misogynistic. I reckon Fleming, for all his wonder, had some issues. It’s a good reminder to us all to stay on the front foot.
18. Have you ever read a book outside of your usual genre – and found it surprising? Why?
Sometimes I get stuck into books about politicians and political life. I wonder why I’m reading them and then I realise I’m really just researching my next villain.
19. Do you write what you want to write, or what you feel is sellable?
Fortunately for me I think they may be one and the same.
20. Would you still be an author if you knew no one would read your books?
Refer to answer number one. If it’s inside, it’s got to come out.
20. What’s the best book you feel you’ve written?
They’re all my babies, but I particularly like Counterpoint (Nicholas Sharp Book 5). I like the way it flashes between character viewpoints as the tension mounts. I decided to write it like a TV show. I was a little worried, but the reaction has been great. I’m also really enjoying writing my latest book, ‘Die as You Kill’. It’s the first in the Lachlan Byrn series and is taking me down dark roads that are fascinating. I certainly would be inviting Lachlan Byrn round for dinner, but if I was in trouble….?
You can find Mark here:
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/markmannockbooks
Click here for a link to Mark’s books