Saturday 28 October 2017

Guest Author Jonathan Mark of Great Britain

This week the Scribbler is pleased to have Jonathan Mark as our guest He has kindly agreed to participate in a 4Q Interview and share an excerpt with us.

Jonathan worked in the City of London for various financial institutions including the Bank of America. He lives in South West England with his wife Lin. Jonathan always wanted to be a writer but was only too aware that writing is not a lucrative career for the vast majority. Like many prospective writers he was only too ready to make excuses about why he did not write, but with the children grown up and his career coming to an end, he decided he had to take the plunge and duly signed up for an MA in Crime and Thriller writing at City University London to kick start his writing career. During the course he met many published writers who write commercial fiction and learnt a huge amount about the publishing industry and what literary agents were looking for. In order to pass the course a completed novel had to be submitted for assessment by two successful and highly respected authors. The Last Messenger was the novel submitted for the MA. It is a story which evolved from a novel collecting dust in his desk drawer for over twenty years. Literary agents advised him that there was no longer a demand for conspiracy thrillers and so with a streak of bloody minded and perhaps misguided optimism he decided to self publish The Last Messenger himself.  

See below for Jonathan’s links.

4Q: Upon visiting your website Jonathan, you mention that you had ambition to write after you retired, tell us why you felt that way and what inspired you to start.
JM: When I was a kid one of my favourite pastimes was to write stories. To do it for a living would have always been my dream job but sometimes in life, as you struggle to pay the mortgage, you need to put your dreams on hold and face the realities of life. When I retired , I could no longer make excuses because I had already provided for my income in future life. Earning money from writing is not my priority. For the first time in my life I could follow my dream without fear of the consequences. I must say that I get more pleasure from someone saying how much they like my book than getting a royalty check from Amazon. Having said that, I still believe it is important to be professional and write something that people will want to read. The MA taught me to be commercial in my approach and that was my inspiration to start. The course gave me the motivation and the deadline to complete a novel.

4Q: Tell us about “The Last Messenger”.

JM: During the Battle of Crete in 1941 an ancient scroll

is discovered by Callidora a young Cretan shepherdess who risks everything to conceal the scroll’s devastating secret from the Nazis. In 2005, Richard, an MI6 analyst, is caught up in the London bombings. A Muslim man fatally injured by the Piccadilly Line bomb hands Richard an icon. What is the connection with the scroll found on Crete? Arab terrorists want the secret revealed while the CIA, Mossad and MI6 want it destroyed.

Although the book is a conspiracy thriller in the Dan Brown mode, it has an important theme which I hope will resonate with readers. Despite all the trouble in the world caused by religious conflict there is really no need for this to exist because religious faith is universal. Judaism, Islam and Christianity all originate from the same source. They all trace their roots back to Abraham.

This theme can be summed up by what Amira says to Richard in the novel:

‘Do you think it’s possible for a man to be both Christian and Muslim at the same time?’

He was surprised by the question, but everything surprised him about Amira. ‘I don’t know whether that’s possible. I’m sorry to say I don’t believe in God.'

‘I’m not surprised you don’t,’ she replied. ‘Religion has caused so much trouble in the world but that’s because they forget that there is only one God. There is not a Muslim God, a Christian God and a Jewish God. There is only one God. Masood understood that.’

Another character in the novel is fascinated that the angel Gabriel who appeared to Mohammed to give him the Holy Koran is the same angel who appeared to Mary to tell her she was pregnant with Jesus. Indeed, both Mary and Jesus (who is known as Isa) appear in the Holy Koran and are respected. Indeed, the Nineteenth chapter of the Holy Koran is dedicated to Mary which describes the virgin birth of Jesus.

4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.

JM: The most powerful memory I have of childhood concerns a near death experience when at the age of nine years old I was staying with my parents in a cottage by the sea. An aunt came to visit and gave me a half a crown for ice cream. It was getting late and being impetuous I was determined to spend the money immediately. There was a café down by the sea and so I set off immediately to buy the ice cream. Unfortunately, the shop was already closed and, undeterred, I climbed up a cliff to see if I could see any more shops open.

Along the coast I saw a Lighthouse flashing its light. I decided to walk to the light, not judging that it was over nine miles away . After walking some distance and the light failing rapidly I decided to turn back and remember clambering up the cliff again to avoid the sea tide which was coming in quickly and would cut me off. I was becoming more scared as I realised I'd made a big mistake trying to walk to the lighthouse. When I reached the top and clear of the approaching sea, I walked along the cliff path and came to a section where the path narrowed with thorns on one side and a sheer ninety foot drop off the cliff on the other. Panicking, I lost my footing and slipped. My feet were dangling off the edge as I grabbed hold off thorn bushes and pulled myself back onto the path. My hands were cut and I was very scared. One little boy had learned a very important lesson and lived to tell the tale. 

4Q: What’s next for Jonathan Mark, the author?

JM: I've been pleased with the sales so far of my first book and am now working on Book 2 of the trilogy. It's called The Barnabas Legacy which I hope to have out early next year. I'm also writing a psychological thriller which I hope will have a wider appeal than my current books.

An Excerpt from The Last Messenger

On my website, it is possible to read the first few chapters of the book . It is also possible to download an extract via Amazon of the opening chapters so as not to repeat that, I've chosen the beginning of Chapter Eight which is the first time that Callidora is introduced at the moment when the Germans are invading.

(Copyright is held by the author and is used with permission)

Crete, Greece, May 20th 1941

It was the best time of the day. A time when out of breath from her long climb, she heard the first sound of her goats, their bells ringing across the breeze, telling her that they were in good health.

At first, she could only hear them, but as she strained her eyes, some looked back through the bushes, feasting on the wild spring harvest of the mountain. 

It was a moment, she’d never forget. In a matter of seconds her life would change. 

Without warning, a new hostile sound filled the air. An incessant droning, unnatural, mechanical, drowning the peace. Callidora had heard bombers before, attacking British ships in Suda Bay, but this was different. It was louder and more ominous. She knew what she was hearing. Today was the day when the Germans would invade her country, just as her brother Nikos had predicted.

And then she saw them, waves after wave of planes in formation, blacking out the sun. She’d seen bombers before, but nothing on this scale. These planes were not dropping bombs, but men in their hundreds, changing the sky into a myriad of mushroom shapes, like umbrellas floating to the ground. The men attached were falling helpless, parachutes swirling in the breeze while they drifted to earth. Nikos had said the invasion would come from the sea, but he was wrong.

It was coming from the air.

She ran towards her village, slipping and stumbling down the path; her long dress only suitable for slow mountain descents. Fear at what danger lay above was taking over. Stopping, she stared again at the lurid sky, scared, but also in awe at the enormity of what she was seeing.
Some of the larger planes were towing smaller planes in their wake. As she watched, they were released from the tow and began floating to earth. Over in the bay, dive bombers were attacking ships. Screaming death, they were dropping out of the sky at terrifying speeds, like birds of prey swooping on their victims. 

Approaching the village, she could see Germans in the sky getting closer. It was relentless and some were falling straight to earth, where bullets had punctured the silk of their parachutes. There were New Zealanders based near the village, she thought, so maybe they were killing the Germans. All around, she could see people coming out of houses, armed with everything they could carry. Pitch forks, scythes, sickles and knives used to cut vegetables. The church bell rang, not to summon to prayer, but to call the people to arms. There was Nikos, leading as he always did, followed by Father Manousos, carrying a rifle. As she ran towards them, she could see Nikos, armed with two large knives and carrying an ancient rifle that belonged to her grandfather. It had been hanging on the wall since she was a small child and never fired in anger. He didn't even use it to shoot birds and now Nikos intended to kill Germans. 

Thank you Jonathan for taking the time to share your thoughts on the Scribbler. For you readers that want more information of Jonathan and his novels visit these links.


As always, a special thank you to you, the visitor. Please leave a comment before you go.

In November, you can get your copy of the Wall of War. Watch here for details.


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