Sunday 22 November 2020

Feral Snow by Mark Lowes @MJLAuthor BLOG TOUR @RandomTTours #FeralSnow #TenThingsAboutMe


Paul is a father-to-be; traumatised by his past, he's terrified of becoming a father after his own beat him until he was unilaterally deaf. While working as a freelance cameraman in the Arctic, he's caught in a blizzard, separated from his crew, and falls into a chasm. Alone, and waiting for death to come, personal demons plague his mind.

When a young native girl falls into the chasm with him, Paul must learn how to accept responsibility and what it takes to give your life for a child.

FERAL SNOW, while a tense and action-packed story, is an intimate journey between two polar opposites and how love can be forged in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

Feral Snow by Mark Lowes was published on 28 September 2020.
As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome the author here today. He's telling us 'Ten Things About ....'

Ten Things About Mark Lowes ...

1. I only began reading – seriously reading – when I was in my early twenties. Previous to this, I had read Harry Potter, but that was it. Funnily enough, my first serious read was Brent Weeks’, The Night Angel Trilogy. I remember being in Waterstones Cardiff, picking up and purchasing what I thought was the first in the series—turned out to be the second. Not wanting to waste money, I bought (some logic there, eh?) the first and third as e-books by accident (you can tell I was a complete book noob, right?). I had to download an EPUB reader on my laptop and read them from there. I inhaled them. I go back to my original remark, ‘funnily enough’, because The Night Angel Trilogy is a fantasy series and I, mostly, write literary thrillers now.

2. I began writing when I was 14. Yes, I began writing before I read. I handwrote on blank A4 sheets of paper about werewolves and my friends were the characters. They were full of action scenes and not much depth. Then, I advanced onto a full-on fantasy about me and my friends entering into another world in search of the four Menargi rings to bind the elements, but I quickly lost interest in this. I then arrived into my late teens and by this point, I thought I had it down. I knew stuff. I even knew complicated stuff. I was a man of the world. But, really, I knew nothing. I wrote a fantasy about a young boy who lived in the slums of some sprawling metropolis kingdom. He was quickly taken under the wing of some well-known but mysterious assassin and was set the assignment of assassinating a lord or lady, I can’t quite remember. I loved that story as I was writing it. I made it to 30k words and thought it was gold. Even started a sequel. I had absolutely no idea about the formal novel writing process, the querying, publishing, none of it. I submitted that novel with a letter saying, ‘Hi, I’m sure you’ll like this’ to about four or five agents. I was rejected. Obviously. The story was flawed with plot holes bigger than the Grand Canyon. I vowed to learn.

3. This leads onto the next thing about me: I changed. I read. I burned through books, sapping the life and lessons out of them. I had some stuff going on in my personal life and so, I moved to Scotland to be with my family up there. I then read two books that changed my style forever: The Shining and The Great Gatsby. Sounds cheesy and dumb but The Shining made me so nervous to pick up and yet, absolutely terrified to put down. It was enthralling and exciting, haunting and captivating, I couldn’t let it go. I thought about it when I was at work or at the dinner table and so, my writing style turned dark. Then, reading The Great Gatsby made me want to write in a way that was gripping and yet written with such vivid description that someone could literally picture themselves stood next to my characters. Nowadays, many books are written with only the plot in mind. Great for them but the art of description is dying. Depth of character too. I like depth. I like description. I like being gripped and taken on a rollercoaster of emotions. And so, my writing genre turned macabre. I found myself writing unreliable narrators and dissolving bodies in bathtubs. I found myself writing about all the things I hated in the modern world and all the things I loved, without thought, came to the surface as a result somehow. Now, I write thrillers and literary fiction combined. And I love it.

4. My dad is a big fan of mine. He reads a lot of the books I write. He offers advice of how to make things better or what he would like to read. He often tells me that he reads things in the charts or on the bestseller list and he says, ‘They’re s**t compares to yours’. I may be naïve in believing it to be true but it’s great. He does offer me some absolutely daft ideas though. I’m currently writing a speculative fiction with a detective and gods and powers and such. All stemmed from the idea he had of a detective who could talk to ghosts. He likes some odd things. While we’re on the topic of Pops (and I’m smuggling another thing about me in number four here), I’m a Newcastle United fan because he grew up in the North East region of England. I hate it. Newcastle were great in the ‘90s. Now, they’re so awful. It’s something we both like to moan about.

5. My book, Feral Snow, is the first time I’ve openly released to my family and friends. I play football every week and my friend, Sanj, announced to a group of twenty blokes that my book was out. They were all incredibly supportive. It was absolutely terrifying, standing there and delivering my pitch to them all. And yet, I was met with interest and intrigue. They shared it in the WhatsApp group afterward for those who weren’t there. Just goes to show that you can’t assume that people aren’t going to like your writing or be supportive. At the end of the day, you have to be brave and trust in those around you to encourage.

6. I’m a mix between a plotter and a panster. I’m a planster. Previous to Feral Snow, I used to write off-the-cuff. Every time I sat down to write I had no idea what was going to come out. It was great. It was fun. However, it took forever. I would spend so long sitting in front of a blinking cursor, waiting for the ideas to flow. When none came, I forced it. Not all of what I forced was garbage but, it wasn’t good and I like to be at least good the first time round, not in edits. I wrote a 70k word novel like that. It was gruelling. Then I had an idea in my head that forced me to sit down and plan. I didn’t like planning. Plotting made my fingers itchy. I wanted to write. And yet, I knew that my idea wasn’t anything substantial yet. So, I forced myself again. What I planned was good. It gave me somewhat of a scaffold for what was to come. A very early draft of Feral Snow poured out of me. It looked nothing like what I’ve published but it taught me how fast I can write if I plotted. So, I allow myself a bit of both. I split my novel into the three act structure and I plot Act 1, then write Act 1. Then plot Act 2, then write Act 2. And so on. It gives me the freedom to change my middle or ending. It gives me a flexible scaffold to write but use my imagination still as I go.

7. I don’t have a set time that allows me to sit down and write. We have lives. When I read someone on Twitter writing an inspirational message telling me to write every day, I sit back and think b*****s. No one has the time to do that, unless you don’t have a job. I have a day job. I work with deaf children, helping develop their language and communication skills. My fiancé’s a primary school teacher. She’s usually so tired when she gets home, she’s in bed by 8:30pm, 9:00pm at the latest. This gives me an hour or an hour and a half to write. I then go to bed and read until midnight. It means I get more words down on some evenings than others. But that’s okay. My life dictates that. Do I dream of writing for a living? Sure. I could write ten books a year instead of one or two. But, until then, I write in the dark.

8. Many of the events of my life ends up in my books. In Feral Snow, there’s a story of how the main character, Paul, used to pick up pennies from the ground, save them up, and go to the corner shop to buy Freddo bars (remember how cheap they were? Now it’s extorsion!). My brother used to do that and then I used to. Sometimes, I don’t plan it, they just find themselves in my story. My brother read Feral Snow; I got a text from him asking about the Freddo thing. Was cool.

9. I’ve always wanted to be a published author. Always. I’ve always dreamed of my books being out there, not necessarily being rich because, let’s face it, if you want to be rich maybe being an author isn’t the path for you. I never planned on self-publishing my book. Never. I always thought the traditional route was for me. Partly because I’m not a salesman. I’m not someone who can convincingly tempt people to buy my books. Instead, I’m just someone who sits at the keyboard and imagines stuff. I self-published Feral Snow for two reasons. One: I thought it was far too good not to be out there. I genuinely love this story and the characters and I just think, it’s too good not to be read. However big headed that sounds. The second reason is… 

10. I’m going to be a father. My baby boy is due in January, 2021. I’m excited and bricking it all in one. You can see a dedication to him in Feral Snow. We live in a two-bedroom house in Cardiff. I’ve converted our spare room into a nursery, which means my workspace/writing area has moved. I’ve built a shed in the garden and that will now be my place to go and put words on paper. Hopefully, some more of my books will be out soon. I’ve got a few in the bank, most of which I haven’t had the time to go back and edit. Maybe I will. The response to Feral Snow has been amazing. More must come.

Mark Lowes is a former teacher, current early childhood educator, and future dad. He lives in
Cardiff, Wales, UK, and is sometimes found lamenting over how awful his football team is. While he's not working with deaf children and their families, he's writing dark and twisty fiction.

His writing, so he's told, is a mix between Chuck Palahniuk Josh Malerman and Ernest Hemingway (although Mark retains, all this praise is too much too high). He loves edge-of-your-seat fiction, novels that make you think deeper about the world but will also terrify you and live the world through the protagonist, experiencing every detail. He’s a fan of description, somewhat a lost art nowadays, and has a soft spot for a dark, unreliable narrator.

You can find him on Twitter @MJLAuthor where he would be excited to hear your views.

Mark is the winner of Litopia's Pop-Up Submissions and of a pitch contest at the Cardiff Book Festival.

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