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An Interview with Mark Eklid

It is a pleasure to welcome fellow crime fiction author and SpellBound Books stablemate, Mark Eklid to the blog today to chat about his new novel, Blood on Shakespeare's Typewriter. Thank you for you time today, Mark. Tell us more about your book.

What inspired you to write Blood on Shakespeare's Typewriter?

Can an object which once belonged to a famous person somehow absorb the spirit of that person? Nah! As romantic a notion as that is, I think it’s nonsense, but I wondered if I could use the possibility someone might believe it to be true as the basis of my novel. The object would have to carry a real-world danger instead and, to reassure the reader I wasn’t about to lead them into a Poe-type horror story, it had to be an obvious fake. How about the typewriter William Shakespeare used when he wrote all his plays?

Who is your favourite character in Blood on Shakespeare's Typewriter and why?

Despite being so hopelessly naive as to pay £50 to a man in the pub for Shakespeare’s typewriter, I developed a lot of affection for one of my central characters, Dan Khan. He’s not the brightest and life hasn’t given him many breaks. But he is desperate to make more of himself and he’s totally dedicated to his girlfriend, Shannon, to the point of putting his life on the line for her. He’s a good guy who deserves better.

What was the first story you had published?

When I was 16, a friend saved a child from drowning in a pond. I only found out when he casually mentioned it to me the next day. As an aspiring journalist, I wasn’t going to leave it at that and coaxed him into letting me write a story for the Sheffield evening newspaper, The Star. I submitted it and it appeared a couple of days later almost word for word as I wrote it, which was encouraging.

Do you have another story planned or in progress? When can we expect to see that?

I have! I started to pursue one idea but never got to the stage where I felt comfortable with it, so I shelved that. I may go back to it in time. I took up another idea, which I’ve provisionally titled “The 23-Day Girlfriend”, and I’m getting along much better with that. It’s early days, but I aim to have it finished as a first draft by the end of the year.

Who is your favourite author?

I always find this a real toughie to answer because I think, like musicians, different authors fulfil different needs according to our moods. I could reach for Charles Dickens, Linwood Barclay or Bill Bryson, depending how I feel, and know I’ll be entertained, but if I was to choose only one writer, it would probably be Jonathan Coe. I feel we see the world through similar eyes.

What do you like to do when you’re not planning or writing your next book?

Watching sport has always been a passion, especially cricket and football. I also love going to gigs. Sport and music are both best enjoyed live. Since leaving work a year and a half ago, I’ve done a lot more walking, I’m trying to learn Spanish and I’ve taken golf lessons. I’m not sure there is a time when you’re not planning a book, though. It’s always there; the nagging voice in the back of your head!

When did you know you wanted to write novels?

It’s something I’d always fancied attempting, but it was hard to find the time and inclination when I had a career which basically demanded I write every day. When my boss decided I should be less of a writer and more of an editor, that’s when I realised the need to write novels was more pressing.

Do you write novels in other genres?

I enjoy tripping through different genres within each of my novels. I like to read different genres of books and I don’t want to feel confined to writing in only one, which is the main reason why I’ve avoided launching into a series. Mine are all stand-alone. I’ve dabbled in murder mystery, thriller, police procedural, dark humour and even a touch of paranormal. I like the variety of a fresh challenge, so who knows which genre might be next?

What do you like most about being an author?

The wealth and worldwide acclaim. That’s a joke, by the way! I write because writing has been part of who I am for decades. When I was writing about sport for newspapers, that fulfilled me. Now that is no longer part of my life, writing novels fills the void. I don’t know how I would feel if I stopped writing, but I can’t imagine it would be happier.

Do you have a specific routine for writing? Is there a special place or particular tool you use?

No routine as such, unless you count spending too long checking social media and/or doing sudokus before cracking on as a routine. Writing, generally, fits in around my other stuff. When I have a spare day or a spare couple of hours, I take myself off to my study and try to get on with it, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Don’t feel the need to listen to people telling you this is the way it should be done. Trust your instincts. Write the kind of book you would want to read. Once you’ve begun, don’t get hung up on trying to make it perfect first time. Splash paint on the page. Once you’ve got the foundation colours in place it’s much easier to refine it and add the detail.

If Blood on Shakespeare's Typewriter were to be made into an Audiobook, who would you choose to read it?

Mine are all set in the city of my birth, Sheffield, so it would have to be Sean Bean.

If Blood on Shakespeare's Typewriter were to be made into a movie, who would you like to play the main character?

I’d populate the whole cast with unknown, talented actors who are hungry to take a chance to make their names.

The Blurb

When Dan Khan buys a unique piece of cultural history for £50 from a man in the pub, he thinks all his troubles are over.

He is told it’s the actual typewriter William Shakespeare used when he wrote all his plays.

Dan and his girlfriend Shannon reckon it must be worth millions!

But they don’t realise the vintage machine was stolen from the city’s most notorious crime boss.

And he will stop at nothing to get back the sinister secret it contains...

The Author

Mark Eklid’s background is as a newspaper journalist, starting out with the South Yorkshire Times in 1984 and then on to the Derby Telegraph, from 1987 until he left full-time work in March 2022.

Most of his time at the Telegraph was as their cricket writer, a role that brought national recognition in the 2012 and 2013 England and Wales Cricket Board awards. He contributed for 12 years to the famed Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and had many articles published in national magazines, annuals and newspapers.

Writing as a profession meant writing for pleasure had to be put on the back burner but when his work role changed, Mark returned to one of the many half-formed novels in his computer files and, this time, saw it through to publication.

The Murder of Miss Perfect (July 2022) was his first novel for independent publisher SpellBound Books, but Mark had previously self-published Sunbeam (November 2019), Family Business (June 2020) and Catalyst (February 2021).

All four are fast-moving, plot-twisting thrillers set in the city of his birth, Sheffield.

Mark lives in Derby with his partner, Sue. They have two adult sons and have been adopted by a cat.

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