Skip to main content

An interview with Mark Charan Newton

This is an interview that I had the opportunity to do with Mark Charan Newton, who was gracious enough to oblige. Mark Charan Newton is the author of the Legends of the Red Sun series of which three books have been published. The books are self contained and are some of the best written fiction out there. I reviewed City of ruins here which I thought was a fascinating read from start to finish.
If there is an author that you want to read he would be a good start.
Anyways enough of the introductions and onto the main stuff.

In City of ruin the characters who are the most heroic are also the most socially deviant. Commander Brynd Lathrea and Jeryd to name a few. Is this a deliberate choice?

I think I find socially deviant characters more interesting! It's certainly not a conscious choice, though - I mean, it's a case that these particular characters have an certain, different outlook on life, and therefore make for slightly unusual perspectives on a story. As long as it remains interesting to write, I'm happy, and both Brynd and Jeryd made writing interesting for me. If they were dull, I wouldn't enjoy the process. 

What are the books that you read as a child that really influenced you and show up in your writing when you least expect them to?

I don't think anything I read as a child influenced me to this day, which is probably fortunate, as I read a lot of terrible things. When I was 12, I even read a few Jeffrey Archer thrillers - the shame! My main childhood fiction for me wasn't SFF, it was Willard Price's Adventure books, featuring two young lads on wilderness escapades. I read them so many times, but perhaps it led onto other things - a fascination with interesting landscapes, I dunno. I think it's almost impossible to tell what influences a writer from that far back. 

Sticking to influences, it is accepted that writers steal from wherever they can. What are your main influences apart from books?

Political news. Wholeheartedly the news. And, as much as it can be, proper news, not the recycled press releases/propaganda that makes it into the Daily Mail. 

I can't think of a more interesting time, politically speaking, in the last 20 years. There's a real sense of upheaval, and that actually excites me. I know a lot of people don't pay much attention to news and politics, but it's real world-changing stuff - as a writer, who writes about cultures and worlds, what better influences can there be? There's so much that can inform your own fiction. 

Who are your favorite contemporary authors apart from a certain China Mieville of course

Well, with the genre - Christopher Priest, M John Harrison and the late Robert Holdstock kept my mind ticking over. In mainstream fiction, Don DeLillo. For crime, Henning Mankell and C.J. Sansom… Annoyingly, with the novel writing, I don't have as much free time to read fiction as I used to, but I'll always return to these writers when I can.

What is your writing process like. 

I have a day job, so I'm confined to working in the evenings. I schedule in a couple of hours each night, every night, and just… write. Other than that, a comfy chair, a laptop, and a mug of coffee. It's pretty dull! 

Any tips for aspiring writers

Write. Get words down on paper. Have confidence, but writing is hard work. You can always tinker with them later, but so many people start and never complete a story or a novel. Once you've finished that, start something else. Get the bad words out of your system. Also: read a lot. Read widely, in and out of your chosen genre.

Also, make sure you enjoy it as a hobby. Many people never get published, but if they still enjoy writing, then surely that's a good thing? 

Is this the second golden age of science fiction and fantasy. Never have I seen so many great books come out and so many fantastic writers working in the field? Your thoughts.

Hard to say, and it depends on your definition of what SFF is. Certainly there's more acceptance now than ever before. And the internet creates the illusion that there are so many new and exciting things going on in genre right now, like never before. But, ultimately, I'd say SFF has been a solid industry for the past 30 years. Every generation likes to think they're reinventing the wheel, but there's nothing to be ashamed of in admitting things were great before - and possibly even more experimental than now. Mass market fiction is rather homogenised compared to even a decade ago.

There is a bristling debate going on these days between what is Science Fiction and what is Fantasy and when people tend to get confused they tend to label it as speculative or weird fiction. Your thoughts?

Categories exist solely to help sell books, basically. They're there to draw a circle in the sand so that people know roughly where to find books they'll like, but everyone's mileage varies on the issue. I'm all about genre taxonomy though - I think it's great, I think it's nice to find certain lineage's of authors, but I don't think culture or society is going to move on if ever a conclusion was reached on the topic!

Hopefully I can keep going and get more interviews with the authors I enjoy reading.


Popular posts from this blog

An ode to Hall 1

This goes out to Hall 1, the hostel where all the 4th year students of IIT Kanpur live. Indeed this hostel serves as a meeting ground between familiar foes some of who go on to become friends. A lot of factors make Hall 1 what it is. It acquires a mythic quality right from the first year when juniors are often threatened with “Aaj raat hall 1 main chal”. The seniors who live in Hall 1 seem to have a totally different existence as compared to the rest of the campus. On a visit to the hostel in the first year all one hears is the constant swearing, and sees everyone in shorts or in suits. Legends surround Hall 1 and in our first year the stories we hear are of Hall 1 and none other. Indeed Hall 1 residents perpetuate this myth as well acting as if they are the scariest beings on the campus. Indeed the fear is such that if a fresher goes to Hall 1 they are not expected to come back. There is something about Hall 1 that separates it from the rest of the Halls. For starters, Hall 1 has

Places to eat in Kanpur

Our real exploration of Kanpur began in our 5th year when we had our stipend to spend so hopefully this article will prove helpful to all the foodies out there. Surprisingly(and I really mean this) there are a number of terrific places to eat in Kanpur. Hopefully this article will prove helpful to many who are looking forward to spend their stipends. By far the best way to reach places to eat in Kanpur is to catch the bus that the institute provides. The bus runs everyday(except Sunday) at 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm. The bus returns at around 10:15 pm. Murgi(Our food and snacks Coordinator, every wing should have one) always takes the phone number of the conductor so that he can stay updated about where the bus is and so that the return is convenient. The bus service is really a life saver and unless you have a bike should be the first option. It is also better to roam during weekdays than weekends simply because there is lesser ruckus everywhere. Going to a restaurant on a weekend is an ab

The best of Paul Graham

Paul Graham is a startup incubator. He also happens to write essays which are really really good. In general I wish I had them read them a lot earlier. I have been reading his essays for a while now. Here are some extracts which I liked and so it begins. Addictive things have to be treated as if they were sentient adversaries—as if there were a little man in your head always cooking up the most plausible arguments for doing whatever you're trying to stop doing. If you leave a path to it, he'll find it. And my main computer is now freed for work. If you try this trick, you'll probably be struck by how different it feels when your computer is disconnected from the Internet. It was alarming to me how foreign it felt to sit in front of a computer that could only be used for work, because that showed how much time I must have been wasting. From Disconnecting Distraction How do you avoid copying the wrong things? Copy only what you genuinely like. That would have sav