Mark is a qualified solicitor who splits his time between protecting the rights of academics, writing thriller fiction and raising five mostly lovely children. He studied Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Birmingham with a nod towards alternative theory, focusing on the relationship of the Giza complex to the stars; portolan maps; and the origins of civilisation and religion. It was within this flame the plots for his future novels were born.
Mark’s writing career extends back over a decade and his diverse portfolio includes three novels, a number of short stories and even a six-part sitcom. Long listed for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, he is currently a featured author on the popular writing website, Wattpad, with over 6,000 followers from all around the world and well over one million reads of his first novel. Aside from Wattpad, Mark is an active member on a number of other writing websites, spending his spare time offering editorial and structural advice to fellow authors. Up to now Mark has considered writing as a creative outlet for the myriad of characters and ideas roaming about his head. The time has come to tease them out of hiding and breathe a little life into their lungs.
His latest book is the adventure/thriller The Atlantis Deception.
Website Link: https://markhjackson.com/
Twitter Link: https://twitter.com/MarkJackson873
Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/AtlantisDeception/
About the Book:
A German property developer, Hans Hoffmann, revels in the belief he has discovered the key to unleashing the weapon responsible for sinking Atlantis. Hoffmann requests the help of Cambridge archaeologist, Dr John Hunter to validate his mysterious find. Hunter's acceptance leads the maverick academic on a journey from the headquarters of a clandestine organisation in England, to a lost city in the heart of the Brazilian Rainforest, and climaxes inside a chamber hidden deep beneath Egyptian Heliopolis. Pioneering theory is spliced by epic battles, daring escapes, and elaborate schemes aimed at unravelling a secret history hidden from humanity for the past twelve thousand years.
Atlantis is a very visual word. A word evoking mystery, forgotten realms, underwater palaces… the list goes on. I find this Plato inspired concept of Atlantis fascinating and read anything and everything I can lay my hands on. The theories are diverse and range from the feasible to the outlandish, but certain concepts keep reoccurring. The Atlantis Deception takes the ideas of accepted and alternative theory, weaving them together to create a believable universe where our past still dictates our future.
The novel follows the trials and tribulations of a fictional Cambridge academic, Dr John Hunter. The focus is not on Atlantis itself, but rather on what happened to its people it the wake of the loss of their homeland. The Atlantis Deception is a classic action adventure tale with heroes, villains, shadowy organisations and self-serving plots, each underpinned by progressive archaeological theory. The novel is written with the aim of both exciting and making readers think in equal measure. Although imagined, many of the conclusions the characters reach are cutting edge and described in such a way so as to blur the line between fact and fiction.
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Congratulations on your new book! Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing? Can you tell us about your journey?
The Atlantis Deception is published by the crowdfunding publisher, Unbound (which had links to Penguin at the time). The route is still in its infancy and certainly cannot be considered an easy option. Unbound set its authors a target figure to publish, somewhere between £4k and 20k depending on how the novel is published, digital only, paperback, hardback and/or audio. As an author, it is then up to you to market and sell your novel on the basis of customers receiving a pre-order and additional rewards depending on the pledge level (art prints, name in the novel or even dinner with the author). In return for successfully negotiating the perilous ups and downs associated with crowdfunding, Unbound offer a much more author friendly contract, particularly in terms of royalties.
The application stage is no different to any other traditional publisher although as a result of the funding mechanism I understand around 1 in 10 books are accepted and of those accepted, around 1 in 10 make it through to publication. It is certainly a tough introduction into the publishing world and certainly sets you up for the even tougher post-publication marketing phase.
It is crazy that new authors, such as myself, with no following and generally little marketing experience, are expected to almost get on with selling their books on their own post publication. This can include organizing and paying for their own adverts and book/blog tours. It is almost as though we are being set up to fail.
I am lucky to have hit the ground running and both Twitter and Instagram have welcomed me with open arms (facebook – not so much!). Many other authors have not fared quite so well and consequently fallen by the wayside – not due to a lack of talent but more a lack of support. Without an ability to market oneself, making money as a new author in the current climate is next to impossible.
If you were to pen your own autobiography, what might the title be?
When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?
I have three children and two step children would tend to take up most of my free time. I play a reasonable amount of badminton but other than that, it’s all about Duplo and entertaining my one-year-old!
What makes your book stand out from the rest?
Quite simply, my passion for the subject matter. In what feels like a different lifetime, I studied Archaeology and Ancient History at university with a nod towards alternative theory, focusing on topics such as the relationship of the Giza complex to the stars; portolan maps; and the origins of civilisation and religion. It was within this flame the plot for The Atlantis Deception was born. There are a number of authors operating in this genre but few have taken and chosen to run with the same breadth of theories as I have in a single book.
I’m not going to pretend the main goal of my work is anything more than to create a credible piece of escapist entertainment, but if I can achieve that whilst educating and creating a situation whereby my readers can question the rhetoric of the establishment, all the better. I’m not saying we should all be looking for conspiracies under every rock, only that it is sometimes worth enquiring as to why certain rocks are harder to lift…
Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?
Lindow Moss Bog, December 43 CE
Teetering on the edge of unconsciousness, Caratacus squirmed as
a pair of coarse hands pulled and tugged at his robes. Death was
inevitable, yet still he managed a flicker of a smile. These men would
never find what they sought.
He grimaced as a heavy hobnail sandal connected with his ribcage,
the blow hard enough to flip him over and onto his back. He blinked
and opened his eyes to find his chubby, chinless assailant peering
down at him.
The Roman wrapped his pristine, cream-coloured sagum tighter
around his chest to shut out the cold wind. He looked nothing like
the brutish military commanders Caratacus typically dealt with. The
man’s regal air of arrogance and contempt for the soldiers around
him made it clear he was a Roman of importance. It was an arrogance
only men of unimaginable wealth and power could ever hope to
wield with success, particularly amongst a group of Praetorian guards.
Caratacus sensed the Roman’s gaze rake his naked body; the man’s
tight lips and beady eyes radiated a general air of cruelty which sent
a chill coursing through the captured priest. His muscles twitched,
tense in anticipation of what might follow. He broke eye contact and
cleared his mind, attempting to relax. He wasn’t far from death and
rule dictated he must embrace the moment.
‘You are a hard man to track down, Druid,’ sneered the stranger.
‘Or would you prefer I call you by your official title – Gatekeeper?’
He paused, giving Caratacus time to digest the significance of this
revelation. ‘You seem calm for a man on his way to Pluto’s realm. Do
you not recognise me, priest?’
Caratacus puffed his cheeks and spat blood at the man’s feet, regretting
it as a wave of pain surged through his earthly body.
The Roman’s eyes narrowed to slits. He stepped clear of the blood and…
If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?
Definitely in the adventurous holiday section. Perhaps sitting somewhere between the Inca trail and cave diving.
Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?
I always had a trilogy in mind, but I have so many ideas as to where Dr Hunter might pop up next, there could be a few more!
When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?
I should be honest and say, no. I certainly never thought I’d get anywhere near publishing something. Although I certainly enjoyed writing in my youth, writing as a potential career didn’t raise its head until I was in my late twenties. It would be another ten years before my work was worthy of any kind of payment!
Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?
I think it would be odd if I hadn’t been rejected. However, I am lucky enough to have never received a response from any of the publishers I send query letters out too!
What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?
I wouldn’t be averse to trying, but it isn’t something I’ve ever been involved with. I see some of the bigger names in the industry, such as Clive Cussler and Wilbur Smith, are starting to co-author. I guess partly due to their respective ages and to ensure they maintain a release quota of at least one new novel every year.
What’s next for you?
I am working on two novels at present in the same series as, The Atlantis Deception. The first, Roswell, The First Shot Fired, is complete and awaiting the editing phase. As the title suggests, the book offers an alternative to the Roswell narrative and throws my protagonist, Dr John Hunter, into the deep end of a world he doesn’t understand. It is a fast paced action adventure and takes in locations ranging from the Soviet era Russia, the Americas and Europe. The truth is out there!