Welcome to the Underground Author
Mark Anderson Esquire!
Kimberly: Please tell us a little about yourself.
Mr. Esquire: I am lucky to be fairly well traveled and have lived in several countries over the course of my life. The weird things I’ve seen and the weirder things I’ve read all go into my writing. At present I live in my native Ireland with my wife and our daughter. I do have a career but it’s far too dull to mention. Suffice to say that writing is an outlet for the craziness that I keep bottled up Monday to Friday, nine to five.
Kimberly: Is Murder & Single Malt your first novel?
Mr. Esquire: I have been writing regularly in one form or another since I was a teenager, although it’s only in the last five years that I’ve turned to fiction. Prior to M&SM there were some lesser novels that were mostly my attempts to learn and grow as a writer. They have been consigned to the Lost ’n’ Found box in the sky. May they rest in peace.
Kimberly: Murder & Single Malt is an amazing adventure inside the mind of a serial killer. Did you do a lot of research on serial murderers?
Mr. Esquire: Actually when I started thinking about M&SM I was fairly well read on serial killers. Crime stories, particularly grizzly ones, fascinated me as a younger man. I’ve been reading about Dahmer, Gacy and Gein since I was a teenager. I blame violent video games, personally.
Actually the topic that needed the most research was whiskey; I wanted the central character Mike to be fluent on the merits of different whiskeys and even to have firm opinions on the different distillation methods. So to give his character the depth it needed I ended up reading extensively on the topic of whiskey production. I also sampled some of the nicer examples.
Mr. Esquire: For me the stories ferment for some time before I begin to make notes about character, location and events. Murder & Single Malt took around two years from start to finish – that’s not to say I wrote full time, there were plenty of evenings spent in the eternal battle of Mark versus the blank page. And the vast majority of the writing process, for me at any rate, is actually the re-writing. They say that the second draft should be the first draft minus twenty percent – I try to cleave as much as possible from the first and refine down as much as possible for the second.
Kimberly: Why a book about a serial murderer?
Mr. Esquire: Hopefully what I write will entertain the reader, that’s always my first thought – what do people want to read. There is something very real and engaging about murder, for some primitive reason we seem to be finely tuned to the idea of taking life, both for the right reasons and the wrong.
As it happens I didn’t start out writing a story about a serial killer, murder wasn’t a main point in my early notes. I wanted to explore what might happen to a fragile young mind if it lost all support from friends and family. What I’ve found is that the best characters tell you their story as you write, not the other way round.
Kimberly: Did you send your book to agents before you self-published? If so, what was your experience in sending to agents?
Mr. Esquire: The best advice is to try secure an agent as it greatly helps to have an experienced side-kick pushing your career forward. I did try to secure an agent before self-publishing but the difficulties ultimately out-weighed the advantages. If the literary world worked on the same time scale as the rest of the world it might be an easier process, but waiting two years for a rejection letter ultimately closes off all your options while you wait. I figured I could continue to collect polite rejection letters from agents or I could self-publish and move on to my next story. At the end of the day, the story is what has to drive you.
Kimberly: Do you market Murder & Single Malt yourself? If so, what kind of marketing do you do?
Mr. Esquire: Mostly the marketing efforts have been online. Originally the book was only meant to be released for Kindle but within the first week there were dozens of requests for a paperback edition. The print-on-demand revolution has given aspiring authors a path direct to market, something I’m sure prior generations of writers would have killed for. Outside of the typical writer’s platform (Facebook/Twitter/etc) I seek out reviews for the book and trust in that elusive phantom – word of mouth.
Kimberly: What’s on the horizon for Mark Esquire Anderson?
Mr. Esquire: Uberlord – a nerdy conspiracy epic has just been published. It was a real blast to write as it exposes my inner geek. I wanted to write a cyberpunk adventure, to depart from M&SM and move in a new direction. I reckon my future efforts will jump genres as I tend not to read in one subculture of books.
Uberlord was written, in part, as a homage to The Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. It is perhaps the best book to poke fun at conspiracy theories while ripping the reader through the landscape of a crazy drug-fueled adventure. If Uberlord is even slightly close in how well it engages than I will be happy.
Kimberly: One of the most amazing things to me in reading this book is that as a reader, I started to kind of like the guy. Did you set out to achieve this?
Mr. Esquire: All the good qualities of the book were my intention from the start, the mistakes and confusing bits – those were all added later during the copyright and editing processes. I kid obviously. I did want the central character Mike to be relatable – just how much the reader relates to a serial killer is up to them really. If Mike could act like this, perhaps we all could – perhaps after a push in the wrong direction. Several readers have said they ended up empathizing with him, his world was destroyed and he turned in what he felt was the only logical direction – that of mass murder.
Kimberly: If there is one subject you’d like to write a novel about, what would it be?
Mr. Esquire: I am fascinated by the human brain, from the reasons we act the way we do right down to the molecular dance of memory encoding and emotional imprinting. It’s always struck me as peculiar that the brain is the most important part of our biology and yet the least understood. There is a germ of an idea in the back of my mind, a story about a woman who explores self-hypnosis and delves so deep that her sanity fractures and she is must work her way back to reality. The idea would be to explore the conscious and sub-conscious minds in direct conflict with each other, touching on the concepts of “madness” as we define it; a crazy idea no doubt.
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