Friday, February 28, 2014

dEaDINBURGH: An Interview with Zombie Writer Mark Wilson

Let's face it: zombies are everywhere. From scary shows like The Walking Dead to bestselling novels like World War Z by Max Brooks, the smelly, limping, moaning popularity of the undead is undeniable. What makes them so popular in today's culture? Is it the survival aspect of the end-of-the-world scenario? Is it the creepiness of dead people searching for a human appetizer? Is it just a fad? I don't know. I may never have the answer, but Mark Wilson knows exactly why he chose to write about zombies. Mark is the author of the upcoming YA Dystopian novel dEaDINBURGH.  It's releasing March 10th, 2014, via his own publishing house, Paddy's Daddy Publishing. I had the opportunity to sit down and interview Mark about zombies, writing and what it's like living in Edinburgh - a place that is currently lacking zombies. But you never know what tomorrow may bring. 

Welcome, Mark! Let's start things off with the obvious question: Why zombies? 
I wanted to write a book that gave the reader a sense of being trapped. Edinburgh, with its narrow, cobbled streets and threatening buildings, was the perfect setting for this. I’d been reading a lot of Jonathan Maberry, particularly his excellent Rot & Ruin series, and I guess that zombies just seemed the logical plot mechanism with which to seal the city and challenge my main protagonists.

Writing about a dystopian city filled with the hungry-dead is also a great catalyst to explore the duality of human nature. I was able to place my characters in a range of situations and challenges and drag their emotions through a whole spectrum of extremes as a result. The absolute heart of any story (for me) is the human responses and development of the people who populate it. I approach every book with this at the forefront.  Why zombies? ‘Cos they let me put my main characters through the wringer.

Sum up dEaDINBURGH for my readers. 

dEaDINBURGH tells the story of two teens who were born in a quarantined city and know no other life. Despite their surroundings, the lack of electricity or any communication with the outside world, they are both vibrant, determined and above all, they are both fighters.  The city is filled with the living dead, but these kids don’t just exist, they truly live life in a way that the former residents of the city never did.

You teach biology at a school in Edinburgh - and you also own Paddy Daddy's Publishing. I'm impressed! Why did you decide to start up your own publishing company? 

I spend all of my spare time outside of school with my children who are both under five years old. When they go to bed, I write and run my wee company. I started the company with aim of giving representation to those authors whose books I love but aren’t deemed commercial enough for large publishing house.
PDP puts great storytelling and great stories before marketability. There’s a growing need to represent a large group of authors who are writing fantastic books but can’t bring them to market or make them discoverable to a wider audience, either because they lack the technical skills or the contacts. This is what the company exists to do.

It is an absolute pleasure to represent these author’s work and one I never take lightly. Being trusted to produce a project that a writer has spent months or even years working on is a big responsibility but it’s also tremendously exciting.
I won’t lie to you, I don’t sleep much but working hard at something you love so much is very rewarding despite the hard schedule. I’m very lucky in that I love being a teacher and a writer and a publisher equally. How many people are lucky enough to find one job they love and get to do it every day, never mind three?

Describe life in Edinburgh. 

Edinburgh is a stunningly beautiful city to live in. With its crypts, dungeons, cobbles and gothic buildings and alleys, Edinburgh is also one of the most atmospheric cities in the world to set a book in. It’s also Scotland’s most cosmopolitan city, with thousands of tourists visiting or working in the city.

Most of my earlier books, I’ve deliberately set in the very small Scottish town I grew up in. With dEaDINBURGH, I’ve used my new home-city. As part of the process I walked the city, deliberately scanning the locations I’d written about in the book. It rained the whole day and was one of the coldest days of the year. My friend, Paul McGuigan is a photographer and took some amazing images for me to use on our walk, which you can find on the dEaDINBURGH website. I also used one of Paul’s shots as a cover image.

You've published two books before dEaDINBURGH: Bobby's Boy and Naebody's Hero. How different are they than the YA Dystopian genre that you're writing now? 

Bobby’s Boy was my first book and very Scottish in nature, in that the language and violence is fairly strong, as reflects the area the book is set in. It’s a very gritty book but ultimately it’s a love-letter to my hometown.

Naebody’s Hero was my first dip into the YA genre and really developed my skills as a writer as I used three main characters and had to develop different voices for each of their narratives. The book does well in the UK, but the US market hates that book. The first time I felt like a good writer was on completing that book.
I wrote a novella titled Head Boy last year, which is a very dark story about a schoolboy serial-killer. I got to indulge my dark side writing Head Boy.

With this background, dEaDINBURGH has been a big change for me. I loved writing the new book and have gone straight into the second volume whilst the first is being edited.  I have to say that with the exception of Naebody’s Hero, I wouldn’t recommend my other books to a YA readership.

What inspired dEaDINBURGH? How long did it take you to write the book? 
I’d had the desire to set a book in Edinburgh for a while but hadn’t really felt that the city was right for any of my stories to that point. I’d been writing another book, titled The Man Who Sold His Son and had produced fifteen thousand words, when the idea that would become dEaDINBURGH began itching my brain. I sat and did an outline for all three books that evening and twenty-one days later a first draft of book one was complete.

I don’t normally write that quickly, normally I take around three months per novel but this book just flowed.

Any advice to writers that are trying to make it in the dystopian or post-apocalyptic realms? 
As I’m new to the genre I really don’t feel qualified give advice specific to the genre. What I will say is that I never worry about what genre I’m writing for. I simply go with the story I have and worry about what type of genre it falls into when I’m more than half-way through and it has become apparent what kind of tale it is. For me, if I set out with a particular market in mind, I feel as though I lose any spontaneity or miss out on interesting diversion in the story by trying to make it fit in a box.

Thank you so much for your time, Mark! Best of luck to you! 

Thanks Summer. It’s an absolute pleasure.

About the Author 

Mark Wilson is married father of two, born in Bellshill, Lanarkshire and currently living in Edinburgh with his wife, their son, Patrick and baby daughter, Cara.
Mark left Bellshill Academy in 1991, qualification-free. And worked his way through a huge number of jobs including, window-cleaner, delivery driver, Levi's salesman, microbiologist and cinema usher.

Mark returned to full time education nine years later, earning his Highers and a degree in micro-biology before entering teaching.
Mark currently teaches Biology in a Fife secondary school and is founder of Paddy's Daddy Publishing, a company he set up to assist Scottish authors. He writes in his spare time, in lieu of sleep.

As well as his autobiography, Paddy's Daddy, Mark is the author of three fiction novels. Bobby's Boy, Head Boy and the bestselling Naebody's Hero. His novels have been well received and feature Scottish characters. Mark has seven other books in progress. Somebody's Hero (sequel to Naebody's Hero), Prophets (an irreverent look at the return of Moses and Jesus), ML4 (a YA time-travel novel), dEaDINBURGH (a YA zombie thriller trilogy set in a quarantined city) and the thriller, The Man Who Sold His Son.
Mark is also co-founder of Paddy's Daddy Publishing
You can visit Mark at or
You can also connect with Mark on twitter: @markwilsonbooks

No comments:

Post a Comment

Get fictional - it's fun! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!