My third post of the day is…….a Meet the Author interview (it’s Saturday…..yay!). I’m thrilled today to be talking to Mark Romain about how long it took to write his first book, irritating characters, living his childhood ambition of becoming a policeman, how being a homicide detective affects his reading, his most recent book, Unlawfully at Large and more…
Crime thrillers / police procedurals
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m 57, married with two grown up children and one grandchild. We all live in Essex. Between us, our family has three English Bull Terriers and a very bossy Dachshund. I am an avid Arsenal supporter. It was my local club growing up and I attended my first match at Highbury in 1971. I love skiing. I didn’t take it up until my early 40s, but I was instantly bitten by the bug and now I can’t get enough of it.
What inspired you to start writing and where do you get your ideas?
I’ve loved writing since I was a child. As a kid I would write short stories for my own amusement, and as I grew older I became more and more convinced that I had at least one novel in me. I started writing my first book in 1998, but work got in the way and I ended up shelving the project until I retired. Having been a cop for thirty years, the last ten of which were spent investigating murders, I guess it was inevitable that I would draw on that experience when in my story telling.
How many books have you written and published?
So far, I’ve published two books and a novella. All feature the same protagonist, DCI Jack Tyler. My third book is due out towards the end of the summer and it is called Turf War. I have just finished the manuscript and am about to send it out to my team of beta readers.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Well, my first book, Jack’s Back, took me approximately twenty years to complete! It was very much a start, stop affair – more stop than start, to be honest! It wasn’t that I lost interest or anything, but when you are working shifts and putting in incredibly long hours, the creative juices tend to dry up. That’s why I didn’t really knuckle down to writing until I retired in 2015. Since then, I’ve improved drastically, and I think I can realistically now manage two novels a year.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
Difficult question for me. My first book, Jack’s Back, was a real labour of love. As an author, it was an incredible learning experience for me, and I am very fond of it, although I don’t think it is necessarily my best work. I think the second book, Unlawfully At Large, is better written, probably because it was easier to structure my writing schedule and get into a routine while I was doing it. I’ve just finished the third book, but it’s too early for me to say how happy I am with it yet, as I still need to read it through a couple of times and make a few tweaks to get all the kinks ironed out!
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
Definitely not DC Kevin Murray. He is the most opinionated and irritating character in the series. He might be a pain in the neck, but his is an absolute pleasure to write as I can have fun with him in ways I can’t with any of the others! Dillon would be a good choice. He’s a very tough character and a good man to have by your side in a sticky situation.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a policeman when I was young, and I feel incredibly lucky to have actually been able to realise my ambition. I had a fantastic career in the Met, working all over London and dealing with some very challenging cases. I was also fortunate to travel abroad a few times, which was a real eye opener. I retired from the Met in 2015, and that’s when I started to take my writing seriously.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
Well, when I left school, I initially worked for a photographic studio. Then I joined the civil service for a few years, before finally being recruited to the Met in the mid 1980s.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go and why? (Backwards or forwards!)
Backwards, definitely. I have always been fascinated by WWII. I had relatives who lived through the blitz in London’s East End and others who served in the army and navy, and I grew up hearing all about what people had gone through and the incredible solidarity and fighting spirit of the British people. I would love to be able to travel back in time briefly to study the period for myself.
Other than writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy walking the dogs, lifting weights and going skiing, and I absolutely love just spending time with my family.
What is the best thing you’ve done in your life so far?
Married my wife and had two wonderful kids. It sounds a bit cheesy, I know, but it is true.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Yes. Definitely. I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a romantic, but I do believe that, sometimes, people just know that they’re meant to be together right from the get go.
Describe yourself using three words only…….
I asked my wife for her input on this and she came up with ‘pain in neck!’ I suggested ‘loyal, tenacious, and handsome’ as an alternative, but she just laughed!
What is something you can’t live without?
I love ice cream and chocolate! I mean, who doesn’t?
Do you feel it’s more important to have a) strong characters b) a mind-blowing plot or c) amazing settings?
I think that they are all important. I think that you need to find the right balance between the three to fit the type of story you are trying to tell. Sometimes, less really is more, if you get my drift.
What is your favourite genre to read and why?
These days, I predominantly read crime thrillers, police procedurals and detective stories. The trouble is, having been a homicide detective for over ten years, I tend to get very critical of plots that are too unrealistic. Growing up, I loved the Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Boroughs and the Conan series by Robert E. Howard. I like a story to be gripping, and to immerse me in the plot. If it does that, I’ll read anything.
What is your favourite time to write, and why?
When I started writing seriously, It took me a little time to settle into a routine that really worked for me. While I wouldn’t really call myself a morning person, I find that I’m generally most productive when I write between the hours of 9am to 1pm.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
The book is called Unlawfully At Large and it is exclusively available on amazon. Here’s the blurb:
Tyler will do whatever it takes to get his man. Winston would rather die than go back to jail. With their paths locked on a collision course, things are about to get very ugly…
When DCI Jack Tyler put Claude Winston behind bars for the attempted murder of two police officers, he was convinced the ruthless drug dealer would never breathe fresh air again. But then the unthinkable happened, and Winston escaped, leaving a trail of death and destruction in his wake.
Now the pressure’s on to catch Winston before he slips out of the country and starts a new life abroad, but with another cop leading the hunt, Tyler finds himself stuck on the outside and unable to influence the course of the enquiry. As the investigation stalls, Tyler decides to lend a helping hand whether it’s wanted or not, but is it already too late?
Perfect for fans of gritty London Noir, Unlawfully At Large is an action-packed adrenaline rush that will keep readers enthralled from start to finish.
final words from me…
Thanks so much Mark for coming over and talking to us; this is a fantastic interview. I’m so intrigued to read your books, especially after your career and time in the murder squad! I’m definitely adding them to my wish list! The fact that it took you 20 years to write your first book must have been frustrating (but difficult when you have a hard & pressurised job) but the reward when it was finally completed must have been immense. Ice cream and chocolate……I definitely think most people would agree that these are a necessity!! And finally, I love that you got to fulfil your childhood ambition to be a policeman, and then your desire to become an author! Amazing work!
If you have any questions for Mark then make sure you get in touch or pop a comment below. And I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read any of Mark’s books!
I’ll be back shortly with my final post of the day, and will then leave you in peace!
Take care my lovelies