"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!" (Mary Quallo, St Louis)

"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!"  (Mary Quallo, St Louis)
Coming next week - Carla Eatherington

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Indie Goldfish Bowl - Ngaire Elder meets writer Mark Barry

Hello Wizardwatchers. Ngaire here. Lovely to see you all. 

Well, the other day, I was minding my own business when the phone rang. Answering, I was asked by a friend to pet-sit their children’s goldfish.  They were only going away for a week, and so I agreed. Goldie (not his real name, changed for obvious reasons) was to get a pinch of fish food every day and that was it. Simple as! Day 4 came and went without a hitch. This is easy-peasy I thought,  then  Day 5 arrived and it all went horribly wrong!

There was Goldie floating at the top. 

The horror and dread of telling my friend’s children of Goldie’s fate. I could imagine their painful sobs. 

Then I had a brainwave. Buy another Goldie. And that was what I did. I wrapped the dead goldfish in kitchen roll. Popped him in a freezer bag and made my way to the pet shop. The shopkeeper was very helpful and we managed to find an almost identical Goldie-replacement. Goldie Mark II was a tiny bit smaller but ‘no one will notice that’ assured the shopkeeper.

Proud as punch and very much relieved I popped Goldie Mark II in his new fish bowl and never said a word. To this day my friend knows nothing and that is how it shall remain.

I wonder if her children knew that it wasn’t the ‘real’ Goldie …?

Mark Barry
Anyway, enough fishy tales and on with this show. 

Today's guest is Mark ("The Ritual", "Ultra Violence") Barry who is really busy right now and has come in to discuss what's happening in Wizardworld. 

Here he is - and he's shaking his bendy wand at me!


Hi Mark, how are you.

Hiya Ngaire...I'm fine thanks. Happy to be on the show!

Delighted to have you! So, Mark you are a man of mystery, a man with no face on the cyber cat-walk:  Tell us Wizardwatchers a little about yourself.

I’m a writer, first and foremost, Ngaire. I live in the Midlands of the UK, in the middle of Sherwood Forest. I love horse racing, Notts County FC, heavy metal and my family. I have a sixteen year old son, Matt. I’ve written six books. When I grow up, I want to be a pub singer called Mike Champagne.

Stefan Oakes Notts County Wondergoal

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Definitely not when I was a kid! I was a reader then and didn’t even write a diary. Too busy playing out. I wrote my first novel when I was twenty, to see whether I could do it - only for it to be totally panned by a friend of mine, so with the exception of several porn stories I sold to “Knave” magazine in 1986, I didn’t write again for another twenty three years. 

Bodie and Doyle - TV's "Professionals" - take a sneaky gander at
"Hot For Teacher", Mark's first published story. Probably.
In 2003, I was a player on a US online forum and used to write skits and little sketches. Lots of people liked my stuff and I’ve been writing ever since. 

In all, including the Green Wizard novels, half written manuscripts, folders full of utter rubbish, bad ideas, jokes and journals, I must have written a million words in the past decade.

Mark, you have a number of novels published, but today I want you to chat about The Ritual, your thriller, which I am reading and enjoying very much. Thanks for the nightmares by the way! What made you choose to write in the thriller genre and where did the ideas come from for The Ritual?

Massive horror novel fan when I was young.  Wheatley, King, Straub, Herbert (RIP), Sharman, Campbell Tryon all those great writers monopolised my reading time. Then, I stopped, roughly about the time of Clive Barker’s “Books of Blood”. I read one of those and thought, nah, this is bollocks (I’m not a Barker fan at all), and stopped reading the genre. 

I wrote The Ritual in a fit of nostalgia during the writing binge, which fuelled Green Wizard.  I guess I was laying the ghosts of that first critically panned novel to rest, if we’re getting Jungian about things! I even included one of the characters from that first novel in The Ritual.

Big influence on "The Ritual" - 1975 classic
Race With The Devil

Did certain parts of The Ritual make you uncomfortable? If so, why did you feel that way? Did this lead to a new understanding or awareness of some aspect of your life you might not have thought about before?

Only the sex, Ngaire. There’s one chapter in there, which is positively filthy and I won’t be buying my mum a copy for Christmas. Nah, the horror is fine. Looking forward to seeing the remake of the Evil Dead soon. Can’t have enough screaming demons, gushing blood and fiery death, can one? 

To complete your question, I’m just not comfortable writing erotica, like your earlier guest Keith Nichols. I can do it – I wrote one book, “The Illustrated Woman” which is just non stop bonking – and I think I’m pretty good at it, but I always feel guilty afterwards. It's the Catholic in me! The Ritual wouldn’t work without that chapter though, so it wasn’t gratuitous.

A wee question, I have a niggle. Regarding The Ritual, specifically book 3 chapter 9: Phillipa and Carmel go on a mad shopping spree in Nottingham. Your description of women’s clothes was incredibly knowledgeable; you knew more than me! Can you explain how that is possible?

Haha. I let my animus loose! Kelly Sherwood and I worked closely on The Ritual – she did all my reading in the old days - and she will tell you that I followed the route I describe exactly and I spoke to her on the mobile phone asking her questions. 

There was an awful lot of leopard skin prints about in 2011 and also a brief spurt of Mad Men fashions – early fifties stuff.  They all made it into the book. 

In Hollywood Shakedown, Monique – my favourite female character – goes shopping in a genuine LA mall and that’s similar. There is a two-page homage to shoes*. I love women’s shoes – all my books feature high heeled women’s shoes somewhere about.  

When Phillippa and Carmel went shopping! 
Nottingham's ultra popular Bridlesmith Gate

With regards to The Ritual, did you work with an outline, or just write?

Unless you count my 24-hour internal plot meetings (I become obsessed with a book), I’m the ultimate pantser. Never written a plot outline in my life. I also write things out of order, which some writers don’t understand.  The Ritual, whose ending has pissed off many people, is based on a famous old horror film and that came first: I knew the ending before I knew the beginning.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of The Ritual or getting it published that you would change?

I’d rewrite Chapters 7-13. My top pal Clive La Court couldn’t get past them. I thought the book was too short at a 100,000 words, so I added bits at the beginning.  Because of that, I’m just not happy with the flow. However, from 14-43, I consider the work to be up there with my best. 

Your company, Green Wizard Publishing, is in the process of publishing an anthology. Care to divulge more?

Reality Bites is twelve authors strutting their stuff on the subject of Hope from Despair.  The writing is top notch and there are twelve top short stories. Death, recovery from domestic abuse, rape, grieving, child abuse and horrific food addiction are just some of the topics.  

Quite a few of the authors have been interviewed here on the Cauldron including Emma Edwards, Rae Gee and Suzanne Van Rooyen – well-known names in Indie Circles – and there are a couple of new faces (to me) on board, including Christy L Foster who is organising the books release event next week. I like it and it’s a big divergence for the company. If it does well, I’ll commission more short stuff.

Cover by Dark Dawn Designs

Was it difficult to decide which Indie Authors would appear in Reality Bites; there is so much talent out there?

Loads of people expressed an interest, but the list sorted itself out. It’s like that old cliche – everyone has a book in them. Well, yes they have, but the hard part is getting it out.  

Short stories are hard work.  To be honest, the whole process was a nightmare. I had one girl drop out the night before the deadline. One friend of mine, who I had known for seven years, spat his dummy into the stratosphere, because I wasn’t communicating with him enough about his submission, and we no longer speak. Another potential author became very ill and pulled out.  (I understand that, by the way). Another wouldn’t return my mails.  It was much harder than writing novels!

If you had to sum Reality Bites up in 30 or less words, what would you say?

Reality writing – fiction, “faction” and life representation – of the highest order written by some of the most talented independently published authors operating today.

Oh, when is Reality Bites due to be published, Mark?

Saturday 13th April. About five weeks late haha  But Miss, I have an excuse – or twenty. Come to the party! Everyone is invited.  

Finally, I have heard you are due to appear on Mackenzie Knight’s paranormal radio show, Unearthly Encounters. What are you going to chat about and tell us when and how we can tune into the live show?

Mackenzie has become a great friend of mine. One of the top paranormal DJ’s in the States, my appearance on there is one of the great achievements of the Green Wizard year. Ngaire, I cannot wait. I’m going to talk about The Ritual, plus weekend devil worship and sex rituals involving the British middle class; a kind of upmarket dogging scene, but with sinister undertones and surprising manifestations.  

Rosemary's Baby

We’ll be talking horror, ghosts (I’ve seen several), aliens and loads of mad things. I hope we talk about The State of Indie and I hope we talk about writing. I am absolutely buzzing and it’s going to be a blast. Are you tuning in, Ngaire? It's on the 21st April.

I'll stay up especially, hahah. Can't wait actually. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Just how unoriginal many people are in Independent Literature.  I thought I would be surrounded by brilliant writers, but that’s not the case. Everyone does the same thing. No one seems to have any confidence in their work and no one innovates.  

First thing publishers look for – Is This Stuff New and Fresh.  Every time.  I thought Indie would be as experimental as anything out there, but mainstream publishers are killing us for innovation.  

What an opportunity we have too! Yet, as a group, we just write the same novel and publish it ten thousand times under ten thousand different author names.  What Steampunk maestro Rae Gee calls Novel Writing 101

Show, not tell. 
Lots of dialogue. 
Minimal description. 
Plot, plot, plot. 

In other words: Films on paper. Novels are novels!

Sites like Awesome Indies don’t help. Their review criteria include the debatable “show” rather than “tell” guideline.  Nonsense! A brilliant book like House of Meetings by Martin Amis wouldn’t get past that criteria. Neither would anything by Garcia Marquez. Or Henry Miller. My two-page homage - totally irrelevant and deliberately digressive - to Monique’s hypnotic shoes in Hollywood Shakedown wouldn’t pass either - but a hundred books full of an identical blandness will.  Same old, same old. Dot to Dot Novel Writing.

Indie is the most conformist market in the world because there is a prevailing reluctance to try anything new - because while the guardians of the slush pile at Faber and Faber are fearsome, no one is as damaging to one’s ego as a peer. This is the thing that has surprised me most, Ngaire.

Strong opinions!

I am available for children's parties...

Hahahahaha. So, if you could spend a day as someone else, who would it be and why?

A sailor on a Greenpeace anti-whaling vessel in the Pacific getting in the way of Japanese whale murderships. (*spits*)

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

Martin Amis “Money”.  The best book written in this country, this century. Flawless and an inspiration.

Tell us one of your favourite quotes …

I'll show you, Ngaire.

And finally, where can fans of Mark Barry find out more?


Twitter Handle: @greenwizard62

Green Wizard Blog Business:  http://greenwizardcarla.blogspot.co.uk/

e-mail: markythewizard@yahoo.co.uk

On Friday, with an Extract. Extracts can also be found on Green Wizard Blog.

Mackenzie Knight Interview with me is on April 21st at 3pm Eastern.

Mark, thanks for coming on the show...

You're welcome. When is your last show for the Cauldron, Ngaire? Your run has proved incredibly popular.

Well, I am concluding next week with an interview with Kim Scott. Then, vampire writer and big Cauldron friend Emma Edwards takes the reins - that will be fun - and I'm sure there's a certain Wizard on his way back from holidays to take over. I'm coming back though, once a month as it stands.

That's brilliant. I hear over three thousand people have seen your shows. That's significant ratings for a once weekly author interview blog. I'm sure Wiz will be glad to have you back.

Really, oh well. I'm blushing now. Well, it's been great to have you on the show and the best of luck with Mackenzie's Show on Sunday 21st and of course, with Reality Bites this weekend.

See you at the Reality Bites party. And thanks for having me...

Ngaire Elder runs an ongoing series of book spotlights: check them out! http://adventuresofceciliaspark.blogspot.co.uk/



"Death.  Domestic abuse. Ritual exploitation. The passing of a loved one. Child battery. Horrifying food addiction. Brutal bullying.  Friendship gone bad.  Drugs.  Family collapse. Loss. Despair.  

These are the bricks in the walls of Hell. 

That would be real hell. Not the imaginary hell of the biblical scribe, the epic fantasist, the horrorphile, the metaphorist, the allegory peddler or the unreliable narrator. 

This is the real Hell.

But no matter how bleak things become in that impenetrable abyss, no matter how bleak, no matter how pitch black, there is always the bottom rung of a threadbare rope ladder dangling from the precipice – and the message is:  the rung is in reach.

This is Reality Bites. 

Twelve fictional stories by twelve superb independent authors, each of whom is a card-carrying survivor of the abyss.  And these are their tales."


Mike Champagne - Beeston Pub Singer


  1. Great interview - I have read The Ritual - did not appreciate the nightmares, but, other than losing some sleep, its a great story, and highly recommended - the reader will not be disappointed. I have also read The Illustrated Woman, and aside from the few x-rated chapters, its a darn good story - perhaps Mr. Barry might offer a PG-13 version. Looking forward to the launch of Reality Bites - see you at the party.

    1. Really enjoyed interviewing, Mark Barry. Not so sure about his obsession for ladies high heels (hahahhahah). I have my frock looked out for the Reality Bites party .... see you there! n x

  2. Great interview. I loved it.

    1. Thank you for the lovely feedback. Mark Barry was on great form .. n x

  3. Totally love this interview! I just wanted to mention after reading the Ritual, I only remember 1 thing, the amazing shoes. For those who have not read it, I am not saying another word pick up your copy today. I cannot wait for the 21st to talk to my dear friend. This show is going to rock!


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