Last year I interviewed Mark Tilbury for this blog. (Click here to read my original post). Mark has now released the second novel in the Ben Whittle Investigations series, called The Eyes of The Accused. Here's an excerpt from my 5* review:
'I was anticipating something pretty good from Mark Tilbury after his first novel The Revelation Room, and The Eyes of the Accused didn’t disappoint. Tilbury set the standard high with The Revelation Room, and has raised it even higher with The Eyes of the Accused. The story hooked me in straight away and kept me intrigued; much as I liked The Revelation Room, The Eyes of the Accused is even better. How Tilbury does it, I don’t know, but he manages to blend humour into his psychological thrillers very successfully, in a way I’ve not encountered before. I’d love to give an example, but it’s hard without giving spoilers. Let’s just say a certain lupine character was brilliantly done and gave depth along with a dash of humour to the narrative.'
I thought it was high time I caught up with Mark again and find out what he's been up to since we last spoke. Without further ado, here's the interview:
Welcome back to my blog, Mark! Let's start with your newly published novel. What did you learn by writing The Revelation Room and how did it affect your latest book, The Eyes of the Accused?
I learned a lot. Particularly about what I’m good at and what I still need to work on. I started to develop my own style of writing when working on The Revelation Room, so I have tried to continue that in The Eyes of the Accused. Add to it. Take stuff out. I’ve been lucky enough to get quite a bit of feedback from TRR, so that has been a massive help.
I also had to develop Ben’s character for The Eyes of the Accused. Make him more assertive. Develop his relationship with Maddie. It’s all a learning curve, and I don’t think you can ever stop learning.
Amen to that! Any plans to develop Ben Whittle’s difficult relationship with his parents in future books in the series?
Ben will stand up for himself more as the series develops. I think he’s grown somewhat from his experiences in The Revelation Room, but he still carries a certain degree of uncertainty. He will definitely make decisions and not just go along with what his father says. At the moment, he’s still cutting his father some slack because of his father’s paralysis, but I can see that changing in books to come.
Your books skilfully blend thriller writing with dark humour. Is your own sense of fun quite dark?
I don’t think it is, really. Generally, I’m quite jokey, but the dark stuff only comes out when I write. It’s a bit like I’m possessed! I sometimes read something back and wonder where on earth it came from.
Ben Whittle is a refreshing change to the stereotypical private investigator. What led to you deciding to make him young and lacking in confidence?
I just wanted to have a character that wasn’t the usual all-conquering hero. I wanted someone who wasn’t sure of himself. Someone who could stand up to an antagonist, but in an unexpected way. I hate characters that dive through windows, roll across the floor and untie the victim’s ropes with their teeth. I wanted to say that heroes don’t have to be like that. I guess Ben represents my view of life. Most of the truly heroic work is done by ordinary, unassuming people. Ben was just an extension of that, or a representation of my thoughts on that.
Any hints how readers will see the characters of Ben and Maddie develop in future books?
I’m not sure. I’ve got plans for two or three novels that don’t involve Ben and Maddie. I’d certainly like to see their relationship develop and go all the way to church. I like happy endings!
What’s next for you as a writer? What can your readers expect?
I’m just about to start work on my third novel. It’s a shift away from Ben and Maddie. I would call it a psychological thriller with a supernatural twist. Something that really excites me as a writer because it allows my imagination to run wild.
Sounds intriguing! Like me, you love Stephen King’s novels. Who’s your favourite bad guy from his books?
That’s an easy one. Annie Wilkes in Misery. She was the first character that really turned me on to the bad guy. Her contradictions. Her own brand of language. The absurdity of her thoughts and actions. These things influenced me so much. The way she could chop a man’s foot off with an axe and then admonish him for swearing. Priceless. She is like my fictional role model!
What elements do you consider crucial for a thriller’s antagonist?
For me, they have to have a reason. I don’t like bad for the sake of bad. I like to be able to drill down into their past and find out why they behave in such an abhorrent way. It’s also important to remember that the antagonist is perfectly normal as far as the antagonist in concerned. It’s everyone else who is out of line with his/her thinking. I also think the antagonist needs shades of light and dark. Some redeeming trait. In Edward Ebb’s case in The Revelation Room, he loved his dog, Maxine. Just a faint glimmer of humanity.
Thanks, Mark! It's been a pleasure interviewing you. I wish you every success.
You can find out more about Mark and his books, as well as read his blog, at www.marktilbury.com.
Want to read The Eyes of the Accused? The book is on special offer at Amazon until April 24. Just 99c/p will bag you a copy! What's more, The Revelation Room is at the same bargain price until that date. Click here.
You can read The Eyes of the Accused for free if you sign up to my mailing list. I often give away great novels (with the author's permission, of course) and I'll be offering Mark's second novel with my May 2016 newsletter. I'll be sending it out during the first week of May. You can find the sign-up link below or in my blog sidebar.
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