10 October 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Guest Post by Mark Chisnell, author of The Fulcrum Files

Can you tell us about yourself?

I was brought up on the east coast of England, close to both the sea and an inland network of lakes called the Norfolk Broads, so boats were everywhere. I started racing sailing dinghies, got a degree in physics and philosophy and then worked in a factory for a summer to buy a ticket to Australia, with a vague plan to see some stuff and write a book.

By the time I got home I’d published some travel stories in the New Zealand Herald and the South China Morning Post, and I’d broken into the professional sailing circuit via the British America’s Cup team that was racing in Australia at the time. I’ve been bouncing back and forth between those two things – writing and pro sailboat racing – ever since, before finally settling on writing.

How long have you been writing?

It’s about 25 years since I had my first travel story published.

What authors have inspired you?

There are five writers that I particularly loved when I was younger, whose influence I can now see in my own work. The first was Arthur Ransome, who wrote fantastic children’s books about messing around in boats. They really sparked my love of the ocean. The next two were Ian Fleming and Alistair MacLean. The latter is almost forgotten now, but he was a hugely successful thriller writer in the 1960s and 1970s, and I could inhale one of his books in an afternoon when I was a kid.

When I was a little older it was books with ideas that took more of a hold – George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm stopped me in my tracks for weeks, I couldn’t think about anything else. And then there was another largely forgotten book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig – that was the one that got me studying philosophy as well as physics, so it had a pretty big impact on my life.

Tell us about your latest book

I was on a book tour in New Zealand, and people kept asking me when I was going to write a book about the America’s Cup, a big sailing competition – the next one is in San Francisco next year. I tried to explain that while the Kiwis had a minor obsession with the world’s premier sailboat race, most of the rest of the world didn’t even know it existed.

Larry Ellison, Russell Coutts and the other characters that inhabit the contemporary America’s Cup world are interesting enough, but they aren’t quite in the same league as the likes of T.O.M. Sopwith and Harold Vanderbilt. In the midst of the Great Depression and the rise to power of Hitler; Sopwith and Vanderbilt still managed to find the time and money to build and race the most extraordinary boats. Not to mention altering the outcome of wars and changing the course of history.

And then it hit me… what about a story set in the milieu of that most dramatic, romantic and tumultuous era, the 1930s? I didn’t begin it for quite a while as I was already half-way through another book, and while I knew the core historical story that I wanted to tell, it took a long time to figure out how I wanted to tell it – but in the end it became The Fulcrum Files.

What is your writing process?

I start with an outline, and then a couple of chapters. I work those up pretty hard until I’m ready to let someone else see them. I have a couple of people that I trust that I show them to, and I then rework the outline and drafts until I’m happy. Then I write a first draft as fast as I can, maybe 2-3,000 words a day, and I don’t worry much about the quality. No one ever sees this version, but it gets a draft done, and it means that from then on I’m rewriting, which I find a lot easier than writing.

Where can people follow you online?

I have a website with a blog and background on my work and writing the novels, and links to all the ebook retailers: Mark Chisnell, Smashwords, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

I’d love to hear from people on books, writing, sailing, anything!

The young Ben Clayton was one of Britain’s brightest boxing prospects, until the day he slammed a left hook into a fragile chin. Sickened by the consequences he turned away from the ring, found solace in the arms of the beautiful Lucy Kirk and looked for new challenges.

On the 7th March 1936, after almost two decades of peace in Europe, Hitler ordered the German Army back into the Rhineland. It was a direct challenge to Britain and France. Still unnerved by the toll of the Great War, the politicians dithered. The French Army stayed in its barracks, while the aristocratic British elite looked on from their country retreats.

History teetered on a knife edge, but the spymasters were busy.

Just one man could make the difference between war and peace, victory or defeat. And that man was Ben Clayton. Thrown into the maelstrom of plot and counter-plot, into a world of murder, spies and traitors, Ben must battle not just to survive, but to protect all that he loves and holds most dear.

One Response to “Guest Post by Mark Chisnell, author of The Fulcrum Files”

  1. Candy 10 October 2012 at 10:22 am Permalink

    Thanks, again, for doing this, Mark! I absolutely loved that you started your love of reading (and the ocean) as a kid. I devoured books too as a child (and grew up near the ocean – I’m in Austin now and frequently miss it – especially after living in Honolulu for several years!) Anyway, thanks again!

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