I came across Mark l’Estrange’s werewolf story, Silver Bullet, when it was the read of the month in the Goodreads Werewolf group. (Yes, there’s a werewolf book group on Goodreads, and how does Johnny Lycan get some love?) But I digress. His latest book is Dawn of the Mummy, so he’s working his way through the Universal classic monster tropes which sounds like a damn fine plan to me.
Okay Mark, what’s your deal?
I am a civil servant and live in Kent (the garden of England) with my adorable fur babies: Jovi, Poppi, Tigger, Bambi and Gizmo, who really are my life. I presently have eight books in print (all horror), seven novels and one collection of short Christmas horror stories.
I have, just today, in fact, submitted what I hope will be my next novel to my publishers, so fingers crossed. I have called it: The Haunted House from Hell. My latest novel in print is called: Dawn of the Mummy, and is a modern-day take on those wonderful old Universal/Hammer Mummy films, that I was brought up on.
Horror has always been my thing, whether it was novels, films, documentaries, whatever, I could not-and still cannot-get enough of them. I am a complete luddite, and struggle daily with both my work and home computers, which are forever doing things I don’t want them to. But to be fair, I struggle with most things electronic, which have a tendency to just do their own thing, regardless of what I want them to do…A bit like my cats.
Tell us about Dawn of the Mummy.
My latest novel is a take on some of those glorious old Mummy films of days gone by. You know, the ones where the Mummy is/was Egyptian, thousands of years old, suffered some form of horrendous death, etc, etc. As much as I enjoyed the recent films with Brendan Fraser, they were not the sort of books I would want to read, or write. These days, here are far too many publishers who make demands which, to me, seem ridiculous to the point of being insulting.
Just recently, for example, I saw an advert for a short story compilation about Mummy’s. I thought, great, let’s have a look. But the synopsis was looney tunes. They did not want the Mummy to come from Egypt, for a kick-off. The story had to have several persons of colour, and at least one member of the BGTQI fraternity, as part of the overall story, which, for me at least, had nothing to do with the concept. It came across as a potential publisher just trying to cash in on members of those groups as readers, regardless of whether they fitted in with the story. Personally, I cannot think of any of my characters as being anything other than what they are. If they happen to be a particular colour, then so be it. Likewise, if they happen to be a particular religion. As for their sexual persuasion, that just falls where it falls within the story. Anything else, I feel, becomes too contrived and detracts from the story, which should be about horror.
Sounds like you, as I do, have a fondness for the classic monster movies.
I have always wanted to write a book about a Mummy. Just like, I always wanted to write a book about Werewolves and haunted houses, because, as far as I’m concerned, they are an integral part of the horror (reading) genre. Same with Vampires (although they seem to be done to death-ha ha). I find an awful lot of horror works these days should not be classed as horror. A book/film can be horrifying without actually being a horror story. Horror used to have its own unique niche, but often now you find stories that used to be classed as thrillers, or shocking or just outright disgusting, as being lumped in under the horror tag. I used to love walking through a book shop and making a beeline for the horror section, but sadly now, such sections hardly seem to exist. I would love to think that my novels could have sat amongst some of those horror greats of the seventies and eighties, and been accepted as part of that fraternity.
You obviously dig the movies, but talk to me about literary influences.
Richard Laymon (naturally), Guy N. Smith, James Herbert, (early) Stephen King…Yes, I only read horror. Well, that’s not quite true, but the majority of what I digest does tend to come from that genre. I remember at school when our English teacher would give us a free run of the library to choose our next read, she would always sigh deeply when I chose another horror novel. I have, of course, read some of the classics: Dracula, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde as well as various collections by the likes of: Edith Wharton, Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and more modern authors such as Susan Hill. Plus, there are some novels which have nothing to do with-what I consider to be horror, but need to be read on their own merit, such as Catch 22 and the Handmaid’s Tale, to name just two. Also, I love a good autobiography, not to mention books about real-life serial killers…I think I have read the Diary of Jack the Ripper, no less than six times now. I tend to pick it up every other Christmas.
Where can we learn more about your work?
My books appear on two author websites: Severed Press, and Next Chapter (formally, Creativia), which, in my humble opinion, is run the way all publishers should be.
Other than that, all my books can be purchased on Amazon, although I am very excited that my publishers (Next Chapter) are in the process of sealing a deal with several large bookshop chains, as we speak. Naturally, my books are discussed on Goodreads and commented on by some lovely people from all over the world, which is really wonderful. I have absolutely no social media face at all, and fully intend to keep it that way…I mean, between writing, reading, working, and playing with my fur babies, who has time? This is one reason I appreciate it when I am asked to complete one of these interviews…It reminds me of the old days when you bought colour magazines to read interviews about your favorite authors.
Speaking of werewolves, if you don’t mind some humor with your fur, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk is now available in paperback and kindle, and available almost anywhere from #BlackRoseWriting. It’s an American Book Festival Finalist for Best Horror of 2020. “Like Dresden Files with Bite.”