Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Mark Clapham.
Mark Clapham has been writing professionally for 15 years, which probably counts as a career. He has written novels for the Warhammer 40,000 and Doctor Who book ranges, and lots of other things that you can find out about at the modestly named www.markclapham.com. He lives in Exeter with his wife, the writer Mags L. Halliday, and his daughter, but prefers to vacation in Raccoon City.
AN INTERVIEW WITH MARK CLAPHAM
- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?
I'm Mark Clapham, I've been writing professionally on and off for over fifteen years. I've written all sorts of things, fiction and fact, but I'm probably best known for writing for Doctor Who (in books) and various unofficial spin-offs. Lately I've been writing Warhammer 40,000 stories for Black Library and my zombie noir novella Dead Stop is out now as an ebook from Abaddon.
- How did you become an author? Have you always been interested in writing?
I've always made up stories, from very long play stories with Transformers toys through badly drawn comic strips and some puerile stuff I wrote with friends when I was twelve. I gradually got more serious through secondary school, and started pitching Doctor Who novels - with no success - when I was eighteen. It was through Who fanfic that I met Lance Parkin, who asked me to co-write Beige Planet Mars with him for Virgin's post-Who New Adventures line. That gave me the professional clout to skip the slush piles for the then-sprawling world of Who related publishing, and I've sidled into other areas since.
- What inspires you to write speculative fiction?
I like the licence to just make things up, to add a dash of spectacle beyond what can actually exist.
- What kind of fiction do you normally read? Are there any specific authors you'd like to recommend to your readers?
Between a very young daughter and trying to find time to write and sleep I don't read nearly as much as I should, but when I do I read widely but erratically. Some of the most influential books on me are probably smart thrillers I read in my teens - Fatherland, Miss Smilla's Feelings For Snow, The Secret History. But all sorts of stuff has fed in. Bridget Jones' Diary had a huge impact on my writing, though you probably wouldn't guess because of the genre difference.
- Your e-novella for Abaddon's Tomes of the Dead line, Dead Stop, was published in January 2014. Could you tell us something about it? What kind of a novella is it?
Dead Stop is a sort of zombie noir about a psychic hired by a femme Fatale ghost to kill her zombified body so she can move on into the light. It's a high concept I'm very very smugly pleased with, and I'm very pleased with the final novella.
- Is Dead Stop a standalone novella?
Yep. It sets up a few rules about how zombies and ghosts work that could be revisited, but its an entirely standalone story.
- Are you planning on writing more Tomes of the Dead novellas?
I'd like to. I always have more zombie ideas. I love that sub-genre, and Abaddon were great to work with.
- Because Dead Stop is a horror novella, it would be interesting to know if you're interested in horror stories. Do you read horror fiction?
I love zombie stories, and I do read a bit of horror along with everything else. I was really into Clive Barker when I was younger, and more recently I've enjoyed the Japanese horror, the novels of Koji Suzuki and the manga of Junji Ito.
- You have recently written two linked Warhammer 40,000 Imperial Guard stories (The Siege of Fellguard and The Hour of Hell). What inspired you to write these stories?
That was something they came to me with and it was a lot of fun. I was given a couple of pages of scenario from a Games Workshop release and asked to work them up into stories. I was given the beats of how the battle unfolded and a few character names, but had to make up the rest myself. I like that sort of writing challenge and I'm particularly pleased with how the stories overlap so they can be read either apart or together and hopefully be enjoyable either way.
- You have also written several Doctor Who novels. Have you always been a Doctor Who fan?
Always, since I was very little. Even during a period when I was too scared to watch the TV show I read a ton of the novelisations. It sounds silly but Doctor Who is never far from my thoughts.
- Is there anything you'd like to add?
Yep, I hope as many people as possible give Dead Stop a try. It's my favourite thing I've written, a horror adventure mystery with a lot of character.