Today, as part of the blog tour for Mark Fowler’s novel, Coffin Maker, I have Mark here to discuss with me his main character …
So Mark, can you introduce my readers to him please …
Coffin, or the Coffin Maker, is the main character in my first published novel, COFFIN MAKER. He lives alone in the Kingdom of Death and when he completes a coffin a person in our world dies. When he isn’t busy making coffins he is writing in his vast journal, The History of Death, trying to sum everything up in one, perfect sentence. He has long sought to glimpse the Divine Plan that has eluded him for centuries.
When did you first create him?
The character of the Coffin Maker really came about through the title. I had what I thought would be an interesting title for a story and I began to think about who the Coffin Maker might be. I thought about where he lived and why he made coffins, and what he did when he wasn’t making coffins. I first had the idea back in 1994 following an extremely difficult time in my life, and I began writing the book on October 1st that year.
Did you write the book to accommodate Coffin Maker or Coffin Maker to accommodate the book?
The book entirely grew out of the character of the Coffin Maker. Even the real world became the version of the world as seen/perceived by Coffin. And so instead of the countries that we are familiar with – England, France, USA etc – the world in the book is divided up into zones, as devised by the Coffin Maker. Six hundred and sixty-six of them! Once I was seeing everything through the eyes of this character, things began to get interesting.
What do you like the most about him?
What I like most about Coffin is his curiosity, and his inability to grasp certain things and learn from them, despite his immense power. He thirsts to know the Divine Plan. He has an almost child-like quality about him in his desire to always have things on his own terms. And when those terms are changed, beyond his control, his frustration and anger really take off and his behaviour gets out of control. When that happens, he is like a child having a tantrum, though far more menacing, and far more devastating for the rest of the world, of course. He is, like a lot of humanity, torn between the impulse to create and the desire to destroy.
What I like least about him of course is the fact that he thrives on death. He IS death. He is an ego-maniac and utterly ruthless. A force of pure destruction.
Did your early readers like him or did you have to change him at all?
Early readers of the book, even in the earlier drafts of the novel, tended to ‘like’ that character. Coffin – and indeed his apprentices – seemed to capture the imagination of many readers straight away. One thing I did change, though, was the name, funnily enough. In the first draft Coffin actually had a first name. I will not give that away at this stage as I think it could make a good competition question!
Does he have any similarities with anyone in real life?
The only similarity with anyone real was an extremely bad-tempered person I once knew a long time ago, someone who was in a position of some authority. That person could be quite frightening and I guess a little part of them may have leaked out into the character that I was creating.
Do you have any plans for him in the future?
My plans for the Coffin Maker? That’s a very good question. I never intended a sequel, but in recent times I have considered a follow-up. Ask me again in a year or so and I may have a clearer answer to that. But then again, with so many other projects on the go, I might not.
Would you be friend with him in real life?
I’m not sure that anybody could ever be friends with the Coffin Maker. It would certainly be a very interesting friendship. It is questions like that which bring out the philosopher, and I thank you very much for doing that. Now, about that sequel …
Gosh, Coffin certainly sounds interesting!
Here’s the blurb …
The Coffin Maker lives and works alone in the Kingdom of Death. When he completes a coffin a life on Earth ends. That’s how it’s always been.
One day as Coffin sits writing in his journal, The History of Death, trying to sum it all up in one perfect sentence, a note sails past his window.
Is he about to gain a glimpse of the elusive Divine Plan that has eluded him for centuries? Is life in the Kingdom of Death about to change forever?
There are rumours that the devil is finally arriving in the guise of Colonel Gouge. Rumours started by a priest who has upset the Church by writing a book: Coffin Maker. A book written to comfort a bereaved nephew. A book that appears to prophesy not only the arrival of Gouge, but also the cataclysmic events about to unfold in the Kingdom of Death.
If this has whet your appetite too you can get your copy of Coffin Maker over at Amazon UK now
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour!