I’m delighted to be handing the blog over to David Mark today so he can introduce you all to the characters in his latest book, The Mausoleum.
Huge thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Blog Tours for my spot today on the tour, make sure you keep up with the rest of it!
David Mark’s books have been critically-acclaimed for their complex, compelling characters. As his new, sixties-set thriller The Mausoleum hits bookshelves, he gave me his thoughts on characters – both real and imagined – and how he takes inspiration from close to home.
Over to you, David …
Meet Grandad Joe. He was born and raised in a little town called Brampton, nine miles from Carlisle, in a place that’s rural and old and not really a part of anywhere else. He knew the land like he knew his own bones and I swear the only reason we eventually had him cremated is because if we had planted him in Brampton, an oak tree would have grown before the morning. Joe lived a small life, and I say that without criticism. He stayed in the same house for his whole married life, only went to abroad to fight the Germans, and was at his happiest sucking a toffee and staring out the window at the birds nibbling at the tin-can full of bacon fat on the washing line. He didn’t smile easily, but when he did, his grin closed his eyes. And he told me about people. About the bloke who chopped his finger off with a saw at the timber-yard and who put it in his pocket so he could finish his shift. About the old woman who took a breadknife to her husband in a row about jam. He’d point out places and tell me about the Highwayman who’d hung there so long that his bones fell through the cage and tunneled themselves into the dirt. In a different time, he’d have been a writer. He became a plumber for the council instead, though he did find the time to write some wonderfully silly poems, of which I am proud custodian.
Brampton is near a stretch of the Roman Wall called Birdoswald. long before it became a well-run tourist attraction, Joe used to take the family there for day-trips. There would be six of us, squashed into his Vauxhall Cavalier. Him and Nana Phyllis in the front, me, Mam and Dad and my little brother in the back. I think if there had been speed bumps we’d have lost the bottom of the car.
Blessedly free of the knowledge that we were doing something wrong, we used to walk along the uneven ridges of the chunk of Emperor Hadrian’s great legacy. Joe and I would often fall behind. And I’d ask questions. Where are we? Where are we near? Were there fights here? Battles? What kind? What would the weapons be like? Were we descended from Celts or Picts? What would happen if a body was found right now? What would you do if we’d fallen through a hole in time and suddenly we were sandals and holding a sword?
You get the idea.
Now, I want you to see Joe. Think of a short, square-shouldered sort with a bald head and a polyester flat cap. Shirt, harlequin jumper in a kind of beige colour, under a blue blazer, with grey, neatly-ironed slacks. He’s got toffees in his pocket and doesn’t walk very comfortably because of his bad knees. He’s only got one kidney. The operation left him with a bad scar that he reckoned was where a shark had got him off Singapore. His false teeth are neat but yellowed by years of smoking. He later got new ones and we all a bit taken aback when he gave us a gleaming grin: gnashers like a billionaire’s favourite horse. He was well known but didn’t go out. Never really had a taste for beer. He could be a scamp at family get-togethers, cheating during the quiz and shouting ‘house’ during the compulsory Bingo, even when only three numbers had called. He liked the butter to be soft, the bread to be white, and it’s thanks to his insistence that cheese be served in a pot with a lid on, that I have some funny ideas about how to host a dinner party. He wrote me a poem about a one-legged seagull called Fred and he sometimes read cowboy books, when he remembered that he liked reading. When me and my brother acted up he would show us his fist and growl ‘you’ll get that’ though neither of us ever actually did.
He’s an interesting character, don’t you think? I hope so. I come up with new characters all the time and I like them all to be well-rounded and three-dimensional and as real and remarkable and normal as my Grandad. He’s at the heart of my new book, even though the two principle characters are exaggerated versions of my two grandmothers, Milly and Billy. But Joe pops up from time to time. He’s in all of the characters, some way or another.
Oh, yes, the two main characters? Yeah, well, that’s another story …
Oooh … I love this! They all sound great! And Bookworms, if you want to find out more, here’s the blurb …
Severn House Digital (1 Apr 2019)
1967. In a quiet village in the wild lands of the Scottish borders, disgraced academic Cordelia Hemlock is trying to put her life back together. Grieving the loss of her son, she seeks out the company of the dead, taking comfort amid the ancient headstones and crypts of the local churchyard. When lightning strikes a tumbledown tomb, she glimpses a corpse that doesn’t belong among the crumbling bones. But when the storm passes and the body vanishes, the authorities refuse to believe the claims of a hysterical ‘outsider’.
Teaming up with a reluctant witness, local woman Felicity Goose, Cordelia’s enquiries all lead back to a former POW camp that was set up in the village during the Second World War. But not all Gilsland’s residents welcome the two young women’s interference. There are those who believe the village’s secrets should remain buried … whatever the cost.
You can pre-order your copy now!
About the author …
David Mark spent seven years as crime reporter for the Yorkshire Post and now writes full-time. A former Richard & Judy pick and Sunday Times bestseller, he is the author of nine police procedurals in the DS Aector McAvoy series and one historical novel. He lives in Northumberland with his family.