Mark Lawrence is a best selling fantasy author who has sold over a million books worldwide and has seen his works translated into 20 languages. Best known for his Broken Empire trilogy, Mark has earned rave reviews from a number of fans and contempories, including the likes of Robin Hobb, Peter Brett and Neal Asher. He recently finished the Red Queen’s War trilogy and plans to release Red Sister, the first book in his new series, in April 2017.
Mark spoke to The Chronicler about fantasy fiction in the UK, why he writes fantasy and how new readers can get into the genre. Read the full interview below!
The Chronicler: Hi Mark, thanks for talking to me. To start with, why fantasy? What is it about the genre that attracted you and made you want to write fantasy books?
Mark: Hi Danny. Perhaps nature, perhaps nurture. My mother read The Lord of the Rings to me when I was 7 and bought me fantasy books to read. Science fiction on the other hand was on our shelves if I wanted to read it (EE Doc Smith, Asimov etc) but it wasn’t new and it wasn’t shiny.
Then there was Dungeons and Dragons which arrived in my life when I was 11, shortly after its introduction to the United Kingdom. I played a lot of that. I guess fantasy always seemed to be more personal, more full of heroes and wonder. Science fiction felt rather dry, less exciting. I didn’t have any ambition to write fantasy until my thirties when my opportunities to play fantasy games narrowed considerably with my move to the US. Needing a creative outlet I took to writing.
“fantasy always seemed to be more personal, more full of heroes and wonder“
The Chronicler: So how popular are you in the UK? Do you sell more books in the UK or in another country?
Mark: I sell almost exactly the same number of books in the UK as I do in the US, but there are five times as many Americans so I guess the odds of any given person having heard of me increase 500% in the UK. But are still pretty small!
The Chronicler: Well that’s fair enough! So do you think that fantasy is read enough in the UK? Do you think the genre is less popular here than, for example, in the USA?
Mark: Heh. This question carries the assumption that there is some correct level of fantasy reading to be aimed at. I can’t claim that there is a particular amount of fantasy reading that people should do. Obviously from the perspective of a fantasy writer trying to earn a living it would be better if everyone read at least two fantasy books a week. I don’t have any statistics to offer but my feeling is that the US is a significantly larger fantasy market than the UK but not on a per capita basis.
The Chronicler: So for people new to fantasy, which book or books do you think would make the best introduction to the genre? Feel free to mention your own!
Mark: A difficult question because you don’t say who we are introducing. A young reader, a reader of literary fiction or romance or thrillers opting to try the genre? The obvious answer is to choose a fantasy book that shares many elements of what they already like to read. The books I started on are no longer great choices as the intervening decades have made the language and pacing less attractive to a modern audience. Something with universal appeal and that isn’t particularly challenging intellectually or in terms of subject matter would be a good starting point for many. Something like The Name of the Wind maybe.
“The books I started on are no longer great choices as the intervening decades have made the language and pacing less attractive to a modern audience”
The Chronicler: Thank you for the detailed answers and for your time!
Mark: No problem!
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