An interview with author Mark P Sadler

Suspense author Mark P. Sadler is in the process of writing his series featuring cop Nate Duarte. The first book in the Border Noir trilogy, Kettle of Vultures, is available at Amazon.  Mark was good enough to take a few questions from me over email.

Let's talk pen names. Elsewhere, you mention Dennis Lynds (died 2005) - a mystery writer I had never heard of, who took a number of noms-de-plumes including "Mark Sadler" (which is why you write as Mark P. Sadler). Funnily enough, one of my favourite Irish authors is Booker-nominated Michael Collins (born 1964). He's in the States now too, Mark. But I had never heard of this Dennis Lynds. By golly, he has a lot to answer for with the name-thieving! :-)
Have you ever been asked if you ARE him, or have you ever been mistaken for him?

Well, now I know you must be pulling my leg as a search of Wikipedia turns up “Michael Collins is the best-known pseudonym of Dennis Lynds, an American author who primarily wrote mystery fiction. Over four decades Lynds published some 80 novels and 200 Short stories, in both mystery and literary themes. His wife is acclaimed mystery author Gayle Lynds. Before I knew who she was and as I prepared to publish my first novel, Blood on His Hands, I found out that her husband had purloined my name as his nom-de- plume and wrote to her, somewhat upset but she was not interested in my protest and dismissed me decisively, hence, as you point out, I am obliged to use my middle initial P (Peter, if you’re curious).  I was referred to him mistakenly many years ago at the Tucson Festival of Books – the nation’s fourth largest attended festival of its kind – but only one once such occasion. Since Lynds is deceased the popularity of his ‘Mark Sadler’ series appears to have petered out, too.

People have said of my (fave, Irish) author Collins's writing - and about others' too, of course - that as an outsider in America he offers a unique perspective. You were born and raised in the UK. What perspective do you feel you bring to the US in terms of social commentary, and writing more broadly, as a Brit in the States?

Although it does not necessarily apply currently, or so I am led to believe, the level of higher education in the UK, or at least in the early seventies when I arrived in Texas to attend college, was superior to a high school education in America. Having finished the sixth grade at Codsall Comprehensive in Staffordshire I realized, after a few years of settling in and finding out the educational standards of Oklahoma where I spent over a decade, that my educational levels, whereas not even grammar school level in the UK, where probably equivalent to a two year degree in America. My broader outlook on world events as a British subject as compared to the average American was superior. Americans tend to center on what is happening at home rather than abroad, to their detriment. Now, I still find that I have a voice that is heard, even though I don’t have a degree in Literature from one of the top schools and I am still able to compete with writers at least within my genre levels.

Do you find Americans more open and less cynical? For instance, many Irish would be disparaging about second and third generation Americans who show a pride in Irish ancestry - and an Irish culture - many of us wouldn't recognize here.

Americans are very accepting of others’ cultures as long as they stay rooted in districts. Russians have their place in Brighton Beach, New York; Arabic peoples a large area in Dearborn, Michigan. Laotians settled in Lake Tahoe, California and a large percentage of Vietnamese, including a former prime minister ended up in Oklahoma City. I don’t know that any of these cultures ever blend into the neighborhoods but rather set up their own districts, as Americans are pretty cynical in dealing with outsiders. Heck, some small communities won’t even accept strangers moving in to town from a nearby county.

So what stereotypes do you think are wrong or are accurate about the US and UK cultures?

Soccer or football? Anyone who follows me on social media knows of my allegiance with one of the greatest football teams in England, Everton. In the UK it is the blue-collar man’s sport, the game of the street while in America it is much more of an elitist sport and perhaps that is why at the grass-roots level it loses emphasis once it hits high school and has to compete with baseball, basketball and American Football – all of which you must have a college degree in to play professionally.

I'm speaking as a white male who's written some short stories set in Nazi-occupied Poland and the just post-bellum Deep South. But you've got an exciting Latin American political element in the Nate Duarte series. So what do you say to someone from El Salvador who says: "Why aren't you writing about England? Why are you writing about my culture?" 
Are writers appropriating things we shouldn't?

Write what you know, right? Well perhaps. You can get more than a glimmer about other people’s existence from reading. The internet provides pictures, words to help understand. Read writings from people from faraway countries and political climes. It’s all available. In Kettle of Vultures I write in the first person as a Hispanic police officer and speak no Spanish and have never worked in law enforcement. How can my voice be heard, you ask? Well, I have lived in Tucson 25 years and I do know who the City is, I can make her a character in my novel. I know her joys and sorrows, know her wrinkles and secrets. I know the people who live here and what motivates them and I hope I portray my characters in the right vein. I don’t know England anymore. I am now a US citizen and I write from the heart, with a great deal of research. I believe that novels are more authentic with the right geographical and historical references and help keep the reader glued to the story.

You describe yourself as a "pantser" rather than a "plotter" in this Blondie and the Brit podcast. You say you know the beginning and end, and it's a matter of putting meat on the bones of the skeleton. But define "end". Does it include a plot twist? The final resolution? Is it thematic or plot-based? Is it difficult to pursue things until the end?

Since I am writing a trilogy I know where the first of the three books starts and where I will end up and the ultimate goal it will take to get there, the final resolution. Each of the three novels also involves at least one other police case rather than the one that the ultimate goal will deliver. The goal is for Detective Nate Duarte to bring his parents’ murderer to justice. It will take three books to do that, to build a case to put him on the federal task force that helps take him to that level. He has a job as a sex-crimes detective, and a partner and life to deal with outside of the boundaries of catching the ultimate criminal and he is side-tracked by his regular life, as we all are as we go about our daily lives. So although it is predominantly plot-based there are a couple of themes running through the writing to help the intrigue. I believe that genre-based writing can be literature too and I do attempt to elevate style-wise to enhance this belief. The characters do wander off on tangents at times but as long as they ultimately return to the path I have laid out I allow the odd excursion or two.

And do you ever get side-tracked? Do you have to make course corrections? How strong does a plotline have to be before you go "I will have to take on this tangent, at least for a few pages"?

Rather than side-tracked I do get bogged-down. A certain scene might cause me to pause, and as I like to write chronologically that will slow me down until I can get past the hurdle. I’m stuck in one now that has caused me great angst. It concerns a suicide scene, and since I am writing it in the first person it is “me,” per se, that actually sees the body and recognizes it and I have not been able to channel the right emotion and grief. Finally I have decided to rewrite the book in the third- person to see if that will help me overcome the angst and write the scene from a slightly different perspective.

You have said:
The idea of writing a novel, to actually making a living as a writer, was spawned in 1966. Too young at only ten years of age to be influenced much by world event’s spinning around me I was however, captivated by riding the train the eight miles from the village of Codsall into Wolverhampton; a journey that took me through very English countryside to the industry of the Black Country. I documented the progress of the trip through the carriages windows as the Friesian cows and horses on the country farms disappeared to be replaced with the slums and factories.
Do you still have these descriptions anywhere, from so long ago? Or do you recall the lines you wrote? Who first told you you were good enough to write? Did you have a favourite teacher?

My mother still has the essay boxed away someplace. Reading the recent novel by Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train, helped me replay the scenario. Codsall was a sleepy little burg, all green fields, cows and arable crops and Wolverhampton, eight miles away was decidedly urban. While I can’t recall the exact journey I can feel the changes that I saw. Riding the Greyhound bus from Las Vegas to Atlanta, 52 hours, also helped bring make strong memories as the outside pictures changed as we sped by. I describe it during Blood on His Hands in some detail.
Mrs. Heap was my favorite grade-school teacher. I don’t recall her being specifically optimistic about my writing but generally encouraging. More so than any other teachers; they all seemed to be more concerned with my inability to do maths. My mother was a pre-school teacher and I was able to read before I turned four. By the time I wrote this particular essay at ten years old I was able to recognize my own ability. By that time I was already reading the likes of Siegfried Sassoon, Nevil Shute, Robert Graves, Jules Verne, Kenneth Grahame, H G Wells, H Rider Haggard, John Buchan, William Golding and George Orwell, so I had a good insight on what writing could be.

You have a background in journalism, is that correct? How does this help in fiction-writing?

I attended Ambassador College in Big Sandy, Texas with the intent on pursuing a degree in Journalism and also minored in Broadcast Journalism. I fancied myself as a roving free-lancer, I guess. None of that happened as life got in the way. I never lost my enthusiasm for reading and the arts. I performed in local theatre, had a gig as a stand-up comedian (very briefly). Writing three minutes’ worth of material was taking me thirty days! Keeping relevant and current was hard. I did write an editorial column in OKC Sports Fan Forum and became an occasional contributor and a book reviewer for Suspense Magazine. I would say that the largest attribute the taste of journalism I has given me is the ability to research and edit my work. Not that I don’t use an editor or two but I think perhaps I have a bit of a head-start having learned the craft a little myself.

Mark P. Sadler is on Twitter as @markpsadler. He's on Goodreads and Facebook too. Follow or like him now!

Complete Shit appointed head of Federal Department of Sanitation

President-elect Trump has approached a complete shit to lead the Department of Sanitation.

It comes weeks after a number of other appointments, yet to be Congress-approved, including the naming of a climate-change sceptic as head of the Environmental Protection Agency and a man who believes that poverty is a choice in charge of housing.

The complete shit is another controversial appointment to the Trump cabinet - but it's certainly more appealing to Trump's opponents than previous selections. 

Described recently as "a stinky lump of half-solid human waste", the complete shit will oversee the flow of wastewater through sewerage systems on a national level, with a colon-cleansing budget of ten drillion saw-bucks to spend on poop treatment, stink-reduction and "watching the water swirl down the Right way". The drilling project will be launched at the end of Days. The shit's appointment is seen as another strong indication that praise be to jeebers God help us all xtyc ufz52Sfcb

Introducing a 5-novel deal until INDEFINITELY

Happy New Year everyone! 💀🎅
5 novels  are together until - well, it was sposeda be January 3rd, but due to contractual obligations to Amazon, this great deal has been extended!
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Hauntings, vampires, medieval torture and plague mash up with history, teen angst, humor and romance in these five eclectic horror novels in a Christmas Bloody Christmas boxset!

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We are rebranding for the change of seasons:

International Authors: PJ Webb, Lynn Lamb, Claudette Melanson, Richard Gibney, Jennifer Byars, have come together for this Very UnChristmasy Horror Anthology. We are award winning and/or bestselling authors from the US, Canada, and Ireland.

In this exclusive set – brought together for a limited time – you'll find the following novels:

Mechaniclism by Lynn Lamb, Amazon #1 bestselling author.
What clock-maker Frederick Jori hides in the innocuous-appearing automatons ignites a horrific apocalypse—one that will not be realized for 400 years. In 21st century San Francisco, Ireland Barton, a scientist, is confined in a plastic bubble due to an immune disease. Ironically, it is this protective bubble that saves her from infection. Now in a heart-pounding race to stop the apocalypse, will Ireland unravel the mystery of the seventeenth century dolls before the clock winds down on humanity?

The Perduror by Richard Gibney
One living individual in a family line can directly communicate with God. He is the Perduror – and throughout history, each of them has sworn to protect society’s ims, and to pass this mantle on to the next generation. As a young man living in Dublin, Ireland, soon discovers, these traditions - and his own life - appear under threat from families with whom his own clan have been feuding for centuries.

Lora Lee by PJ Webb, award winning author.
A recurring nightmare, a family tragedy, and a stately old manor house conspire to play a part in Lora Lee's ominous destiny. When she moves into Cliff House, a spirit trapped within a ghostly world of loneliness and despair desperately reaches out to take back that which was once hers.

Mixers by Jennifer Byars, award winning author.
The need for "clean blood" and talk of being the "dominant race" would have been typical of high society conversation in parts of pre-war Europe. But in 1939, while Hitler breaks promises about his Lebensraum requirements, across the English Channel, Nicolas and Marcus hold a discussion on
similar themes for unexpected purposes. 
Two high-ranking vampires with a centuries-old bromance, Nicolas argues against the schemes of Marcus in order to avert unnecessary conflict with the humans they rely on to exist. While age seems to have brought a level of wisdom to Nicolas's thinking, Marcus's capacity for empathy has dwindled over time. This novel presents some thrilling background philosophy for the reader in its opening pages.

Rising Tide: Dark Innocence by Claudette Melanson, award winning and Amazon bestselling author.
The brilliance of the opening pages of this young adult vampire novel – suitable for more mature readers too – begs us to question EVERYONE's motives, including Maura's mother Caelyn and her resentment at having to bring up her daughter, and the reason for them to move not just out of their hometown, but out of the country. Meanwhile, Maura’s frenemy Katie and her football jock twin brother suddenly want to be best of chums with her. So what gives?
Vicious nightmares, blood cravings, failing health and the heart-shattering loss of Ron—as well as the discovery of a tangled web of her own mother's lies—become obstacles in Maura's desperate quest for the unfathomable truth she was never prepared to uncover.


A limited edition, collector's boxed set

In Memoriam 2016

Robert Vaughan yelled U.N.C.L.E. for the last time this year.

Lots of people died. How do you like them apples?
Doris Roberts, a veteran actress known for Remington Steele and Everybody Loves Raymond, died this year.

Alan Rickman.

Terry Wogan. A broadcasting institution on the BBC. Gone.

Ronnie Corbett.
Fidel Castro.
Caroline Aherne.
Victoria Wood.
American democracy.

British comedy legends, one and all.

If you were to ask an English person back in the 80s to name a magician, the only one you could rely on being known by EVERYONE, died this year.
And then Paul Daniels passed away.

On the far side of the pond, Alan Thicke, Florence Henderson and Dan Haggerty were similar big-name television personalities.

Just weeks away from her third Zsa, Zsa Zsa Gabor passed away at the age of 99.

In the field of boxing, the Greatest died.

And what of the music?

Rick Parfitt of Status Quo.

David Bowie. Madonna. Leonard Cohen. Sting. Prince. Keith Richards.
Massive names. Most of them dead.

But where there is death, there is hope.

Having the prescience of a prognosis, Bowie released his final album before he passed away.

Carrie Fisher shot scenes for Star Wars Episode VIII before she died.

And - if the rumors are confirmed - we'll be hearing from George Michael from beyond the grave in 2017 too.

Magician Paul Daniels will be back in October, with a Halloween special.

In the US, Netflix shot two minutes worth of scenes of Doris Roberts earlier this year, which means that she can return for an Everybody Loves Raymond ten-episode season "if they spin it out right". And TV executives also squirrelled away so much archive footage of Grizzly Adams that they can now shoot a bear in the Yukon.

Doctors extracted genetic material from the late Ronnie Corbett's spleen - having harvested the chromosomes from his comedy partner, Ronnie Barker, over the last decade. Next year, the Internet-only BBCThree will give live-birth to Ronnie Barkett, who will start work on presenting a series of clipshows immediately. Doctors say that Ronnie will have perfect vision, but hand-eye coordination will require work: For example, he may initially struggle to hold a fork.

Medical experts also spliced stem cells from Terry Wogan's vocal cords and are currently breeding a large drove of pigs with the exact same presenter-to-audience chemistry as the much loved broadcaster. Any one of a number of charismatic piglets could undergo a brain transplant with Jeremy Clarkson, now on the waiting list for the treatment.

Finally, the Hollywood gossip mill suggests that if computer effects wizards play around with Harry Potter actor Alan Rickman's head for a few months in 2017, they will probably be arrested.

Christmas Schedule on Alibi

Over Christmas, Grissom returns to help the team chase down a Native American alternative medicine ear doctor who cured his deafness ten years ago. The shaman has turned "really alternative", resulting in the deaths of nine people through homeopathic cures. Guest starring: DB Gobbley as Ted from Cheers.

The Murdoch Mysteries
A nineteenth century American psychopath flees north after breaking out of jail because of fewer guards at Christmas, where Murdoch Mysteries and the Scottish police chief sort him out by determining that if he gets on the next train with just enough time to spare, they can send him back down Sooth.

Danny Reagan on tour

Blue Bloods
Danny Reagan reaches a personal crisis over the Christmas period as he realizes - after his years on the job - that he has killed more suspects on New York's streets than he did enemy combatants during his two-week tour of Iraq. Meanwhile, Frank visits the cardinal for a confessional handjob.

Person Of Interest:
In real life over this Christmas period, think of the Born Again brigade who believe that the man who played Jesus in Mel Gibson's Passion project is now on a show that sets the tone for an Orwellian apocalypse.
CSI: Viber:
A pervy older lady insists on sending the younger team members photos of her twat covered in Christmas decorations. Can they stop her before she continues? Guest starring: DB Boddley as Ted from Cheers.

Criminal Minds
The jetsetting team of FBI profilers are on their way to their latest multiple murder investigation on a number of US islands around Bermuda when their plane disappears under a massive bubble. Guest starring Criminal Minds veterans Shemar Moore as "Tridento", Paget Brewster as Dr Marie Moreau Maru and Thomas Gibson as the "Dharma Santa".

NCIS Los Angeles: From the wonders of technology available to the team, to the kinds of crimes they investigate, NCIS: Los Angeles is the least likely thing ever.

A chat with Ugandan journalist Sam Mwaka Karama

Veteran journalist and writer Sam Mwaka-Karama’s book The Water Trap concerns the attempts of local government in Uganda and other bodies, such as European engineering firms and contractors, to deliver basic running water resources to the people of Gulu Province and elsewhere. The book is over a decade old, but Sam has re-issued it occasionally with updates. 

I consider Sam a good friend whom I hope to meet one day, and a valuable and erudite contact whose views on literature and culture sometimes surprise me and always enlighten.
Here are some of Sam’s thoughts on where things stand today since he published his exposé.

Nearly all the book’s suggested solutions have become areas of national policy shifts - for example, parliamentary and local government electoral seats were MULTIPLIED by government's creation of several smaller districts throughout the various regions of Uganda.
That is to say that where previously, only one Member of Parliament represented a wide area of locality and population, these were fragmentized so that four or six Members of Parliament emerged under the Government's Parliamentary and Councillor restructuring strategy. This therefore solves the problems by narrowing geographic outreach factors to manageable chunks.
Not only that, the Lake Victoria Basin problems among largely disagreeable country beneficiary referral members have become easier to handle. Ordinarily, people can now pull water from the lake and therefore, the Nile River without being dressed-down by observer organisations who [usually] view the waters as shared international resources and are watchdogging the Basin.

Mwaka-Karama had highlighted not only bureaucratic ineptitude, but issues such as water diversion projects which inadvertently resulted in drought in one area that rarely suffered drought, and a new route for what had been a natural waterway being unsuitable, resulting in stagnant oxbows, changed ecosystems and a lack of infrastructure to capitalise on these same new water routes in the way that had been anticipated and planned, before the new waterways dried up to nothing. It's an interesting read, and Sam sometimes writes like a Ugandan Michael Moore in highlighting ridiculous red tape or stalled projects.

The Water Trap features images, for instance, that show up the construction of treatment facilities and irrigation systems that now sit entirely fallow, waiting for water that has disappeared.

The entire book has had such impact on Uganda Government, to the point it triggered the expanding of the major districts like Gulu as fragmentized to become a subregion with numerous municipalities.
It serves as a nice template for what not to do in terms of international collaboration with government too – whether NGO or private industry.

I was like, if we highlighted this factor... it then should interest researchers - to find out how Uganda Government responded to the points of contention critically discussed in the book.
However Africa is perrenially a study area for a whole lot of students and researchers abroad... my type of non-fiction has that basic information they need.
The Water Trap also covers other subjects of concern, such as the poor hygiene standards in Uganda’s public hospitals and health centres. 

Today – although available to write, consult and chat – Sam has pulled back from active journalism and urban life, returning to his home village to build a retirement nest.
A few months ago, he apologised for his inability to contact me more frequently from an Internet café, as he was in the process of constructing his home with his bare hands alongside construction workers, making a tech-friendly home in the most sustainable of ways. He admits too that speaking truth to power through his journalism has caused some problems for him. But he is keen to return to a life of reading and academia.

It is only that I am now living in the village and I just moved into my house - I am in the bedroom while I work on the living room - after that I think solar paneling and gadgets will place me back on net from the village - I am getting there..
Public life in as far as politics is concerned was not so good for me beyond mild writing – power is a nasty business. I discovered that a spirituality flew me around and often dropped me in very uncomfortable places and, now I think my life is worth something - having traveled a bit and also gotten involved in some adventures and escapades. If I stick to books I am ok... I also want to find a tunnel into campus, better there I think than anywhere else too.

You can find Sam on LinkedIn and Twitter. His book, The Water Trap, is available on Amazon.