Celebrate a fellow author’s success – Mark Wright

A year ago I self-published First Dead Body, and have enjoyed some success, which has made it all worthwhile. As part of the introductory process I attended a couple of book launches to see how it should be done: Heartman by M. P. Wright, a debut novel from a fellow Leicester author; and The Corpse Bridge by Stephen Booth, who’s been writing crime books for many years.
I learned a lot, but the best possible result has been a close friendship with Mark Wright as he offered me encouragement and advice, and pointed me in many beneficial directions. Mark is a middle-aged white man; an ex-probation officer and ex-private eye; and an essentially private man. Today Heartman has been long-listed for the Crime Writers’ Association awards for 2015, and it is being made into a two-part thriller for a terrestrial TV company (they’re a bit precious so I can’t actually say which one).
It’s difficult to describe what that means to a writer. I suppose it’s equivalent to being spotted kicking a ball about in the park, and 12 months later being in Roy Hodgson’s squad; or playing for Leicestershire reserves, and then a year later walking out at The Oval to hit a double century. Of the 13 listed, just four are British and just two are debut novels. Heartman is the only British one of those two.
Heartman’s hero is a young black Barbadian ex-policeman emigrating from the Caribbean and landing in a Bristol of the mid 1960s where it isn’t simply racism, it’s a complete clash of cultures. How, I asked myself when I read this amazing book, can this smart-suited white Englishman so completely capture the heart and soul of a heavily-accented black guy?
Mark has done more than this. He’s captured the heart and excitement of probably the UK’s most sought-after literary agent; he’s triggered Tony Marchant, one of the most respected script writers working in television, to take on the two-parter job; he’s stunned crowds of enthusiasts at the country’s largest crime writing festival; and he’s still found time to propose to the lovely Jen, a full-time teacher of kids with special educational needs.
There’s a sign outside Mark’s house – ‘Beware of the Rottweilers’. It is a measure of the man that welcomed visitors stand more chance of being licked to death than bitten or even barked at. That analogy seems to partly sum up Mark Wright the writer. His books and stories are full of surprises. His stock-in-trade is tension: a tight piano-wire that grabs the reader’s attention and pulls them through into the plot. This enveloping in the drama does not mean the reader is spat out at the end of a particularly climax or chapter; it means they are drawn further in.
It is almost a given that the hero will survive and succeed, but that supposition does not lessen the impact as he finds himself in situations where guile, cunning and physical strength are needed.
How has the success of Heartman affected me as a writer? On the face of it I am very much in Mark’s shadow, but he does not accept this. He has read and enjoyed First Dead Body and he has also enhanced my own standing with people who matter to writers.
The follow-up to Heartman, All Through The Night (which I have had the inestimable pleasure of reading and commenting on) is due for publication early in 2016. My next book, re-written and vastly improved thanks to advice from Mark and his agent, will be out as soon as I find a publisher. For now, let’s celebrate a fellow writer’s success – a success that seems to feed on itself.
Don’t take my word for it. Buy Heartman and read it.

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