I’ve lost count of the number of guests I’ve had on my blog, and I have not read all the books featured, but this week is different.
My guest is Mark Morey and I have read two of his books and thoroughly enjoyed them and the third, the one set in Japan is on my kindle and second in the queue to be read and I’m really looking forward to it.
I enjoy his stories as they are set in different countries and the first one that caught my eye was No Darkness as it was set in Zimbabwe. But Let Mark tell you his own story.
I hadn’t thought of writing fiction until I went to the local library to borrow a book, but couldn’t find anything which interested me. By that stage I was tired of writing dry, technical dissertations, so I set myself the task of writing something more interesting. It had to have interesting characters, and it had to have an interesting and unusual setting. I thought authors better than me have written about many aspects of past and contemporary Western life, so I should tell a story far from that.
My most recent novels please me the most. No Darkness is set in my wife’s country of Zimbabwe, where we were married and had our honeymoon, and which has been through terrible times since then. She and her people are the most wonderful people on this planet, and those good people don’t deserve what they’ve been through. Nobody deserves what they have been through, but particularly not the people of Zimbabwe. I have an insight into African culture and memories of my time there, which helped to write this story. I hope those who read No Darkness will understand more about the tragedy of modern-day Africa.
I like contemporary French music. One of my favourite albums has a song ‘Dans Nos Souvenirs’ or In Our Memories. I didn’t understand what it was about, until eventually I came across the Armenian Genocide of 1915. I was quite shocked that I had never even heard of the first genocide, and I was sure that others would be the same. Indeed, reviews have shown this is the case. In Our Memories is currently under consideration for the UK school curriculum.
The Syrian Civil War is complicated, and I set myself the task of writing Blood Never Sleeps about the rise and defeat of Islamic State in Syria. For this I got the help of Syrian Kurds, who have translated my novel into Kurmanji Kurdish for use in their schools. For Westerners, the stoicism of Kurds and Arabs under stress may seem a little distant at times, but this is how they are. Even in battle, living or dying is in God’s hands, and if you die for a good cause then you will be a martyr. But there is more to Blood Never Sleeps than battles and war. These Kurds are aiming not for women’s equality, but for the total dismantling of the patriarchy. I do thank Komutan Rodja Felat for allowing me to use her and her words in my story. Also a big thank-you to ‘Clara Raqqah’!
My country of Australia was shaped by the Pacific War against Japan. My father and my uncle fought in this conflict, while my mother was terrified the Japanese would invade Australia and brutalise her. At the time it seemed Japan would, but ultimately that was not their plan. But how did a small nation decide to go to war against the rest of the world; a war they could never win? After reading a crime novella set in pre-war Tokyo I was fascinated by the setting. So Ketsumeidan opens in Asakusa, Tokyo in the year 1932, where forces seem determined to drag Japan to war. I have been to Japan, and when I was younger I lived in Hong Kong and in Korea for a time, so I do understand the Asian way of thinking to a degree. I have a friend who was born and raised in Japan, who helped me with aspects of Japanese culture. Finally, a geisha helped me to get my geisha character right. Ketsumeidan is the most truthful of these four novels. Almost everything in Ketsumeidan actually happened, and wherever possible I used actual words of the people involved. A letter by Shumei Okawa, the police interviews with Sada Abe, or the sad story of Chang Jiazhi (her real name was Zheng Pingru). Zheng even had a Kenpeitai lieutenant as a friend. It seemed like all the pieces were there waiting to be written, and all it needed was three, strong characters to bring this story to fruition. For Australians and Americans, the war against Japan is well-known but not necessarily understood; while those in other parts of the world might be surprised that this brutal conflict was being fought two years before Hitler invaded Poland. But Ketsumeidan is not about war and battles, rather individuals going against the flow because it was still possible that war wasn’t inevitable, and then when war happened; those who truly loved their country had to stop it from destroying itself.
All Mark’s books are available in e-book and print on demand paperback, from Amazon, Apple iBooks and other online retailers.
Thank you Mark for being my guest this week. I hope lots of readers will check out your books and enjoy them.