Tales Q&A with Graham Marks
Gabe is feeling the pressure. His family has money troubles, he’s hardly talking to his dad, plus lowlife Benny is on his case.
Needing some space to think, he heads off into the hills surrounding LA. And he suddenly stumbles across a secret that will change everything. A shallow grave.
Gabe doesn’t think twice about taking the gold bracelet he finds buried there. Even from the clutches of skeletal hands. But he has no idea what he’s awakening…
Graham Mark’s chilling novel is part of the Red Eye series!
I recently read and enjoyed Bad Bones by Graham Marks (see my review and an extract from the book here) and I am honoured to have had the chance to put some questions to Graham to celebrate the release of this forth book in the fab Red Eye series from Stripes Publishing.
Join us to talk about the book, the characters and superhero’s!
Hi Graham! Welcome to Tales Of Yesterday. I’m so happy to have you here….although slightly scared of that gold bracelet you are holding in your hand and hoping it is not a present for me!
Bad Bones tells the story of Gabe who’s family have fell on hard times and he is desperate to try and ease the burden and help his family even if it means running illegal errands for the school bully! One night up in the canyon he stumbles across a shallow grave and some bones! Upon further investigation he discovers a gold bracelet and decides that this may be the answer to his families troubles…he could be rich! But what Gabe discovers is that he as unearthed something truly sinister! Somebody wants that bracelet back and will do anything to retrieve it! Gabe finds he has awoken something truly terrifying!
Check out my review of Bad Bones here
Can you tell us a little about your contribution to the Red Eye series published by Stripes Publishing, Bad Bones?
I still have the email from my agent, forwarding the email from Katie Jennings at Stripes which talked about the idea behind the Red Eye series; Katie was asking if any of my agent’s authors might be interested in contributing, and as I’d written some unpublished short horror stories, and some published horror comic strip scripts, but never done a horror novel, I thought ‘Why not have a go?’.
I had the beginnings of an idea, no more than a page or so of notes, which had been waiting around for me to do something with it; I took the notes with me on a flight from London to San Francisco, and by the time I landed I had the storyline fleshed out and felt I had something worth going on with.
What inspired you to write the story of Bad Bones?
A few things…firstly there was Gabe and the circumstances he found himself in, how powerless he felt when it came to helping his family; then there was the sometimes destructive power of belief; finally there was the Law of Unintended Consequences, how Gabe had no idea where his discovery in the canyon would take him. And having created that set-up I had to find out what happened in the end.
What made you set the book in the USA/LA?
I’ve always loved the States, since I was a kid, and California in particular; for me it’s always been a place of possibilities, of journeys and adventures. And the story idea, when it first popped into my head, was set in LA, a city I know quite well. I had an image of a young guy in a canyon at sunset and the story didn’t seem like it would work anywhere else.
I’m slightly scared to ask this! Do you see yourself in any of the characters in Bad Bones or have you used any of your own experiences in the story?
I still have a really strong connection with who I was as a teenager, and it’s not very long ago my sons went through that stage themselves, so I find myself drawn to those characters and know how they feel and think. But they’re only ever parts of me, never mirror images. And as all the people in my books, good and bad, are filtered through me and my twisted imagination, I have to admit I must be somewhere in all of them.
But, apart from a couple of weird, spooky moments with a Ouija board a long time ago, I haven’t been through anything like what happened to Gabe – although having now written about them, I feel like I have!
Gabe finds himself in some difficult tricky situations! When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
Good question. Hmmm…[scratches head]…well, when I was at art school I had long hair at a time when skinheads, who didn’t like anyone, really didn’t like people with long hair; I got off a bus one evening and walked straight into a crowd of skins, one of whom showed me the sharpened handle of his metal comb and smiled. I turned and high-tailed it. In this case speed was the better part of valour.
*demands picture of Graham with long hair!*
How important are names to you? Did you pick the character names in Bad Bones for a reason?
Names are top-of-the-list important to me. They have to sound real, they have to suit the character – without being in any way descriptive of that character, which is too jokey – and sometimes it’s nice if they give a character a good nickname.
I used to use telephone directories, when they were still around, to trawl for names, but now it’s newspapers, magazines and the Net. If I see a graveyard, and have the time, I’ll wander round snapping phone pix of names I like on the gravestones.
People often arrive in my head as a package, which was pretty much the case with everyone in Bad Bones – Gabe, Stella, Anton, and especially Benny Guettero and Cecil LeBarron. Except for Rafael Delacruz; he took a bit of research.
One character I loved was Father Simon! I loved how he was an ex-CSI and still had all the gear in his office! What made you think up such a character?
If you have someone evil like Rafael Delacruz you need to have the opposite side of the coin, which was Father Simon. Stella thinks he’s going to be able to help because he’s a priest, but there had to be more to it than that and when I had the idea that he was an ex-CSI it clicked for me.
I don’t believe in what Father Simon believes in, but I can see why he does, which he explains to Gabe when he says:
“When you’ve seen the things I’ve seen, Gabe, you can’t help but end up believing in true evil…the Devil. I couldn’t, anyway, which means you also have to take on board the other side of the equation. I saw the darkest of the dark side, and then I saw the light.
You could say.” I like Father Simon, too, I like the way he surprises Gabe.
If you could cast your characters from Bad Bones in a big Hollywood film adaptation which actors would you choose?
Sometimes, if an actor fits the bill for one of my characters I’ll pin a pic of them up, but as a rule I don’t spend too much time describing the characters in my books because I like readers to create their own images from how the characters talk, what they do and how they do it. I use a lot of dialogue and ‘stage directions’ to allow readers see the scenes play out and make their own minds up about what the players look like.
Who would I cast in a movie version of Bad Bones? I have no idea, I’ll have to get back to you on that one!
Do you like to scare your readers?
I prefer to freak and creep them out. The horror element in Bad Bones is, I think, more psychological than blood’n’guts.
We would love to know a little bit more about you! Can you give us 5 random facts we don’t know about Graham Marks?
1 – I have been around the world (my sister lives in Auckland and I bought a west-to-east round-trip ticket a couple of years ago and went to visit her).
2 – I’ve always wanted to be a private detective.
3 – I used to be a dog person, but now I’m a cat person.
4 – Whatever you call dyslexia of numbers, I’ve got a little bit of that.
5 – I’m very good at reading upside down and back to front.
I feel I should have asked for evidence of the reading upside down and back to front fact! 🙂
I read that your career has spanned through children’s publishing, firstly as a Creative Director and latterly as a journalist and you’re also an award-winning author! Wow! Can you tell us a bit more about this?
I began my working life as a designer, working on children’s non-fiction books; when I began writing I wrote children’s books (stick with what you know…), and as a journalist I was the Children’s Editor for a trade magazine that covered the publishing industry. Can you see a pattern here?
A fairly universal truth about writers is that when they start out they often have a side job. I was no exception, but all mine have always been to do with writing and they weren’t jobs I hated, so I was never desperate to leave them. And I like being busy.
Can you tell us a bit about some of your other books? Is it true that your first published work was a book of poetry, which came out while you were studying Graphics at Harrow School of Art?
It is true. I had started to write poetry at school and carried on when I went to Art School – I used to send poems into the local newspaper, which published so many of them someone complained, saying other people should get a look in. In my third year I had a graphics tutor called Paul Peter Piech, a wonderful man who happened to have his own small press; he saw my poetry, liked it and published a slim volume called Seeing is Touching, which he also illustrated with his signature woodcuts.
Even though the book was well-reviewed I didn’t write another thing for a good ten years. My first novel, The Finding of Stoby Binder, failed to set the world on fire and it was some time before I tried again; when I did, none of the six books I wrote made me a household name and I hung up my writer’s hat for a second time. But the thing was, the ideas wouldn’t go away and some five or six years later I sat down and started working on Radio Radio…
I also read that you previously worked for Marvel Comics writing scripts! This must have been an experience?
It was a dream come true! I’ve always loved comics, they were how I learnt to read and my parents – unlike my teachers – never had any problems with me reading them because I also read a lot of books as a kid.
To me, comics, the real thing, happened in America and I wasn’t in America. When Marvel opened up a UK office I was lucky enough to get hired as one of their writers, and it was an amazing experience.
Who is your favourite Marvel Character?
Of all time? Hard one, but probably Dr Strange. A close second would be Spider-Man.
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
The ability to fly.
Growing up who inspired you into writing? Are there any authors or books that inspired you?
I have to say that it was probably Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven which first grabbed me as a reader, then Just William, by Richmal Crompton (who I thought was a man for a long time, and was shocked to discover was a lady!) sealed the deal. From there on it was Dennis Wheatly, Raymond Chandler, Damon Runyon, among many others – all writers I picked up from my parents’ shelves.
Are there any recent works or authors that you admire or books you wish you had written or that you would like to collaborate with in the future?
As an adult, I’d say the authors who I’ve found most inspirational have been Tom Robbins and Elmore Leonard, both of whom have taught me so much about writing, language, dialogue and story. I’d also add Iain Banks, who could not only write the best SciFi, but was also a great non-genre novelist – The Wasp Factory is the most extraordinary debut novel I’ve ever read.
As to collaboration, I don’t know. It’s hard enough working with myself, and then going over everything with an editor, without adding another writer to the mix!
What do you think makes a good story?
Great characters, plus a beginning which, like Velcro, won’t let you go, a middle which keeps the pages turning and does not sag and an end that leaves you completely satisfied and achingly sad that it’s all over at one and the same time. Easy, really.
Over on Tales Of Yesterday I have recently been asking YA authors if music has any influence to their writing and/or characters. Is there a particular song that influenced Bad Bones and/or it’s characters and if so how or why?
Some of my books have a very definite soundtrack, and have specific songs mentioned in them – my oldest son wrote the lyrics I used in Radio Radio, and he also recorded a track for the promo CD that went out with the review copies – but there was no one song or band which influenced Bad Bones. I do write with music playing, and I use it to either change my mood to suit what I’m writing about, or to energize me if I’m flagging – I’ve found Green Day particularly good at doing that.
Oh Yay! This gives me an excuse to add this music video!
What’s next? Any exciting plans that you are able to reveal? Any more contributions to the Red Eye series?
I have a couple of ideas bubbling away quite nicely at the moment, which is about as much as I can say right now; I don’t know what the plans are at Red Eye HQ, but they know where I am…
Thank you Graham for answering all my questions and featuring on Tales Of Yesterday……now please take that gold bracelet away it’s starting to look rather inviting…..
About Graham Marks
Graham has spent his whole career in children’s publishing, firstly as a Creative Director and latterly as a journalist and award-winning author. His first published work was a book of poetry, which came out while he was studying Graphics at Harrow School of Art. He has also worked for Marvel Comics writing scripts and in advertising as a copywriter.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Graham for answering all of my question and Stripes Publishing and LoveReading4Kids for sending me the book to read and review!
Its been a very scary journey *looks over shoulder and shudders*!
You can buy a copy of Bad Bones here
Or why not checkout the other titles in the Red Eye Series here
Find my review of Bad Bones here
A Scary Moments Guest Post here
Don’t forget to check out the fab Lovereading4kids also! – here
Don’t forget to check out my review of Bad Bones and a fab extract – here
Have you read this book or any of the other Red Eye series? Do you like a scary read? Who’s your favourite super hero? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this post or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy
Happy reading and no digging up buried treasure!