Monday 2 May 2011

Mark Edwards interview: Killing Cupid

Killing Cupid by Mark Edwards and Louise Voss

Mark Edwards spent most of his twenties trying to 'make it' as a writer, armed with an agent and a pile of manuscripts but all he got were 15 minutes of fame on BBC2. After that, he got a proper job in marketing before being sucked back into the writing world when the Kindle arrived. He lives in south London with his girlfriend, their daughter and, arriving this August, a son. Mark blogs at Indie IQ.

Can you sum up your book in no more than 25 words?

Killing Cupid is a stalker thriller in which a wannabe writer becomes obsessed with his tutor. But then she turns the tables, with devastating results.

What was your motivation for writing it?

Killing Cupid was co-written by me and Louise Voss. When we started, Louise was in the middle of a four-book contract with Transworld. I had recently been dumped by my agent. We got drunk one night and came up with the idea of writing something together as an experiment - and also because we thought the idea of a stalker novel in which the stalker becomes the stalkee (I think I invented that word) was compelling.  Two months into writing it, a lucky meeting attracted the attention of a BBC producer who optioned it. It never got made in the end but it gave us the motivation to make sure we finished it.

How much difference does a good cover make?

I am sure the modest success we've had so far with Killing Cupid has partly been down to the cover. When I found the image, Louise and I debated whether or not to use it. Louise took a straw poll of her friends, 50% of whom said it was too strong. But we wanted something that would stand out on Amazon where you are competing with 399,999 other books. The reaction to the cover - in which a half-naked woman reclines with a gun; it's very arty - has been unanimously positive, especially from women.

Do you have any other projects on the go?

We are just about to publish our second co-written novel, Catch Your Death, a medical conspiracy thriller based on a fictionalised 'imagining' of what went on at the Common Cold Unit in Salisbury, where for many years volunteers would catch a cold and help scientists look for a cure. I like to think of it as Dan Brown and Michael Crichton teaming up to write a chase novel in Midsomer Murders country. It's chock-full of rogue scientists, stone-cold killers, made ex-husbands and has as its main character a brainy, beautiful but vulnerable Harvard professor called Kate.

I am also working on a solo novel called The Magpies which is about neighbours from hell. The idea behind The Magpies, which is a psychological horror/suspense novel (think Eden Lake) is that the really scary monsters are not vampires or werewolves. They live next door.

How important is a book's central character?

Vital. Killing Cupid has two central characters. I wrote Alex, who starts off as a creepy stalker but, I hope, becomes more sympathetic as the novel goes on. Louise wrote Siobhan, a lonely writer who it turns out, has a lot of issues. The central idea of the novel is that there is someone out there for everyone - no matter how bonkers you are.

What's your favourite part of the writing process?

I love the first draft because my favourite aspect of writing is plotting, although I never work out the full plot before sitting down to write. I love working it out as I go along. The characters tend to take a life of their own and tell you what they would do next. With Killing Cupid we did this is tandem. I wrote a chapter which I sent to Louise with some notes about what might happen next. She edited my chapter then did the same. We had no idea how it would all turn out.

What aspects of marketing your book do you enjoy?

I love networking with other writers, which is an important way of marketing online as we all help each other out, and I've met some really nice people through Kindleboards and Facebook since publishing on Kindle. But even more, I love hearing from readers who 'got' the book.  My weirdest experience was on HP Mallory's readers club on Facebook where I posted an innocuous thread about a book I was reading.  In my profile pic I am grasping a microphone which apparently looks like something else... within hours I had about 150 comments from women involving things they wanted to do to me with dildos, ball gags and whips, and asking me how, er, big I am. Still, at least three of them bought the book so it was all worth it. (The things I'll do for sales!)

As a reader, how would you describe your taste in crime fiction?

I like three types of crime novel: firstly, the dark satirical suspense novels of people like Jason Starr (a genius); secondly, gritty police procedurals like Michael Connelly or Val McDermid; finally, I love executive-in-peril white collar crime novels like those by Joseph Finder. I love to see a yuppie suffer.

What was the last good eBook you read?

Remix by Lexi Revellian is a very well-written mystery novel about a rocking horse restorer and a missing rock star; I really enjoyed it. Can I name another? The Shop by J Carson Black is a high-octane thriller that starts with some spooks gunning down a bunch of reality TV contestants, something a lot of people have fantasised about. It's a great read.

From an artistic rather than financial perspective, what book do you wish you had written?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I am slightly obsessed with this book and have read it too many times to count. It tells the story of a group of friends as an elite American college who accidentally kill someone and then try to cover it up, destroying their own lives and friendship in the process. It's the most atmospheric and absorbing book I have ever read. It is my favourite piece of art in the world and I immediately warm to anyone else who also loves it. Perhaps uncoincidentally, it's my girlfriend's favourite book too.

Killing Cupid by Mark Edwards and Louise Voss


  1. Great interview, Mark. Look forward to The Magpies. Sounds like that great film from my student days, Pacific Heights where Michael Keaton was trying to cast off his Batman stereotype.

  2. Yes, it has been compared to Pacific Heights before (by Louise) but I swear I've never seen it!