Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled. His day job as a research scientist focuses on problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments. At one point he was qualified to say ‘this isn’t rocket science … oh wait, it actually is’. Between work and caring for his disabled child, Mark spends his time writing, playing computer games, tending an allotment, brewing beer, and avoiding DIY.
Lawrence, Mark FAQs
1. Where do you get the inspiration for your novels from?
A novel is a big and complicated beast and the inspiration comes from all directions and all corners of my life. At the top level the opening and main character of Prince of Thorns was inspired by Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange which I’d read twenty years earlier. But each of the characters and events have their own set of sources, including a large dose of ideas that bubble up into empty moments from nowhere. Some of my best ideas have come when digging a hole or when I should be concentrating on not being knocked off my bike. And probably three-quarters of those ideas have been lost again in the next five minutes.
2. Who or what has been the biggest influence on your writing?
I guess the simplest answer is ‘what I read’ but I can’t think of anyone who I have been consciously influenced by when writing. If I think of the work of some of my favourite fantasy authors it’s actually very different to mine, almost as far away as you can get whilst still remaining in the genre.
3. Describe a typical day when you’re working on a novel.
Get up when my seven year-old daughter Celyn wakes, normally between six and seven but sometimes at three or four. Get her a tube-feed, medicines, dressed, into her wheel-chair and on the bus for school. Cycle to work, spend five hours pushing back the boundaries of scientific knowledge (hopefully in the right direction), cycle back (ten mile round trip, uphill both ways) in time to receive my daughter from her school bus. The next five or six hours are filled with reading children’s stories, feeding, medicines, changing, moping up vomit, and taking out for walks. Celyn needs to be constantly entertained or she starts up like a nuclear-attack warning siren. Also as an intelligent child in a body too broken to allow her to play or watch TV she deserves to be entertained. Around nine at night my wife takes Celyn to bed. She’ll spend the night being shouted at as Celyn sleeps very badly. I’ll be called on at least once to change Celyn in the night – my wife has multiple sclerosis and a fractured spine so she’s not so big on lugging a 50 pound child around. So child-free and left to my own devices I’ll talk to my other children, help with homework if it’s required, do some household chores, get a shower, pay some bills, read my email. About half past ten I’ll sit down with my laptop and bash out some words until the bed is calling louder than my muse. Rinse. Repeat.
4. Which of your characters do you enjoy writing the most?
5. How do you research your novels?
Well I get a selection of really thick reference books, blow the dust off, and studiously ... oh hell, enough with the lying. I’m not a proper author. I don’t research anything. I just makes stuff up. Am I fired now?
6. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
I think I’m doing it, I’m a research scientist... I don’t define myself as a writer, and I don’t think writing has stopped me doing anything else. If I wasn’t being paid for it then I’d probably play more computer games and read more books and do a little less writing.
7. Who are your favourite authors?/What are your favourite books?
This is the FAQ section and that Q is certainly FA. I’ve probably answered it thirty times with almost as many different answers. My favourite fantasy authors of late have been George Martin and Robin Hobb. I have also enjoyed Peter Brett’s two books. The fantasy book that means most to me is Lord of the Rings. My favourite book full-stop is Freefall by William Golding. I’m also fond of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, John Irving, Michael Moorcock ... all kinds of stuff.
8. What made you fall in love with Science Fiction/Fantasy
My mother read Lord of the Rings to me when I was seven. I cried when [spoiler] Gandalf died [/spoiler].
9. What advice would you give to any aspiring writers?
If you aspire to write rather than to be a writer then you’ll have much more fun. If you believe that the act of writing is sufficient reward for your efforts then you can’t lose. Also join a critique group and develop skin of exactly the right thickness to admit the important lessons whilst shielding you from the sting of being told them.
10. What are you working on at the moment?
John Wayne gets abducted by aliens. No, really...
Featured Book by Lawrence, Mark
From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.