The TRANSCRYPTS Episode One: Marcus Hawke talks "The Miracle Sin," indie publishing, and more!
Updated: Jan 2
NICK: Hi everyone, and welcome to the first of the Blood Rites Transcrypts. What
we’ll be doing with these interviews is talking to horror authors and people in the horror community. The first special
guest we have is Marcus Hawke – take it away!
MARCUS: Greetings and salutations, my name is Marcus Hawke, I like long walks on the beach, and winters of discontent, and I’m very honoured to be speaking with this fine gentleman today, Nicholas Harper – Saint Nicholas – as the holiday season ends…
Oh, I suppose it is!
Can’t believe it’s gone so fast.
It really has. March, we were… end of the world… and we’re still here.
So, let’s get into it. We’ve got you here today because you have a book coming out! We’ll get to The Miracle Sin in a sec, but obviously that’s not your first venture into writing; how did you get to where you are now?
Sure. I had my first short story published in 2016 after many, many years – I’m talking eight years, probably – of submitting many stories and getting many rejections; not a lot of feedback (a few did, but you know…) so I always wondered if it was something I was doing, or… something like that, right?
We all do!
I mean, there’s always something that can be improved on, I’m sure, but I think, after someone finally picked it up – this was a small magazine called Jitter Press, based out of the States, I believe – well, I was ecstatic, because I mean, it was the first time that had happened, so that was my story Bump in the Night. And once I joined Instagram I thought maybe a good way for me to get a feel for things, as far as interest, as far as my own abilities, if you will, was to sort of put that story out through Amazon and see what people thought of it – because, even though it had been previously published, I heard nothing from anyone who had read it; I didn’t know if anyone had read it, to be honest, apart from the editors of Jitter, and the response then was overwhelmingly positive. To a point I almost couldn’t have expected. That was certainly a nice surprise, and thank you to everyone who read and reviewed it and, you know, come to me telling me nice things about it. It does this black old heart some good!
So that was Bump in the Night, which obviously can still be found on Amazon, and obviously that’s something that we could talk about as well – is the difference between indie publishing and traditional?
I mean, there’s definitely a difference – in indie publishing you have the ability to reach out to people directly, there’s no middleman there, it’s just you and the readers, and other writers, and with traditional publishing, I’m sure it has its merits but it’s awfully hard to break into and even, like, just with short stories but especially with the book – I queried people for several months before I finally decided, you know, I think I’m done with this. Not forever, of course, but just with this because it was ready to go, I had been working on it for many years really, so I think it was just kind of time to put it out and do it my own way, not wait for someone else to say yay or nay, you know?
And it’s a very long route to go, traditional – by the time you get to a point where it starts to look hopeful, then maybe you’ve lost all faith in the book anyway and you just want to move on. In my own experience, anyway.
Very. And, well – yeah, I mean that can certainly happen, because you heap so many hopes and expectations on things like “will they like it?” “is there anything that mattered with it?” and of course you’re getting – I received one response to any of the queries I sent to any of the traditional publishers, and you know, positive, but ultimately a rejection, so that’s good, right? But at the same time none of the others had anything to say about it so… what can you do, right?
But there is definitely some benefit in going the indie route, isn’t there? It can really work, as long as you get the…
Absolutely. I have to be honest, I thought for a long time that self-publishing… I think self-publishing has had a stigma around it for a really long time that – fortunately – is starting to evaporate. And thank god for that, because I love this way, this is great. I mean, you get to meet people, you meet some great people, I’ve made lots of connections and… friends, really, and I’ve never made actual friends through social media despite the fact that’s what we’re supposed to understand its purpose is. Big fan of indie and self-publishing for that alone.
So I suppose we should talk about the book now! Which is coming out January 5th, 2021 – tell us about it, what can we expect from The Miracle Sin?
I never quite know what to tell people! So how about I just read right from it?
It starts off with “Have you ever wondered if there’s more to life? If we’re destined for something great? If we’re part of a divine plan, rather than subjects of random chaos? Mason Cole has wondered these things, and he has the answer…
“How could that be when his parents were killed in an earthquake that destroyed the city of Jerusalem, yet he alone survived? How could he be destined for great things when he’s stuck in a town-shaped reststop where nothing he does makes a difference? And why would God do this to him in the first place?
“Then one day a stranger passes through town, bringing with him a unique explanation of his past, one he never could have imagined, and wishes he could forget. It sounds like something from one of his books, only this time it’s happening to him, and it becomes clear that not every miracle is a blessing. Now, with a red-haired devil hell bent on possessing him for his own sinister gains, Mason must discover the answers to these questions if he ever hopes to survive in a world where the dark no longer hides that which dwells within.”
So that’s the back cover summary of it!
And it does look wonderful, this book. The cover design is great, it’s very Biblical, which I guess works really well.
Yeah, I had this image in my head for the longest time of what I wanted – not exactly, of course, but the idea and feel of what I wanted – and did as much as I could myself, through PhotoShop and things, and then fortunately I was able to find somebody who was kind of good at it by the name of Kealan Patrick Burke, who did a great job – yeah, I mean, I’ve received more compliments on the cover than the story at this point, so…
Well, the compliments on the story will definitely come, come January. So, is there anything else you can tell us, or is it a case of… “go out and buy it yourself and see!”?
Well, always that of course, but… I’d say that it examines a lot of things; there’s an element of, you know, a search for faith and how that’s not always something easy to find, especially today, even if not in a religious sense, but just in one’s self and in the journey leading you there, there’s definitely an examination of survivor’s guilt, which is – you know, something that the character and, to a degree, I’ve experienced myself, through… there was a car accident, basically, and it was really severe, so… any closer and that would’ve been curtains, you know what I mean? And that can be a hell of a thing. It also has lots – book nerds will dig this, because the character loves reading, there’s much talk about, and examination of, books and why we relate to them, you know, that’s something that I feel daily, so it was only natural that it work into the story somewhat (well, more than somewhat), and, that’s everything that comes to mind!
Sounds great, and we’re all looking forward to it – obviously, I’ve read this one, and it’s brilliant, and everyone reading this should absolutely grab a copy as soon as you can – yeah, thank you for giving us a little bit on that!
So, whenever we talk about authors or writing or just… this sort of thing, it’s always about the inspiration, and it’s a bit of a cliché, but where does it come from for you?
I make no bones about it, I took a lot of… I’ve been through a number of things, and even just – I don’t wanna inflate it or romanticise it or anything, but daily life is not always easy, but I’ve also struggled with addiction, so… there’s definitely an element of a darkening in the character’s – in the protagonist’s – life, that he struggles to find a way to deal with and overcome and hone into something constructive and useful, so that’s one element of it. I’m, I mean, I’ve had someone say they got Salem’s Lot vibes from a certain part of it – I’d like to say purely accidental, that, but not entirely. I love Anne Rice, too, I try to be as vivid and descriptive as her wonderful books are. Those are probably the main things, anyway.
Two big names and obviously, as you say, life always comes into it somehow – if you can take something like that and use it and make something of it, then why not, that can only be a good thing.
Why not, and also – I don’t think it was something I intentionally thought, “I’m going to take this and put it in the book,” I think about halfway through I realised I was doing that. It was more after the fact, and when I go back and look at things I’m like, you know what, I think that’s what that’s about – at the time I don’t think I realised, and then looking back I connected the dots.
And don’t worry, there’s no frogs. I promise.
We don’t have to bring up the frog thing all the time!
But for everyone out there who shares the (very sensible) belief that frogs are pure evil, there are no frogs. So that’s cleared that one up.
So, we’ve talked about The Miracle Sin, we’ve talked about some of the things before that – anything you can tell us about what you might have lined up in the future?
Well, I think – I’ve had stories kicking around my noggin for, you know, quite some time, so I think in the next year I definitely want to get some of those down. now I’ve seen the benefits of taking smaller stories and putting them out there to see what people think… I was kind of mystified when I found out how common a thing that was, and actually you’re a good example of that as well, just by taking bite-sized stories and putting them into the ether, right? So that’s what I’d like to focus on, I’d like to do quite a bit of that over the next little while, but I think definitely the next thing that would demand my time is a follow-up to The Miracle Sin.
There was, funnily enough, it wasn’t intentionally, or originally conceived that way, I had a story in mind for something that was – I like to call it an “anti-origin story”, it seemed like the sort of thing that would set a longer series up, but just be self-contained, but it wasn’t long before I realised that if I tried to cram all that into one story, it would be 600 pages or more by the time I was done. So I decided to cut it off where I did, where it ends, and then that will sort of springboard into the next story.
See, I can finish a book and have a plan to write a second or third – as soon as I get to the sequel, I get bored and give up; you seem to have gone the other way, and this has come about as maybe the best natural thing to happen?
I mean, sequels are definitely something that’s very common nowadays, in that people often burn out on series’ – so maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot a bit, but at the same time… what the hell?
Well, I know I want more from it, so…
I suppose that just about rounds up everything! Unless you had anything else to add?
Nothing except thank you to you and to Blood Rites, and to everybody who has read anything or even just come to chat, or… everything, it gives my lungs air.
Great to hear, and thank you very much for being here. And thus ends the first Transcrypt, with very special guest author Marcus Hawke -- thanks for reading!
Look out for The Miracle Sin, coming January 5th, 2021 – and all sequels beyond! Watch the video below for a preview of the book...