Interview with Urban Fantasy Author Mark Henwick


We have Mark Henwick here today for a typical Mistress of the Dark Path style interview.  He’s the popular urban fantasy author of the “Bite Back” series.  The first book, Sleight of Hand, was published last August (2012) and the second, Hidden Trump, published in December.

Mark has offered to provide one eBook copy from his series to a random commenter on this blog.  You have until Saturday, April 20th, at midnight (CDT) to enter for your chance to win.  I’ll post the winner’s name after they have been selected and pass their information on to Mark.  Be sure to put a valid email address in the appropriate block when commenting.

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INTERVIEW:

*Note- my responses to Mark’s answers are in italics.

Tell us something dark about yourself.

You can’t see me when the lights are turned off. I definitely don’t sparkle.

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I have good very night vision…don’t be so sure!

You are on a deserted island and can only choose one beverage to have besides water.  What would it be?

Trick question eh? Hand-made fruit smoothy, because that would mean there is fruit on the island and I won’t die of hunger. If you mean alcohol, and can provide me with a cellar and a chiller, then New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc white wine. Goes better with a fruit diet than beer.

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Hope that goes well with coconuts because that’s all you’re getting 🙂

If you had to choose between a bullwhip, cat o’ nine tails, or a crop, which would you pick?

If I’m wielding it, the bullwhip, ’cause it looks so damn Indiana Jones. If someone else is wielding it, the crop please.

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The bullwhip seems to be a popular answer, though I hand out cat o’ nine tails with my reviews.

What mythical creature would you be and why?

First instinct is to be a dragon, ’cause no one messes with you, but on the other hand, have you ever wondered how dragons have sex? Hmm. Maybe Pegasus instead.

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Apparently someone has been remiss in reading all the dragon series out there.  Dragon sex is hot!

What first inspired you to write your series?

Getting irritated with authors sweeping everything under the carpet and saying, that’s just the way it is, it’s magic.

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But it is, lol.

How long does it usually take to research/write them?

Each book takes about six months to write. Research for the series just goes on in the background, all the time.

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That’s a reasonable amount of time, even if your fans would like them to go faster.

Give one unique fact about your series that makes it different from the others in its genre.

Now this is difficult, partly because I haven’t read every single book in the genre, and you’re asking for ‘unique’. I think Bite Back might be the only UF series with a *full* cast of strong females (as opposed to a couple of female buddies and baddies). I’m pretty sure Amber is the only ex-special forces paranormal woman MC. There are some other unique aspects, but I’d be getting into spoilers.

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As far as I know, that sounds about right!

When do you plan to release the next book in the series?

I’m releasing a free novella prequel before the end of May and then the next novel, Wild Card, is due out in about July. Check out the blog/FB page for updates and schedules.

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Sounds great!

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Thanks to Mark for answering all my questions and risking my sarcastic replies (I knew he could handle it).  It’s great to have him here today!  Below is some information about Mark and links to his books.  You can also read reviews I’ve written about his Bite Back series here and here.  Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win in his giveaway!

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Mark Henwick - Photo

AUTHOR BIO:

Mark was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often.

An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, he ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified him to move into marketing.  That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing.

When not working, Mark gets high by the slightly less conventional means of a small microlight aircraft or down and dirty on a mountain bike.

He lives with his family, ducks and chickens in the south of England, and can often be found in the Rockies.

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AUTHOR LINKS:

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

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Sleight of Hand book coverSUMMARY

“Vampires are the flickering illusions of Hollywood. They don’t exist.
We do. We are the Athanate.”

For Amber Farrell, post-military life as a PI has its ups and downs: She’s been hit by a truck. She’s being sued by a client. Denver’s newest drug lord just put out a contract on her. The sinister Athanate want her to come in for a friendly chat. And it’s only Tuesday.

Enter Jennifer Kingslund: rich, gorgeous—a tough businesswoman who’s known for getting what she wants in the boardroom and the bedroom. Someone’s trying to sabotage her new resort and destroy her company—and she wants Amber to find out who.

The answers lead Amber past Were and Adept, right back to the Athanate—and a centuries-old war that could threaten not just Denver, but the nation that Amber swore to protect and serve.

And all sides want to claim her for their own…

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EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE:

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MONDAY

It had been a couple of years and I was neither dead, nor undead, which I ranked as an achievement.

It wasn’t as if I lacked opportunity. Even when I wasn’t really looking for it.

I was safe at the moment. My perch among the roof beams of the Crate & Freight warehouse in the Northfield section of Denver was only fifty feet above the concrete floor. Those SCAR assault rifles down on the loading bay weren’t aimed at me. No one knew I was here and it was dark in this corner. That was safe, by some definitions of the word safe. I was kind of enjoying myself.

Still, I knew what a few SCAR rounds could do to a body. The guys down there weren’t carrying them for show. If they pointed a flashlight up into the gloomy recesses, they would be surprised to see their afternoon visitor from the HR department, now minus her clipboard and big square glasses, in black coveralls and toting a camera with a zoom lens.

Given what they were involved in, they wouldn’t stop to ask questions.

I needed to call this in and hand it over to the police. I wasn’t armed tonight and besides, I was supposed to be a discreet PI, not a one-woman SWAT team.

I didn’t want to risk them hearing me call 911. And I didn’t want the nearest cruiser with a couple of bored officers to swing by and spook these guys, thinking the call was some crazy woman. I wanted the Denver PD SWAT team, tooled up for the job. So I was waiting for a few of the photos to download from my camera to my cell and I would text them directly to Captain José Morales with details.

I had his contact for a completely different reason, but surely he’d thank me for this?

A noisy problem outside with the last truck emptied the warehouse, and I took the chance to climb down. Climbing urban structures was a teenage hobby of mine, so the prominent bolts and cross struts made this about as difficult as coming down a ladder.

I lurked in the shadow of a pile of pallets, waiting for my cell to finish loading.

Campbell Carter, the CEO of Centennial State Crate & Freight, had hired me on my office landlord’s recommendation. He suspected some of his drivers and dispatchers were stealing from him. Nothing major, just something he wanted straightened out. Crate & Freight was an important local business in Denver and Carter the kind of man who wanted to be squeaky clean. I knew he was gearing up to run for office next year.

He was absolutely right in his suspicions—a group of drivers were skimming a margin, just enough that they thought it was below the radar. So far, so routine, so tame. But Carter’s assignment had been to find out what was going on, and it turned out skimming was the least of it.

I’d worked out a cover story for the day with the Crate & Freight HR manager. She’d even given me a real HR survey they wanted done, laconically wishing me the best of luck with it. I’d wandered around the depot that afternoon with my clipboard, asking mind-numbing questions about job satisfaction.

Every stuttered answer, every shifty eye, every sweaty face, told me something was happening today.

They hustled me out at 5 p.m., and I was back, over the fence, at 9 p.m. I’d left the clipboard and the glasses behind. I was in black coveralls, black ski cap, black boots and some real good makeup.

The photo transfer completed and I texted Morales: URGENT! Northfield Crate & Freight depot. See pix—large drug shipment moving NOW. RIFLES! SWAT team ASAP. Txt only. Amber Farrell.

The text took forever to transmit with the photos, while I stared at the screen wondering how it would play with Morales. I was supposed to be low profile. I was supposed to be on call for him and not the other way around. I sighed. I’d find out soon enough what he thought about it.

Of course, I’d come straight to the place they hadn’t wanted me this afternoon; the old warehouse. It was a vast building, about three stories tall, with a drive-in, drive-out loading area. It was stacked high with pallets and containers waiting for shipment. Normally, storage was all it was used for, but tonight they’d wanted to be able to load trucks with the shutters closed, away from prying eyes. Except mine. And my shutter was wide open.

I’d expected to get photo evidence of some shrinkage of the stock. Not a sign of it, at least not tonight. There were thirty-two big rigs scheduled to leave the compound before morning. So far, a dozen had been driven into the warehouse and loaded just across from my hiding place. From what I’d seen, four were just regular loads. The others were carrying something extra, hidden in a compartment between the trailer and cab. From the lengths they went to for security and the size and shape of the packages, it was both drugs and weapons.

All of the illicit stuff came from a blue box truck parked alongside the loading area. I didn’t recognize the company, Ranchos Rigs, but the plates were from New Mexico. In among a lot of edgy men, the driver, Nokes, had been the edgiest. He’d stood watching the transfer impatiently, talking only to Guy Windler, the Crate & Freight driver in charge of this operation. Windler took no crap from anyone else, but he was wary around Nokes.

I checked the cell in case the vibrate wasn’t working. Nothing.

Come on, Morales, the clock’s ticking. Look at your freaking texts.

Given what was going on, the outer gates were locked and the eight drivers, site manager, forklift operator and dispatcher in the compound were all in on it. But you don’t keep a shipping depot like this closed for long. Other drivers would be arriving. They had to get those trucks out of the depot before then. Of course, the police would be able to round them all up eventually, but who knows if the drugs and guns would still be on board. And the credit for the bust would be shared with whichever cities the trucks were bound for.

Morales, you want it for Denver PD, you come get it now.

No one had come back inside the warehouse yet. I crept out of my hiding place and risked taking shots of the box truck plate and logo with my cell camera. I sent them to Morales: Delivery vehicle.

I registered that the blue box truck had been closed up. The delivery had been completed, and Nokes was going to want out of here soon. Not on my watch. There was a chance he might lead Morales back up the supply chain.

I checked his doors—locked. There are lots of ways to sabotage a truck, but I needed it to be quick and quiet. I also didn’t want to be obvious. There weren’t many good places to hide in this depot, if someone were really looking for you. I started with a tire. Front and left, where he’d see it. I got a thin splinter from a pallet and jammed the air valve open.

I lay down to see how much of the engine I could reach from underneath. And the loading bay exit door in front of the truck started to rise.

Oh, crap.

The huge steel door would take about four seconds to get high enough for someone to see underneath. I pulled the splinter out and ran to the back, where the matching entry door was closed. Three seconds. Next to the truck entrance was a personnel door that was unlocked.

Someone had left a stock man’s coat tossed on a chair near the entrance. Two seconds. I grabbed it and put it on as I opened the door. One. It was a calculated risk taking the coat, but it was what everyone was wearing outside. I closed the door gently. Zero. Through the small glass panel I watched Nokes go to his truck and stare at the half-deflated tire.

Double crap. I’d been flushed from hiding and all I’d gained was a few minutes.

Dammit, Morales, where are you?

I was on the far side of the warehouse from whatever commotion had gotten everyone outside, but there would be another truck coming around here any minute. Turning the stiff collar up on the coat was barely half a disguise. I sprinted down the side of the warehouse, trailing coat like Batman, and slid into the dark gap between the warehouse and the dispatcher’s office. I made my way down to the end and peered out carefully into the central area.

There was a gentle rain falling, making blurry halos around the sodium floodlights. Mack trucks, looming blank-eyed and sinister in the dark, were lined up in rows, ready to roll. The commotion was centered around the last truck loaded. It was one of the ones carrying drugs, and there’d been a problem with the hydraulics. It looked as if the cab’s steering had broken while it was maneuvering back into line. It was partly blocking the exit from the warehouse. Except for that, the dispersal might have started already. A huge lucky break for me and the Denver PD.

A group was standing in front of the faulty cab, centered around Windler. He was only an inch or two taller than my five-ten, but massively heavy in the chest and shoulders. The bulk of him, the way he lowered his head, and his dark brown, unkempt hair and beard made me think of a bull buffalo. That crazed, wall-eyed look he’d given me this afternoon during my HR rounds shouted don’t get in my way. He’d refused my questions and I was so going to report him for it.

Estes, the site manager, was standing alongside him, fidgeting and looking at his watch. They’d given up on the faulty cab. Another cab had been pulled up and was sitting there with its engine idling while they transferred the contents of the compartment. Headlights supplemented the sodium floodlight on the side of the office. The dispatcher, forklift operator and one of the drivers were staying to help, but the others were starting to drift towards their own rigs. Damn.

My cell tickled. I pulled it out and shielded the screen.

From Morales: Are you still inside compound?

At last, and he was treating it seriously. Yes. Trucks about to roll.

Shouting brought my attention back to the group. Nokes had come back out of the warehouse and squared up to Windler, gesturing in agitation.

“…some fucker in here. The fucking hydraulics go on your truck and then some fucker’s let the air out of my tire.”

I couldn’t hear Windler’s response. His back was to me and he was drowned out by Nokes’s panicked shouting.

“I’m telling you, there was someone in the warehouse. And they’ve been out here, fucking with your trucks. Shit! We’re busted, man, we’re busted.”

So much for the lucky break. The hydraulics were nothing to do with me. He was adding two and two and getting a big number. The drivers were returning. Even the guys trying to switch the cabs had stopped and come across.

I didn’t wait to hear what Windler said back to Nokes. It was time to find another hiding place.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Kobo

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~ by Suzie on April 17, 2013.

9 Responses to “Interview with Urban Fantasy Author Mark Henwick”

  1. I still need to give this a read 😛

    • The books will wait for you! I warn you, if you get hooked, the longer you leave it, the more you’ll have to read. Don’t come complaining, as several reviewers have done, that I kept you awake all night 🙂

  2. Love the books – we need more books that have strong female leads that don’t have to be smothered in romance.

  3. I too love the strong female characters and I also like a bit of romance! But what I have aappreciated the most about the first two books is the unique subculture that Amber runs up against. Creative…not the same old concepts. So thank you and I am waiting patiently for your next book.

  4. Dear Fellow Reader,

    If you haven’t, buy the books. “Sleight of Hand” is great; “Bite Back” is even better. I see that a number of the other comments point to the powerful female protagonist. While I agree that Amber is all that, there are a lot of other books with similar wise-cracking, tough-but-gooey-inside heroines. What distinguishes the series for me is that Mark has the rare ability to combine believable paranormal world-building, powerful action sequences and cogent political maneuvering into a tight package.

    While the stories flow well, both books have threads running through them that the reader won’t find the first go-round, which means that later readings are more interesting than simply enjoying a scene or refreshing a memory. I especially enjoy rereading a book, hitting an early paragraph and thinking, “OK, now I know what that means!”. That ability to blend levels of complexity places the writing at a higher level than your run-of-the-mill girl/vampire/werewolf love triangle.

    One aspect of Amber’s back-story I appreciate in particular is her military experience, which gives her skill set a degree of credibility that’s very uncommon within the genre. How many stories have you read where the protagonist suddenly discovers she has special abilities and is suddenly able to fight like a master warrior, analyze tactical combat situations, construct strategies and balance political realities against moral and ethical standards after spending her working years as a bartender? Amber’s understanding of these areas has a solid basis in her prior training. Ironically, that training also helps explains her emotional hesitation and missteps as well as her anguish over becoming an Athenate–it’s a lack of competency she’s not used to, and it’s frustrating.

    Now I’m going to go read the books again and see if there’s anything else Mark slipped in that I missed the first three times. Mark, I’m not patient. Write the next d**n book so I can buy it!

    • As a female Army veteran, I appreciate your comment, Hank. I wish there were more books featuring military females as leads. Usually, they are badly portrayed side characters which annoys the heck out of me.

    • Thank you Hank! I can’t tell you how many times during writing Sleight of Hand I looked at something I’d written and thought ‘nah, wasting time, Mark, no one will ever bother to get that’. It was a huge boost when I started to get feedback telling me that readers were re-reading and picking up the little hidden hooks and layered stuff.
      I’m working hard, even on the road as I am at the moment (writing from the Czech Republic). 1,500 words this morning, and as soon as I get off the internet, I’ll have another 1,000. The road to this town is through darksome woods, and I could almost hear the howling wolves. Inspirational. I also passed through a dusty little village where, surreally, the local biker’s club was meeting – fat boy Harleys, leather and bandannas everywhere. It’s a shame Amber knocked off most of ZK already 🙂

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