Interview with Mark Chisnell

Mark Chisnell

Interview Date: 6/26/2012


One place to start the story is when you get loose from school or college, when you suddenly realise you now have to make all those choices for yourself, rather than have them set by parents, teachers, the exam system, etc, etc... In my case, I chose to travel...
After a summer in a sports equipment factory, loading rugby posts onto lorries, I had a working holiday visa for Australia and the cash to buy a one-way ticket to Sydney. Along with the - less than concrete career plan - that I'd travel and then write a book about the experience.

When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

It’s about 25 years since I had my first travel story published in the New Zealand Herald – and it was just something I’d always wanted to do.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? (Assuming said power would be reasonably "powerful.")

Breathing like a fish underwater would be pretty cool.

Kev's response: Far better than breathing like a human under water!

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?


Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

There are a few writers that I particularly loved when I was younger, and I think they were all a big motivator in different ways. The first was Arthur Ransome, who wrote fantastic children’s books about messing around in boats. They really sparked my love of the ocean. The next two were Ian Fleming and Alistair MacLean. The latter is almost forgotten now, but he was a hugely successful thriller writer in the 1960s and 1970s, and I could inhale one of his books in an afternoon when I was a kid. When I was a little older it was books with ideas that took more of a hold – George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm stopped me in my tracks for weeks, I couldn’t think about anything else. And then there was another largely forgotten book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig – that was the one that got me studying philosophy as well as physics, so it had a pretty big impact on my life.

Kev's response: For a moment, I thought that said "messing around with goats." I did a double-take on it. Dude, stop breathing the books!

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

I always plan everything, not just books!

Kev's response: I do on most things. I can't imagine taking a trip or executing an evil plot without planning it first.

Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

I have a scheduled working day, I think you have to treat it like a grown-up job... I’m starting to sound pretty dull here, aren’t I?

Kev's response: Not at all. I've found the same thing. You have to force yourself to get things done, or it's all too easy to sit back and read, watch some TV, etc.

Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

Thrillers for both reading and writing.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

Finishing a book and seeing it out there – I once saw a guy reading one of my novels in a gym – that was a nice moment.

Kev's response: Oh, now that would be a sweet moment. Did you offer to sign it for him out of thanks?

Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

First drafts – hate ‘em.

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

I think I’ve already revealed a certain amount of OCD behaviour – show don’t tell!

Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

Recently I’ve had a couple on the go, but I think I’m going to simplify it back to only actually writing one at a time, although I think I’ll always be planning and working on ideas for the next book or two.

In my evil plot to take over the world, what one animal type do you advise I use and why?

Cockroaches, they’re indestructible. And frankly, who’d want to live in a world ruled by cockroaches? Everyone would throw in the towel and you’d win easily.

Kev's response: Considering that elections are rolling around again, I'm debating on using politicians. They are mindless, don't mind getting into screwed up situations, and really don't mind screwing over other people. Cockroaches are pretty nasty, not sure even I want them in my evil lair.

Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

I think paper books will stick around as boutique items – presents, coffee table decorations, souvenirs, special editions that people will want to keep – but all the real reading will be digital within a decade.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on a novel called Powder Burn that I’m hoping to finish and publish in the new year – you can read about it on my website:

Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

It’s harder work than it looks – and you’ve got to stick at it if you want to succeed.

Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?

I have a website with a blog and background on my work and writing the novels, and links to all the ebook retailers:
And of course I’m on Smashwords:
And Twitter:
And Facebook:
And Goodreads:
I’d love to hear from people on books, writing, boats anything!

Kev's response: Mark, thanks for joining me on my evil boat race of DOOM! Good fortune on the books!

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