The Assassin's Mark

DavidEbsI’m delighted to welcome fellow SilverWood Books author, David Ebsworth, to my blog today.  Dave began to write seriously in  2009 and his debut novel, The Jacobites’ Apprentice, was critically acclaimed by the Historical Novel Society who deemed it “worthy of a place on every historical fiction bookshelf.” But he’s here today to tell us about his new novel, The Assassin’s Mark which is published today.

Anyway, over to you, David.
Well first, thanks very much for welcoming me to your blog, Alison. It’s a great privilege to be here. And especially today, as you say, to launch my second novel, The Assassin’s Mark.  It’s set in 1938, towards the end of the Spanish Civil War, and follows the trials and tribulations of left-wing reporter Jack Telford, stuck on a tour bus with a very strange mixture of other travellers as he tries to uncover the hidden truths beneath the conflict. But, in the words of the synopsis, “Jack must contend first with his own gullibility, the tragic death of a fellow-passenger, capture by Republican guerrilleros, a final showdown at Spain’s most holy shrine and the possibility that he has been badly betrayed. Betrayed and in serious danger.”

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was researching a novel about the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War and came across a paper on the Battlefield Tours that Franco launched – mainly for British tourists – before the war was even finished. It was too good a story to ignore.

What genre does your book fall under?
Historical thriller with a generous amount Agatha Christie and a splash of Rick Stein, seasoned with a pinch of the picaresque (Love it!).

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I always picture actors in my main character roles anyway so, in this case, Christopher Eccleston as Jack Telford and Rachel Weisz as Valerie Carter-Holt.

AssassinsMark-coverWhat is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A Christie-esque thriller set on a battlefield tour bus towards the end of the Spanish Civil War.

How did you get published?
I spent a long time looking for agents and “traditional publishers” when I wrote Jacobites. A lot of people that I respect were very supportive about it but the agents I contacted were either too rude to even acknowledge me, or told me it wouldn’t fit their lists, or liked it but weren’t taking on any more new authors. Also, in meeting many other wordsmiths, I realised that there’s a huge mythology about “traditional publishers”. It’s generally thought that first, they pay their authors a generous advance; second, that they get your work automatically onto bookstore shelves; and third, that they do all the marketing for you. It’s a load of nonsense for all but a tiny minority. So, being passionate about my writing, and having market-tested a bit, I decided to go “independent”, publishing with the help of SilverWood Books and using their high quality professional backing (registrations, typesetting, design, proofing, etc.) but using my own editor (the inimitable Jo Field) and jacket cover graphic designer (the indefatigable and innovative Cathy Helms). I’ve found it a fantastic way for a new writer to get published and I love the buzz of doing my own marketing.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I started to write in February 2011 and finished the first draft (180,000 words) in October that year – then travelled with it through all its locations in Northern Spain to check the “feel” and complete the first re-write (168,000 words). The final version is 152,000 words.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
C J Sansom’s Winter in Madrid; Dave Boling’s Guernica; Rebecca Pawel’s Death of a Nationalist; Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Long list, I’m afraid: old comrades like Jack Jones and Frank Deagan from whom I first learned about the “real” experience of the Spanish Civil War; Spanish family friends who lived through the war and Franco’s repression that followed it; wonderful historians like Antony Beevor and Paul Preston who’ve never lost sight of the Spanish Civil War’s significance for all of us; and Professor Sandie Holguín who introduced me to the bus tours that feature centrally in the story.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The Spanish Civil War is badly neglected by English-language fiction writers so, at one level, I wanted the novel to be informative as well as entertaining. I’d like it to be a “must” for all those who already have an affection for Spain and maybe want to learn a bit more about the country’s history and culture – while still being able to sit on a beach with a good pot-boiler and need to keep “turning the pages.”

The Assassin’s Mark is available via buying links on The Assassin’s Mark page.

For more about David’s previous novel, The Jacobites’ Apprentice, and other relevant information, you can visit his main website…

2 comments to The Assassin’s Mark

  • Lovely interview, Dave and Alison, thanks! Looking forward to reading “The Assassin’s Mark” – now vying for my attention on my Kindle alongside “Inceptio”! Where is a girl to begin? 😉

    Great photo, by the way – that is exactly how a writer’s study should look, Dave, and even better when the writer in question is clearly enjoying every minute of it!

  • Alison

    Re which book to read – I couldn’t possibly comment!

    Yes, a real writerly photo. 😉