Mark Cantrell, Author

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BLOG: Reflections On Silas

Posted by Mark Cantrell on January 3, 2014 at 1:20 PM

The darkest dreams are made for real

Nightmares are the stuff of fiction. Mark Cantrell ponders the realisation of the dark vision that is his novel SILAS MORLOCK

Time flies. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was taking part in a roundtable discussion organised by a Manchester hosting company called UK Fast; me and a disparate group of journalists, writers, publishers, and editors, all gathered to discuss the future of books as the digital revolution gathers pace.


At the time, around September 2011, I hadn't long dived headlong into the emerging Indie self-publishing scene, having published my novel CITIZEN ZERO towards the end of 2010. In part, this was my 'qualification' for being present at the discussion. The other was my day job with Excel Publishing, another Manchester company, and the fact that helping to organise the event was a former colleague who'd 'jumped ship' to handle our host's marketing. It's not what you know, as the saying goes, but who…


Anyway, it turned out to be a rather serendipitous meeting. Among our number was Sara Slack, managing director of Inspired Quill (IQ). Sara's outfit was starting out; young, fresh, committed, and eager to make a name for itself as a new, up-and-coming publisher, having leapt into the publishing fray from its origins as a literary review site. Gutsy stuff; I'd encountered IQ's earlier incarnation through my Indie exploits, so I tipped Sara the wink about the event as a publicity and networking session she might like to consider.


That might well have been the end of it; from a multiversal point of view, it probably was in a whole sliced loaf of alternate universes, but in this one causality proceeded towards where I sit today, reflecting on matters Silas.


I liked what Sara had to say in the course of the roundtable event itself, and in the guests' chat that followed. As memory serves, she was a staunch advocate of both digital and print, and – more pertinently – of the power of great storytelling; none of this corporate-blandified, committee-approved turgidity that seems to be the daily bread of the 'creative' industries allegedly powering the 'knowledge' economy, these days.


But I threaten a digression there; with a handful of titles already under its belt by this time, IQ was looking for more, and so I decided to give it a shot with my second novel, SILAS MORLOCK. Naturally, it's nerve wracking submitting work, sitting back and waiting for the nay or the yea of it, and this occasion was no different, but to my delight – after a good many years of receiving the former – Sara, the lady from IQ, was the one who said yes!


So, we were on. The rest, you might say, is history. Alternatively, you might call it the prequel to the here and now, because SILAS MORLOCK is finally a published novel, part of the diverse IQ catalogue. Pretty nifty, eh?


There's something quite delightful (I won't say exciting because that is such a press release cliché!) about being involved with such a new and enthusiastic venture: it's a tremendous journey into the unknown, not simply following a path, but hacking it out of the jungle and finding the way ahead. In more ways than one, I might add, since working with a publisher is pretty much uncharted territory for this author.


Of course, the venture could all have gone belly up – that's all part of the thrill of it. Kind of. Even as you accept the risk, it must be said, there is the fervent hope that it never comes to the worse, but as it happens I've been there, done that, before now. False starts can make a foot weary traveller wary of the next step, too, so it adds a little extra satisfaction to the firm knowledge that old Silas is finally out there.


Some years before, both CITIZEN ZERO and SILAS MORLOCK had been picked up by a newstart publisher called Writers of Worlds (around 2006, if I remember right); sadly, as is the risk with such things, the venture ultimately failed to take off before either title ever saw the light of day. That's the nature of the beast; happily, IQ has provided the fire that re-births the phoenix.


For some, I am now officially a published novelist. Personally, I already regarded myself as such courtesy of my Indie exploits with CITIZEN ZERO, but it's nice to have the backing of a third party; people with sufficient faith in SILAS MORLOCK to make it the best it can be and take it to market. There'll be those who hold out, of course; for some I'll never be a properly published author until my work is taken on by one of the Big 5, or lauded by the metropolitan London literati in the pages of some 'high brow' journal, or until the moon turns to mouldy cheese. But, hey, poo to them, right?


So, SILAS MORLOCK has gone from being a potentiality to a reality; we got there in the end. It's been a long process, turning my raw manuscript into the finished product, but it's been an eye-opening and encouraging process. And I have to say, I am well chuffed with the end results: the guys at IQ have done a damn good job.


The novel as I submitted it was already pretty darn good (well, I would say that) but my editors Peter and Austin, and Sara herself, put the manuscript through its paces, challenged me (in the best way), and ensured that second best was never an option. The end result was to make a good book even better.


At last, I can cry with insane elation: "It's alive!"


The story of SILAS MORLOCK has been a long time in the making, from his sombre conception in a Bradford pub, way back in 2001, when the initial ideas slithered down my neck with the last dregs of a pint, through those long years to 2006 when I pulled the novel into existence from the firmament of raw nothing from whence its dark visions came, to that arduous and often disheartening search for publication.


In comparison, IQ's lovingly performed midwifery made for a relatively pain-free birth.


Now the hard work begins, and for that – dear reader – I need your help, for a book only really comes alive in the minds of its readers. At the end of the day, for all the advances born of the digital revolution, the most sophisticated ereader of them all is the human brain. SILAS MORLOCK, the novel, is but the source code – a potentiality waiting to become a parallel reality in the human mind, the most powerful processing space there is.


So go to it. Your copy awaits. Upload, boot up, and live the dream. SILAS MORLOCK awakes.


Mark Cantrell,


3 January 2014

Copyright © January 2014. All Rights Reserved.


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