With Mark Carver's Beast on sale this week - check it out here - we decided to sit down with the author himself and find out more about his inspiration for the book, his writing habits, and maybe even get a hint at what's in store for us readers in the future.
What Is Beast About?
In a nutshell, Beast is a disaster survival story that takes place aboard the world's largest offshore oil rig. People are careless, which leads to small problems, which lead to larger problems, which lead to BOOM! The book focuses on one man trying to stay alive but also save as many people as he can, with mixed results. It's a very fast-paced and relentless book that barely gives the reader time to breathe. It's adrenaline in book form.
What Made You Want To Write About An Oil Rig?
When I was writing the book prior to Beast, I was thinking about what to do next, and I thought, "How about an industrial disaster story?" Just like that. At first, I was considering making it about a mine shaft collapse, but I wanted something a bit more explosive, and an oil rig was the perfect setting. The problem was that I didn't know anything about oil rigs or the drilling industry at all, so I had to do a lot of research before I even started.
What Was It Like Working With A Co-Author?
When I realized that this book was going to be more than I could handle alone, I went onto an online oil drilling forum and posted a message asking if anyone would be interested in being a technical consultant for a book that I was writing. A driller named Michael Anatra responded, and after a few emails, I decided to bring him on board. Most of the writing process would be me writing a scene and then sending it to him for "clean up" - technical errors, terminology, etc. He did write several scenes in the book, though. The entire first scene was all his idea. Sometimes I would ask him, "We need this kind of problem. What could we do?" He would tell me, I would write it how I envisioned it happening, and he would tweak and correct it. It was a great process, and we worked together very well.
How Do You Think Beast Pushes The Boundaries Of What Is Usually Allowed In Christian Fiction?
The most obvious difference between Beast and books you usually find on the shelves in Christian bookstores would be the language. This is a story about roughnecks, and they're a rough bunch of guys. There aren't any rated-R words, but I included coarse language because that was true to the setting. There isn't any person-to-person violence, but a lot of people die and are maimed in horrific ways, and it might be a bit strong for some readers. I didn't want to revel in any of these unsavory elements, though. The protagonist is a Christian, and though he's not preaching to his coworkers, he is constantly praying as he struggles through this ordeal. I just wanted to write a realistic story about realistic people, and one of them happens to be a believer, but this wasn't an afterthought. The main character really wrestles with the questions anyone would ask in this situation: Why me? Why doesn't God do something? This isn't fair! etc.
What Made You Want To Become An Author?
I've been writing since I was in elementary school, but I've only made a serious push into the world of books in the last five years. I had so many stories welling up inside of me, I just had to get them out.
What Are Your Typical Writing Habits?
I usually write for an hour every night or every other night. It's a slower pace than I'd like, but with a job and three kids, there is little time in the day for writing.
Do You Have Any Advice For Aspiring Writers?
First and foremost is to write the best book you can. Don't think about getting a cool cover or building a website or laying out a marketing strategy until you have a product that you can be proud of. If it sells, great. If it doesn't, at least you created something you can admire.
What Are Some Other Books You Have Written / Published?
I have five self-published titles (The Age of Apollyon, Black Sun, Scorn, Indelible, and Cyn) and two books with The Crossover Alliance (Beast, Nikolai the Penitent). I have also written numerous short stories.
What Are Some Projects You Have Coming Up In The Future?
My medieval historical fiction epic Nikolai the Penitent comes out next month. I am working on a book right now called Balor in which the worlds of Mississippi hoodoo and mixed martial arts fighting collide. It should be ready for release early next year.