Nick Marsh is a veterinary surgeon working in Devon, UK. In addition, he is the author of the Conduit sequence of novels about Alan Reece, a young man who discovers he is Earth’s ‘Conduit’ – a link between the material world, and the shadowy world beyond. In this interview, he joins us to talk about his latest project – a fantasy novel, The Ancients, now available as an Amazon Kindle e-book.
Hi Marc, thanks for giving me the chance to talk to you!
My pleasure. Let’s start with some information about your latest novel, The Ancients.
The Ancients is a fantasy novel, set in a country torn apart by civil war. It follows the fortunes of Dazlar, a knight returning to his homeland, and a young woman with no past. Together, they attempt to piece together her missing memories, not realising the danger they are putting themselves in by trying.
I’ve wanted to write a fantasy novel for a while; of course, me being me, I couldn’t resist throwing in some science fiction too. Maybe it’s a reflex for me – the Conduit novels started off as a straight novel about life as a vet, and before I knew it a transparent cow had crept onto the page. There’s probably a medical term for it. Don’t misunderstand me, The Ancients is in almost all respects, a fantasy novel. I’ll leave it up to the readers to discover where and when the science fiction enters the frame!
What drew you to this story?
I wanted to explore some ideas that I’m very interested in – themes like the nature of reality and the meaning of life, how different people and personalities react to serious cracks in their belief system. All of that is in The Ancients, to some degree. It’s a nice way for me to examine the ideas without being put in a rubber room (well, not yet, anyway).
On a less pretentious level – I’m a nerd, and I’ve rolled a fair number of funny-shaped dice in my time. I just wanted to try my hand at a fantasy, and I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed doing so. Call me an old softie (actually, I’d prefer it if you called me a young softie) but I wanted to write something of a character story too. In all my favourite novels – the ones I keep returning to – it’s not the setting or the story that move me and make me read them again, it’s the characters, ones that feel like real people. I hope I’ve achieved something close to that with Dazlar and the others.
Who are some of your literary influences?
Well, that varies depending on which book I’m writing. For The Ancients, Lord of the Rings, the Dragonlance Chronicles, and many geeky evenings playing Dungeons and Dragons all played their part, but casting the net a little further, Philip K Dick, William Golding and even Charles Darwin have all warped my fragile little mind. For the Conduit novels, Douglas Adams and H.P. Lovecraft are both strong influences, if rather strange bedfellows.
The Ancients is available as an e-book. Do you have any thoughts on that medium that you’d like to share?
Well, as I reply to this, it’s a few days after Christmas, and I’m still umbilically attached to my shiny new Kindle. A few minutes after unwrapping it, I did the same thing everyone else does when they got a kindle – downloaded an enormous number of free classics which I’d love to read but am well aware I will never get round to looking at. My own kindle now contains the complete works of Shakespeare, Wodehouse, Dickens, and many others, which have about of much chance of being read as a Christmas sprout on my plate has of being eaten. But they’ll make me feel clever if anyone has a look over my reading list.
Seriously, though, you don’t have to be Stephen King to realise that the world of publishing is undergoing a seismic shift at the moment. For myself. a child of the seventies, I think I still prefer the feel, the look, and even (please don’t think I’m too weird) the smell of an actual book, but I can see many advantages to eBooks. The portability, the ability to search and quickly find quotes. It’s nice to be able to read PDFs and other electronic documents on my kindle too. I suspect that the eBook may eventually replace the paperback as the easy, cheap and disposable read, whilst the hardback will still be around for presents and bookshelves. But who can say for sure about the future? I’m still waiting for my hoverboard from Back to the Future part 2.
In addition to writing, you’re a full-time veterinary surgeon. Where and/or how do you find the time to fit writing into your schedule?
Ah, now, I came prepared for this one! I wrote a short article for the New Writers UK Newsletter about that very topic. http://www.newwritersuk.co.uk/newsletter_july2011.pdf
For everyone who doesn’t follow the link – quick summary, black magic.
I understand that you’re currently working on a new novel. Can you talk about that one? What’s it all about?
Absolutely! The Express Diaries is a globe-trotting (well, Europe-trotting) story of intrigue, secret cults and dark magic set on and around the Orient Express in 1925. It’s inspired by my good friends at http://www.yog-sothoth.com, a site dedicated to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, although I’ve taken it in my own direction.
I’m currently working my way through the second draft of the novel, and hopefully it will be coming out at some point next year. I might be able to get an extract to you soon!
Is there any chance we’ll get to see a third installment of the Conduit series at any point in the future? Or are you working on anything else?
I hope so, yes, I’ve got lots more ideas of horrible things to put Alan & the gang through. I’m giving him a bit of a rest at the moment, poor chap, as I’ve put him through the wringer recently. As soon as he’s recovered enough, I’ll send him on his way again! I’ll keep you informed.
As far as other writing projects go – I’m mainly working on my blog, Maybe it –should- happen to a vet (http://lordof1.blogspot.com) , an intimate and (hopefully) humorous examination of what it’s like working as a vet at the dawn of the 21st century. It’s a great stress reliever for me, and a bit of an insight into my life outside of writing. Comments and opinions on my blog would be enormously welcome!
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me!
No problem at all, Marc, thanks for inviting me.
In addition to checking out Nick’s blog, you can visit him online at http://www.nick-marsh.co.uk. And be sure to take a look at The Ancients, as well! Click here for US purchse. Click here for UK purchase.