If you read nothing else on this blog…read this! (Presenting, Mark Iles: Guest Author for this Week)
The mark of a great writer is tenacity, and the willingness to receive feedback. The first (tenacity) is the ability to go on even when one’s work is not accorded the recognition it deserves. The second (willingness to receive feedback) is the readiness to see the good in every feedback – humbly acknowledging that even the worst of feedbacks can contain nuggets of wisdom. Mark Iles possesses these two attributes. Let me backtrack for moment to say that a great writer is not necessary one who has sold millions in copies of his work – as a matter of fact, the craze to idolize popular pop cultures has seen ‘writers’ who can hardly string together simple sentences selling their books in the millions.
And now, back to what I was saying.
As those who have penned a few words would testify, it is far easier to be tenacious than to accept feedback, because criticism might lead to the trashing of work on which one may already have spent inordinate amount of time. Besides that, critiquing a writer’s work is akin to telling a mother that contrary to what she might believe her child is not the smartest or the most beautiful of kids. In both cases, it is difficult to accept anything but glowing tributes; although every writer knows that openness to feedback is extremely important if he (or she) hopes to hone his skills and be the best, rarely does logic ever win in this shaky territory.
I have known Mark Iles both on a professional and personal level for many years – he and I obtained our Masters in Professional Writing from the same school (University College Falmouth, Cornwall). Consequently, when I say that he is a great writer it is as a result of having experienced him at work on numerous occasions. It is therefore with great honour that I have the pleasure in presenting to you the author of A Pride of Lions, Mark Iles.
Here’s a tweensy excerpt from A Pride of Lions to wet your appetite, but first…
Imagine a future where crime is punishable either by death, or servitude in the Penal Regiments. You can only hope that you live long enough to complete your sentence in the military and finish it in one piece, but even if you do you can never return home to the planet where you committed your crimes. In this scene Selena Dillon and her friend Kes Philips turn the tables on their basic training instructors.
And now, the excerpt…
“Even through their protective clothing, they could feel the icy cold of the stream; its numbing wetness as they floated slowly into the camp. If they got it right, and quickly enough, they’d be able to change into warm dry clothes soon. As Selena had suspected, there was only one guard on the waterfront. Creeping from the water, Kes took him out with silent and savage delight. Stealthily, the others sneaked towards the instructors’ tent, neutralising the remaining guards, sensors and auto-alarms as they went.
They could see the instructors through the tent flaps, enjoying the comfort of hot food and a warm environment. Selena looked at Kes and the others, who nodded.
Ripping the tent flaps aside, the recruits burst into the marquee.
The buzz of conversation died instantly, as the astonished instructors gaped at the levelled and cocked weapons pointing straight at them.
“What the hell?” began one sergeant. “Hey, well done, Dillon—”
Selena kicked him straight in the face, stopping him in mid-sentence and knocking him off his chair. “Shut the fuck up! You’re all dead, every one of you, and we all know that dead men don’t need clothes. So get rid of them, now!” Seeing the glint in her cold blue eyes, no one argued.
When they’d stripped, Selena said, “Tie their hands behind their backs. Good, that’s it. Now outside, you lot. That’s far enough, now sit down.”
Only when the course instructors were sitting naked in the snow did Selena and the others change into the instructors’ discarded clothes, post sentries and begin to eat the hot veritable feast.
They had almost finished their meal when they were suddenly interrupted by a major, whom one of the sentries had captured.
“What the hell’s going on here?” he thundered, glaring straight at Kes.
Kes shrugged and pointed to Selena. “Ask her.”
“Ask her, Sir! Well, are you supposed to be in charge here, woman?”
Selena’s eyes glinted dangerously as she saluted. “I am in charge here, Sir, yes.”
“Recruit Private Dillon, Sir.”
The major stared at her for a moment longer, and then to everyone’s surprise he began to laugh. “I’m Major Van Pluy.” They shook hands as he continued to grin. “Well done, Dillon. Now, is there any of that food left?” He cast a contemptuous eye at the tent flap beyond which sat the shivering instructors and added; “Serves the buggers right. You know, I do believe that I’m really going to enjoy this meal.”
I know you are now dying to run out and get your copy but first, get to know a bit about the author.
Mark works for Southampton University, and also as a freelance writer. His short stories have been published in Back Brain Recluse, Dream, New Moon, Auguries, Haunts, Kalkion, Screaming Dreams, and the anthologies Right To Fight, Escape Velocity and Monk Punk. With an 8th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo he’s also written non-fiction for Combat, Taekwondo & Korean Martial Arts, Fighters, Junk, Martial Arts Illustrated, profwritingacademy.com and calmzone.net.
His first full length work was ‘Kwak’s Competition Taekwondo’, and he also has a short story collection entitled ‘Distant Shores’. ‘A Pride of Lions’ is the first in ‘The Darkening Stars’ series. Having written features and fiction for over 30 years Mark applied to do an MA in Professional Writing. ‘Pride’ had been bouncing around in his head for some time, and he seized the opportunity of the MA to produce this first novel as part of the course. Mark says it’s without doubt the best choice he’s ever made, as it really focused him, and that getting this novel accepted is the perfect conclusion to a wonderful experience. He’s now focusing on the second book in this series, ‘The Cull of Lions’.
What started Mark on the road to writing this series:
“I’ve always been fascinated by civilisations, both ancient and modern. Empires rise, and fall. You only have to look at those of Rome, the Inca’s, Ottoman’s and even that of the British Empire and you can use this as a template for the future. Mix in mankind’s need to explore and his constant wars, rising crime rates and exotic diseases, and you have the beginnings of a story.”
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A Pride of Lions – Blurb
When Selena Dillon is caught in an assassination attempt on her planets ruler, she finds herself sentenced to 25 years servitude in mankind’s most feared military force, the Penal Regiments. Much to her surprise she enjoys the harsh military life and is quickly selected for officer training.
But something’s wrong, worlds are falling silent. There’s no cry for help and no warning, just a sudden eerie silence. When a flotilla of ships is despatched to investigate they exit hyperspace to find themselves facing a massive alien armada. Outnumbered and outgunned the flotilla fight a rearguard action, allowing one of their number to slip away and warn mankind.
As worlds fall in battle, and man’s fleets are decimated, Selena is selected to lead a team of the Penal Regiments most battle-hardened veterans, in a last ditch attempt to destroy the aliens’ home world. If she fails then mankind is doomed. But little does Selena know what fate has in store for her, that one of her crew is a psychopathic killer and a second the husband of one of his victims.
Can she hold her team together, get them to their target and succeed in the attack? Selena knows that if she fails then there will be nothing at all left to go home to.
Don’t miss out! BUY your copy of A Pride of Lions: