JW: I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? Or have you had any other jobs?
ME: I studied law, became a barrister, corporate executive then with a partner started a computer services company. I had always wanted to write and when my computer company was sold in the early 2000s decided to give it a shot.
JW: Where did the inspiration for the Dead in The Water come from?
ME: I usually get inspiration for my book plots when doing my research. In the case of Dead In The Water, my reading about the chosen period, Summer 1942, opened my mind to various strands of history. These included the impact in Britain of the arrival of the American forces in that year, the theft of art from Jewish owners in the run-up to the war, and the continuing espionage intrigues of the various combatants. My plot emerged from these strands.
JW: How much research was involved in Dead in the Water, as it is set during 1942 and WW2?
ME: I do a great deal of research before every book. I go to libraries, go online, read my own collection of wartime books, read new books etc. I usually spend around 3 months researching before starting each book.
JW: Who would you like to see playing the part of DCI Frank Merlin, if Dead In The Water is turned into a TV Show/Film?
ME: I always find this a difficult one. Spending much of my time as I do in the 1940s, the names that immediately spring to mind are actors of that vintage eg Ray Milland, Gregory Peck, Cary Grant. As they are all dead this is not much use! Of people who are alive there is a Welsh actor called Luke Evans who might fit the bill. Also maybe Christian Bale.
JW: As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?
ME: I was both an avid reader and TV watcher. As regards books I loved The Wind In The Willows, The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Lord Of The Rings and many others. I was a rather precocious reader. I remember reading and enjoying The Pickwick Papers when I was around 9 or 10. As for TV, I watched everything which was pretty easy then as there were only two channels. Champion the Wonder Horse was one favourite. Robin Hood and Ivanhoe were others.
JW: As we are now in May, which book that you’ve read this year has been your favourite? OR which are you most looking forward to?
ME: Kolymsky Heights, a classic thriller by Lionel Davidson. I’ve also read a few very enjoyable books by Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jonasson. I’m currently in the middle of the book I was most looking forward to this year, which is Don Winslow’s latest, City of Fire.
JW: Have you ever been starstruck by meeting one of your heroes in real life?
ME: I am Welsh and a keen rugby fan. Meeting Sir Gareth Edwards was good. Many years ago I spent a lot of time in California. I was once invited to a vintage Hollywood party. Among the people I met were Ginger Rogers, Rosalind Russell and Sophia Loren. I’m not sure I’d call them heroes of mine but I was certainly starstruck.
JW: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
ME: My children.
JW: If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
ME: The first choice would have to be The London Blitz (from a safe vantage point!). The second would be something in Ancient Rome. Cicero giving one of his famous speeches perhaps. Or the assassination of Julius Caesar.
JW: What is something you are passionate about aside from writing?
ME: Reading. Watching rugby and cricket. Listening to music. Travel.
JW: Can you share a shelfie with us? (A photo of your bookshelf)
JW: If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?
ME: Churchill, Dickens, Mozart, Van Morrison. Churchill was a flawed but great man and looms very large in what I write about. Dickens because he was such a fantastic writer. Mozart and Van because I love their music so much. Not sure how well this group would get on though!
JW: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
ME: To be persistent in whatever you do, whether in business, writing or life in general. Very little is achieved without sticking at it. ‘Keep buggering on’ in the words of Winston Churchill.
JW: What’s next? What are you currently working on?
ME: Currently researching Frank Merlin 6. No title as yet. Will be set in Spring 1943.
You can BUY Mark Ellis’s Books HERE
You can find Mark Ellis’s website HERE