Mark Johnson #AuthorInTheSpotlight @MJKennington

Mark promo

I’m pleased to welcome debut novelist Mark to the blog today, although he’s no stranger to writing as you’ll find out. His novel, Changing Trains is available now and you can order a copy online by clicking here.

Thanks for joining me Mark. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?

Sure, I was born in Scotland, but I’ve lived most of my life in London. I studied English at London University and have worked as a journalist for about 25 years covering everything from business and finance to celebrity and pop culture.

I live between London and SW France, and not sure how Brexit is going to affect this situation.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve written most of my life, so it’s all I know, really. I love telling stories that inform, educate and entertain people. And I love different forms. Changing Trains is my first book, but I also write articles, blogs and make video content.

Tell me about your journey to publication

Nerve racking is a good way to describe it. I would have loved and agent and publisher at the outset, but they seem to be deluged with offers from writers, so although I have contacted some, I also wanted people to be able to start reading Changing Trains and hopefully enjoying it and learning from it.

It seems a real shame to me for people not to be able to read something decent until an agent or publisher decides to pick it up. It’s one of the great things about the internet and sites like Amazon. But if any agents do contact me, I’ll be very happy to discuss things with them.

In a nutshell, what is your book about?

Changing Trains is a gentle gay coming-of-age travel adventure set across 1980s Europe. It tells the story of Sam who gets on a Eurostar in the present day, but a chance encounter causes him to remember a train trip he took back in the 1980s – where he learned about the world beyond his own doorstep, his place in it and his own realisation of his sexual identity.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

I’m a big fan of Christopher Isherwood and the title is a nod to his story Mr Norris Changes Trains. There are little playful nods to Isherwood in the story itself. My working title for the story was ‘A boy on a train’.

How did you celebrate publication day?

This may sound rather dull, but I was doing ‘Dry January’ so I just had a cup of tea, some chocolate Minstrels and watched a film.

Do you have a work in progress just now?

Yes, I have a couple. One is a follow up called Changing Planes and I also have a series of short stories that I’m bringing together.

What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!

I actually just re-read Mr Norris Changes Trains, and I’m trying to read Devil May Care, the James Bond novel written by Sebastian Faulks. I’m a massive Bond fan and there are lots of Bond references in Changing Trains.


                           Mr Norris Changes Trains by [Isherwood, Christopher]    

What are you reading just now? 

Aside from Devil May Care, I have Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty and The Folding Star primed.

The Line of Beauty: Picador Classic by [Hollinghurst, Alan]

If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?

I want to say The Bible for all the spiritual support and practical guidance it would offer and of course all the great stories it contains.

Is there a book you’d like to see made into a film? Who would be in your dream cast?

Am I allowed to say Changing Trains? I’m actually ‘Tweet-stalking’ directors to do that. Francis Lee, director of BAFTA winning God’s Own Country and Call Me By Your Name directors James Ivory and Luca Guadagnino.

Dream cast –  Ben Whishaw, Josh O’connor, Daniel Radcliffe, Julie Walters, Emma Watson, Emily Blunt, Maggie Smith, I could go on… 

How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?

My Twitter name is @MJKennington and I have a Facebook page called Changing Trains and you’ll find me blogging about loads of things here:

And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

I would love to be James Bond, but a gay James Bond. As well as being a great spy, he’d look amazing and be very wise and cheeky. History is littered with strong, gay heroes like Alexander the Great, but we’ve been writing them out in recent times. Time to bring them back.


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