Crime author Mark Edwards is back and although he and co-author Louise Voss landed a book deal with HarperCollins last year, he’s written his latest book on his own, and is self-publishing it on Kindle. Entitled The Magpies, it’s a neighbours-from-hell story that sees a couple move into their dream apartment, only to find the neighbours downstairs aren’t so dreamy. In fact, they’re downright leathal… The Magpies is a psychological thriller that just might just make you cringe. Actually, scratch that, it WILL make you cringe, as it hits the places all those reality TV shows about neighbours from hell just can’t reach. We asked Mark to sit on the CFL sofa and talk us through The Magpies – one for sorrow, two for joy…
First off, what do you hope crime fiction lovers will love about The Magpies?
The Magpies doesn’t start with a body being found. There are no crazed serial killers stalking unsuspecting women. Instead, it’s a story that could happen to anyone at any time. That’s what makes it scary.
It’s something that touches a lot of people – parking spaces, garden access, extensions, noise – they all seem to get people very worked up, although this story is something else. What inspired the neighbours-from-hell theme and where did your characters come from?
In my 20s I lived in a flat above a married couple who did everything they could to upset my then-girlfriend and me. Nasty letters, hoax parcels, cigarette butts under the door. Although nothing truly awful happened – nobody died! – I tried to imagine what I would do if that situation had been taken to its extreme. Would I run or stay and fight?
My own neighbours from hell were a seemingly normal couple, lower middle-class, in their early 30s. They seemed alright when we moved in… Apart from that, the main characters are an everyman / woman, an ordinary couple with ordinary dreams. People just like me, and you too probably…
Working with Louise Voss, you’ve written the stalker thriller Killing Cupid, and the Kate Maddox science thrillers Catch Your Death and All Fall Down. What made you want to go further into psychological territory?
The science thrillers of Catch Your Death and All Fall Down were a bit of a diversion, to be honest. Psychological thrillers are our first love – it’s what we read mainly – and we intend to keep going in that direction.
Without Louise it must be a bit different – not bouncing ideas off one another, or alternating chapters as you did. What’s it been like flying solo again?
It’s been scary. With Louise, I have a safety net that gives me confidence – I can write a chapter and get instant feedback. On my own, I have no idea if it’s rubbish or not until the end. But Louise helped edit The Magpies and made lots of good suggestions.
You and Louise were the all-stars of the self-publishing scene a couple of years ago, then won a book deal. Why did you decide to self-publish this one?
I wanted to get it out there quickly – it wasn’t sent to any publishers. All Fall Down under-performed and I wanted to get The Magpies out there and hopefully get some momentum going again before Forward Slash comes out this summer. So far it’s worked like a dream – The Magpies has already hit the top 30 on Amazon and the reviews have been better than I could have hoped for.
What advice do you have for other authors going that route?
1 – Be prepared to work really hard – indie success stories are rare. Most people only sell a few copies. You need to be able to put in hours every day to market your book until the Amazon algorithms take over.
2 – Cling to every fan you find as if they are your best friend. I reply to every tweet, every Facebook post, every email and make sure I am always positive, generous and friendly. Be human, be nice and people will respond.
3 – Try not to become addicted to checking your sales figures. Amazon’s stats update in real time and are more addictive than crack, your mood veering wildly between ecstasy and despair every 10 minutes depending on your sales figures. Or is that just me?
Watch for our review of The Magpies, soon…