Interview with Edward Marnier, author of Brief Encounters


Edward Marnier

Ed picBorn March 1949, Fordingbridge England.  Brought up New Forest and West of Ireland. Educated state and private schools. First job cinema projectionist. Worked at BFI, before various jobs in the film industry and becoming a film editor, winning a BAFTA award 1984. Worked in Europe and USA, where wrote two short film scripts. Now an oriental carpet dealer and sometime short story writer.


What made you choose a self-publishing service, rather than going it alone or pitching to a mainstream publisher?

Realism … I realised I was not technically confident to self publish and equally my material was not ‘up to’ showing to a mainstream publisher.

How did you choose your provider and what tipped the balance?

I started looking through self-publishing sites … and what they offered. I didn’t look for the cheapest – although it is interesting the different terms and descriptions of what is part of the service for such and such a fee … and what is extra. I was keen to find a site which seemed to have an understanding of the technical difficulties, formats, formatting etc.

In the end, the Matador/Troubador’s site was so much clearer and more straightforward. They provided information that allowed you the author – to make a decision as to which parts of their service you wanted, or needed. Other sites seemed to relish the fact that one might not be able to understand technically how to self publish; Matador seem to go out of their way to let you understand the options available and the costs involved.

What services did they provide?

Everything for an eBook to be available in various formats and various countries. Very switched on group of people. Good artwork for the cover. Excellent telephone and email contact. One never felt awkward about phoning and asking your representative questions. Just a really good experience.

And which were the most valuable elements for you?

Technical, grammar and spelling. Plus nice messages.

Were there any areas you felt could have been improved?

If you are as illiterate as me, it is quite hard for all the necessary suggestions and corrections to be highlighted against your page of script – but I am not sure there is any way around that – unless I learn some English.

 What advice would you offer other authors in the position of being ready to publish?

Go with these guys …  Matador/Troubador.

Tell us how Brief Encounters came to life.Brief Encounters cover

During the small bit of education I received – one of the few things I was good at was composition (as it was called). Compressing a chapter of some book into a single page, without losing the meaning or excitement of the story. And as I used to edit films, there seems to be something in me that loves the ‘cut to the chase’.

Where’s the best place to read your stories?

In bed with a friend … then at least you can have some fun reading awful lines aloud to each other – and sex and laughter can be pretty good?


Thanks to Edward for sharing his experiences.

Now a note of warning from me, JJ Marsh: Piranhas and Sharks

Authors seeking a self-publishing service – beware. Recently, a whole range of companies sprouted, helping authors get to market. Many charge a premium price and deliver poor results. How to be sure a provider is useful/reasonable/?


Take ten minutes.

Pour yourself a glass of something, kick back and relax.

And let me tell you a story …

The English Garden is part of the short story collection Appearances Greeting a Point of View.

AGAPOV cover

by JJ Marsh

Evie WyldEvie Wyld runs Review, a small independent bookshop in Peckham, south London. Her first novel, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award. In 2011 she was listed as one of the Culture Show’s Best New British Novelists. She was also short listed for the Orange Prize for New Writers and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. She is included in Granta’s list of Best of Young British Novelists 2013. Her second novel All the Birds, Singing came out in June 2013 from Jonathan Cape.

Which book most influenced you when growing up?

Cloud Street by Tim Winton

Describe your writing space – what’s in it and why? And do you still sometimes write at the Royal Festival Hall?

 These days it’s more often than not a chain cafe – somewhere where I don’t feel bad about taking up a seat on just one coffee. I have dreams of a lovely writing room, but it’s hard to write from home, you need to be more disciplined than me. I can’t find the space at the RFH anymore – I think everyone cottoned on that it was great and now there are toddler groups everywhere.

Who or what had the biggest impact on your writing life?

 I think shyness had a large effect – listening rather than talking, and watching things closely.

The last couple of years have seen black clouds loom over independent bookshops. Are you optimistic for the future of Review?


Do you have a word or phrase that you most overuse?

 I say ‘awesome’ far more than I’m happy with. I say ‘no worries’ a lot.

How long does it take you to write a novel?

Three and a half years so far.

Is there a book you were supposed to love but didn’t? Or one you expected to hate and fell for?

Yes – have always had a block with Austen – but I’m sure that just has to do with school. I’ve never started a book expecting to hate it.

How has your bookselling career aided your fiction?

Who knows! They are quite separate things to me.

Do you have a guilty reading pleasure?

Not a single one – I think that if reading something is pleasurable then it’s a well written thing. It takes a lot to write something that someone wants to read.

You’ve been compared to Ian McEwan, Tim Winton, Christos Tsiolkas and Peter Carey. Do you think your writing has a masculine quality?

I try as much as possible, to be a person. Perhaps this comes out in my writing, I hope so.

Which book has impressed you most this year?

 The Gamal by Ciaran Collins

Will you write any more short stories? 

I’m always writing short stories – I haven’t published a book of them, but I’m always writing them.

If you were a dog, would you be a whippet?

I’d like to be a lurcher – in reality I’d probably be more like a bullmastiff.




The Next Big Thing – Raw Material

The idea of this is that a writer puts up a post on his or her own blog answering ten questions about his/her work in progress, and then “tags” three writers to do the same. Then, the writer posts a link to his/her “tagger” and to the people he/she is “tagging” so that readers who are interested can visit those pages and perhaps discover some new authors whose work they’d like to read.

I was tagged by Frances di Plino, author of Bad Moon Rising

Frances di Plino impresses me enormously with her take on crime, psychopathy and gender attitudes. Her view is balanced, mature and addresses violence as what it is. She’s also a damn good writer in control of her material.

The authors I have tagged in my turn appear at the bottom of this post.

Ebook cover

Ebook only cover

What is the working title for your book?

Raw Material. The title was the hardest thing. Seriously, this book has undergone many redrafts, but the title remained elusive until I began thinking about the cover. The colours showed me the way.

Where did the idea come from for this book?

There’s a tiny kernel from a memory I can’t quite grasp. As a teenager, I read a book set in the Scilly Isles, in which a child is in the wrong place at the wrong time. That adventure triggered by accidental observation is at the root of one strand. The other – The Finsbury Park Flasher – just tumbled from my fingers as I sketched out the plot in my dentist’s waiting-room. Which is in no way a reflection on my dentist.

What genre does your book fall under?

Crime, but closer to Kate Atkinson than Karin Slaughter.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Undiscovered actors. I’d love to have the majority of the cast played by talented people who bring something fresh and unique to the part. As for Beatrice … I change my mind for every book.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

From deserted Pembrokeshire beaches to the shadowy underpasses of North London, Beatrice discovers protecting the vulnerable is far more difficult than it looks.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Both. I retain the English-speaking rights as an indie author, but I have an agent representing me for translation rights. I believe Beatrice has international appeal, despite, or possibly due to her classic Britishness.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

First draft, about four months. The edit, rewrite, redraft phase has taken another six. But as this is the second book in the series, many decisions had already been taken in book one, Behind Closed Doors.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

No particular books, but I’d point to particular European crime writers. Michael Dibdin, Donna Leon, Camilla Lackberg, Henning Mankell and Manuel Vázquez Montalbán are all authors who make great use of setting, culture and especially in the latter two, politics and food.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Pembrokeshire and the West Wales coast as depicted by artist John Knapp-Fisher. London boroughs and their distinct identities. And an urge to explore how the human mind is capable of performing appalling acts with the conviction that you are ‘doing the right thing.’

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Raw Material turns unfamiliar stones and shines a light on parts of our world we rarely consider. But much more importantly, it’s got a car chase.

Raw Material comes out in ebook and paperback on 1st December, via Triskele Books.


The writers I’m very proudly tagging are:

Richard Wright, who has been writing strange, dark fictions for over a decade. Currently living with his wife and daughter in New Delhi, India, his stories have been widely published in the United Kingdom and USA. Most recently, his tales have been found in magazines and anthologies including World’s Collider, Dark Faith: Invocations, the Doctor Who collection Short Trips: Re:Collections, and the Iris Wildthyme anthology Wildthyme in Purple. He is the author of the novel Cuckoo, and the novella Hiram Grange and the Nymphs of Krakow. His apocalyptic new novel Thy Fearful Symmetry, bringing the end of the world to Glasgow, was released in August 2012.


Charlotte Otter, a South African writer living in Germany. An avid reader, she grew tired of crime fiction that centred on the mutilated bodies of beautiful young women and set out to write a novel that didn’t. Her first book, Balthasar’s Gift, will be published by Argument Verlag mit Ariadne in Spring 2013. She is presently working on a second novel in the series, called Karkloof Blue.

Charlotte has been a crime reporter, corporate journalist and freelance writer and presently works in IT communications. She lives in Heidelberg with her husband, three children and a lot of books.


Dan Holloway, who writes literary novels and performance poetry and would dearly love to be to literature what Tracey Emin is to art. He is also the MC of the spoken word show The New Libertines, and has just started an imprint for conceptual literature, 79 rat press.

I’m lucky. And so are my dogs.

(My husband even more so.)

But back to the point. Many dogs, cats, ponies, chickens, rabbits and ducks are less fortunate and need help. This happens even more frequently during times of economic hardship when people are struggling to find enough for themselves, leave alone animal food and vet bills.

My sister works as a volunteer at an animal sanctuary. Grey and his brothers were one of the earliest rescue dogs to arrive. While Grey’s brothers were rehomed quickly, Grey was left behind. He had an ear condition which required expensive surgery and dedicated aftercare. The volunteers tried to raise the money for Grey via yard sales, a Facebook page and raffles. I spotted an opportunity.

I’m lucky. I know lots of talented generous writers and one brilliant designer. So I rallied the troops and together we created Fifteen Shades for Grey.

A blatant attempt to scoop up the casual browser who might be looking for something hot and steamy but discovers something  warm and furry.Everyone involved donated their work and skills for free. Just as all the sanctuary workers devote their time for free.

Fifteen Shades for Grey is a collection of short stories about animals, kindness and charity. Every penny goes to Wooffles Animal Shelter. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and most of all, you’ll be glad you spent your money on something that warms the cockles of your heart as opposed to … ahem … was that the doorbell?



EL James has kicked up a right ruckus with her Fifty Shades of Grey. Here’s the digested version.

(To be honest, my first concern was how close a ‘spreader bar’ resembled a ‘Tracker Bar’.)

Good for a snigger, but the topic raised a familiar prickly heat. Not in the undercarriage, I assure you.  No, as is my wont, I began to worry.

Is it OK to fantasise about a dominant male while battling for an equal wage?

Does it matter if female erotica is crap on style but high on juice?

Are there men’s groups who agonise over the politics of Nuts?

Erotica v. porn. Titillate? Subjugate?

I’m still battling with my own attitudes to pornography. I grew up reading both sides of the debate. Andrea Dworkin and Anaïs Nin. It took me several goes to appreciate O. I’m yet to face Salò. (Truthfully, I doubt I’ll ever have the courage.) I salute Kate Millett.

So the new wave of something labelled as submissive “Mommy Porn” makes me wary. As if facing a goose cooperative selling home-made foie gras.

Of course women should feel free to enjoy kinky sex. Enjoy porn. What the hell, enjoy Tracker Bars, if it’s consensual with a notarized pre-nup. My problem is that so much ‘female’ pornography is filtered through the male lens of power. That’s what makes me feel uncomfortable about Christian and Anastasia / Bella and Eyebrows.

I rarely read erotica for the reasons above. Apart from Barbie Scott. In Scottland, sex can be many things. Passionate, smart and fun. Check out ‘Collar and Cuffs’.

Much crap has been spouted as a result of the new discussion of female fantasies, but the most dangerous is that it’s not fantasy. “It’s what all women really want.”

You might want to check that one first.


Christmas, 1992. Prague.

An artist’s garret. So very, very cold. Minus 15 at midday and cryogenic at midnight.

Czechoslovakia – belief-beggaringly beautiful; shimmering and grand. Prague’s snow-dusted pine trees, its bridges, its squares and bells all performed a flirtatious overture. Fine artists with guns, metal sculptors with cakes, and fashion designers with false eyelashes smiled and said welcome to Bohemia.

I read Milan Kundera under the duvet, wore three pairs of trousers and smoked cigarettes just for the warmth.

One night, we all went to a forest lodge near Pardubice and got naked in the sauna. After ten minutes intense heat, we ran through the moonlit trees, across the snow and leapt into a hole cut in the ice.

I jumped first. The shock of freezing water on my steaming body only just registered before hands dragged me out, wrapped me in warm towels and marched me back into the sauna for a reprise. My skin felt electric for days.

On the 31st December, 1992, we went to a party. Not your average New Year’s Eve but the night Czechoslovakia divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Our hosts were artists; Ivan was from Prague, Eva was from Bratislava. The music was loud but the stench overpowering. Beer cheese, the best-tasting Czech curd if you can get past the reek of vomit. I would have sworn I’d never smelt anything fouler, but when R. arrived, soaked in Calvin Klein and mouldy fake fur, I reassessed.

More beer arrived with strangers who staged a mock execution, for a laugh. Midnight struck. We shared vodka, kisses, pivo, hugs, schnapps and something dodgy in a small bottle which may have been Calvin Klein.

Ivan and Eva stood on the balcony in minus 20 temperatures, watching the fireworks explode and their country divide. No one interrupted.

I didn’t realise it at the time, overcome by excitement, cheese, beer and Eternity, but that time and place is stamped on my memory in full sensory detail.

I was there.


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