Today is Day One of the H.I.V.E.: Aftershock blog tour. Yes H.I.V.E. fans, in case you hadn't realised there is a seventh book in the series (published last week), and to celebrate Mark is embarking on a two week blog tour; you can find out where he will be stopping off my clicking on the banner to the right of this page. I have been a fan of the H.I.V.E. books ever since the first one was published, and so I feel honoured to be hosting Mark on Day One for this Q&A. At the end of this post you will find details of where you can find more about Mark and his books, as well as a link where you can download a sample chapter from Aftershock.
Hi Mark. Thanks for stopping off at The Book Zone. Firstly, how would you describe the H.I.V.E. series to someone discovering it for the first time?
I suppose that HIVE was written as a response to the various teen secret agent books that were coming out. I thought that while it may be interesting to find out where James Bond went to school it would be even more interesting to find out where Blofeld or Goldfinger were educated. That's the basic premise that I started off with but, now, seven books down the line, I think HIVE has evolved into a series about all of the forces of global villainy and how they are kept organised and controlled by Dr Nero, the school's headmaster. At it's core though it's action-packed, smart mouthed, globe trotting action, so if you like that kind of thing you'll probably like HIVE.
The latest book in the series is called Aftershock. What can you tell us about this book?
Not too much, unfortunately, without getting too heavily into spoilers but, I can say that this is a brand new story arc for Otto and the gang. One of the things that the book concentrates on, and it's something that I've always wanted to write, is the story of Raven's youth and how she came to be the woman she is today. Suffice to say, she did not have a pleasant childhood.
When you wrote the first H.I.V.E. book did you ever envisage that it would become a popular series of seven (plus) books?
No, never. At first I was just over the moon that the first book was being published but the fact that the series has been so successful and that there's still a demand for more is brilliant.
Do you have a favourite book from the H.I.V.E. Series?
The honest answer is that there isn't one book that I could hold up and say definitively that it was my favourite. The first book will always be special because, obviously, that's where it all began but, that's a sentimental thing more than anything else. Having said that, there are still certain things, especially in some of the earlier books that I'd like to go back and change but, I don't think that's terribly unusual. You'll probably be glad to hear that I'm not planning to go back and do any George Lucas style retrospective tinkering though!
How about a favourite scene?
It's not one specific scene but, the sections that I've most enjoyed writing are the sequences where Otto and the gang are all verbally sparring and taking the mickey out of each other, usually while they're in grave mortal peril. I've often said that I feel like I'm somehow just transcribing those conversations now because the characters are so clear in my head now that they almost seem to have a life of their own.
I know it is a little like a parent having to say which of their children is their favourite, but do you have a favourite character from the series (my personal favourite is Raven)?
Mine too! That's part of the reason that I wanted to go back and explore her past in more detail in Aftershock. I'd toyed with the idea of writing a separate book dealing with Raven as a kid but in the end I decided it would work better if it was woven into the existing series. I do have great fun writing her.
The first H.I.V.E book was published in 2006. Have you changed as an author over the past five years?
I've put on a few kilos and the odd grey hair has started to appear but, I don't think that's quite what you mean. My manuscripts are still always delivered slightly late to my editor, so I'm consistent in that respect at least, though I suspect she wishes I wasn't. I suppose my plotting has become slightly tighter over the years but, to be honest, there's still a healthy dose of making it up as I go too. I'm not the sort of writer who plans everything in minute detail before I start and that can catch me out occasionally but, I like having the freedom to run with a plot twist if an idea pops into my head halfway through the story. I know that goes against most of the advice that is given on how to write but, it's just what works for me.
What has been your personal high point over the past five years of H.I.V.E.?
Getting the first book published was a big high. It might sound slightly vain but, there's a real buzz to seeing your own book on the shop shelves for the first time. The novelty still hasn't worn off to be honest.
If you were to host a dinner party for any three people (alive or from the past), who would those three people be?
Albert Einstein, Hunter S. Thompson and Mark Twain. Now that would be a night to remember!
And if you were allowed to invite a few fictional characters as well?
James Bond, because somebody has to make the cocktails.
If you could pose one question to any writer, living or deceased, who would the writer be and what question would you ask?
Roald Dahl and I wouldn't have a question, I'd just like to thank him.
What would you rather be, a hero or a villain and why?
A villain obviously! Better costumes, better dialogue, better secret lairs, the list is endless....
Who is your favourite fictional villain (book or film)?
Darth Vader. Partly because seeing Star Wars for the first time in 1977 was one of the most memorable moments of my childhood but also because he's a tragic character in many respects and ultimately he achieves redemption. Whatever your feelings on the new Star Wars movies may be (and I'm with Tim from Spaced on this one) there's still something haunting about the whole idea of the fallen hero becoming the villain. Or it could just be that he has a fantastic costume...
Before you became an author you worked in the video game industry. Do you still have time to play many games these days? If so what are you current favourites?
I still play games all the time and I actually enjoy them a lot more now that I don't have to worry about making them too. My favourite games recently have been Arkham Asylum and Portal 2 but, I also have a secret weakness for the Lego games that the boys and girls at Traveller's Tales have done such a fantastic job on.
We are up to seven books in the H.I.V.E. Series now. Is Aftershock the first in another three book story arc? Want to give us any clues as to what is to come in the future?
Again, I don't want to give too much away but, anyone who's read Aftershock will know that I've left some of the characters in a very bad situation indeed. All I will say is that things are going to get a lot worse for them before they get better.....
Thank you for your time Mark. Is there anything else you would like to say to readers of The Book Zone?
Thank you for having me and if anyone reading this wants to come and talk to a bunch of raving loonies about the HIVE books then they should come along to the forums at www.markwalden.net or have a look at the official HIVE Facebook page www.facebook.com/markwaldenfan - Hope to see you there!
Huge thanks to Mark for taking the time to answer my questions. If you want to have a peak at a chapter from Aftershock then click here. Watch this space over the next few days for my review of Aftershock, and also a great competition where you could win a complete set of the H.I.V.E. books.