The Quests of Mark Patrick Lynch

British writer Mark Patrick Lynch’s short stories have appeared in various publications around the world, ranging from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine to Zahir. On the internet, his work can be found on Daily Science Fiction, Perihelion, and Abyss and Apex. Several of his pieces have received honourable mentions in annual Year’s Best summaries as notable tales of the year. His print book Hour of the Black Wolf is published by Robert Hale Ltd, while What I Wouldn’t Give, a novella, is available for eBook.

Mark Patrick LynchYou write across a variety of genres. Is there anything that unites your fiction?

It’s a good question and one that made me scratch my head a while before, eventually, I came up with this. I think the answer might be music. If that sounds glib (especially given the nature of the story “We Shall Make Monsters”), then it’s not meant to be. I’m not talking about any particular musician, aria, symphony, or a set of records. I’m talking about that strange music that goes on in my head when I write. The sentences have to have a musicality to them, even if it’s not immediately obvious to the reader, and even if I’m the only one hearing it. It’s not necessarily the same tune or played on the same instrument from tale to tale (and especially not from genre to genre), but underneath the sentences I hear a rhythm and sometimes a boogie. I think all the tales have that in common.

No Fire Without SmokeYou have a noted proclivity for long sentences which is shared by our writer Eddie Louise. What is your favourite sentence?

Perhaps the best long sentence ever written in the English language:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Dickens, of course. The very first sentence of A TALE OF TWO CITIES. And yet, it’s such a wonderful sentence that, almost inevitably, the book that follows cannot hope to live up to it. Only Dickens could do what he does with that line; and only Dickens could then start BLEAK HOUSE with a single word sentence (in an admittedly long paragraph):

Hour of the Black Wolf“London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. [And so on . . .]”

I think Dickens is the invisible presence in a lot of steam-punk. He enjoyed his oddities. I think it’s in BLEAK HOUSE, for instance, that a character reeks of brimstone and suffers his end via spontaneous human combustion. That’s wonderfully modern and steam-punkish.

Sentences don’t have to be long to be favourites, I should probably add. I like many short ones too.

Dr Sage is a prototypical mad scientist-pursuing scientific knowledge no matter what the cost-that makes her very fun to write. Which character was the most fun for you to write and why?

The mad scientist, of course. Why? Because he’s a mad scientist!

You have a blog where you post really great in-depth articles on your writing process and your personal history with books. One line really stood out to us: ‘the silence of dreaming books’. What do you think books dream of?

Books are full to bursting with the dreams of the characters within them. All the ones the author never got to write, the ones she never got to hear, and the others that were too secret for the writer to even suspect. Perhaps books dream the fiction within the fiction, too. Or perhaps they dream of all the things that aren’t within their covers. And then of course, like all of us, they wake up and are faced with the reality of their being and the story they hold and are bound by – no matter how they might wish to be asleep and dreaming other dreams. The dystopian novel dreams of the warmth of a romance novel, the romance novel dreams of confronting the Hound of the Baskervilles on the Grimpen Mire. And so on . . .

What is your personal Holy Grail for writing?

Like all Grail quests, the Grail itself has to be unobtainable – and there’s so much that seems beyond my reach as a writer that it’s hard to focus on just one thing. So let’s be ambitious. I’d say, and I honestly think this is the ultimate quest of all writing, that story telling is the means by which we hope to uncover the secret truth of our existence. By creating a story we hope to stumble upon a narrative that explains everything, that gives us meaning and tells us the reason why we are here and what we are supposed to do with our lives and why we even have lives. We are looking for a truth so certain it cannot be questioned. The irony is, of course, that such a truth would destroy us and stop us being who we are. If we found it there would be no more stories, there’d be no need of them. And that would be like dying. The End.

Mark’s story, “We Shall Make Monsters” is available in Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2014
or listen to the audio version recorded by the cast of Sage & Savant

Find out more about Mark Patrick Lynch

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