Saturday, 9 March 2013

Special Treatment & Other Stories

SPECIAL TREATMENT - and other stories

Mark Swain describes these 12 short stories as excursions into the lives of others. In each story we find ourselves transported – thoroughly absorbed. We are there. Some places we think we recognise, while others are unfamiliar, even mysterious. There are dark corners, but most of all there is humour – poignant and frequently ironic. The locations are illuminated for us. Vivid images; the atmospheres; the smells and sounds. But it is the characters we are drawn to: A divorcee hairdresser who dotes on her son. A resentful victim of a construction-site accident. An elderly man victimised by political activists. A boy’s summer job. Lovers. Adventurers. Workers. Travellers. Prisoners. They open their lives to us. We are let into their secrets.

There is an authenticity to Mark Swain’s characters that can leave the reader feeling almost like a voyeur. We are privileged. We know them; care about their plight; laugh and cry with them. We can certainly never forget them.

Monday, 4 March 2013

A Compulsive Liar

These days, Mark Swain spends much of his time writing:

"Ideas just keep coming," he says. "I think it's probably due to the intense variety of my early life – well most of it actually. I was born in Singapore while my father was in the RAF. I spent most of my early childhood in exotic locations. I can still smell the magic of those places now. Then I was in Europe as a teenager. Germany and France for a lot of it but I went to boarding school in England. I went to Art College, I joined the Army for a brief spell of adventure, did a variety of jobs, set up businesses, then worked on a cruise ship travelling the world (QE2), before going to work in Japan as an English teacher. I had a wild time and travelled a lot in between. Then I set up a business in Barcelona before returning to Canterbury in the UK where I've stayed while my 3 children grew up. I put my business in the hands of my business partner for a year and cycled to Japan with my son. He runs it now - and very well, I'm happy to say. I've made my own luck. I'm starting to feel the desire to spend my time more in places like India, Morocco and Japan now the children are grown-up. All that variety when I was younger has given me an infinite amount of material to build stories with. Although my first book was non-fiction, it's fiction I feel most at home with. I was a chameleon and a compulsive liar as a kid. Ask my poor mother!"