Mark Barrass has recently released his debut novel ‘Kidz’ through Diadem Books.
Mark left school at the age of sixteen to join the Army. After completing over 24 years of service he returned to his hometown of Ashington in Northumberland and spent the next fourteen years working as a cover supervisor and manager in in a local high school, and is now semi-retired and working on his writing career.
His first novel ‘Kidz’ was written over the last year whilst living in the beautiful Eskdale valley and working part time in a café. The novel imagines an extreme recourse of nationwide permanent exclusions in schools instigated by a government unable to address the challenges posed by disengaged and disenfranchised teenagers. Set in the North East ‘Kidz’ explores the tragic consequences of what happens when the anger of a group of teenagers cast aside is turned against the very people who tried to help them.
Mark talks here about his writing journey:
“I have always enjoyed writing and if I hadn't joined the Forces my dream was to be a journalist. I have kept my hand in with poems and short stories but it was not until I worked at a local high school that I started writing scripts for the school film club and that led me to start a novel. They (no idea who?) always say write about what you know.
I am hoping the book will appeal generally but mainly to those involved in education, which could include those working in education, families and parents of school age children, hopefully the general populous.
I think the book touches on some very real problems within education and life in general. We all like to say 'when I was a bairn, you wouldn't speak like that to an adult or a teacher'. But this isn't our day, it is their day and times are different.
Whilst living over here in the Lakes I have written ostensibly during my 2 full days off: Monday and Tuesday. Also, during any downtime I have had from work. I enjoy planning and character building at any time of the day or night when the fancy takes me.
The book has given me satisfaction in proving I could write one. I have learned a lot about research and planning but also about myself. I hope others will read and maybe the odd Brad could be turned from that course. As I am semi-retired I need a focus in life and writing is it. It is something that has always been a major interest to me and will continue to be.
I have started planning a novel on my favourite topic of Ancient History about a kingdom torn apart by civil war then when those individual states come under attack from an ancient outside force they must somehow reunite.
My second project is to take a 7000-word novella I have written and extend it into a full-blown novel. It is called 'Arena' and is set in the near future where countries solve disputes by using a small, select band of troops fighting in an enclosed area instead of waging war.
I am also planning a novel based around Army life. Not the exciting 'shoot em up' 'gung ho' style portrayed on film, but the hard, real, gritty life of a modern day British soldier.
I have many ideas put aside for more poems, short stories and also comedy-sketches, which I might dip into when the novel writing gets too heavy.”