Author seeks 1,000 people to read and review a Christian thriller this Easter.
Giving away 1,000 copies of your novel may not seem like the wisest business move, but author Mark Anderson Smith is convinced that authors need reviews.
About to release his second novel – Fallen Warriors – on the 31 March 2017, Mark is seeking 1,000 people to read and review a free copy of his Christian thriller.
In the city of York, a young woman dies in a tragic accident but is mysteriously brought back to life. As she attempts to find out and understand what happened, a terrorist group plans the largest attack the West has ever seen. A group of ordinary people find themselves drawn together, fallen warriors called to stand and fight, but will they stand or will they fall?
“Many people believe in miracles,” Mark says. “We hope to hear about or experience something amazing, something wonderful. I wanted to write a story about ordinary people who suddenly started experiencing miraculous events, to understand myself what that would be like. I quickly found that it could be far more scary and troubling than I’d realised. It might sound amazing to see someone raised from the dead, but I could imagine it being confusing and worrying for the person brought back to life – especially if they don’t know why or how it happened. That idea becomes the central plot for Fallen Warriors, a young woman who is brought back to life, but with no idea what happened and her journey to find out. That very personal story is set against preparations for a terrorist attack.”
Themes of death and resurrection in the story have an obvious link to Easter, yet many of the characters in the story have no knowledge of who Jesus was or what the Bible tells us about him. “I tried to go back and read the Gospels as if I was doing so for the first time,” Mark continues. “There is an inevitability about Jesus death that is shocking, yet the payoff is the twist, the complete reversal of his fortune when he returns to life. Fallen Warriors draws on many themes from Jesus story and the rest of the Bible, but is very much it’s own tale.”
Set in the historic city of York, visitors to the city will recognise many of the local landmarks. “I resisted setting the novel there for several years,” Mark confesses. “I had the original idea for a story featuring a terrorist attack while stuck in traffic in York, but I didn’t want to see the city I loved torn apart. Eventually though I came to realise the story couldn’t be set anywhere else. York is such a compact city with a vibrancy about it, this mingling of the ancient and the modern. It is a city built to be defended, but you only need to defend a city if it is going to be attacked.”
Mark’s first novel – The Great Scottish Land Grab – is currently seeing an upsurge in ebook sales. “I should send flowers to both Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May,” Mark jokes. “Together they have made the possibility of a second referendum on Scottish Independence more likely and Land Grab is once again relevant.” First published in 2014, Land Grab is a political story exploring themes of nation building and the implications of independence.
Many publishers and authors do give books away to reviewers. 1,000 copies may seem extreme. “I’ve learnt a lot about marketing over the last two years,” Mark says. “Reviews do help sell books. When I’m browsing for a new book online, whether fiction or non-fiction, I pay a lot of attention to how many reviews a book has received and what people are saying about it.”
“Last week a friend recommended I buy a book. He was so passionate about it, I pulled out my phone, went to Amazon’s website and bought the ebook there and then. I think the reason many books sell so few copies is that no-one ever hears about them,” Mark continues. “The hope with giving so many books away is that it will find readers who love the story enough that they will tell their friends and the novel will find a larger readership than it would have otherwise.”
Mark originally intended for Fallen Warriors to become a TV series, but as he had no experience in writing a script he set about turning the idea into a novel. “Novelists can learn a lot from TV series,” Mark believes. “Successful shows are all about the characters and the action is used to make us care about what happens to them. I’ve tried to apply that to Fallen Warriors and initial feedback has been very good.” Fallen Warriors has become the literary equivalent of Season One and he plans to make the first “episode” free to further encourage new readers to try the book. His advanced readers have started posting their ratings and reviews on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34232497-fallen-warriors
If you would like to become one of Mark’s first 1,000 reviewers you can sign up at his website: http://www.dragonlake.co.uk. Keeping the TV Series theme, the novel will be sent out to reviewers in six weekly ebook episodes starting on Friday 24th March 2017. The deadline for sign up to receive a free review copy is 30th March 2017, but anyone who signs up to his mailing list after this date will receive the first episode for free.
The full novel will be published initially on Amazon Kindle on 31st March 2017 and can be pre-ordered now at a sale price of £1.99. RRP will be £4.99.
A paperback edition will be published in May 2017.
Page length – 580 pages
Journalists, editors and producers seeking a review copy can contact the author directly through the details below.
See below for contact details, reviews, cover shots and author photos, biography and an interview with the author
Contact the Author
Mobile: 07947 597231
Cover Shot – Fallen Warriors
Cover Shot – Fallen Warriors
Cover Shot – Fallen Warriors (TIF Format CMYK)
Cover Fallen Warriors TIF Format
Author Photo (TIF Format CMYK) – Mark Anderson Smith
Mark Anderson Smith TIF Format
Author Photo (JPG) – Mark Anderson Smith
Cover Shot – The Great Scottish Land Grab
“A page turner. A good read. A thriller set in the ancient city of York, UK. But also a story that asks big questions such as is there a God? If so, does he intervene in our world, and why, and when? A tale of hope and forgiveness.” Graham Hutchinson
“Must read Christian thriller about ordinary people from all walks of life, like you and me, caught up in a well planned terrorist plot to take over modern day York in England as a stepping stone to rule the world. In stages Mark carefully introduces the characters, many of whom find themselves in apparently unsolvable situations as the story unfolds. At every turn Mark keeps us guessing” Don
“The many characters all have a depth that makes them believable and the breadth of the story is vast. Fallen Warriors is a story that mixes terrorism with some extreme Christian beliefs which as a confirmed atheist I found difficult on occasion to take seriously. That being said the story itself was gripping and completely believable, in fact it made me pause and think ‘What if this really happened?’ The way the many characters lives are interwoven and finally brought together was handled very well with some threads left which will lead to a great sequel. If you are a Christian you will find this novel very interesting but if you are not then do not be put off as it is a great adventure story in it’s own right.” Peter Grant
“Unusual, thought-provoking and gripping.” Petra
“Superb Thriller, bringing together the possibilities of what could happen in our country today. Introducing the characters in a unexpected and gripping way which makes you want to know more about them and how they fit into the story. The very real threat of terrorism in our lives today is balanced with the Christian faith and how empowering it is. Once you start to read you are kept in suspense as to what is going to happen next in the lives of the diverse and interesting individuals. This book is compulsive reading and as the plot opens up I couldn’t lay it down. One of the best Christian thrillers I have read.” Norma
“Great read with a number of unexpected twists, especially liked the detail into the characters which played a big part on how they responded to what was happening in their lives, all tied in with a plot that is current, it could happen! A clever challenge to our faith, how would we respond to God revealing something to us? Recommend reading it to find out.” Alan
“I found this Christian thriller to be both disturbing and intriguing. Disturbing because a similar terrorist attack could happen at any time in any of our cities and intriguing because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to all the diverse characters whose lives are skilfully interwoven as the story progresses.” Moira Henderson
“A Christian thriller. It seems an unusual genre and yet Mark has woven a modern day story full of all the thriller standards any reader relishes with an undeniable Christian principle. Set in the beautiful and historic city of York, Fallen Warriors blends the lives of a wide cast of varied and believable characters whose seemingly disparate lives become connected and caught up in a scarily possible terrorist threat to the city. Mark’s story gives true insight into the different mindsets any Christian can face in their life of faith, from trusting God completely, to doubting His very existence. Alongside this the reader is also introduced to followers of the Islamic faith, some at odds in their understanding of how a Muslim should lead their lives. The plot gains more momentum as the threat to the city becomes more imminent. The pace in the final chapters becomes frenetic and it becomes impossible to put the story down. The conclusion leaves you breathless and desperate for more.” Trudy Richardson
Biography – Mark Anderson Smith
Mark Anderson Smith is a Scottish author who lived in York – the setting for his latest novel – for ten years.
Mark confesses he had the initial idea for Fallen Warriors while daydreaming through a church service. He longs to see the Church return to the passion and power the early apostles displayed.
Mark has been writing since he was Eight and worked on and off to complete his current novel for ten years. He is the author of The Great Scottish Land Grab, a political tale of one man’s fight to reverse the Highland Clearances and transform Scotland, first published in 2014.
Married with three children, he works as an IT Consultant in Scotland, developing applications for businesses, databases and reports. Mark is passionate about goals and a few years ago accepted a challenge to write down 100 goals. To date he still hasn’t stood on a new planet or learned to fly, but insists there is still time…
Interview with the Author
Q – Where did the idea for Fallen Warriors come from?
“There were two core ideas initially, a scene that occurred to me one day in York while stuck in a traffic jam – what if terrorists were to attack? What would that feel like? Then ten years later I was day dreaming during a church service and had this notion of a story with ordinary people being used in extra-ordinary ways. A few months later I realized if I put those two ideas together I had the makings of an exciting story.”
Q – Who will Fallen Warriors appeal to?
“I hope as wide an audience as I can find. This is a Christian thriller. I’m very open about the Christian experience, what it is like to be a Christian and about the struggles we face. One of the frustrating myths I sometimes hear is that Christians think of themselves as Holier than thou, but the reality is that every Christian I know thinks of themselves as fallen – as someone who needs saving, of needing the help of others in the Church and ultimately of God. The novel has allowed me to explore this, to create characters with real flaws and then in some cases, turn those flaws around.”
Q – You have a full time job, where do you find time to write?
“I wrote the first draft of my first published novel on my kitchen table from 5 until 7am each morning during one dark and cold November. It took me a few years after that to reach a stage where I had the confidence to rewrite and edit it and then I ended up mostly editing and re-writing on the train to and from Edinburgh.”
“It is tough. You have to be utterly determined. To sacrifice anything that isn’t important. At times I’ve probably sacrificed too much. Spent too much time writing when I should have spent time with my family. For the last six months I wrote in lunch times and evenings and most Saturday mornings. I was able to finish the rewrite earlier than planned as I was called for jury duty but wasn’t selected.”
Q – You say you have no belly button – that’s a joke, right?
Q – You have 100 goals – how many of those have you completed?
“I haven’t checked in a while! I’ve completed several: climbing Ben Nevis and running a 10 K race which were both major achievements for me – I struggled with asthma when growing up and it has been great to see that with effort and persistence some limitations can be overcome. I really should redo some of those… This last year I’ve been solely focused on completing Fallen Warriors and getting it ready for publication. I find that I struggle to focus on too many goals at the same time.”
Q – Why would you have 100 goals?
“It seemed like a good idea at the time… I was reading a book by Brian Tracey – one of these self improvement guru’s and he suggested everyone write should write out 100 goals for themselves. There was something about the idea that really resonated with me and so I decided to do it. It was a lot of fun writing the list until I got to about goal 24 and realized I still had a looong way to go. One of my goals ended up being to finish writing my list of 100 goals!”
“After I finished though, it was really interesting to analyze what I’d written. I found there was a lot of cross over between two or three themes. Writing and publishing was a clear theme. Travel another. Self sufficiency – being able to provide for my family yet another. Also I started putting in goals that are much harder to define and almost impossible to claim you have achieved – goals about being a good husband and father, about placing God first in my life.”
Q – You self published The Great Scottish Land Grab. Are you looking for a publisher for Fallen Warriors?
“Of course. Publishers have a lot to offer with their contacts and experience and I would be happy to try and work with one on both Land Grab and Fallen Warriors. But, it can take a long time to secure a publishing contract and in the meantime I’m going to concentrate on getting reviews, trying to sell foreign language rights and producing an audio book version of both novels.”
Q – You are proposing to give away 1,000 copies of your book in exchange for reviews, Isn’t that a bit excessive?
“It seemed like a nice round number. I’ve found for myself that I place a lot of trust in reviews. If I see a book with only a few reviews I’m much less likely to buy it than one that has even fifty four star reviews. I believe Fallen Warriors is an excellent story and that a lot of people will enjoy it. It seems worth the risk to get the word out about the book.”
Q – Why do you talk about sending out “episodes”?
“I originally conceived of Fallen Warriors as a television series, but I had no idea how to write a screen play and then Heroes came out – the American superhero show – and I thought I’d missed my opportunity. But the idea wouldn’t leave me and as I’d been wanting to write a novel since I was a child I decided this was the one. I wrote maybe thirty thousand words and then dried up. Kept adding scenes over the years and then heard about National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo challenges everyone to write a complete novel every November. Finishing a novel was one of my top goals but I’d already started Fallen Warriors so I felt I needed to tackle a different story. Fortunately I have dozens of story ideas I’ve jotted down over the years and I had this somewhat quirky idea of someone trying to reverse the Highland Clearances. But of course, how would you go about doing that? What would be involved? I ended up completing a fifty thousand word first draft of The Great Scottish Land Grab that month. So, now I had two novels and still little idea of how to complete either…”
“A few years went by and we hit January 2014, the Scottish referendum on independence was finally beginning to pick up steam and I realized I could rewrite my Land Grab draft to take place in and around the independence debate. I contacted one publisher in March but they said there wasn’t enough time to prepare it for publication before September and so decided I would do it myself and set a target of writing the novel and releasing it in four books in the lead up to the September referendum.”
“That was a crazy summer and in the end I released Land Grab as three books and one complete trilogy. I should have made book one free straight away and hooked people into the story, but you live and learn… I’m planning to release Fallen Warriors both as a complete novel and as a series of episodes, make the first one free and hopefully draw people into the story.”