Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Author Interview with Scott Mariani and International Book Giveaway!

An Interview and International 
Book Giveaway 
with Scott Mariani

Today it is my privilege and pleasure to welcome and introduce you all to the popular UK author, Scott Mariani. Scott grew up in Scotland and now lives in the wilds of Wales. His latest novel, ‘The Lost Relic’, is the sixth book in the bestselling series featuring ex-SAS hero and former theology scholar Ben Hope, translated into over twenty languages worldwide.

TSW: A very warm welcome to you Scott, and very big thank-you from us all at ‘The Secret Writer’, for taking some time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today. At the time of this interview your sixth Ben Hope adventure, ‘The Lost Relic’, is just about to   be released. Can fans expect a typical Mariani-style plot filled with twists, turns and intrigues?

SM: In a word, yes! I think this one is possibly the twistiest plot yet. With each successive book, especially when you’re following the same character through the various episodes of his life, it becomes increasingly important to keep things fresh and surprising. You can’t afford to repeat yourself or fall back on a formula, and so to some extent it gets harder as you go on. But I enjoyed writing The Lost Relic, and hope readers will enjoy it too! Then in February it’s the publication of my vampire novel Uprising in the USA, under the pseudonym Sean McCabe. And in March The Mozart Conspiracy will be out in the States as well. So it’s a busy first quarter to 2011...

TSW: What sort of books did you enjoy reading during your childhood?

SM: I was reading by the age of four, and I remember that among all the usual kids’ stuff I read, I also nicked adult paperbacks from my mother, such as Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws, which was a big bestseller at that time. The colourful language I picked up from that one – I had no idea what the naughty words meant, of course – got me into some trouble at primary school! I won’t say what I called the teacher, as it’s unprintable here. But the books I remember re-reading most were The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Alice in Wonderland, Richmal Crompton’s ‘William’ books and Hergé’s classic Tintin series. Aside from that, I devoured a lot of non-fiction, historical knights-in-armour stuff, or about animals. I was animal mad. I read Born Free until it fell apart. By my teens I’d got into reading a range of literary authors, from the Brontës to Gorky to Maupassant to Hardy. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World was a milestone for me at age 15, and made me see things quite differently!

TSW: Do you think the books that you read during your early years influenced your writing in any way?

SM: I’m sure they did, among other formative experiences that kids absorb and which are bound to affect their future way of thinking. The conspiracy element and general political worldview of the Ben Hope books can almost certainly be traced back, at least in part, to that early exposure to the ideas of Aldous Huxley. He predicted with staggering accuracy, more insightfully than George Orwell in my opinion, that modern society would become increasingly, unknowingly, enslaved to a very cunning totalitarian new world order. That’s a large part of what the second Ben Hope book, The Mozart Conspiracy, is about, and it’s a theme which is set to develop further in future books. I also think that being immersed as a child in the marvellous globetrotting adventures of Tintin, which are amazingly tightly-told little stories, taught me a lot about storytelling. Then there’s my early interest in history, which has never left me.

TSW: Did you always want to become a writer?

SM: Not consciously, not for a long time. Like most kids, I’d dabbled around with stories in one form or another, writing little baby novels and plays or drawing cartoon strips, and of course I was in love with film from a very early age. But it wasn’t until a good bit later in life, after having explored various other paths, that it started occurring to me that you could actually make a career out of creating stories and characters!

TSW: Where do you do your writing best?

SM: I know there are authors who will whip out a notebook or a laptop just about anywhere – trains, cafes, hotel rooms, beaches and windy hillsides – but I’m not one of them. I generally write in my study, which is a very quiet room at the top of my house overlooking nothing but fields and woodland as far as you can see. No phone, no email, no noise or distractions.

TSW: What made you decide to focus your stories around the character Ben Hope?

SM: Ben came to me quite out of the blue one day when I was out walking. I often get ideas that way, when writing is the very last thing on my mind. I realised early on that this character, who pretty much popped into my head fully-formed, as you see him in the books, had enough depth and the right archetypal qualities to carry a thriller series that would be exciting, entertaining and yet a little different from the usual action-adventure fare. I feel I know him very well, almost as if he were a real person.

TSW: Do you have a set routine when you are working on a new novel?

SM: When you’re producing two books a year, as I’ve been doing for a while now, you need to have a reasonably strict routine. I usually manage to have the basic idea for a story more or less worked out by the time I’ve finished the previous one. As one book ends, sometimes even before I’m done with it, I’m straight into the process of researching the next. For a Ben Hope book, that involves reading up on the historical background while trying to figure out more of the detail of the storyline: how does the historical element relate to the modern day, how does Ben become involved, how does it all pan out and where does it leave our hero at the end? I would say that phase is the toughest and most challenging part of the job, especially with a thriller which must have enough twists and turns and surprises to keep the reader constantly engaged. I don’t start the actual writing until fairly late on in the process, when I know where I’m going with it and have a good sense of the shape and structure of the story – I usually have about 4 months to do it in, so every working day has to be as productive as possible. I’m quite set in my routine during this phase. Some days you might feel inspired, some days less so; but the show must go on!

TSW: What is your favourite book and why?

SM: That’s such a hard question to answer, because it changes all the time, like your favourite food, or favourite movie. Every time you think of a favourite, another immediately comes to mind that you enjoyed just as much and it feels unfair to give it second-best status. ‘No, wait...  that’s my favourite. No, wait...’ Last week my favourite book was a very handsomely illustrated companion volume to Patrick O’ Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series of naval adventures; the week before that it was a handy little guide to medieval longsword fighting. Does this mean I’m fickle?

TSW: Are you currently reading a book at the moment, and if so what is it?

SM: I find myself reading less and less fiction, especially modern fiction, these days. The bulk of my reading is research-related, but outside of work the book I’m currently dipping into is a very interesting historical account by Ehsan Masood of the Islamic scientific revolution of 700-1500 AD, called Science and Islam.

TSW:  Have you any another series of books in the making at the moment?

SM: Yes, aside from the Ben Hope series I’m working on the second part of my Vampire Federation series. Part one is titled Uprising, and this one is called The Cross. As soon as I finish it, I’ll be zapping straight on with Ben Hope 7. I’m kind of alternating back and forth between the two series, which involves switching to a completely different mindset, as they are not really alike at all. The fantasy world of the vampire books allows me to indulge myself a bit more, let my hair down and go a bit crazier, inject a bit more humour and open satire, while the action element can afford to be more flamboyant than in the Ben books. Readers find them a lot of fun, which pleases me immensely. Looking to the future, I also have a crime series on the back burner, but I’m not saying too much yet...

TSW: Scott, I would like to thank-you again for taking the time to speak to us today and also to yourself and your publisher Avon Harper Collins, in supporting us with our book giveaway! For further information about Scott and his work you can visit his website at: www.scottmariani.com

SM: It’s been a pleasure, and thanks for having me!

International Book Giveaway!

Avon Harper Collins has very kindly provided three copies of ‘The Lost Relic’ for our International Book Giveaway! With the release of ‘The Lost Relic’ Avon Harper Collins is also running a competition which is detailed on a sticker on all copies of ‘The Lost Relic ‘, where the prize is a chance to win an annual film pass with Apollo Cinemas!

So, we have three copy of Scott Mariani's novel 'The Lost Relic' to give away in an International  draw with this post!! All you have to do to enter the draw to win for one of these three copies of 'The Lost Relic' is: 

Join this blog as a new Google Friends Connect Follower (one entry)
Join this blog as a new Network Blogs Follower (one entry)
Leave a comment if you are a current GFC or Network Blogs follower of this blog (one entry);

If you have just joined this blog as a new GFC or Network Blogs Follower, also leave a comment on this post for each type of new follower you are to 'The Secret Writer' blog. As already detailed above, this giveaway draw is also open to all of you who are already followers of this blog!

Please also remember to leave details of your e-mail address with each of your comments (both new followers and old!), so I can then contact the winner following the draw. Entry for this draw will close at 11.00pm (GMT) on Sunday 23rd January 2011. The winners will then be announced as soon as possible after this date. If the winner cannot be contacted 48 hours after the draw has taken place, a new winner will then be chosen.

Good luck everyone!


  1. Hey there! I'm an old follower and would like to be entered in the giveaway please?
    Email: mayarend -at- yahoo.com.br

    Thank you for hosting it internationally! :D
    I'm a GFC follower (I removed the other comment so it doesn't get confusing ;) )

  2. Old follower, via GFC! (:


  3. Another interesting interview!
    Please enter me for the Lost Relic giveaway

  4. I already follow you via GFC. Thanks for the giveaway!

    annabell_lee_dk (at) yahoo.com

  5. Thanks for the giveaway! I am an old GFC follower.


  6. I am a current GFC follower.

  7. I'm already following via GFC as Jasmine1485

    Kate1485 at hotmail.com

  8. This book looks great, i'd love to win a copy! I'm following under my google account: freezingkiss

    email: lovelikecandyfloss@gmail.com

  9. What a wonderful interview! I bought the Kindle edition of one of his books earlier on, so it was a coincidence that you then posted an interview by him, haha!

    Justvogue @ hotmail . co . uk

  10. Sounds like a great book. I thought I was following you, but my computer said otherwise. So I'm now following you as a Friend and as Networked blogs.

    Thanks for introducing me to another great author.

  11. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway! Old GFC follower. :)
    From the Shadows

  12. Great interview. I have not heard of these series, but I'm headed to Goodreads to put them on my TBR pile immediately!

    I am a new GFC follower (Hannah Marie)

    Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

  13. This book sounds right up my thrill seeking alley. Thanks so much for the chance to win it. Great interview!

    Old GFC follower

  14. Hi Calum! Happy new year! I follow you everywhere...your secret stalker..LOL!!

    I'd love to be entered into the giveaway please. I follow the blog through both GFC and Networked Blogs, plus any other place we've run into one another =0)

    Take care,

    soapboxinmymind at yahoo dot com

  15. hi Calum! great interview and review. i definitely would want to win a copy! thanks for making it international.

    old GFC and Networked Blogs follower here c",)

  16. New GFC follower. Thanks for hosting the giveaway.

  17. Another interesting interview - thank you Calum. Please enter me for the giveaway.

  18. Hello! I'm a old GFC follower. Thanks for the chance.

    jen7waters AT gmail DOT com

  19. Also, I just joined networked blogs (my profile is under the name: carla costa)

    jen7waters AT gmail DOT com

  20. Great post! I follow on GFC and NB!

    Thanks so much! :)

    gsarnak410 at gmail dot com

  21. This sounds like a fascinating book. Old GFC follower.

    onebookshy at yahoo dot com

  22. I'm also a new networked blogs follower under @mooncatfarms.

    Thanks again
    onebookshy at yahoo dot com

  23. Hi! I'm a new follower on GFC, under the name Carla Ribeiro. Thanks for the giveaway!

    carianmoonlight at gmail dot com

  24. Thank you for the awesome giveaway! I'm an old GFC follower.

  25. Great interview ... book sounds fantastic! I'm a follower via GFC!

  26. Excellent interview! I have yet to read any of Scott Mariani's books and this interview has definitely intrigued me. I'll be adding them to my to-read list. Thanks, Calum!

  27. Good to know reading at 4 is not weird, I started a year or so later than that probably.
    New GFC follwer from www.readseverything.blogspot.com

  28. Hello there! i'm a new follower via GFC and Networked Blog. I would love to read the book ;p

    darlyn225 at gmail dot com

    thanks so much for the giveaway!

  29. Really interesting review. I definitely want to read this book now!

  30. I'm a current GFC follower of this blog.

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  31. I inadvertently entered your contest, how about that! I just subscribed (network and google) to yr blog and then found out that's how I enter the contest.

    I'm an eclectic reader, like yourself. Always glad to find fans of poetry.

    I can be reached at openchannel (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks for making this international!

  32. This draw is now closed. After visiting Random.com I will announce the winners of this International Draw as soon as I can.
    Thank-you to everyone who has entered this draw and left great comments.
    Good luck!


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