October 2019 was when Russell Smith had introduced me to one Anton Marks. Not only to talk about shared experiences as black authors, but also to feature as guest on his podcast - the Urban Fantastic Show. After recording the show, we would still keep in touch. And pretty much in every conversation, Anton will tell me he's putting in work.
1. For those who don't know, who are you?
My name is Anthony Hewitt aka Anton Marks, I'm a speculative Fiction author based in London. I call my style of fiction Urban Fantastic and it’s a speculative fiction brand using crime, action adventure, horror, sword n soul and Sci-Fi - to highlight the black experience through the lens of the extraordinary.
2. Game talk – how do you organise and manage your game? How has it evolved?
My writing process has developed over the years but there are some elements that remain the same even with the advent of smartphone technology. The first draft of all my work is done in notebooks. For me, the act of putting pen to paper awakens a part of my brain that is amenable to creativity. I usually begin my plot process with a character and stemming from that a few standout scenes that the main character plays a pivotal role in. Sometimes I have a vague idea of the ending but not always. From this point onward I begin fleshing out the ensemble of characters and tightening the story. I’m a very visual writer so I like to have photographic references of places, faces, how characters dress etc. Once I’ve created my first draft, I rewrite it from my notebooks to a word file. This process gives me the opportunity to view the completed work as a whole and make some amendments as I transcribe. This is revision one. Once the transcription is complete and I've finished my first revision, I send the manuscript to a developmental editor. This is a new step that was not in place in the early days. I work together with this editor to get the characters, their motivation and plot as seamless as possible. With revision two complete, I now send it off to a copy editor. My final revision takes place when the copy editor has done their job and given me the amendments to work on.
3. Talk us through one of your biggest achievements in your game – give us the story behind it. How did it play out?
My latest book Joshua N'Gon & the Battle for St. Augustine is my biggest achievement not just as a novel but as an experiment in Trans-media Marketing. It's a great read and is the second in the four book Last Prince of Alkebulahn series that I'm working on. I’m proud I’ve written a good YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy book but also because I added some interactive elements you can access via QR code which will add depth to the story. I’ll be using it more often in my work.
4. I'm with you on the visual aids thing - everything from pictures and video to GoogleMaps, I'll use it. I wanna come back to your Urban Fantastic style of fiction, since that's also the name of your podcast. How did that come about?
In this regard I’m speaking predominantly to diverse audiences who weren’t included in the imaginative worlds created by authors for many years. The Urban Fantastic brand is meant to highlight genre fiction that is accessible to diverse audiences. So although the stories are sci-fi, horror, fantasy, thrillers or action adventure and based in inner cities, there are characters and situations that readers can relate to and also aspire to. I want readers to be willing to give my work a try without worrying it will be completely unrelatable. I think there’s definitely a gap in the market for characters that many people would expect to be male and white. It’s my honour to help fill that gap.
5. It's great if things go according to plan. Tell us about when it didn't; how did you handle it? What were/are those challenges?
When you have your work published with traditional publishers you lose a large amount of control. The final straw for me was a book I had worked hard on that came back from the editors totally decimated. It was a train wreck of an edit that had removed chunks of my manuscript, messed with dialogue, and tried to redirect the plot. That was the final straw for me. I refocused and began self-publishing. I’ve never looked back. I’m not saying I would never go traditional, but the terms and conditions would have to suit me. And right now, I’m enjoying the process of self-publishing too much to jump ship.
6. Give a pep-talk to someone on game in your field.
Try to write every day.
Imitate writers you admire.
Develop a thick skin.
Believe in yourself.
Listen to the masters but do it your own way.
Joshua N'Gon & the Battle for St. Augustine: http://marksman.anton-marks.com/battleforsaintaugustus/