Recently I was given the opportunity to not only read/review the captivating new release: The Miracle Sin (publication date – January 5th 2021) by Marcus Hawke but also to interview the talented author himself! If you haven’t read my spoiler-free review yet, click here and check it out. I want to say a huge thank you to my friend Marcus for taking the time to answer my questions and providing so much insight into his life, writing process and wonderful novel. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
1.) This story explores the big topic of religion, faith and devout belief. Where do you fall on the spectrum of theology?
I consider myself an atheist but I enjoy exploring the theological. My goal with this was not – from a story or character standpoint – to take a position either for or against but simply to have both in the mix so that whatever side people lean to, they could find themselves and hopefully see others as well. That was the idea at least. Whether I’ve achieved it is a matter for each to decide I suppose. I have had readers who identify as Christian actually praise it for this, so I guess I’ve done my job to some degree.
2.) Please tell us there is a sequel in the works! Can you give us any tidbits on what to expect next?
Well I would…but then I’d have to kill you. But since you said please, I suppose I can spare you. Yes there’s still more to come. It’ll be a bit different in structure than a traditional novel. Instead it will told through a series of standalone but connected stories that will allow me to explore some things that would otherwise be difficult to do normally. Sort of like episodes in a season, if you will.
3.) What was your experience like working and creating during a pandemic?
It ranged from having nothing but time on my hands to having none at all. It was a bit of a gamble too because I didn’t know if the pandemic would make things harder to accomplish or not. But having no frame of reference definitely made my expectations nice and flexible. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, I had no idea what I was doing! Everything about the publishing process I learned as I went. Everything from querying, editing, cover design, how to do social media, arrange for ARCs, you name it, all picked up along the way. So it was definitely a learning experience. And still very much is.
4.) What advice can you give to aspiring authors?
Read. I’ve heard it asked before whether it’s necessary to read if you want to be a writer and frankly I don’t know why this is even a question, much less why anyone would want to be a writer if they don’t read. That’s like asking if it’s necessary to train for a marathon, but the simple answer is YES! Read in the genre you wish to write in, get a sense of what’s out there and how it’s done. Then read in other genres and get a sense of how that one is done. Also do your research, not just for the story you’re writing but also how to get that story out there. Don’t be afraid to try things. Don’t throw anything away. And take breaks when you need to, but don’t give up.
5.) What is your writing process like? Do you listen to music? Write in a certain spot?
I write by hand first and then type it up. This helps keeps ideas flowing and prevents the inherent desire to go back and edit, which is one of the hardest writing habits to break. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s still a struggle for me sometimes, but it must be done. That part I usually do in comfy chair of mine rather than at my desk, and that I only prefer using when I need more space to spread out. No music usually, unless it’s for a certain type scene or something. There was a certain scene in The Miracle Sin I listened to Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” countless times and if you’ve read, you know which one and why.
6.) Did you identify with the protagonist, Mason Cole? Were any of the characters based on people you know?
I would say Mason and I are similar without being exactly the same. Obviously our experiences are very different in some ways, and very much the same in others. I get him. I relate to him. I feel for him. It might even be accurate to say that he is who I once was. And don’t we wish sometimes that we could go back and give advice to our past selves? As for other characters based on people, if I say yes, I’ll have some explaining to do…but if I say no I’d be a liar. What exactly it means to have characters based on people I think often gets misunderstood. It doesn’t mean they are those people exactly, just that they served as a sketch before darkening the lines and adding color. In many ways each character is an amalgams of so many different people that to say one is based on one or the other would be an oversimplification.
7.) Is there a story you are dying to write? A genre that you want to explore, that is outside of your comfort zone?
Currently the stories I want to tell most currently are Miracle Sin related, but I do have quite a few that aren’t. I have a wealth of ideas for short stories I’ll get to eventually. I’d like to write a fantasy novel some day. Something in comics would be cool too! I’ve always wanted to do that.
8.) Which authors have inspired you along your writing journey?
The short list so far would be: Stephen King, Anne Rice, Joe Hill, Nick Cutter, and Patrick Rothfuss. But there’s so many individual books that both inspired and influenced me written by authors whom I haven’t explored extensively, like Samuel Taylor and Mark Haddon. There’s one author I only recently discovered by the name of Michael Benevidez who puts things in just such a way that it makes me go…Oh, I didn’t know that possible!
9.) Much like Mason’s beloved copy of Hamlet, what is that one book you treasure unlike none other?
That’s tough…but not that tough: The Vampire Lestat. I could start reading that book at any point in the story and be completely engrossed. But there are a number of others I like to keep close by. Heart-Shaped Box, The Troop, The Name of the Wind, and of course Misery which, like Lestat, is one of my favorite books ever.
10.) How did you get the idea for The Miracle Sin?
The very earliest version of it first came from a two or three page exercise for a writing class I was in back in 2008–2009. And the only character to survive unchanged from it was Rose. Her son-in-law came to her door during a blizzard and asked if he could leave his infant son with her while he went to rescue her daughter. A thin concept but it got me thinking about the relationship the boy and Rose would have after that. The boy became Mason and the son-in-law disappeared altogether, but basically that was the start of it. In lots of ways it’s also very much an homage to a number of things that came before—Buffy, Supernatural, the X-Files, even non-horror fare like Calvin & Hobbes, The Godfather, and the X-Men which have had a huge impact wound up sneaking their way into it in one way or another.
Once again a huge thank you to Marcus for giving me such a great opportunity. I hope you enjoyed my spoiler-free review. If you’re interested in ordering a copy, please click here. Follow Marcus Hawke on his Instagram page and don’t forget to leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads!
Feel free to let me know down below if this book sounds like something you might want to check out. I really want to get more people talking about it! Thanks for reading.
Peace & Love xoxo