The Special Page

On this month's Special Page:

An exclusive interview with Mark Lukens, best-selling author of Ancient Enemy


Joe R. Lansdale
Douglas Clegg
Simon Clark
Dale Kaczmarek
Owl Goingback
Paul Tremblay
Ramsey Campbell

Interview with Mark Lukens

by Trish Wilson

TRISH WILSON: You're a full-time writer now. When did you start writing professionally, and what did you do before you became a writer?

MARK LUKENS: I started writing full-time at the end of 2013. Before that I worked a lot of jobs. I had my own drywall business for years. I’ve also worked as a welder, a lawn technician, a concrete worker, a cook, and some other jobs here and there. But even when I was doing those jobs years ago, I was still writing stories and working on novels in my spare time.

TRISH WILSON: Who are some of your favorite authors and have they influenced your own style?

MARK LUKENS: There are too many favorite authors to name, but I’ll list a few: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Larry McMurtry, Nancy Kress, Michael Crichton, Robert McCammon, Anne Rice, Ray Bradbury, Dan Simmons, David Morrell, Sue Grafton, Lee Child, Arthur C. Clarke, Clive Barker, Preston & Child, Peter Straub . . . and so many others.

I started reading science fiction at an early age. When I was around eight or nine years old I read a book of short stories and then tried to write like Ray Bradbury. When I was fourteen years old I read my first Stephen King book (Christine), and I knew I wanted to write for a living when I got older. I would have to say those two authors influenced me the most when I was younger, but many others have had an impact on me as well after that.

TRISH WILSON: You've done some travelling, especially through Europe. Have your travels influenced your writing?

MARK LUKENS: I was lucky I got to travel when I was younger. I would say traveling has definitely influenced some of my writing. I don’t travel too much these days.

TRISH WILSON: Why do you prefer self-publishing? Do you prefer that to a Big Six publisher or indie press? How hard is it to earn money as a self-publisher? What are some advantages to self-publishing?

MARK LUKENS: There are pros and cons to self-publishing. I love the control I have over editing, cover design, marketing, etc. But the flip side is that you have to do all the work yourself – you have to be motivated to market your work when you’d rather be working on the next book. I’m not against publishers or indie presses at all, and I plan on reaching out to a few of them in the near future.

TRISH WILSON: What do you think of the advent of self-publishing? How do you think it has affected the publishing business? Where do you see publishing going?

MARK LUKENS: I think self-publishing (particularly Amazon) has changed the publishing industry. Self-publishing gives a platform to so many authors. I don’t think it has hurt the publishing industry too much – I just think there are more choices for readers, and that’s always a good thing.

TRISH WILSON: Are you a planner or a pantser?

MARK LUKENS: I’m definitely a planner. I always write a fairly detailed outline before I ever begin a first draft on a book. Of course, the outline isn’t set in stone, and things change and characters develop as I begin to write, but an outline gives me a template to work from and allows me to get the first draft done a lot faster.

TRISH WILSON: What types of marketing work best for you? You've worked with a blog tour company. Was your experience a positive one? What advice would you give writers in regards to marketing?

MARK LUKENS: I’m the worst at promoting my own books online, but I try to get the word out as best I can. I try to stay active on social media (but I know I’m nowhere near as active as I should be), and I have sales/promotions on my books every so often. I try to get promotions with BookBub, and if so I’ll also promote on a few other websites. I have a newsletter and a blog that I don’t write on often enough.

I had pretty good results with the blog tour company I worked with (twice), and I would definitely work with them again in the future.

TRISH WILSON: Did you have mentors early in your career who helped you? If you did, who were they? What kind of help did they give you? I've noticed some writers have had mentors and they've maintained professional relationships and even friendships with them.

MARK LUKENS: I never had any mentors. I’ve never known anyone personally who likes to write. I worked mostly construction for years and there weren’t a lot of readers/writers on the worksites. No one else in my family likes to write. I do love talking to anyone about writing and reading, though.

TRISH WILSON: What was it like having your fiction optioned for movies? What was the process? Which of your books do you think would make a good movie?

MARK LUKENS: Getting my screenplays optioned was a thrill, but sadly none of them ever got made into a movie. I had two close calls with major studios. I started writing scripts before I began self-publishing. Even though I never had any movies made, I think having people I’d never met in Hollywood willing to invest their money and their time into my writing gave me confidence that my writing might actually be good enough that other people would want to read it or even buy it, so I turned one of my scripts (Ancient Enemy) into a novel and published it on Amazon in September of 2013.

The option process is pretty simple: if a producer or manager likes your script he or she will put an option on it (usually for at least a year or two), putting down some money to hold it so they can try to get financing for the film and talent (directors, actors, etc.). Once the time on the option ends, you and the producer can extend it if you want to.

I would love all of my books to be made into movies one day, but the one I can really see as a film would be Ancient Enemy (the first book in the series). I also think Sleep Disorders, Devil’s Island, and my Dark Days series would make exciting films/TV.

TRISH WILSON: If one of your books were made into a movie, who would you like to cast and who would you like to see direct?

MARK LUKENS: I couldn’t even make any choices – there are so many talented directors and actors around. I would just be happy if a decent movie was made from one of my books.

TRISH WILSON: Your book Collapse: Dark Days Book 1 seems timely in light of COVID-19, minus the flesh-eating predators. Do you see parallels to your book and the pandemic? What gave you the idea for the book and subsequent series?

MARK LUKENS: I don’t really see any parallels to the pandemic. My Dark Days series was a pretty old idea. I wrote a novel about twenty years ago, but I was never happy with it and shoved it away in a drawer. Even though I wasn’t happy with that book, I always loved the characters and the basic idea of a post-apocalyptic series. A few years ago I reworked the plot but kept the same characters. This series was probably one of the easiest for me to write because I felt like I knew these characters so well.

TRISH WILSON: What inspired you to write Ancient Enemy?

MARK LUKENS: I was influenced by the film The Thing by John Carpenter. It’s one of my favorite horror films, and I wanted to write something similar. It started out as a script. I wrote it at the kitchen table in three days, but then it went through a zillion rewrites. It did well in some screenplay contests and got picked up by a manager for a year after it won a contest, but it never got made into a movie. Later I decided to turn it into a novel and publish it.

TRISH WILSON: You've mentioned in a past interview that you enjoyed the western Lonesome Dove and that at the time you liked westerns. What was it about the book and movie that appealed to you? Have you ever considered writing a western?

MARK LUKENS: Yes, Lonesome Dove is my favorite novel. I watched the miniseries on TV when it first came out and then I had to read the book. It’s one of the few fiction novels I’ve read more than once. I think I just loved the characters and their epic journey from Texas to Montana. It’s a sad book/film (won’t give away any spoilers), but still so good.

I’ve always loved westerns (read a lot of Louis L’Amour when I was younger), but never really wanted to write one. The only thing that I’ve written that could be loosely considered a horror/western would be the third book in my Ancient Enemy series (Hope’s End: Ancient Enemy 3); it takes place in the late 1800s.

TRISH WILSON: What releases are coming up soon for you? Can you reveal any news about your future plans? Also please leave your Facebook, Amazon Author Page, and web site addresses.

MARK LUKENS: I’m working on a lot of projects right now. Books 7 and 8 of my Dark Days series should be available in the next month or so, and these will be the last books in that series. I’m about to release a book of four stories called Four Dark Tales. I’m also working on a thriller series about an FBI consultant who hunts serial killers. I’ll have the third (and most likely last) book in my Exorcist’s Apprentice series coming hopefully by the end of the year. I’ve also got some standalone thrillers and horror novels that I’m outlining right now. I’ve got more ideas than time to write them, but that’s always a good problem to have.

Web Site: http://www.marklukensbooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mark-Lukens-Books-670337796318510/

Amazon Author page: www.amazon.com/Mark-Lukens/e/B00G8GYUUG

Blog: www.wordpress.marklukensbooks.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7309096.Mark_Lukens





































About Mark Lukens

mark lukens

Mark Lukens has been writing since the second grade when his teacher called his parents in for a conference because the ghost story he’d written concerned her a little. Since then he’s had several stories published and four screenplays optioned by producers in Hollywood. He’s the author of many bestselling books including: the Ancient Enemy series, Sightings, The Exorcist’s Apprentice, Devil’s Island, Sleep Disorders, and the Dark Days series. He’s a proud member of the Horror Writers Association. He grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida. But after many travels and adventures, he settled down near Tampa, Florida with his wonderful wife and son … and a stray cat they adopted.

He loves to hear from readers! You can find him HERE and HERE

About Trish Wilson

trish wilson

Trish Wilson writes horror as E. A. Black. She has enjoyed telling scary stories to a captive audience since she was a child. She grew up in Baltimore, the home of Edgar Allan Poe who has inspired her to write.

Her short stories have appeared in Zippered Flesh 2, Zippered Flesh 3, Teeming Terrors, Wicked Tales: The Journal of the New England Horror Writers Vol. 3, Wicked Women: An Anthology by the New England Horror Writers, The Horror Zine's Book of Ghost Stories, and more. She won a Best Short Story mention on The Solstice List@ 2017: The Best Of Horror for Invisible, which appears in Zippered Flesh 3.  She has written author interviews and fiction for The Horror Zine. She also co-hosts podcasts.

Author interviews and podcasts include Joe Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, Josh Malerman, Ramsey Campbell, and Paul Tremblay. Friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, where she posts as Elizabeth Black.  

She lives on the Massachusetts coast in Lovecraft country. The beaches often call to her, but she has yet to run into Cthulhu.

Check out her web site HERE 

Sign up for her newsletter HERE 

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