A lifetime working in sales is enough to give anyone nightmares but for Clifton Spring author Mark Towse, it’s perfect material to fuel a passion for horror and dark fiction writing.
After leaving a lucrative career in sales Mark, 45, ventured into writing seven months ago and has had many pieces published – including a story in the Vegan Tales anthology.
“I recently won my place in the Vegan Tales anthology. It is proving to be a worldwide success and authors have already appeared in newspapers and on local radio in the UK,” he said.
“It is an international collection of authors and I am the only Australian.
I was staying with my family in the UK when my wife’s dad passed me a leaflet at a Vegan restaurant, advertising the competition.
“I’d just started my journey into writing at that point and it wasn’t a sign as such, but too good to be true. I wanted to do something unique that would reach a wider audience.”
Mark, a vegan himself, wanted to steer away from the common misconception that all vegans are into activism and combined horror and dark fiction in his entry.
“There was a 3,000-word limit and I came in at 2,995. It’s called Empty Seat at the Table. It was very unique and the only story in the series that involves eating a person. It’s about trying to understand what’s on your plate and where it comes from,” he said.
“Essentially, what’s the difference between one piece of meat to another? The story centres around a woman whose husband died and whose last wish was to be served up as dinner to a non-vegan couple.
“It’s a very strange take on it, tongue-incheek and doesn’t go into any gory details.
For the couple that took part in the meal, the thought of eating meat again is not an option moving forward.”
From 1,000 entrants, Mark was one of 20 chosen for the anthology.
“I was pretty chuffed to receive the email. I worked in sales for 25 years but always loved writing. I came out of university though with a maths degree and drifted into sales,” he said.
“After 25 years I thought ‘there has to be more to life than this’. I took a bold step and went part time and wrote for the other half. I focus on psychological horror and dark fiction.”
Mark said his ambition is to write novels and earn enough to become a fulltime writer, eventually hoping to see his works turned into film.
“Since I got my first library card, the first book I read was Cujo by Stephen King, I couldn’t get enough, one after the other. I submerged myself in it, it was escapism for me.
“My parents didn’t really get along when I was growing up so I’d take a book in my room and digest it. Ultimately, I want to turn on Netflix and see some of my stories turned into film or write a bestseller.
“It’s all a pipe dream but you’ve got to have a dream and faith, a lot of faith in what you’re doing.”