Ask the Author: Mark Noce

What would you like readers to know about you?

I write historical fiction with a passion, and eagerly read everything from fantasy to literature. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m an avid traveler and backpacker, particularly in Europe and North America. I earned my BA and MA from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where I also met my beautiful wife. By day, I work as a Technical Writer, having spent much of my career at places like Google and Facebook. In addition to writing novels, I also write short fiction online. When not reading or writing, I’m probably listening to U2, sailing my dad’s boat, or gardening with my family.

My Queen Branwen Series is a collection of historical novels set in medieval Wales, published by St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan.

What is Dark Winds Rising about for those who haven’t read it?

Dark Winds Rising (sequel to Between Two Fires)

Queen Branwen finds her world once again turned upside down as Pictish raiders harry the shores of her kingdom. Rallying her people once more, she must face her most dangerous foe yet, the Queen of the Picts. Ruthless and cunning, the Pictish Queen turns the Welsh against each other in a bloody civil war, and Branwen must attempt to stop her before her country threatens to tear itself apart. All the while Branwen is heavy with child, and finds her young son’s footsteps dogged by a mysterious assassin. Branwen must somehow defeat the Picts and save her people before the Pictish Queen and a mysterious assassin threaten to destroy their lives from the inside out.

What has been your inspiration for writing Dark Winds Rising?

I’m always attracted to periods of history that have sort of slipped through the cracks. Very little written and archaeological material survives from medieval Wales around the year 600 AD. However, I found plenty of tantalizing clues with which to make a good story, one that no one had written about. I like breaking new ground, and the story of Branwen and those like her was too much to resist.

What was your favorite scene or part of Dark Winds Rising to write?

Well, not to give too much away, but I loved writing scenes where Branwen would try to take control of a dangerous situation in order to help others, regardless of the consequences. She’s normally a very careful, thoughtful, even calculating character, so I like it when she kind of loses it for a spell.

What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?

So many, but I’d have to list Lawrence Durrell, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Dumas, Shakespeare, and Jack London, just to name a few. I read as much as I can, and continue to find great inspiration in every genre of literature.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?

As Ray Bradbury often said, “write a lot or you’re doomed.” I think it’s sound advice. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing, but if you love it, just be doing it all the time. Sooner or later, you’re bound to come up with something that you’re really proud of and can continue to craft each time you show it to others. Also, don’t forget why you started writing in the first place. Do it because you enjoy it and love it!

Thanks again, Maddie, for having me here today!

Between Two Fires

Dark Winds Rising





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