my books


City of Ruin: Author Notes

So it seems that most people loved, though some hated, the new artwork. I’ll be amazed when something appears online and receives a harmonious response.

There’s a vague plan to alter the cover of Nights of Villjamur for the paperback, too. The current idea was feature the character Randur as a cover model, and I emailed Julie at Pan Macmillan with some potential visual references today.

The conversation so far has pretty much gone like this:

Me: ‘He looks like a young Russell Brand.’
Julie: ‘I hate Russell Brand.’

I found it amusing. I did in fact base the whole of Randur’s personality – because let’s face it, he’s a bit of an endearing but slutty guy – on Brand. Peter Lavery, the line editor, said that he was not particularly likeable, ‘too much like Russell Brand’ and that I should make him less noxious. (I smiled at this point, knowing I’d at least succeeded at capturing that.)

Anyway. City of Ruin. Sounds like people were very interested in the blurb, a few wanted to know more. I’m not keen on explaining things away, but here’s some of what I was aiming for when writing it.

It’s a very dark piece. I dislike the word gritty – since I think it takes away the emphasis from content, themes, and style. It’s a pigeon hole. But City of Ruin is certainly more the fantasy I’ve always wanted to write, and since Nights I’ve grown in abilities and imagination. Hopefully that will be here to see.

And I’m a fan of strange things. I think fantasy is a genre in which novels can do anything, why limit yourself? So I embraced that idea a lot more.

I’ve combined that notion with the central concept that we have a city so dripping in sin that you have to bother if it’s worth saving by the military. It’s deliberately ambiguous – there will probably be characters you’re not sure if you’re meant to like (though I hope they’re engaging enough to make you want to know what happens). Brynd’s back, as is Jeryd. There are new characters: Malum (a vicious gang leader), Beami (a cultist who has an affair with a Night Guard soldier), and Doctor Voland (he’s got a bit of the devil in him…). Oh yeah, and a spider. A huge spider.

The city is different. There’s nothing grand in Villiren, no dreamy spires and vast bridges. It’s heavily commercialised, with black markets and legal trade undistinguishable. There are peep booths and turf wars and weird light sources harvested from oceanic trenches.

But enough waffle. Most of all I hope it’s more of an entertaining read, and I hope I freak a few people out along the way.


City of Ruin

Bringing back the weird… Art by Benjamin Carre.

That’s Brynd, for any of you wondering. There’s a little more work to be done to the face apparently, but this is pretty much it. City of Ruin, the second book in the Legends of the Red Sun series.

My draft attempt at a blurb:

Villiren: a city of sin that is being torn apart from the inside. Its underworld is violent and surreal. Hybrid creatures shamble through shadows and there is a trade in bizarre goods. The city’s inquisition is rife with corruption. Barely human gangs fight turf wars and interfere in political upheavals. The most influential of the gang leaders, Malum, has nefarious networks spreading to the city’s rulers, and as his personal life falls down around him, he begins to embrace the darkness within.

Amidst all this, Commander Brynd Lathraea, commander of the Night Guard, must plan the defence of Villiren. A race that has broken through from some other realm and already slaughtered hundreds of thousands of the Empire’s people. As the enemy gather on the next island, Brynd must muster the populace – including the gangs. Importing soldiers and displacing civilians, this is a colossal military operation, and the stress begins to take its toll.

After a Night Guard soldier is reported missing, it is discovered that many citizens have also been vanishing from the streets of Villiren. They’re not fleeing the city, they’re not hiding from the terrors in the north – they’re being murdered. A serial killer of the most horrific kind is on the loose, taking hundreds of people from their own homes. A killer that cannot possibly be human.

It is whispered that the city of Villiren is about to fall – but how can anyone save a city that is already a ruin?


SF Site Interview

With me, over at, uh, SF Site obviously. Scroll down a touch and there I am – voila!

There’s lots of intrigue going on in the story, with lots of devious manipulations — how devious are you in real life? And how do you make your book’s political manipulations realistic?

Incredibly, I’ve got your wallet right now in fact. Seriously, I’m less exciting than people might think, so not at all devious — I’d feel far too guilty if I started acting like that. As for making the political manipulations realistic — from an early age I’ve had a healthy cynicism towards politics. When at school, I actually went on work experience with a local MP. Let’s just say that it didn’t much endear me towards politicians, or indeed the political system…

You only have to dig under the surface of what’s said in newspapers to see exactly that spin does its job, which is saddening. Some of what happens in contemporary politics I actually tried to replicate completely, changing only the names. Politics never became the main focus of the novel, deliberately so, but perhaps that’s something I can visit later in the series.



Someone told me that my bios are far too minimal, so I’ve updated one with some random crap (including the caravan incident) if you are particularly bored.

Also, watch this space, because I should, within the next month or two, have an shiny new website courtesy of the web guru at Sevenoak Design. It will look very lovely.

Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to find Nights of Villjamur listed amongst “important works” for 2009, in Farah Mendlesohn’s A Short History Of Fantasy, which was rather nice considering it’s only been out a short while.


Review In Total Sci-Fi

Another one in, this time in Total Sci-Fi Online:

The characters gracing these pages are filled with a bleak sense of determination – whether it’s for love, life, power or all three. Key in instigating this sentiment is the inescapable threat of the coming freeze, a welcome change of tack in a genre that thrives on conflict. A foe that cannot be stopped by sword or magic, this adversary has no face, and adds to the impressive ambience of Newton’s multi-tiered Villjamur…

Written in an offbeat, literary and often uncomfortable style, Newton’s technique serves to compliment the uneasy atmosphere that surrounds the story itself. The world he creates is almost palpable in its reality, demonstrating the author’s skill at generating atmosphere and bringing his setting to life.

I’ve been emailing Alice, the reviewer, on and off, so had hoped she might like it a bit more, but you can’t win ’em all. Still, chuffed with this one.


Review Via The Medium Of Google Translate

A review on a Russian forum, and Google translate gives us a most entertaining translation into English:

Villdzhamur – a huge city in the world, where the dying red sun. People understand that they are ahead of Ice Age.

The main character – Brinda Latrea, albino, the commander of an elite squad of Imperial Guards Night. The emperor committed suicide, and now on the streets of the city there is chaos. Throne passes to the eldest daughter of the emperor, Dzhamur Rica. In the meantime, the treacherous intrigues pletet chief villain – the Chancellor Urtika. He had his far-reaching plans – for example, it is going to launch a war to strengthen their political influence.

Urtika is not one. He liaises with Kultistami – individuals, who practice black sorcery. Kultisty outlawed, they hoped not only to the Chancellor to increase its power, but the warring clans стравить magicians in Villdzhamure.

If Brinda – this «white» hero (until the color of the hair), and Urtika – «black», then Rendur Estevo – «gray». This thief, who will remind you to Errol Flynn. Rendur zamutil romanchik with Princess Eyroy, younger sister successors. Missed small – should have been to the Empress podkatyvat … Their attitude will be pink nozzles run through the entire novel.

There is a novel, and other heroes – but Mark Newton focuses on these three. Epic battles and humming anthill characters he has left to other writers. However, rubilova and krovischi will bulk. Not for nothing is remembered Abercrombie.

The main characters and geography (aka lokeysheny) – these are the main advantages of the novel, scientists believe a hobby. City, where the action will remind you Virikonium (of the same works of M. John Harrison) and Lankmar (from «swords Lankmara» Fritz Leybnera).

The plot is a novel built around a murder investigation. One after another, killing the city consuls. People would be happy – every day at sea was the imperial officials. However, the investigation will not Brinda. At the scene is a new character – Investigating Lawyer Jerid, reymel (well, a race, Race). This is a classic hero-detective, descended from the Noir. Do it mate – Three hundred, but to work with the Three hundred and easy. Do that and the problem with his wife, and by raising the nose flying.

Most of these novels the reader begins to flounder, – who is who, and why the necromancer is not Ate Crown Prince for lunch. But, fortunately, the book is not from Newton. Action, action and re-operation, – the author does not give the reader a break. Dark alleys and mysterious tower, terrible monsters and ancient magic, unusual race and the struggle for power – the author skillfully brings together all these pieces of exquisite mosaics.

Hobby called «Night Villdzhamura» remarkable book. The author uses the familiar, we plot turns, but as soon as they gets the inside out – so that remains the only firm to hold a chair. The finale comes in time – not protracted and did not stop at the same time, we understand that he will leave a good zadelchik to continue.

Does the novel weaknesses? Of course! Once you have finished reading it – you just want to continue. And the author just wrote it … «This is the best book of the year – believed hobby. – Or I was very wrong ».

Do you hear that? Yeah.


Updates & Another Review

I’ve been away for a few days in New York with work. A great city, once I stepped away from the Disneyland-esque Times Square. While I was there, on my final afternoon before I flew back home, I managed to meet up with my US editor at Del Rey, Chris Schluep, who is an absolute dude. And what great offices, overlooking Central Park – I would never get any work done with that view. We had exciting discussions, and it’s looking like Villjamur will get its US release in Summer 2010.

Back to the grindstone then. Fantasy Book Review begrudgingly gives Nights of Villjamur a good review of 8/10. Some choice highlights:

The book is littered with examples of how the author is in love with his grasp of vocabulary – never before have I had to go to the dictionary so much in one book, and I have a pretty good grasp of vocab.

Such fatuous, execrable, quixotic gobbledygook!

If you like it down and dirty, realistic to the core, show every wart and the pus that seeps from it, then you’ll like this.

Yes indeedy (to the tune of ‘Let’s Get It On’) if you want to get down and dirty… You know, if I wasn’t so jet-lagged, I’d run with this one for a paragraph or two, but I’ve spared you that.

So, did anyone break the interwebs while I was away?


LeftLion Interview

I’m all up for being involved in the local literary scenes and supporting local arts, so I was delighted to be interviewed for LeftLion Magazine, the uber-trendy Nottingham arts and culture magazine.

Mark Charan Newton’s impressive debut novel Nights of Villjamur is not your usual fantasy fiction. Written almost in a noir style, rather than epic battles and endless magical creatures, there is a strong emphasis on character development where everyone’s story is linked. In this sense he is being hailed as one of a new breed of innovative fantasy authors, following on in the tradition of China Miéville, Alan Campbell and Hal Duncan. With suicides, political corruption, sexually ambiguous heroes and an impending ice age forcing droves of refugees into the fantastical landscape of Villjamur, this dying earth fantasy has something for everyone.

What an intro! Read on


The Times Reviews “Nights of Villjamur”

Yeah, that book I wrote, lots of reviews, you thought I’d stopped talking about it by now, right? Wrong!

The Times reviews Nights of Villjamur:

Set in a far distant future where several different intelligent species co-exist and remnants of long-lost technologies provide the “magic powers” by which cult leaders impress the masses, this is epic fantasy strongly tinged with science fiction. At its best, I was reminded of Jack Vance or Gene Wolfe… this is a promising start to a series worth pursuing.

The book reminding anyone, let alone Lisa Tuttle in a national newspaper, of Vance and Wolfe is perhaps the Coolest Thing Ever.


Podcast & Features

I’ve been a busy boy.

Here’s a podcast I recorded with the wonderful Hagelrat at Unbound! That’s her full name apparently: Hagelrat Unbound. Listen to me talk about bits and pieces to do with me (how solipsistic!), the industry, and the follow up to Nights of Villjamur.

Also, here’s a tongue-in-cheek feature on hype, which I wrote for the Pan Macmillan newsletter.

It starts out innocently enough. You’re a new author, your book – your cherub – is soon to be released, and proof copies have been doing the rounds. You watch with glee as the first reader responses are positive. It puts your heart at ease. You fully expected them to serve your arse back to you on a plate, but no – they liked the book. Actually, they loved the book. Your website stats indicate that someone other than your editor and your mother knows you’re alive. Suddenly more reviewers across the blogosphere begin making meerkat postures, demanding their review copy. A while later, a lot of positive reviews roll in. Forums throng.