Mark Speed’s comedy writing has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra and appeared in newspapers as diverse as the London Evening Standard and The Sun. He performed his solo comedy, The End of the World Show, at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 and 2012.
He’s been writing novels since he was fifteen, and has an MA in Creative Writing from City University, London. In 1995 a chiropractor told him he’d never run again. He chose to give up chiropractors instead, and has since completed several marathons and a couple of Olympic-length triathlons. He has been diagnosed as a ‘polarity responder’.
1. Do you feel the pressure to always be funny? Do you believe people are born funny or is it something you work at?
I’ve come to understand that it’s my role in life to be the one to put the silver lining around a dark cloud. I was in my last job for 15 years. The company was insolvent when I started and as the sole sales and marketing guy it was pretty bleak. I won clients over by making them laugh – even roomfuls of Germans. The company now employs around 300 people on three continents. When I left two years ago the founder and CEO said my gallows humour about our situation kept him going through the dark times. Humour kicks the brain out of a downward spiral and towards more creative and innovative solutions.
2. Why is it so hard to get published these days and what advice would you give to ambitious and talented writers?
I think it’s always been hard to get published. The industry continues to change, and the big publishers are still lost. I don’t know any traditionally published writers who are happy with their publisher. I would advise writers to publish independently, but to make sure they work hard on their craft, and listen to feedback from readers and editors who know how the magic of story works.
3. The hardest thing about running a marathon is ……. ?
It’s a tough and singular mental exercise. The only person you compete against is yourself. When I hit the ‘wall’ I always remember my closest school friend, who died from cancer aged 15. He loved sport at that age, and I hated it. I am grateful to be alive to feel that pain, and to push against it.
4. How do you deal with any bad press?
Focus on the reviews from real readers who give positive feedback about specific areas. They’ve paid money and have enjoyed the work enough to write a positive review.
5. Tell us about your favourite piece of creative writing?
I love it when I read about a fictional world and think “I wish I’d thought of that!” Recently, Dark Eden by Chris Beckett did that for me – a mind-blowing feat of imagination.
And just for fun…
6. How do you chill out when you are not writing or running?
Last year I got my private pilot’s licence. It’s been an ambition since childhood and I never thought I’d get to do it. It requires a tremendous amount of concentration, and can be very stressful, but that’s what my brain seems to enjoy. It’s opening up so many amazing adventures for me. Last week I learnt to fly seaplanes. Can you believe you actually get taught to do circular landings and take-offs? You put your aircraft onto its left float and around you go – it’s amazing!
7. What is your favourite song to sing at karaoke or in the shower?
Mostly 80s classics. The Spirit of Radio by Rush is a favourite.
8. Do you have a happy place?
Anywhere I’m writing, or at the controls of an aircraft.
9. What is your all time favourite meal?
You can’t beat a good chicken tikka masala!
10. What is the wackiest thing you have ever worn?
As a Scotsman, I wear a kilt as a matter of course – and not wacky. I used to wear striped multi-coloured trousers for juggling, then I started wearing them day-to-day… They still call me from the wardrobe.
To read more about Mark or connect with him see links below-
Personal Website: www.markspeed.co.uk