Today on A Death in Mayfair: a DCI Frank Merlin thriller Blog Tour. Mark Ellis tells us how he became an author.
December 1941. Japanese planes swoop down and attack Pearl Harbour. America enters the war and Britain no longer stands alone against Hitler. But conditions on the home front remain bleak, and for Scotland Yard detective Frank Merlin, life is as arduous as ever. He is diverted from his tenacious campaign against London’s organised criminal gangs by the violent deaths of two young women in the centre of the city. Merlin investigates and encounters fraudulent film moguls, dissipated movie stars, mad Satanists, and brutal gangsters amongst others as he and his team battle to uncover the connections and search out the truth.
How I Became An Author
I became an author relatively late in life after a career of over 30 years in law, finance and business. I was called to the Bar in the 70s and practised as a barrister for a short time in London before working at a merchant bank in the City. A while later I joined a client company of the bank and spent several years as a corporate executive in London and New York. Then, in the early 90s, I started a computer company with a friend. Over the next ten years we grew the business successfully and were able to go public in the USA. Eventually a large American corporation bought us out.
As a child it had been my dearest ambition to become a writer. I wrote numerous stories during my school days and continued at university where, at one point, I wrote a few hundred pages of a novel about the vagaries of student life. Various teachers and friends encouraged me to think I had writing talent. When I started to earn a living I tried to keep writing but work pressures eventually made it impossible. Throughout the long years of my business career, however, I continued to retain my writing ambition. With the sale of the computer company, I realised that I had, at last, a real opportunity to see what I could do. I resolved to concentrate my efforts on becoming a published author.
Having always been an avid reader of crime and historical fiction, it was my intent from the outset to write a detective series and set the books in a historical period. I have always been fascinated by World War 2 and, in particular, the detail of how people on the Home Front coped with daily life at a time of such terrible national peril. I researched the wartime period intensively and learned that crime flourished in London and in the country as a whole between 1939 and 1945. Factors such as the blackout, the chaotic conditions brought about by German bombing, and the booming black market contributed to substantial increases in criminal activity. It became clear to me that wartime London would be a great historical setting for a detective series. I set about creating my hero, DCI Frank Merlin, a brave and resourceful Scotland Yard detective of Anglo-Spanish descent, and started writing.
So far I have completed four Frank Merlin books. The series has been critically well-received and is now published by Headline Accent. In the latest, A Death In Mayfair, which is set in December 1941, Merlin investigates the death of a beautiful film star. In the first Merlin book, Princes Gate, set in January 1940, Merlin looks into murders at the American Embassy. The second, Stalin’s Gold, takes place against the background of the Battle of Britain and revolves around the disappearance of a Polish RAF pilot. Merlin At War, the third, is set in June 1941 and features murder and espionage among the Free French. I am currently researching Merlin 5, which will be set in or around September 1942. Looking further forward, it is my aim to follow Merlin’s adventures all the way through to the end of the war. That should keep me busy for a while!
About Mark Ellis
Mark Ellis is a thriller writer from Swansea and a former barrister. He is the creator of DCI Frank Merlin, an Anglo-Spanish police detective operating in World War 2 London. His books treat the reader to a vivid portrait of London during the war.
Mark grew up under the shadow of his parents’ experience of the Second World War. He has always been fascinated by the fact that while the nation was engaged in a heroic endeavour, crime flourished. His father served in the wartime navy and died a young man. His mother told him stories of watching the heavy bombardment of Swansea from the safe vantage point of a hill in Llanelli, and of attending tea dances in wartime London under the bombs and doodlebugs.
In consequence Mark has always been fascinated by WW2 and in particular the Home Front and the fact that while the nation was engaged in a heroic endeavour, crime flourished. Murder, robbery, theft and rape were rife and the Blitz provided scope for widespread looting.This was an intriguing, harsh and cruel world. This is the world of DCI Frank Merlin.
Mark Ellis’ books regularly appear in the Kindle bestseller charts. He is a member of the Crime Writers Association (CWA). His most recent book, Merlin at War, was on the CWA Historical Dagger Longlist in 2018. A Death in Mayfair will be published in November 2019.