Today is my spot of Mark’s tour for The Man Upstairs, we have a lovely guest post by Mark, discussing the character Frank Miller. First let’s get to know Mark Fowler.
Mark L. Fowler is the author of the novels Coffin Maker, The Man Upstairs, Silver, and Red Is The Colour, and more than a hundred short stories. His particular interests are in crime and mystery, psychological thrillers and gothic/horror fiction.
His first published novel, Coffin Maker, is a gothic tale set between our world and the Kingdom of Death. In the Kingdom the Coffin Maker lives a solitary existence, and every coffin he completes signals the end of a life in our world. One day he discovers that he is to be sent two apprentices, amid rumours that the devil is arriving on Earth.
Mark’s second novel, The Man Upstairs, features the hard-boiled detective, Frank Miller, who works the weird streets of Chapeltown. Having discovered that he is in fact the hero of twenty successful mystery novels, authored by The Man Upstairs, Frank has reasons to fear that this latest case might be his last.
In 2016, Silver, a dark and disturbing psychological thriller was published by Bloodhound Books. When a famous romance novelist dies in mysterious circumstances, she leaves behind an unfinished manuscript, Silver. This dark and uncharacteristic work has become the Holy Grail of the publishing world, but the dead writer’s family have their reasons for refusing to allow publication.
Red Is The Colour is Mark’s latest book, a crime mystery featuring two police detectives based in Staffordshire. The case involves the grim discovery of the corpse of a schoolboy who went missing thirty years earlier. Red Is The Colour is the first in a series featuring DCI Tyler and DS Mills, and will be published in July 2017 by Bloodhound Books.
The author contributed a short story, Out of Retirement, to the best-selling crime and horror collection, Dark Minds. Featuring many well-known writers, all proceeds from the sales of Dark Minds go to charity.
A graduate in philosophy from Leicester University, Mark lives in Staffordshire, and is currently writing a follow up to Red Is The Colour. When he isn’t writing he enjoys time with family and friends, watching TV and films, playing guitar/piano and going for long walks.
Mark L. Fowler’s Main Character in ‘THE MAN UPSTAIRS’
Who is frank miller?
Frank is a private detective working the weird streets of Chapeltown. He is the hero of twenty best-selling mystery novels written by the strange author known as The Man Upstairs. Frank was loving his life as a hardboiled sleuth in Chapeltown, solving mysteries, restoring justice in a fallen town, ending each case with a beautiful woman on his arm – when the legendary case of the Black Widow changed everything. Frank had suddenly been made aware of his (fictional) existence, and of his creator. Proclaimed at the time of publication as a work of genius, Frank began to wonder if it was in fact the first sign that The Man Upstairs was sick.
The inspiration for Frank Miller’s character
Frank Miller was inspired by the hardboiled detective heroes of American Noir. I loved the first-person narratives of Raymond Chandler, in novels like The Big Sleep and Farewell My Lovely, and the dark noir of Jim Thompson and James Cain. But where those guys were writing mainly straight crime fiction, I wanted to place my fictional hero in a gothic nightmare and see what happened.
The creation of Detective Frank Miller
I first created Frank Miller in 2002. But my habit back then was to write a book, send it off, collect the inevitable rejection slips and move on to the next book. I would return at a later date and start reworking the old books. The Man Upstairs, like all my books, has had many rewrites over the years. In 2015 I finally felt satisfied with it and was able to let it go.
With The Man Upstairs, Frank came first. I wanted to write my own hardboiled detective, a deeply flawed individual, world-weary and filled with cynical wit, who was nonetheless not beyond redemption. His existential crisis was there from the very beginning.
About Frank’s Character
Frank’s character came pretty well formed from the start, I would say. Once I got the voice right everything flowed from there. Frank has similarities with some characters in the fictional world, for sure, though I haven’t met anyone quite like him yet in the real world. But whilst Frank was born out of past heroes from the world of noir fiction and film, he is very much his own person too. I don’t believe that there is anyone quite like Frank Miller out there.
What do you like most about frank miller?
What I like most about Frank Miller is his dark, cynical view of the world and his irrepressible dry wit. I’m a sucker for that voice, in story and film. It appeals to my sense of humour and, sadly, my own cynicism. By giving a hardboiled, womanising guy like Frank, a steady girlfriend who warns him that to survive he has to change, I was having fun with the genre, whilst at the same time paying homage to it.
What do you dislike about your protagonist’s character?
What I like least about Frank is the way he treats Marge. He is determined to hang on to his self-destructive habits at all costs, it seems, because that was the way he was made. The way The Man Upstairs, his author, created him. His habits are ingrained and they are hard to break out of. Ironically, he needs Marge to help break them. But will he listen to a woman in blue pyjamas?
What’s next? Will Frank Return?
As soon as I completed The Man Upstairs I wanted to continue with the series. I loved writing in the voice of Frank. Sometime later I did complete the first draft of a second Miller Mystery, but other projects have taken my time and I have yet to return to that second book. I most certainly will at some point.
Frank Miller, hero of the best-selling mystery novels written by The Man Upstairs, works the weird streets of Chapeltown as a private detective. During the legendary case of the Black Widow everything changed when Frank became aware of his fictional existence. Proclaimed at the time as a work of genius, Frank wonders if it was the first sign that The Man Upstairs was sick. This latest case, involving the death of a care worker, and coinciding with the appointment of Chapeltown’s first elected mayor, has Frank baffled. The Man Upstairs appears to be losing the plot, giving the womanising Frank a steady girlfriend, Marge, who warns him that to survive he must change from the tired cliché that he has become. As the case darkens Frank recognises the depth of his creator’s sickness. His days are numbered as clearly as the pages in the books in which he features. The looming battle with the Mayor of Chapeltown is nothing less than the battle to save himself, Marge, the series – and the mind of The Man Upstairs. The Man Upstairs is plotting to kill Frank Miller and take Chapeltown to hell.
If you would like to learn more and connect with Mark Fowler.
LINKS TO AUTHOR’S BOOKS:
Coffin Maker Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2onD2Y8
Amazon US http://amzn.to/2nWV4Q2
The Man Upstairs Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2nITQ99
Amazon US http://amzn.to/2on76mD
Silver Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2n0ZHbq
Amazon US http://amzn.to/2mtF97y
Huge thanks to Mark Fowler and Caroline Vincent for the opportunity to be on the tour.