‘a highly entertaining novel, with a neat, smart plot, some perfectly-executed set-pieces and a fine sense of character … Mark Pepper is a writer to watch.’ –Time Out London
1978. On vacation from England, eight-year-old John Frears is befriended by a stranger in the Oregon wilderness and stolen away from his parents. After a bizarre hour spent in a log cabin, he is sent back with a picture of a young girl. 2013.
Since leaving the military, John Frears has been drifting, unable to settle. Then he gets word that a funeral is taking place in LA. Donnie Chester, fellow veteran of the first Gulf War, has been shot dead. He decides to head to the States to pay his respects then go sightseeing. It is a simple plan, in keeping with his life to date.
But his life is about to become more complicated than he could ever imagine. The mysterious event from his past crashes into the present, and could mean the difference between life and death.
By now, Mark Pepper really should be on his fourth wife and in rehab at some idyllic retreat in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. Graduating from RADA in 1990, he believed he would be a Hollywood star by the time the U.S. hosted the World Cup four years later. It didn’t work out that way.
His acting career was spasmodic, to say the least. There were high points: peeing on the Aidensfield Arms hearth-fire in the first-ever episode of Heartbeat; taking Lulu hostage in the Christmas special ten years later; acting with icons like Tom Bell and Helen Mirren; and popping up in Coronation Street several times. But there were vast deserts of unemployment between these little oases and Mark quickly turned to writing as an alternative source of expression.
His first novel, The Short Cut, was published in hardcover by Hodder & Stoughton in 1996 and in paperback by Hodder’s New English Library in 1997, and his second novel, Man on a Murder Cycle, was released by the same publisher hardcover in 1997 and paperback in 1998.
Veteran Avenue was completed a few years later but, as the pressures of earning a decent living and supporting his family took precedence, was placed on the back-burner – although not literally as that would have been stupid. Like any self-respecting struggling actor, he has had a host of jobs, including gym instructor, bed salesman, taxi driver, binman, and even a stint as a Special Constable with Greater Manchester Police. He left when he realised they were never going to give him a gun. Then ten years ago he completed a PGCE in Secondary School Drama, thinking it would be a good idea to be a teacher but not taking into account the problem of OPK – Other People’s Kids. His next move was to get his HGV licences. While happily driving artics around the country he rather stumbled into his current job of Client Intelligence Analyst, which he likes mostly because he can genuinely tell people he’s CIA.
After spending seven years living in Murcia with his wife and daughter, Mark recently returned to the UK as he missed the dull skies, frequent downpours, and especially road-rage.
He is delighted to have been adopted by the Urbane family, and is looking forward to his resurrected writing career. Veteran Avenue will publish in September 2017.
Praise for Man on a Murder Cycle:
“This is a highly entertaining novel, with a neat, smart plot, some perfectly-executed set-pieces and a fine sense of the ridiculous … Mark Pepper is a writer to watch.” – London Time Out
“Fast and compelling … highly readable and well-plotted, Pepper has written about the unbelievable with conviction and a nice dash of ambivalence.” – City Life
“Man on a Murder Cycle is a very clever action thriller, full of twists and turns, skilfully handled, and singles out Mark Pepper as a talent to keep an eye on.” – Edinburgh Evening Telegraph
Praise for The Short Cut:
“Mark Pepper has had the good sense to write what he knows. It’s a tight, readable debut, with some good sarky dialogue and a few choice insights into the actor’s world.” – London Time Out
“A speedy, scary and sexy thriller told with great style and wit. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride!” – Lancashire Evening Post
“A chilling tale of temptation and the devil. Imaginative stuff.” – Manchester Evening NewsRead More
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