James Bacon Interviews Anton Marks

James Bacon: Anton, can you tell us a bit about yourself for our readers, please.

Anton Marks

Anton Marks: Hey, I’m Anton Marks, a black speculative fiction author from London but originally from the beautiful island of Jamaica. I grew up reading, writing, and drawing, but my first love has always been words. I infuse my stories with wonder, fear, adventure, and history. My books offer a unique blend of high-concept ideas woven through sci-fi, horror, and action genres with an unapologetic diverse and black perspective. I’m an avid reader, film enthusiast, and a timeless Marvel and DC Comics fan. I love travelling, and I’m a dab hand in the kitchen.

JB: Anton, you’ve just released the third part of your Bad II the Bone series; this is your 13th book. Can you share with readers a run-down of the series?

Anton Marks: I absolutely love this series. My pride and joy! It spans three thrilling books but will continue until the girls are done with me. In this electrifying urban fantasy tale, you’ll follow the courageous journey of Yvonne’ Y’ Sinclair, Suzanne’ Suzy Wong’ Young, and Cleo’ Patra’ Jones. These three ordinary women are given supernatural gifts, powers bestowed to them by Anancy, the Spider God, to maintain the balance between good and evil in the city of London. They are the gatekeepers to prevent an irreversible breach between this world and the Hell Realms. Different antagonists will appear in the books, mainly taken from traditional European folklore but adapted with an Afrocentric twist. Prepare for a rollercoaster ride of ghetto charm, real characters in extraordinary circumstances, and enough horror to make your spine tingle!

JB: Would you recommend that readers start with Bad II the Bone and why?

Anton Marks: While each book can be enjoyed independently, but I highly recommend starting with Bad II the Bone. It sets the stage for our fearless trio’s journey, introduces their unique gifts and aspirations, and lays the foundation for the thrilling supernatural world they inhabit. I would want to join them from the beginning of their adventures to fully immerse myself in the action, suspense, and character development that unfolds throughout the series.

JB: How did this series come about?

Anton Marks: One of my earliest memories of my dad was sitting on his lap, beyond my bedtime and watching Lon Chaney Junior as the Wolfman. My passion genre film and fiction began from there. The Bad II the Bone series was born from a blend of my Caribbean roots love for horror fiction and movies, and a desire to create strong, relatable, diverse characters who navigate the realms of magic and darkness. I wanted to tell stories resonating with my experiences while bringing a fresh and exciting perspective to the genre. The concept of three ordinary women with extraordinary gifts fighting supernatural threats felt like the perfect vehicle to explore these themes and entertain readers.

JB: What do you love about these characters you have created?

Anton Marks: What I find most compelling about Yvonne, Suzy Wong, and Patra is their resilience, courage, and unwavering determination in the face of unimaginable challenges. They never lose their sense of self even when the incomprehensible is exploding around them. They embody the strength and spirit of everyday people who rise to become heroes. I wanted to create characters who defy stereotypes, breaking barriers as they take on the responsibility of protecting their community and the world. Their flaws, fears, and triumphs make them relatable and engaging, drawing readers into their extraordinary world.

JB: Please share the cultural aspects you bring to the stories that readers may find interesting.

Anton Marks: One of the most profound cultural influences in my stories was through the work of Jamaican Icon, poet and performer Miss Louise Bennett. Affectionately called Miss Lou, her tales of Jamaican folklore characters like Anancy have imprinted on me. Her mastery of Jamaican Patois, her vibrant storytelling, and her ability to capture the essence of Jamaican culture have left an indelible mark on my work. I was adamant that I wanted to incorporate characters from this world, such as Anancy, into my tales to add a rich layer of authenticity and cultural significance. Many first heard of Anancy from Neil Gaiman’s bestselling novel and TV series American Gods. But I grew up reading about the cunning and mischievous spider trickster, a beloved figure in Jamaican folklore known for his cunning wit and ability to outsmart his opponents. By incorporating Anancy and other folklore characters into my stories, I pay homage to the oral traditions that have been passed down through generations in Jamaica. Readers can expect glimpses into that world, its spirituality, and the traditions that have shaped Caribbean culture. These elements provide a unique flavour to the narrative, adding depth and authenticity. From the vibrant music and reggae influences, connections with spiritual beliefs and the struggle against adversity, these cultural aspects enrich the storytelling and create a captivating backdrop for their supernatural adventures.

JB: Your fiction resonates with London, the real London. How do you try to bring to your fiction that sense of place? 

Anton Marks: One of my objectives has been to provide a perspective of London unfamiliar in fictional circles. In the Bad II the Bone series, London is a melting pot of cultures where different ethnicities, languages, and traditions coexist. This inclusivity can be reflected in the interactions between characters from diverse backgrounds, highlighting the unity and strength that comes from embracing cultural differences. It allows for a more nuanced representation of the city, where the characters draw upon their unique cultural perspectives and experiences to tackle supernatural threats and protect their communities. The 75th anniversary of the Empire Windrush’s arrival in the UK holds immense significance for me because my portrayal of London is shaped by that. The arrival of the Windrush generation, consisting of Caribbean migrants – including my parents, who sought new opportunities in post-war Britain, brought with it a wave of cultural diversity and contributed to shaping the multicultural fabric of London. This fabric has been tested many times over the decades but still holds firm. This is the London I am writing about. I want readers to feel like they are walking alongside the characters, breathing in the city’s essence. I paint a vivid picture of London’s neighbourhoods, capturing their unique Flavors, sounds, and textures. From the bustling markets of Brixton to the historic charm of Notting Hill, the vibrant streets of Shoreditch to the hidden corners of Camden, I aim to transport readers into the city’s heart, allowing them to feel its pulse and energy.

JB: A detective in the story has suffered racism in the police force, and while cynical, this is not Crime noir. There is optimism from the protagonists. How do you balance that real-life experience being brought to the pages?

Anton Marks: Detective Inspector Winstone ‘Shaft’ McFarlane’s character has experienced racism within the police force. Still, instead of holding him back, he has been singled out as the only senior police officer willing and able to handle the upsurge in paranormal incidents in the city. While I touch upon the harsh realities of racism, I strive to strike a balance between acknowledging real-life experiences and infusing the story with a sense of optimism. The protagonists, Y, Suzy Wong, and Patra, serve as beacons of hope and resilience, showing that even in the face of adversity, one can rise above and make a difference. Their unwavering determination and unity reflect the strength of the community and the power of standing together against injustice. While the themes may touch on the darkness of reality, the series’ overall tone carries a sense of optimism and empowerment.

JB: How are sales, are you at a place you need to be, or where is that?

Anton Marks: Sales, the never-ending quest for success! It was tough in the beginning as I was an unknown quantity. I’m grateful that sales have been steadily growing and gaining momentum, but I still feel the stories need to reach more readers. The Bad II the Bone series has garnered a dedicated and enthusiastic readership, which fills my heart with joy, but I know it can do much better. While there’s always room for growth and reaching new audiences, I’m thankful for the reception thus far. It’s a journey, and I’m excited to see where it leads me.

JB: What else are you working on now?

Anton Marks: Currently, I’ve begun working on the third in my YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy series Joshua N’Gon and the Trial on Gorilla Mountain. I’m reintroducing myself to the cast of characters and pouring my passion and imagination into that vast world. I have a genuinely original novella written in the Bad II the Bone Universe, called Headhunters, that will be available at the end of 2023. Additionally, I’m exploring opportunities to bring the Bad II the Bone series to other mediums, such as television or film adaptations. The possibilities are endless, and I’m excited to continue crafting stories that entertain and resonate with readers.

JB: Do you have any final thoughts to share?

Anton Marks: Lastly, I’d like to express my gratitude to all the readers and supporters who have embarked on this journey with me. Your enthusiasm and engagement mean the world to me. I’m committed to delivering stories that challenge norms, celebrate diversity, and provide an exhilarating escape into the realms of the extraordinary. Stay tuned for more thrilling adventures, heart-pounding suspense, and characters who defy conventions. Thank you for your continued support, and I can’t wait to share more tales of wonder with you all.


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