Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Defector - Mark Chisnell


Mark Chisnell is a writer, broadcaster and sometime professional racing sailor. He's published nine works of award winning fiction and non-fiction, written for some of the world's leading magazines and newspapers, including Esquire and the Guardian, and blogged and commentated on everything from the Volvo Ocean Race to the World Match Racing Tour. On the way, he has also won three offshore sailing world championships, and sailed as navigator with five America's Cup teams.


What will you do, when it's you or them?

This is the dilemma at the heart of The Defector - can Martin Cormac turn his back on his ruthless past as a currency trader, a big city player, and do the right thing? Not when he's looking for answers in a succession of sleazy dives...

One night, Cormac gets caught trying to chat up the bar owner's girlfriend and soon needs rescuing. Unfortunately, his white knight is anything but - Janac's a drug baron with a psychotic urge to test people to the limit, and if possible... over it.

And soon Cormac is running from more than his past, he's running from the most dangerous game he will ever play.

What will readers like about your book?

The page-turning, stomach churning pace.

Why did you self publish?

It's a transitional time in publishing, eBooks are the future and the fastest way to be a part of it and get it out onto eReaders was to do it myself.

What is your writing process?

I start with an outline, and then a couple of chapters. I work those up pretty hard until I'm ready to let someone else see them. I have a couple of people that I trust that I show them to, and I then rework the outline and drafts until I'm happy. Then I write a first draft as fast as I can, maybe 2-3,000 words a day, and I don't worry much about the quality. No one ever sees this version, but it gets a draft done, and it means that from then on I'm rewriting, which I find a lot easier than writing.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

The Defector began as an idea from philosophy classes, the Prisoner's Dilemma is a Games Theory concept that was dreamed up by the RAND corporation, the people who brought us the MAD theory (Mutually Assured Destruction) during the Cold War. I wanted to make it more personal than that, and I had in mind a game played for life and death stakes, involving a love triangle. The basic idea immediately makes it a genre book, a thriller, and I went for a classic chase story. The psychotic drug smuggler, Janac forces the hero, Martin Cormac to make a succession of escalating, nightmare choices in his struggle to get free.


Prologue  June 1992

It was Friday, and Fridays were always bad. This particular Friday was worse because of the rain. I love the place. Always have, and probably always will. Good old England. But I hate the rain, boy, do I hate the rain. And more than anything I hate driving in the rain. That day was typical, it was June and barely drizzling hard enough to get the wipers out of intermittent and into first gear, but there was a cloud of spray on the road so bad I could barely see the end of the bonnet on the BMW. And I was late. I was always late, I guess it was just a part of the lifestyle.

I saw the lorry a little late too, coming out from the slip road on my left. These guys,
they think they own the road. And this one was typical, indicator on and just shove it out. I was doing nearly twice his speed and he only had to wait a few seconds and I'd be past him.

But oh no, he wanted me to move over. But I didn't, I flashed the lights onto full beam, thumbed the horn and floored it. I'd just burst through the curtain of solid spray kicked up by the front wheels as they moved to avoid me. He over-reacted a little, I must have surprised him. I felt it more than saw it. The cab rocking and the squwoosh noise as the tyres let go on the wet road.

It was when I saw the trailer fill my rear view mirror that I knew it was going to be
bad. Then there were the horns, the almost human wail of anguish as the inevitable slowly, hopelessly, became fact. The gate closed, the trailer just shut down the motorway behind me.

I heard one crash, a high pitched screech that lowered into a grinding, ripping tenor howl before exhausting itself in a dull whumf. But by then I was gone, mist and drizzle and spray swallowed up the scene behind me. There was nothing, no one in the rear-view mirror. I watched a rain drop slide down the back window. I was the last one that made it through. I drove on, there was nothing else to do. You have to carry on, don't you?


  1. Great feature on The Defector, Mark! I love books written at a stomach-churning pace.

  2. Thanks for visiting. Marks writing is great isn't it. Don't forget to check out our thriller section if this is the style you like.