Mark B. Mills Q&A – Waiting For Doggo

November 17, 2014, Article by Tom in Books

You might know Mark Mills as the author of gripping historical thrillers such as The Savage Garden, The Long Shadow or House of the Hanged. But now he’s back, with a B in his name and a brand new, very different novel: Waiting For Doggo.

The story of a Dan, a reluctant owner, and his ugly, bald but very cute furry companion, Doggo, we picked Waiting For Doggo as one of our favourite books of the autumn. It’s out this week, so we asked Mark a few little questions…

Doggo is a bit of a hero, but this is a very different book to your previous ones. What made you want to write about an ugly, bald little dog?

I wasn’t planning to write about an ugly, bald little dog; I was already deep into the research on a period thriller when Doggo barged into my head one day during lunch with an old friend. I wrote the first ten pages or so of the novel as a kind of test, to see if there was anything in the idea, but I found myself so hooked by the little chap that I just kept on going.

Dan, the main character in Doggo, gets dumped by a pretty harsh letter right at the start of Waiting For Doggo (you can read it on the WHSmith blog). Are you willing to share the worst way you’ve ever been dumped?

Sure. No names, though. When I was a student at university I met an Italian girl towards the end of a summer term. We had ‘a moment’ and arranged to see each other a month or so later in Italy. I was building a motorcycle at the time, and as soon as I’d got the thing finished I set off for Forte dei Marmi on the Tuscan coast. I arrived to discover that the girl in question had fallen in love with someone else in the meantime. Annoyingly, he was a really great guy, handsome as hell and a star cellist. Even more annoyingly, my motorcycle had broken down just a few miles from Forte dei Marmi, so I couldn’t even burn off with my bruised heart. Instead, I had to spend almost two weeks in their company before the bloody thing was fixed (the bike, not my heart).

Clara leaves him and disappears without telling him where she’s going. If you could ditch everything and disappear for a bit, where would you fancy going?

Somewhere hot where I can learn to surf properly without squeezing into a wetsuit, boots and gloves every time. Years ago, I found myself on the North Shore of Oahu (Hawaii) and thought: I could happily live here. So maybe that’s where I’d head for a hiatus. Or possibly Bali, specifically Uluwatu, with its famous left-handed wave.

Rather than pursuing his dream career, Dan ends up working in advertising. Was being a writer always your dream career?

Yes, it was always my dream to be a writer, well, from about the age of thirteen, when I can remember telling my headmaster that I wanted to be a journalist. As things turned out, and not without a lot of luck and assistance, I got to cut my teeth in the film world as a screenwriter before crossing over to novels.

Dan is a bit of a romantic, and we hear you’re a fan of cooking. So what would you recommend we cook for the perfect dinner date? Something easy preferably, as we don’t want to make a dog’s dinner of it…

I’m an enthusiastic cook with a very limited repertoire, so I’d have to plump for something I’ve done many times before: rack of lamb with gratin dauphinois. The gratin takes a while to prepare but is always a winner. Better still, it can be done in advance, even the day before, and re-heated. The lamb is dead easy: seasoned then laid on a bed of rosemary and crushed garlic and cooked in the oven at a very high heat for about twenty minutes, maybe with a couple of tomatoes in the dish. While it’s resting under foil (5-10 minutes), you can simmer some French beans or whip up a green salad.

Waiting for Doggo

Waiting For Doggo is out this Thursday, 20th November, in hardback and ebook. It’s a cracking read and the perfect Christmas gift for any dog lovers you might know.