Author has the last word on his brand new novel

Mark Illis, Emmerdale writer, has completed his first novel
Mark Illis, Emmerdale writer, has completed his first novel

AN author and screenwriter is hoping to have more than the last word with his latest projects.

Mark Illis, who lives in Hebden Bridge, has just had his fourth novel - The Last Word - published and has also written a screenplay about zombies - based on an idea by Emmerdale actor Dominic Brunt.

Mark, who has written for Emmerdale for the last ten years, said: “The Last Word is a moving story about how two people cope with the chaos going on around them. It’s a mystery with a surprise ending.”

The novel explores the relationship of two misfits - Stephen and Gloria - whose paths cross after Stephen’s best friend and Gloria’s brother kills himself.

“It took about two years to write, because I did it at the same time as writing Emmerdale,” said Mark.

“I always like to write about people in a crisis because it’s interesting to see how they behave when they’re put in difficult situations.”

Mark said that he was also looking forward to the release of the screenplay “Before Dawn” in 2012, which was also the brainchild of Dominic Brunt’s wife Jo Mitchell.

“Dominic is interested in zombie films and I think he went to a convention in Leeds last year about it. He and his wife Jo came up with the idea because they like zombies and also because they wanted to act with each other. They approached me to write the screenplay and I was more than happy to. They had an idea of where they wanted the story to go and I followed that.

“Films are all about collaboration and that’s why I like working on them, but when you write books you’re in total control and I like doing that aspect of writing as well.”

Mark, who has also written for EastEnders, The Bill and Peak Practice, said screenwriting, which he describes as his “bread and butter” allows him to work on other projects, like The Last Word. He is also developing original television ideas and plans to take a new play to Edinburgh next year.

Mark will also be reading from The Last Word at Hebden Bridge Library on Tuesday, October 25, at 7.30pm, as part of the 2011 Calderdale Readers’ and Writers’ Festival, ‘Meet the Author’ event. Tickets are £3.50 and £2 concessions and are available from the library.

The Last Word, which is published by Salt Press, will be available at the Hebden Bridge Bookshop on Crown Street and the Book Case on Market Street - both in Hebden Bridge - with a recommended retail price of £8.99.