York author Mark Thompson tells CAITLIN GLEESON how living in a historic city has inspired his new novel

MARK Thompson sits in his artistically decorated study, surrounded by fascinating objects from travels around the world. It’s these travels that inspired his second novel.

In Eternal City, protagonist Finn Chambers gets a dream assignment to fly to Rome, but life can change in a second, and so it does for Finn.

One careless decision at the Cimitero Acattolico in the eternal city of Rome, finds him falling headfirst on to Shelley’s tomb. To his surprise Finn discovers that life doesn’t end with death, as he is surrounded by long dead poets, artists, and a host of fascinating characters from around the world, including Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats.

I asked Mark what it is about living in York that inspired his novel, and his work as an author.

“It’s a beautiful city to live in. We live inside the city walls, and feel quite privileged to do so. I’m originally from the north east, and I’ve lived in London and Spain but I’ve always been drawn back to the North.

"I’ve always loved York as a city, from my first visit as a child visiting on a school trip, and particularly now in relation to Eternal City which is set in Rome, as York was founded by the Romans. There is still so much evidence of the Romans here. It’s a wonderful combination for me, of ancient and modern.”

Mark describes his love for the city as eloquently as he writes, and how the blend of history and innovation continually fuels his writing.

York Press: Mark Thompson, York author, with his new novel Eternal CityMark Thompson, York author, with his new novel Eternal City

“I can walk the city walls and witness great history, but have so much modernity with it as well. I love the sense of ancient and new, and it’s connection with Eternal City. I love to go for a walk around the city and then come back to my favourite cafe close to my home in Micklegate, Cafe 42, and enjoy coffee and sit and write.”

“I get a lot of inspiration from just watching people and the city itself.”

We moved on to chat about the lasting effect he hopes Eternal City will leave readers with.

“I’m really hoping that there’ll be some sense for the reader that there may be something beyond eternal quiet or dark. Ultimately, it’s about things we regard as ‘normal’ now, the current obsession with celebrity culture and social media. I wondered how people like Keats and Shelley would regard them. They weren’t terribly famous in their own day, but now they’re on the shelves in every library on earth. I wonder how they would view the celebrity status that is now ascribed to them? And how we, as a society, measure celebrity and success.”

As hard as it can be to measure success, Mark Thompson seems set for a memorable career as an author, with his first novel Dust being published internationally in translation to both German and Chinese. He recalls his first book launch in York,

“My launch for Dust was also at Waterstones York, which was fantastic, I’m so excited for the upcoming launch.”

Mark continues to draw inspiration from York and its ancient walls, and is currently working on two further novels.

To read more about Mark, you can view his website at markthompsonwrites.com

The launch for Eternal City by Mark Thompson will be held on Friday, September 16, at 7pm at Waterstones York.

Tickets cost £5 from: www.waterstones.com/events/an-evening-with-mark-thompson/york

Eternal City will be published by RedDoor Press on September 8.

Caitlin Gleeson is a journalist. Follow her on Twitter @c_gleeson