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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Jun 14, 2019

In this episode Mark interviews Mark O'Neill a writer of German spy thrillers who has released more than a dozen books in his Department 89 spy thriller series in the past couple of years after spending thirty years passionate about writing.

Prior to the interview, Mark talks about a Twitter comment from Rachel Amphlett regarding episode 78.

He also thanks Patrons of the show who support it via

Mark also shares a personal update about receiving his annual royalty statement and cheque from one of his publishers, referring to it as "Schrodinger's Envelope" - before the envelope is opened it is both larger than and small than last year's at the same time.

This episode is sponsored by Findaway Voices . . .

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at


In their conversation Mark and Mark talk about:

  • Mark's background in writing via journalism and a life-long passion until he encountered Mark Dawson who opened his eyes to the self-publishing side of things
  • The value of the introduction to self-publishing course that Mark Dawson taught
  • The reasoning behind setting his spy thrillers in Germany as well as making the lead character a strong female spy
  • Mark's contacts in the police, embassy and military that have been helpful for research in his novels
  • The concept of Mark's thrillers not being for those who want 100% accuracy but are there to enjoy the escape and fantasy of a novel that is just an entertaining romp
  • The importance of not focusing on Captain Sophie Decker, the main character, as a sex object, but as a specialist and capable professional regardless of being male or female
  • A bit of the backstory of how Decker created Department 89
  • The different English and German media programs that Mark might have been partially inspired by when writing this series
  • The German translations that Mark has produced for the first two books in the series
  • A little about the difference in the German market as compared to the North America and UK markets
  • The media page that Mark has on his author website
  • What Mark would go back and tell his younger writer self about what he has learned in the past two years


Links of Interest


Mark is a 40-something Scotsman, now living the expatriate lifestyle in Würzburg, Germany. He has been writing in one form or another for the past 30 years. However, he is now an independently published fiction writer, currently working on the Department 89 espionage novels starring the female spy Captain Sophie Decker, protecting the German state.

The first D89 book, "The Renegade Spy" was downloaded more than 4,000 times in the first 4 weeks. Plots have been outlined for up to 20 Department 89 novels.

The first book, "The Renegade Spy" has received rave reviews, with one reviewer comparing Sophie Decker to the female version of Bruce Willis's character, John McClaine, in the Die Hard movies.


The music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0