We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Stibbe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My primary calling and passion has always been to be a fulltime author. The poet Robert Frost talks about that dream ticket when your vocation (your job, occupation or profession) and your avocation (the thing that you love doing) meet. I call this “convergence”. For 25 years I was out of alignment, doing work that was not in line with my passion. Eight years ago, I took an immense risk, dropped everything and dared to write fulltime. It was very difficult to begin with, at least financially, but I have always said that if we are not risk takers, we end up being undertakers. Now I write fulltime. I start at 0800 and end at 1600. The rest of the day/eve is for my marriage, my spirituality, my dog, exercise, recreation, family, friends, etc. I feel I have my work/life balance right at last. But then I have just turned 60! So, it takes time to arrive at that magic moment when you experience convergence!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work. What are you excited about and most proud of?
I am most proud of the fact that, a month ago, I was shortlisted for the 2020 Page Turner Writing Award for Fiction. A week ago, I found out that I had won! I entered my forthcoming novel, A Book in Time – the first in a series of stories that I would call “magical realism.” I am now represented by the Kane Literary Agency in London. I’m proud of that too. My wife tells me that the latest stats show that only one in 6000 authors manages to acquire a literary agent in the current overcrowded marketplace. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get this far. I am very chuffed about that. As Napoleon once said, victory comes to the most persevering.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We live in the south east of England, so I would take them to the museum one mile from our front door and the pub across our road. We live in a rural part of Kent which was heavily populated by Spitfire pilots in WW2. We have the world’s leading collection of WW2 German and British aircraft and memorabilia within walking distance of our house. We also have an old, unspoiled country pub within a stone’s throw of our garden. This tavern is the same as it was in WW2 when pilots used to have a pint after fighting in the Battle of Britain and it is full of souvenirs from that era. As if this isn’t enough, when we sit in our back garden in the balmy summer months, sipping a glass of chilled white wine, we hear the throaty roar of Merlin Rolls Royce engines above. There is a Spitfire airfield nearby which has a number of operational Spitfires from WW2 and they fly over us every day, taking people to see the white cliffs of Dover just down the coast. This would be where I would start, especially with our American guests. The museum and the pub. We don’t have to drive! Both are in our English country village which has only 39 souls living in it – not counting the sheep and the horses, the owls and the swallows.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I must give a big shout out to my adoptive father. He was a star pupil of CS Lewis. His college professor was J R R Tolkien. Growing up in a book-filled house with a dad that loved stories was instrumental in me becoming hooked on English literature, gaining a senior scholarship to read English Literature at Cambridge University, going on to complete and publish a doctorate in storytelling (with Cambridge University Press). I owe it all to Dad, really. He used to read to us as children. When his stories finished, ours began. Claire (my twin sister) and I shared a bedroom on holidays and we would stay up late after dad had finished, telling each other stories. Today I am a fulltime novelist. So is Claire Stibbe. Check her out on Amazon. She lives in the USA and writes knockout thrillers. So, you can see what a legacy he left.
For an interview with Mark Stibbe and his literary agent, go to https://www.youtube.com/