20 April 2021

Author Interview with Scott Mariani, Author of The Pandemic Plot


Available for pre-order from Amazon UK and Amazon US

When ex-SAS major Ben Hope is urgently recalled to the UK from his base in France to assist with a family crisis, little does he know that he’s about to be drawn into one of the most dangerous missions of his career: his son Jude has been accused of a brutal murder, and all the evidence points to his guilt.

I'm pleased to welcome author Scott Mariani to The Writing Desk:

Tell us about your latest book

First of all, thank you for having me – it’s an honour! I’m pretty prolific, so there are really two ‘latest’ books coming in the near future. One is THE PANDEMIC PLOT, which is the 23rd novel in my series featuring ex-SAS major Ben Hope. And the other, THE CAGE, marks the start of a brand-new detective series, starring the new character of DI Tom McAllister. Tom has actually appeared in a couple of Ben Hope books but is now getting his first solo outing. 

THE PANDEMIC PLOT, to be released in May 2021, may not be quite what you’d expect given current global events – rather, it’s a contemporary tale set against the backdrop of the early 1900s, World War I, and a certain pandemic that’s less well known these days but remains the worst in modern history. Meanwhile, THE CAGE (coming out in July) is a psychological thriller set in Tom McAllister’s stamping grounds of Oxford and surrounding areas. In this one, a serial killer is targeting child sex offenders recently released from jail, and Tom’s task is to bring the assassin to justice. Things get fairly complicated . . . but then again, don’t they always!

What is your preferred writing routine?

I’m better in the morning, although lately I’ve been working on two books at once (not recommended, by the way), and so there’s an afternoon shift. The day wraps up whenever it does, and then you run for your pint of beer or glass of wine, whatever comes to hand, and zonk out for the evening. I try to have weekends off, though that’s often a luxury one cannot afford. Whoever said this job was going to be easy?

What advice do you have for new writers?

Don’t do it. Seriously, the worst mistake you can make in this business is to believe there’s a career path laid out for you. You will have to hack and chop your way to whatever success you can, and it takes a lot of determination and a degree of self-belief that probably borders on the pathological. But for those who have what it takes to come up with great ideas and the ability to see them through, the rewards can be equally great – and there’s no better life than that of the happy author.

What have you found to be the best way to raise awareness of your books?

I’m unusual. I’ve never really done much in the way of social media, and never done a book signing or an event. The success of the Ben Hope series has been mainly thanks to good old word-of-mouth promotion; however, along the way I’ve found some odd ways to help that process along. Such as sponsoring a tee at Cardigan golf club, near where I live in west Wales. Whenever golfers from all around the UK came to play the course, they’d see the sign (very picturesquely situated on the 10th hole, with the blue waters of lovely Cardigan Bay glittering in the background) and wonder who the hell this Scott Mariani person was. As a result, I started to notice more members from all over Wales and beyond joining my fan group. So that definitely had an effect! I suppose it just means you have to be inventive in how you promote yourself.

Tell us something unexpected you discovered during your research

Each Ben Hope book revolves, to some degree, around a historical mystery of some sort, and so there’s always been a lot of research for me to do into a whole range of subjects. I’ve learned a great deal about history as a result, but one of the most amazing discoveries has come from researching the background to THE PANDEMIC PLOT. I’d never realised before just how devastating and terrible the so-called ‘Spanish’ flu of 1918 really was. Like most people, I knew that it had ravaged Europe and the rest of the world, and claimed millions of lives. But the sheer scale of the horror and suffering so utterly eclipses anything we’ve seen since that it takes your breath away. As for the rest, you’ll just have to read the book!

What was the hardest scene you remember writing?

Probably the very ending of the second Ben Hope book, THE MOZART CONSPIRACY. I shouldn’t spoil it by giving away too much, but it was extremely distressing to write, and I’ve never been able to look at it again in the dozen or so years since. Lots of readers got upset and emailed me calling me lovely names like ‘you murdering b*****d’ . . . so that might give you a clue what the scene entailed. It was not, emphatically not, a happy ending to the story. Still one of the biggest sellers of the series, despite that!

What are you planning to write next?

There’s always more to come. Right now I’m working on the 24th Ben Hope novel, which will be out in November 2021 and titled THE CRUSADER’S CROSS. It’s a fast-paced action thriller, but with an interesting historical backdrop to do with the Second Crusade and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Once that’s finished I’ll be moving straight on with the following Ben Hope adventure – no idea what that is yet – and the next Tom McAllister thriller, which I’m going to call THE SPIDER TRAP. But nothing is set in stone, because when a new idea suddenly comes to you out of the blue, sometimes you have to give it precedence and abandon everything else. That’s all part of the fun of this job!

Scott Mariani

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About the Authors

Scott Mariani is the author of the bestselling thriller series featuring ex-SAS hero Ben Hope. Scott’s novels have topped the charts in his native Britain and are translated into 25 languages. Scott’s novels combine thriller action with historical mystery, forming the backdrop to the modern-day adventures of hard-driving soldier Ben Hope as he travels all over the globe in an unending quest to protect the innocent and bring bad guys to justice – as only he can.  Scott was born in Scotland, later studied at Oxford and ended up living there. Deciding after university that a career in academia didn’t suit him, he pursued his ambition to write for a living. During what turned out to be a long process of reaching that goal, he worked in various jobs from teaching English and music, running a burger bar, and playing in bands. Eventually leaving Oxfordshire and moving to the tranquil and beautiful setting of rural west Wales, the idea for the Ben Hope character came to him while hiking in the countryside with his dogs. The first Ben Hope book, The Alchemist’s Secret, went on to spend six straight weeks at #1 in the charts and sell publishing rights across the world. Every book since has been a bestseller, and there is no end in sight for the Ben Hope series. When he isn’t hard at work on his next book, Scott can be found (and sometimes heard) pursuing his other interests which include shooting, archery and astronomy. Find out more from Scott's website https://scottmariani.com/ 

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