Mark Noce: Author Spotlight

BetweenTwoFires-2I’ve taken another detour from the 17th century and transported back to Medieval Wales to welcome author, Mark Noce today. For anyone who has ever been caught up in the Arthur legends, it’s hard not to feel a connection with Wales and the Welsh tribes.

Mark’s debut book, Between Two Fires, is the story of Branwen, daughter of King Vortigern of Wales and one queen’s struggle to save her people from the Saxons.

Without further ado, please welcome Mark as he answers some questions about his new book which comes out in three days.

Between Two Fires is told from the first person perspective of Branwen, the daughter of King Vortigern of Wales. What challenges did you have writing in a female voice and how did you get inside her head?

Welsh Flag Badge - Flag of Wales Button Isolated on White

 M.N: I really enjoyed writing from Branwen’s perspective. From the opening line I felt that I knew who she was, and I had to tell her story. It’s funny in a way, because I had no intention originally of writing in the present tense, but that’s simply what the character demanded. I know it sounds odd, but it’s the truth. I had this voice in my head and this is the way the words wanted to spill onto the page.
When the inspiration’s flowing, I try not to mess with it. I find that the present tense adds a sense of urgency to Branwen’s plight, as she herself doesn’t know what will happen to her from one moment to the next.

In addition, my wife is my secret weapon when it comes to writing. She gives me such great feedback when I’m crafting each chapter and her input always helps guide me when writing from a female perspective. I truly believe that we’re all human, and regardless of race, gender, or circumstance and that there are commonalities that help bind us together. That’s definitely something that helped me to write Branwen’s story with confidence.

 ◊ Tell us what inspired you to write this story
 Welsh Flag Badge - Flag of Wales Button Isolated on White

M.N: The first line haunted me from the moment it popped into my head: “Today I will marry a man I have never met.”

For me the first line of a story is very important, especially as a writer. It’s the seed from which the rest of the story grows, and from that line on I knew who Branwen was and wanted to share her story. I’ve grown up around strong women and have always been fascinated by stories about strong women, so for me it’s only natural to write about a heroine like Branwen. My wife also continues to inspire me and many of Branwen’s best traits are definitely inspired by her example.

Between Two Fires takes place in Medieval Wales. What drew you to this time and place?

Welsh Flag Badge - Flag of Wales Button Isolated on White M.N: I’m always fascinated by “dark ages.” Not so much the end of civilization or backwards technology, but an era in which little has survived in the modern historical record.
Aside from some ruins, a few spare documents, and a bunch of oral tales, there’s very little concrete evidence regarding what Wales was like in the year 600 AD. We’ve literally lost the names of some of the kingdoms and kings from that era, let alone what everyday life might have been like.
As a writer this gives me great freedom in creating the world my characters inhabit, but it’s also a huge responsibility, because as a historical fiction writer I’m obligated to make the most believable setting possible with the facts at my disposal.
For me, this is where a historical fiction author can really reach beyond what a historian is comfortable doing, and to provide a glimpse of what the early medieval world within Wales might truly have been like. I certainly enjoyed writing Between Two Fires, and I sincerely hope people enjoy reading it.
Thank you Mark for giving us an insight into your inspiration for your story.

About Between Two Fires

Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales’ last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King.

But this fledgling alliance is fraught with enemies from within and without as Branwen herself becomes the target of assassinations and courtly intrigue. A young woman in a world of fierce warriors, she seeks to assert her own authority and preserve Wales against the barbarians. But when she falls for a young hedge knight named Artagan her world threatens to tear itself apart.

Caught between her duty to her people and her love of a man she cannot have, Branwen must choose whether to preserve her royal marriage or to follow her heart. Somehow she must save her people and remain true to herself, before Saxon invaders and a mysterious traitor try to destroy her.

Praise for Between Two Fires

“A spirited ride through a turbulent slice of Welsh history!” – Paula Brackston, NYT Bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter

“A fast-paced read that has a wonderfully visual style and some memorable characters. Mark Noce combines Welsh history with a touch of folkloric magic in this promising debut novel. Lady Branwen is a strong and engaging narrator and the turbulent setting of early medieval Wales makes a fine backdrop for an action-packed story.” – Juliet Marillier, Bestselling author of Daughter of the Forest and Wolfskin

To be released August 23, 2016 and available for preorder now through:

AmazonAmazon KindleBarnes & NobleBarnes & Noble NookiTunesIndieBound, and Thomas Dunne Books

Mark Noce

Mark Noce writes historical fiction with a passion, and eagerly reads everything from fantasy to literature. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s an avid traveler and backpacker, particularly in Europe and North America. He earned his BA and MA from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he also met his beautiful wife. By day, he works as a Technical Writer, having spent much of his career at places like Google and Facebook. In addition to writing novels, he also writes short fiction online. When not reading or writing, he’s probably listening to U2, sailing his dad’s boat, or gardening with his family.

His debut novel, Between Two Fires, is being published by Thomas Dunne Books (an imprint of St. Martin’s Press and Macmillan). It is the first in a series of historical fiction novels set in medieval Wales.

Connect with Mark through his Website, and social media on Twitter, Facebook (author page), Goodreads, LinkedIn, Google+. Join his Thunderclap Campaign.


  1. Thanks so much, Cryssa! Glad to be here:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good luck on your release!


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