Dane Tucker

Mark Isaacs is an accomplished author renowned for his thought-provoking and compassionate work. His literary endeavours delve into various facets of human experiences, touching on empathy, conflict, and resilience themes. With a keen eye for detail and a powerful storytelling ability, Isaacs captivates readers, guiding them through complex narratives that reflect the intricacies of our world. His dedication to shedding light on untold stories and his commitment to making a difference through his writing mark him as a distinctive voice in contemporary literature.

What books are on your bedside table?

For the past few years of PhD study, I have been immersed in academic literature concerning people smugglers, global migration strategies and human rights theory. There is a book on my work desk in front of me titled How to spot a fascist by Umberto Eco and I just finished reading about Foucault's theories on punishment, discipline and the biopolitical state. However, philosophy and political science journals are not my favourite genre of writing by any means. Currently, I am enjoying The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka, a satirical murder mystery set in civil war Sri Lanka.

Which book or author do you always return to?

I try not to return to books as I have so many unread ones on my bookshelves waiting for me to have time to read them. Similarly with authors, I try to diversify my reading. That said, some of my favourite reads are The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

What kind of reader were you as a child?

I grew up in a household full of cluttered bookshelves which I had the freedom to explore. There was little order to these chaotic collections which meant I could pick up The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler by Gene Kemp or The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I used to get heavily invested in the characters and worlds of the novels I read. One of my favourite books was Goodnight Mister Tom. I was a child of the Harry Potter era, but my older brothers had me interested in fantasy well before that. My dad used to read me and my brother books that were far too advanced for our ages, but he would simplify the words as he went. Some of our favourites were JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Gerald Durrell's escapades with animals and Roald Dahl books like Danny, the Champion of the World.

When working on a new project, how do you sift through competing ideas to move forward?

I usually start with the part of the project that inspires me most, that I am most excited to write about. This helps me get words on the page which is a great feeling.

What writing habit do you have that is impossible to shift? (.e.g a particular snack, writing hours, location, caffeine consumption etc)

A morning surf to start the day is a non-negotiable. That sets me up for a day in front of the computer. I also take regular breaks to combat writer's block, keep my creaky bones and tight hip flexors mobile, and to give my mind space to breathe. 

The international literature festival berlin (ilb) has become essential to Berlin’s literary calendar. What do you connect with the city?

Apart from the various significant, historical references that come to mind, Berlin has become a favoured travel destination for young Australians. Many of my friends and I have travelled or lived there for work and study abroad programs. I was last there in 2006, aged 18, enjoying the football World Cup. Coming from Australia, it's an exciting prospect to visit this vibrant, cosmopolitan city, which boasts an impressive arts and music culture, as well as warm and friendly people, located in the heart of Europe, a stone's throw from so many different countries and experiences. I can't wait to return!

Follow Mark on Twitter.