I Want to Believe… The Story Behind ‘What You Wish For’

I’m very pleased to welcome Mark Edwards back to the blog to tell us about his new thriller, What You Wish For.

As with Mark’s previous solo novel, The Magpies, I flew through this book. The main character of Richard is engaging, the storyline quirky, fast-paced and very enjoyable. Addictive reading from a master of the page-turner 🙂

See blurb below, followed by a post from Mark on the inspiration for the novel.

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From the author of No.1 bestseller The Magpies comes a gripping new tale of suspense.

Marie Walker has vanished from the face of the earth…

Her besotted boyfriend, newspaper photographer Richard Thompson, vows to find her, convinced that Marie’s unusual beliefs hold the key.

But a shocking discovery makes him question if he ever really knew his girlfriend. And when people around him start to die, Richard is plunged into terrible danger.

Drawn into the world of a sinister cult and the darkest corners of the Internet, Richard finds himself increasingly out of his depth – as he discovers just how far people will go to protect what they believe in…

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I Want to Believe… The Story Behind ‘What You Wish For’

My new novel, ‘What You Wish For’, is a book about a group of people who believe in aliens. But it’s not a book about aliens – or UFOs, or abductions, or little grey men – even though on the surface it’s a thriller featuring a search for a missing woman who is convinced that she can communicate with extra-terrestrials and is set in a world of UFO-fanatics.

As Stephen King says in ‘On Writing’, most good books have themes, but the story should always come first…and as you are writing, the theme will emerge. This is exactly what happened when I wrote ‘What You Wish For’.

I started writing this book waaaay back in 1997 and it was originally going to be called ‘Staring Into Space’. Back then, aliens were trendy. The X Files was the biggest programme on TV, that Levi’s ad featuring ‘Spaceman’ by Babylon Zoo had recently been a massive hit, and the media was full of stories about alien autopsies and crop circles. Pre-millennial madness perhaps. One Sunday afternoon when I was walking on the East Hill in Hastings, where I lived, I bumped in to my best friend from primary school. I hadn’t seen him for years. We went for a drink and he told me, excitedly, that he had recently been to Roswell to see where the US Government kept the bodies of the aliens that had crash-landed in the New Mexico desert. His eyes burned with the conviction of a religious zealot. (I haven’t seen my old friend since. Maybe he’s been abducted.)

This sparked the idea for a novel, and after reading up on what UFO-watchers believe, I started writing it. I finished a first draft but then moved onto something else (my memory is blurry).

Fast-forward a decade and a half. I have lost most of my hair, fathered four children, and have achieved the dream I had back then: I am now a full-time writer, with a couple of publishing deals under my belt. I am also, I think, a much better writer due to all the years of practice.

Just before Christmas, I was moving a load of boxes into our loft. One of these boxes contained all my manuscripts from the nineties. I sat and looked through them, cringing slightly, but then came upon ‘Staring Into Space’. Leafing through it, I realised that there was the seed of something good here. It was rough and needed a lot of work. And it only existed on paper – this was the only copy in the world. I took it to Prontaprint who scanned and converted it into a PDF and, through the magic of modern technology, I soon had it in Word.

I spent the next few months completely rewriting it. The original idea and most of the plot, along with the main characters, remained. As did all of the stuff about aliens. Despite rumours of a third X Files movie, E.T.s are not so zeitgeisty now. This worried me a little. But as I worked on the novel, it struck me that it didn’t matter, because this book is not about aliens.

It’s about belief.

I had tapped into a theme without meaning to, my younger self subconsciously working through an issue that meant, and still means, a lot to me. Belief, and faith. What is it that makes some people believe so strongly in something that they let it take over their lives? Why do some people have such strong faith, or convictions, that they will kill strangers, even start wars? Or what is it that makes less extreme people go to church every Sunday?

And what about the rest of us – people like me? Like the narrator of ‘What You Wish For’, I don’t have any strong religious or political beliefs. Of course, I have convictions. For example, I am a vegetarian because I don’t like the idea that an animal was killed so I can eat it. But I don’t let it affect my life beyond not buying or eating meat.

This book explores what happens when a believer and non-believer meet and fall in love, and then what happens when the non-believer poses a threat to people who will do anything to protect their faith. The novel would still work, I think, if the believer was a religious fundamentalist or political activist. The difference is that most of us see people who believe in aliens as harmless nutcases. Except in my book, they’re not harmless.

There’s a part of me that thinks that when this book is published it will come to the attention of an Intergalactic Council, who will dispatch a squad of other-worldly assassins to deal with me and my blasphemous ways. But of course that won’t happen.

Will it?

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Thanks Mark! What You Wish For is available now on Amazon.


Having really enjoyed the author’s other books (both solo and in partnership with Louise Voss) I was very excited to read this book. The storyline is offers something different, a mix of love bordering on obsession, the hunt for a missing girl and the shadowy world of cults. The main character, Richard, is a joy to read, and the people he comes across on the way to find his missing girlfriend, Marie are realistically portrayed – even if they’re not the type of characters you might be used to reading about – delusional misfits and hints of a very shady underworld where aliens – yes – the bulbous headed abduction type – hold the key to the future… for some people, at least. The story harks back to a time when alien sightings were almost commonplace in the media, and the people who believed… and those cynics who flatly refused to. Richard is grounded in reality, yet he is drawn into a world where he has to question the truth if he wants to find his girl. This is not a sci-fi novel – this is a novel about people from different backgrounds being thrown together into the mix. Ultimately it is a story about losing someone, and coming to the realisation that they may not want to be found. Fast-paced and very enjoyable, this is addictive reading from a master of the page-turner.