Portchester man finds focus with short stories

INSPIRED Mark Lucas with his book, The Eye of the Beholder. Picture: Steve Reid (124064-903)
INSPIRED Mark Lucas with his book, The Eye of the Beholder. Picture: Steve Reid (124064-903)
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A PORTCHESTER man has found comfort in writing after his wife was diagnosed with cancer.

Mark Lucas, 51, wrote a collection of short stories while nursing his wife and has received such warm support that he has taken the plunge and paid for the book to be published.

The book, titled Eye of the Beholder, is dedicated to his wife Ann, 45, who is terminally ill with bone cancer.

It features a collection of 10 short stories, all loosely based around famous paintings.

Mark said: ‘I researched each painting and came up with a story which relates to why it was painted.

‘From each story you should be able to guess which painting it is.’

Mark had entered a few amateur short story competitions and had some success with a couple that were picked to be displayed in Winchester library.

He said: ‘I had such good feedback from these two stories, and that was where the idea for the book came from.’

Mark was working as a mental health support worker but when Ann was diagnosed with cancer, he gave up his job so that he could care for her.

He said: ‘With Ann being ill, there were often times when she would be in bed resting.

‘That’s when I decided to pick up my pen and start writing properly, to try and occupy myself.’

When he had written 10 stories which he was happy with, he faced the hurdle of getting published. He initially put the book on to the Amazon website as an eBook but it had limited success.

He said: ‘When you make an eBook, it goes onto Amazon and just sits there. Unless it goes viral it just stays in a dark corner.

‘Many people had said to me that they wanted to read it but didn’t have the equipment to be able to get an eBook.

‘That’s when I started to think about how to get it published.’

Mark and Ann both go to Fareham Community Church, and it was at church that a man suggested to Mark to publish it himself.

He took the advice and registered as a publisher and paid for a printer to make 100 copies. Mark had started to write a novel many years ago, but had become so busy with work that he had put it on hold. This new collection of stories has inspired him to start writing his novel again.

Mark said: ‘I don’t know what I would have done without something like this to focus on.

‘Writing is my way of relieving stress.’

Eye of the Beholder is on sale for £5 in the Fareham Community Church’s coffee shop Imbizo on West Street, Fareham.