Mark Wells

When Mark Wells was a law student at St John’s College Cambridge, he much preferred spending his time in Heffers bookshop reading fantasy fiction than studying law. It was time well spent, as he is now the highly successful indie author of the fantasy trilogy, Cambridge Gothic – set in St John’s College, naturally.


Mark always felt that the gothic buildings of St John’s would make the perfect setting for a fantasy novel. Everywhere you look, he says, there are gargoyles, and when you walk around the college at night, especially a dark, wet, winter’s night, you can’t help but look over your shoulder. Cambridge, in fact, is a character in its own right.


Unsure whether people would want to read his first book, ‘College of Shadows’, he decided to self-publish. It quickly became an Amazon bestseller with readers avid for more, so one became two, ‘Gate of Shadows’, and then three, ‘Legacy of Shadows’. All have been hugely successful, but Mark has continued to eschew a traditional publishing route and remains proudly independent.


The Cambridge Gothic series is aimed at a YA/student audience but, judging by the wide-ranging ages of his global fan base, adults thoroughly enjoy the books too. ‘I’d describe it as an adventure miniseries with a fantasy element,’ Mark says. ‘It’s got a ‘Stranger Things’ vibe, with young people having to grapple with mysterious, other-worldly forces, helped (more or less) by the adults in their lives.’


For those who aren’t sure whether this genre is for them, there’s a short story collection on Mark’s website that can be downloaded for free. But if you want to jump straight in – after all, Cambridge Gothic didn’t hit the Amazon bestseller list and net the author a worldwide following for no reason – you can amble down to Heffers and buy the trilogy there (the booksellers are massive fans). Which is fitting really, as that’s where it all started.