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Carl Mason: Suspicious minds

PUBLISHED: 10:41 23 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:41 23 August 2016

Mark Fitch, who writes as Carl Mason

Mark Fitch, who writes as Carl Mason

Rob Ward Photography

A legal thriller is the latest venture for a city lawyer and singer

The Chant by Carl MasonThe Chant by Carl Mason

A Norwich lawyer renowned for his Elvis act is back in court – in the plot of his first novel. The latest chapter in a story which has taken him from criminal lawyer to legal mediator and Elvis impersonator, is a thriller called The Chant.

It was more than 15 years ago that the idea for a novel emerged from a combination of real life cases and his imagination. The plot of the book focuses on a relationship between college lecturer Will and his new colleague Lisa, which gets dangerously out of control. When a night out ends in violence, the legal puzzle begins. Did Will try to kill Lisa, or were her injuries self-inflicted?

Mark Fitch performing as ElvisMark Fitch performing as Elvis

The fictional court case draws on real life expertise and the author, writing as Carl Mason, says the entire plot “grumbled and skulked” inside him for a decade. “Just over four years ago the intrigue of what this story could look like became too much to bear; and so the writing began, initially in secret,” he says. “The formal start of my working on the novel took the form of a skeleton – something barristers prepare for most court hearings they attend. In this case, the skeleton took the form of writing two or three sentences for each chapter. I can still remember the thrill of contriving the plot from start to finish.”

But he says he still was not sure he could turn it into a novel – “and so the skeleton sat there, forlorn and craving nourishment!” Eventually Carl began writing the first draft and the novel, set in Norwich, will be published this month. “What I know is that if I had started writing as soon as the skeleton was complete, The Chant would have been ready to go to market before the phenomena of 50 Shades!” (He admits to agonising over how to write sex scenes which are integral to his plot.)

The Chant was launched in Jarrold’s on Thursday, August 4. The author has strong links with the Norwich department store because it helps him stage the annual Carols with the King at The Forum in the city centre every Christmas. For the past seven years he has impersonated Elvis at the festive concert, helping raise around £20,000 for local charities.

“I didn’t really sing until I started with the Elvis thing,” he says. He began belting out Elvis songs at fundraising evenings for his football club. “I have always liked Elvis and his music. Him dying was my first musical memory and seeing how my mum and aunt were poleaxed by his death touched me.”

He has also brought Elvis back to life in concerts across the county, and once played in the Ocean Rooms at Gorleston on the same bill as Rick Wakeman.

Buoyed by the reaction to his first novel, Carl has already started work on a second, which he describes as: “A cross between Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Ghost (but not in a schmaltzy way)”.

Carl, who is married with one son and lives just south of Norwich, says his hopes for the future include being “the best lawyer, writer and singer I can be”.

The Chant, by Carl Mason, is published by Hornet Books and is avalaible now in Jarrold’s, London Street, Norwich.

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