Quick & Quirky Questions with Mark Daws

Mark graduated from Queen Mary College, London, with an MA in English and American Literature in 1984 and an earnest aspiration to be a writer. This did not materialise, primarily due to a pressing need to earn an income. After several false starts, he found himself working as a Compliance Officer within one of Mrs Thatcher’s newly launched financial services regulators, undertaking front line investigations into fraud and mis-selling within the City of London. This experience opened the door to his subsequent professional career. Over the years Mark has been a Director at PWC and KPMG, and a Managing Director at Accenture and Navigant. He has held senior roles on large international investigations into money laundering and rogue trading and advised senior management at a range of financial institutions on anti-money laundering compliance and technology.  

Worn out and with the advent of COVID, he took early retirement with a passionate desire to reconnect with his writing. He is married to Cas (who is providing excellent editorial input on the stories he has written to date) and has two children: Charlotte, 23, and Christopher, 21. In addition to writing, he enjoys sailing, mountaineering and scuba diving.


Tell us 4 important facts about yourself:

  1.  I enjoy keeping active and healthy (scuba diving, walking, cycling, gym etc).
  2. I enjoy all things cultural – pandemics permitting (art exhibitions, London Review of Books, history / art documentaries, music, reading AND of course writing.)
  3. I’m responding to my children’s increasing concern about the planet and where we are socially. I’m trying to persuade them that, whilst I might not be the solution, I am certainly not the problem. An uphill battle!
  4. In encapsulating the above three points: I’m staying . . . I was about to write ‘relevant’, but let’s just say active.

What is your favourite age that you’ve been so far in life, and why?

I hate to be pinned down. So, I will wriggle out and give you two. My first year at university.  And now. At this point in time. Freshly retired. Healthy (touching wood). The time to follow my interests. Exactly the same feeling as my first year at university.  

Who is your favourite fictional character or famous person over 60?

Fictional characters – where to start?  Don Quixote. I always picture him as being over 60.  Healthy and querulous with a long-suffering Sancho Panza at his side. Or Hemingway’s Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea. Or Allan Karlsson. I hope I can still climb out of a window when I am one hundred years

People? How about David Attenborough. Jon Snow on Channel Four News. Mick Jagger. Or Eric Jones, the solo rock climber, still climbing routes in the Dolomites that I would not have contemplated when I was twenty.   

You are alone in your house (no pets). You have three minutes to get out before the house collapses and burns to the ground. What one possession would you grab and take with you?

This one is easy. The external hard drive to my computer. All my photographs are backed up there. Family, personal adventures, holidays, etc. Memory is everything. Oh, AND of course, the stories I have written.

What’s your favourite creative pastime?

Writing. I am in awe of people who can paint, draw, dance, act, throw pottery and have mastered photography. I can simply write. But that is where I lose myself.

Tell us something about yourself that’s surprising or unexpected.

That we have all made it this far. Isn’t that fantastic! But something personal? Being held at gunpoint by a plain clothed policeman in Turin. I was sleeping rough in an underground carpark waiting for the British Consulate to open. My student friends and I had been in a car crash, and we had lost our passports. Above ground the Red Brigades were staging a series of bank heists. A large black Fiat came down the ramp. We had to stand with our fingers against the wall as we were searched. ‘We are students’ I protested. A gun was pushed to the back of my head. Finally convinced as to the idiocy of our being in the wrong place at the wrong time, we were let go. ‘Stay out of sight’ they warned. These were difficult years for Italy.


Mark is part of the Autumn Voices Steering Group.

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