Mark Barkley (Author)


For the past thirty years, it has been Mark Barkley’s great pleasure to have created work that has been appreciated by various audiences throughout Brisbane, within Australia and online.

Primarily his focus had been on being a playwright within the 90’s. But recently his sole focus has turned to creating the book series The Sabienn Feel Adventures.

He has had several plays which have enjoyed a successful theatrical staging or reading within Australia. (“The Captains and The Kings”-1995, “Goodbye Melaleuca”-1996, “Sylvia Terry”-1998 and “A Kind of Belgium”-2000) Two of the plays featured here have been short listed in the George Landen Dann award, Queensland’s premium award for excellence in playwriting. (“The Captains and The Kings”-1992 and “Goodbye Melaleuca”-1995).

He also created the short film “Spades” as writer/director and this was short listed in the top ten films of the third annual What’s On Short Cut Film Fest and screened in 2001 at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

In 2007, he rewrote and updated his book “The Big Sugar Election” which was originally completed in 1990.

Currently he is offering books in his fantasy adventure novel series The Sabienn Feel Adventures. “When The Stone Shepherds Awaken” completed in 2015 is the first book in this series, which is now free and on offer with its companion piece, “Stories From The Distant Planet”, which is also free.

Keep an eye out for more to come.
When The Stone Shepherds Awaken:

Book One, The Sabienn Feel Adventures


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AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a long Book 1, but it sets up 2,3 and 4 in which this man’s friends are required to kill him.

On a distant planet far off into the future, there is a human colony twice removed from Earth with a country preparing for war. Sabienn Feel is a military cadet being fast-tracked for promotion as their enigmatic head of state, The Great Leader, readies his armies for battle.

Sabienn’s world comes crashing down when one day he grows wings. And now people are trying to kill him.

He also finds out that not only him but thousands of men his age have grown wings around the world in keeping with a ten thousand year old prophecy. With his wings comes an intuitive ability to pick up an object and see a history of someone who held it. This ability has not gone unnoticed by higher powers within the realm.

But what is it that The Great Leader wants of him? Will The Great Leader save him?

When The Stone Shepherds Awaken is the first of twelve books in the Sabienn Feel Adventures.

Stories From The Distant Planet

Companion Piece: Maps, History and Stories

The Sabienn Feel Adventures


(Available as a Free Download with “When The Stone Shepherds Awaken”. Turn to inner sleeve after titles and follow links.)

31 Fact Sheets.


The concise companion piece to read with The Sabienn Feel Adventures.

Includes: The map of the planet Whee showing where the events of each of the twelve books will take place.

Also within: The map of Hayddland, showing places you will go to when reading When The Stone Shepherds Awaken. Book One: The Sabienn Feel Adventures.

You will also have the following answered:

  • What happened to The Great Leader, Orr Benn Kee, Hayddland’s supreme dictator, when he was ten years old that would change the course of the world?
  • What happened during the Purge when all recorded history was erased from the planet?
  • What is the insult in the title of Rotnadge-Minora that had the native inhabitants seething?

Stories From The Distant Planet is the must-have precis of ten thousand years of history within the planet of Whee which lives through and has come to compel Sabienn Feel to his quest.


Interview with the Author

Q – What inspired you to write The Sabienn Feel Adventures?

A – I’ve always loved the idea of the epic journey. I’m acquainted with the book Journey to the West but was more familiar with the TV series in the 80’s based on the book called Monkey. The idea of four souls travelling across a wide expanse of geography to complete a quest appealed to me. So I planned a series of twelve books to go from one place in the south of this space colony that they live on twice removed from Earth, to end up in the north, meeting danger at every turn.

Q – Why does your main character Sabienn Feel grow wings?

A – Good question. I wanted something very drastic to occur to these people physically. Something that would be difficult to hide and offer an immediate prejudice. The idea of growing wings constantly came up for me. There’s a Pearl Jam song I found inspiring that says, “And sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky. A human being that was given to fly”. And in my mind’s eye, I could see this figure. Almost like the Led Zeppelin Icarus logo but with bat wings. But they couldn’t fly otherwise they’d hit the sky and the journey would be over in no time. I made them only able to swim because being submerged in water has elements of dealing with the subconscious. To me it satisfies all elements of those prophecy, fantasy, epic adventure type of stories that involve friendship and brotherhood.

Q – So, why should readers give these books a try?

A – Well I would say they were humour-filled, page-turning, epic, fantasy adventure novels which involve a quest. But then that’s what you would expect me to say. Why not try and read one of the books and let me know what you think? Some of the books are free so you’ve got nothing to lose.

Sorry if that sounded a little flippant. I’m immensely grateful that anyone is reading my books. And hopefully I can make them the best stories possible for my magnificent readers.

Where The Black and Grey Wolves Kiss

Book Two, The Sabienn Feel Adventures


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In his quest to seek the mysterious missing stone, the occult item sought to ensure victory in war, Sabienn Feel journeys with his three companions to the island of Cajj Cajj.

The island is to be invaded as a result of an event that has yet to occur and is currently being held by the Turrs, a people Sabienn has always been at variance with.

In his endeavours, he needs to work closely with these people for his mission to succeed. He knows he dislikes the Turrs. But is he capable of falling in love with one?

Where The Black and Grey Wolves Kiss is the second of twelve books in the Sabienn Feel Adventures.

Why The Sister Moons Swallowed Rage

Book Three, The Sabienn Feel Adventures


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In his quest, Sabienn Feel and his brothers venture to the country of Turrland, a land that his homeland of Hayddland has been at constant war with.

His mission is to seek the occult stone, the Symbol of Military Success and make sure it never falls into the hands of his Father who wants only to push the planet into the abyss of war. In this journey, he needs to seek a book that was once owned by a mysterious monk.

But what of Turrland? Is it to be invaded or not invaded? And how will he react when in his attempt to get answers, there is conflict within his group and a much loved brother dies?

Why The Sister Moons Swallowed Rage is the third of twelve books in the Sabienn Feel Adventures.

The Captains and The Kings: A Play in Two Acts

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“If only beauty were a weapon, then people would take it more seriously.” How well do we really know our families? How long will we leave things unsaid that should be aired? It was a time of change. The time; 1968. The place; the O’Neill’s Guest House in Kempsey, New South Wales. The patriarch of the family, David is suffering from a terminal illness. His wife Caitlin has organized a family gathering for what will be their final Father’s day together. While Caitlin faces an unsure future, David is busy dealing with the ghosts of his past. For years he has distanced his daughters and now he has the chance to gain redemption.

“The Captains and The Kings” was shortlisted in the top seven of over ninety entries in the 1992 inaugural George Landen Dann Award. Its world premiere was presented by the Centenary Theatre Group Inc. in association with The Edge Theatre Company at Chelmer Hall, Brisbane, on 11 November, 1995.


Interview with the Author


Q – First question. Why should I read a stage play? Isn’t that boring?

A – I think a good story is a good story. People have been reading Ibsen, Chekhov and Shakespeare for ages primarily because they are explosive stories. And with this particular play, I sat at the back of the theatre each night watching the people. The story engaged with them.

At one performance, it came to a particularly intense part of the play in the second act and a woman in front of me reached into her bag and pulled out a tissue and started dabbing her eyes. For me, it was so satisfying to have reached another person on such an emotional level.

Q – What inspired you to write The Captains and The Kings?

A – Like my other plays, Goodbye Melaleuca, Sylvia Terry, A Kind of Belgium and even Spades, I am fascinated by the dynamics within the family. This work is primarily about fathers and in particular a father and his daughters. It involves drama, humour, conflict, betrayal, guilt and ultimately love.

With this play, I just got the line in my head, “This is 1968. There’s unrest and upheaval on five continents. We live within a hair’s breadth of having this planet reduced to ash. Yet you and I can sit here in this quiet little town on the east coast of Australia, and talk about something as insignificant as the beauty of a rose. If only beauty were a weapon, then people would take it more seriously.”

So I just jumped in my car and went on a travelling adventure south into northern New South Wales looking for a town and arrived at Kempsey and it just felt right. I spent a day in the library there reading 1968 newspapers, then came back and wrote the play.

Q – So, why should readers give this book a try?

A – I’ve had people read it before they decided to stage it and say, “This really made me cry.” Then when I saw the staging, the audience responded with laughing and crying. If you want to be engaged on an emotional level, I think this will work for you.

Sylvia Terry: A Play in Three Acts

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“His head was beaten on the side of a toilet. And I would shake the man’s hand who gripped the filth. ‘Cause there’s more justice in that man’s hand, than all the court rooms of the country.”

Sylvia and her mother Heather’s world is upended as Sylvia’s brother Neil’s has been involved in a particularly heinous crime. There is severe public reaction and disgust, and even though Heather, who as a much loved teacher, was a pillar of the community, it shows that even respected innocent bystanders can be burnt by the fire of public scandal.

Sylvia Terry enjoyed an enthusiastic reading within the 1998 Australian National Playwrights Conference in Canberra.


Interview with the Author


Q – What inspired you to write Sylvia Terry?

A – Like my other plays, Goodbye Melaleuca, The Captains and The Kings, A Kind of Belgium and even Spades, I am fascinated by the dynamics within the family. This work is primarily about a mother descending into a mental breakdown and her relationship with her daughter. It involves drama, humour, conflict, betrayal, guilt and ultimately love.

It’s often written about people who commit crimes but rarely do you see a perspective of the family of the criminal who are thrust into the harsh light of public opinion. They are often good and upright pillars of the community who suffer a brick through the window as a result of what a family member has done. At the heart of this play is the story about a mother’s love for her son and a daughter’s love for her mother. The son is never seen during the work. The story is told through the eyes of four women.

The play had a number or rewrites and name changes, I think one of them being “A View within Sylvia’s Prison.” With it finished, I took an adventure down to Canberra to the 1998 Australian National Playwright’s Conference and it enjoyed a well-received reading.

Q – So, why should readers give this book a try?

A – The subject matter is a lot more serious than the stuff I’ve done before. But once again I’m trying to get an emotional connection with the reader. If you like that then I think you should give it a try.

The Big Sugar Election

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“It looks like it’s official. I think the Chief’s finished.” In the near future, within the changing face of North Queensland, new cities have been formed. Callard City lies in this opulent “Big Sugar” region. Three of the Councillors of the Callard City Council, Mayor Arthur Pauley, Councillors Milton Pauley and Lance Tapp, seek the removal of a chief public servant, John Hennessy. Hennessy has crossed swords with the politicians out of his loyalty to his charges, Kevin Fitch, James McLaren, and Vince Tomasi.

To repay this loyalty, Kevin, James and Vince, three lowly public servants, band together to save their Chief’s job. A Council election is about to occur. If the corrupt Councillors win, their boss is gone. So what action is required? “Gentlemen. Let’s not get upset. Let’s get even.”


Interview with the Author

Q – What inspired you to write The Big Sugar Election?

A – I originally wrote this book back in 1990 and it had the most unusual title, “Tea for the Headless Horseman.” It mainly pertained to a workplace at the time when there was a loyalty of workers to a boss and a loyalty of a boss back to the workers. I rewrote the book in 2007 and now I’ve found the entire workplace has changed. In my opinion, modern management really couldn’t care less about the staff anymore. So it’s funny, it’s set in a future city, but it’s almost a historical novel.

Q – Tell us about the book?

A – I think it’s a good book. It’s an adventure. There’s conflict and betrayal, government corruption, revenge against politicians with their snouts in the trough and the banding together of friends all in good humour. I was actually a public servant myself. Although the events in this book are completely made up, you do get to see things and hear things. There’s a lot of material there for a book. And this is it.

Q – So, why should readers give this book a try?

A – I have had people read this book who didn’t work where I work but they could identify with the office surrounds and the usual office politics. People should read it because they might see themselves and their friends. Once again, I’m immensely grateful that anyone is reading my books. I just hope they like it.

A Kind of Belgium: A Play in Three Acts

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“I feel like a kind of Belgium, y’ know. Always invaded. They’ve set up their trenches and wires and they take it in turns to rush over the top and try and put a flag in me. I’m getting loved to exhaustion.”

Would you sit on a fence and watch an invasion take place? Right on your doorstep? When both the invaded and the invader were close to you? Ray Rance (a real estate agent), Leo Crowshaw (a restaurant proprietor) and Lynne Fleming (a hair salon operator) work in a shopping precinct that’s been hit hard by financial downturn but is set to enjoy a recovery as a boutique tourist area.

A property acquisition is about to take place. Jodie Crowshaw, Leo’s daughter, stumbles on to hidden dealings and must confront family and friends to pursue what she believes is just and right.

The story is seen through the eyes of Kane Boon, a street spirit, who was killed in the act of a robbery. His spirit is tied to a place which is about to be besieged and in defence of this space, he seeks to redeem his family name. “A Kind Of Belgium” was first presented by La Boite Theatre Inc in association with their Springboards 2000 program at La Boite Theatre, Hale Street, Brisbane, on 17 July, 2000.

Interview with the Author

Q – What inspired you to write A Kind of Belgium?

A – Like my other plays, Goodbye Melaleuca, The Captains and The Kings, Sylvia Terry and even Spades, I am fascinated by the dynamics within the family. This work is primarily about a father who has gone through a bitter divorce and his relationship with his daughter. It involves drama, humour, conflict, betrayal, guilt and ultimately love.

Whenever I would mix with other writers they would always say, “You do realize that there’s a Harold Pinter play called “A Kind of Alaska”?” To which I reply, “Yes, but Alaska was never invaded like Belgium.” This play deals with the whole politics of invasion. It’s a case of, you are trying to wipe out friends so you can never really show your true intensions.

It was such a joy to see this played at La Boite Theatre, Brisbane in 2000. The whole adventure was made worthwhile by one comment at the end made a member of the audience. “At last. It’s just so good to get a story.”

Q – So, why should readers give this book a try?

A – Well language is not for the kiddies but it’s just a really good story.

Goodbye Melaleuca: A Play in One Act

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Do we “own” our children? Are they required to walk through the world to sing your praises? Artist Eric Corey has taken back a valuable painting that he once gave to his niece Jenny and her husband Alan. A line has been crossed that Eric cannot live with. A confrontation over custody of a work of art raises questions of the value of artistic integrity and explores “ownership” of those things we create.

“Goodbye Melaleuca” was shortlisted in the 1995 George Landen Dann Award. It was presented at Spotlight Theatre Company, Benowa, on June 7th, 1996.

Interview with the Author

Q – What inspired you to write Goodbye Melaleuca?

A – Like my other plays, The Captains and The Kings, Sylvia Terry, A Kind of Belgium and even Spades, I am fascinated by the dynamics within the family and in this case the extended family. It involves an uncle and niece. This play primarily works with the concept of father and child, the adventure of the creator and the creation. There is an importance to the artist that his work must always sing the creator’s wishes. Once again, it involves drama, conflict, betrayal and lost love.

It’s told through three actors and it questions whether we own anything we create. What about our children? Do we really own them? Are they just a blank screen for their father or mother to project their lives on to? This has fascinated me. I don’t want to offer any answers. Just throw it up there for the reader.

Q – So, why should readers give this book a try?

A – It’s a very quick, tight, interesting little story. It’s an emotional journey.

Spades: Short Film Script + Movie


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(“Spades” download includes your own copy of “Stories From The Distant Planet” also by Mark Barkley. Just turn to inner sleeve after the titles and click on the download links.)

Stuart and Claire have been married three years and in Claire’s eyes life is boring. She is a solicitor’s secretary who prides herself on being able to call a “spade a spade”, to tell the truth without embellishment.

In her eyes, Stuart shows more enthusiasm for golf than events that matter in their relationship. There is one day of the year where the couple compete for each other’s affections by attempting to humiliate the other.

The events of this short film open with Claire’s message on the refrigerator “TOMORROW IS..”. This is the day before that day. Spades was filmed in Brisbane on 2nd & 3rd December, 2000, with the second day riding up and down the Brisbane River in a hired ferry.

It was short-listed in the top ten films presented for the third annual Courier Mail What’s On Short Cut Film Fest. It was screened at the Brisbane Powerhouse, Newfarm, with all other finalists on February 2nd, 2001.

Interview with the Author

Q – Why should I read a short film script?

A – I think a good story is a good story. I try to reach out on an emotional level. And with this script, I don’t have to say it’s just a movie in your mind. There’s a link there to see the actual movie.

Q – What inspired you to write Spades?

A – Like my other plays, The Captains and The Kings, Sylvia Terry, A Kind of Belgium and Goodbye Melaleuca, I am fascinated by the dynamics within the family and in this case it involves a young married couple who like to play mind games with each other.

Also I was very interested in portraying a crime occurring where there are several witnesses and by-standers watching but no-one wants to get involved. There is a detached nature to the society here where people feel comfortable making excuses for their own inactions.

On the one hand, we have a woman on the river in the city night feeling unsafe and vulnerable. And on the other, there is a perceived betrayal of a victim to do the decent human thing to step in and help. Even though the problem was caused by the victim’s own irrational actions. But I wanted to do it in a way that involved humour. Also throw in drama, conflict and in a funny way, there is a love between Stuart and Claire.

Q – How was the filming?

A – It was the best experience ever. Few things compare with hiring a ferry and taking it on an adventure up and down the beautiful Brisbane River with the lights of the city night in the background. I was really fortunate enough to fall in with a group of people who filmed commercials for a living and they were such a tight little unit. I think my name was down on the film as director, but a lot of good I was. Basically I wrote the thing, paid the bills and kept everyone fed. But if you don’t do things like this, what’s the point of living?

Q – So, why should readers give this work a try?

A – I just think it would be one of the most enjoyable hours of your life. But one mustn’t assume anything.