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Mark: I’m a Michigan native and have always been an avid reader. I’m married with two grown sons. After taking a creative writing course in college, I was encouraged to keep writing. There is something appealing about developing interesting characters, creating a controversy and seeing where it leads that brings out the storyteller in me. I work a regular job so I don’t get as much time to write as I would like.
Christina: Besides writing, what activities do you enjoy?
Mark: I enjoy music, movies, books, entertaining, cooking, wine and travel, sports and the great outdoors. Michigan weather can change in a heartbeat. We also get to experience all four seasons, although some years winter seems to run six months long.
Christina: You mentioned music. Any special favorites?
Mark: When I’m writing, I mix it up with classic rock and roll, like Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Otherwise it’s jazz.
Christina: When I’m interviewing female authors, we often talk about romance. We ladies like to plan special romantic nights, or romantic dinners. I’d like to think men enjoy romantic times, too. If you were planning a romantic dinner, what would it include?
Mark: If I’m cooking, that would be shrimp with angel hair pasta. I’d make sure there was a fresh garden salad, some crusty rolls or warm bread and plenty of wine. If we’re going out, I’d opt for sushi.
Christina: Sounds nice. All women appreciate a man who’s comfortable in the kitchen, I think. But, I didn’t ask you here only to talk about your personal life. I’d like to know more about Vanishing Act. When I recently posted an excerpt from the book at my Power of Love blog, I was intrigued. Tell me, Mark, what was the inspiration behind the story?
Mark: Vanishing Act is the second story in the Jamie Richmond series. I wanted to bring more depth to Jamie’s character and thought her best friend was the perfect vehicle to help tell the story. The special bond two close friends can have was a key to the story.
Christina: Who is your favorite character from the book:
Mark: That’s got to be Jamie Richmond.
Christina: Why is that?
Mark: Her characteristics and traits are the combination of many different women I’ve known. She’s still growing in her romantic relationship with Malone, but there remains a fair amount of uncertainty in her eyes. Despite her best intentions, she manages to add stress to their situation. She continues to surprise me. Jamie’s a character that I think has many more tales ahead of her.
Christina: I know you had to do some rather, uh, interesting research. Will you tell us about it, please?
Mark: I needed to know more about aerobics and different types of exercise classes women take. Fortunately I know someone who is an instructor for yoga and Pilates. She threw me a curve when I found out about pole dancing as a form of exercise, which she also teaches. So I had to include that in the story, especially the line ‘get up sexy’. That’s when a pole dancer ends up on the floor. I also had to learn about spy cameras and fire. I found a store that specializes in surveillance equipment, which was very helpful. My son Cameron has studied to be a firefighter, so he was a great resource for the book when fire is used as a weapon.
Christina: Will there be a sequel?
Mark: Yes, I am currently working on the third book in the series. This involves Jamie’s late father, who was an artist. A discovery of some of his work that had been hidden for more than twenty years starts the story. So there’s a fortune in art work, romance on several levels, deception and misdirection. It’s coming along well. I’m about 70 pages into it.
Christina: Where do you get your ideas?
Mark: My ideas come from everywhere and anywhere. I’ve observed people in restaurants, the theater, at the mall and traveling. Without knowing it, their actions can suggest an idea. Sometimes I’ll just be taking a walk and an idea will strike. I once overheard two old timers talking about an attractive young lady while we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant. Their comments triggered the idea for a short story I wrote called “Wishes” that was published in a magazine a long time ago.
Christina: What genres do you enjoy writing, and why?
Mark: Mysteries have always appealed to me and I read a lot of them. I’ve also done some short stories that are reflective of a misspent youth, watching episodes of “The Twilight Zone” or “Tales from the Crypt”. My short stories are more along those lines, with the mixture of humor, danger and a surreal twist.
Christina: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Mark: If you don’t already have it, develop a thick skin. Rejection is a part of writing, just like a poor review. Chances are you won’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try. But do NOT let it get you down. Keep writing. Do the very best you can. Develop distinctive characters and get to know everything you can about them. If you can find other writers in your area, get together occasionally to workshop. Constructive criticism is very helpful.
Christina: Excellent advice, Mark. Are there any aspects of your life, such as hobbies or special interests, that you’ve included in your stories?
Mark: I like to cook, which shows up in my stories. Malone cooks better than Jamie does, which irritates her for a moment until she’s hungry. Music is often present in the stories, with different types to suit the mood of the scene. You’ll also see mention of other authors, such as Elmore Leonard, James Rollins, John D. MacDonald, Stephen King and Harlan Coben.
Christina: Thanks so much for visiting Time for Love, Mark. It's been a pleasure to get to know more about your and your work. I do readers will enjoy Vanishing Act, so maybe you should tell us where to find it.
Mark: It's published through Secret Cravings Publishing, and it's also available at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.
Christina: Great. And if readers want to connect with you, Mark, where do you hang out in cyberspace?
Mark: Readers can check out my page on Facebook or they can visit my blog, Write Now.
Christina: I love your blog's name. Very clever! I'd also like to share a link to the excerpt I posted at The Power of Love. I'll also let you know, Mark, what will be going on over there with all the excerpts. At the end of the summer, I'll be giving away "Reader's Choice" awards to the three of the authors who've participated. I'll let you know when voting begins so you can encourage your readers to check out the site and cast their vote for your excerpt. Thanks again for being in my "Author Spotlight" today, Mark. It's been a pleasure.