Since then, we've kept in touch, and updated each other on our progress as writers. I'm excited to invite Mark to the Underground for an interview to discuss his success story, his new book, and his writing methods.
AB: You have quite a few titles under your belt at this time, but they are from different publishing companies. Tell me a little about your journey through the publishing industry.
Mark: Hi Amy, thanks for inviting me to be interviewed. So far I have written 6 books: The Church of the Path of Least Resistence, Bullfish, Heavenly Pleasure, Homemade Sin, 2012 Montezuma's Revenge, and Khamel Towing (coming soon). I’ve also written a play, "Shakespeare in the Trailer Park."
Church of the Path was my first book and there is an old saying,' toss your first into the trunk and come back in 10 years and re-write it' so I'm kind of holding Church of the Path in reserve, letting it age like a good Bordeaux. I did shop Bullfish around to agents and got requests for full reads from a few agents, the funniest response was "I love the story but I didn't like the way you told it." So I got sick of the agents and just published it myself. There are lots of pros and cons to doing that. For me it made me feel like an author, and once you see yourself as something you start becoming that, kind of a self-fulfilling prophesy. Heavenly Pleasure got picked up by a small commercial press, Aspen Mountain press, which is now defunct so I have my rights back on that one and I'm going to re-edit it and start shopping it around. Montezuma's Revenge was picked up by Solstice and sales are steady. Homemade Sin was picked up in March by Rebel Press in South Africa, and it is due out in December. I met an agent at the James River Writer's conference who took an interest in Khamel Towing, the one I'm writing now. I plan to get that to him in the Spring. Oh, yeah, I forgot my play, "Shakespeare in the Trailer Park" took me about 15 years to write and it opened in Philly last April to great reviews. It hits the stage in Richmond at the 200 seat Gottwald Theater this April, with Billy Christopher Maupin directing.
AB: Which book has seen the most success? Did you see a difference in sales between different publishing companies?
Mark: So far my current publisher, Solstice, is selling more books but my first publisher did mostly romances so they really weren't focused on my genre. I have great hopes for the new book, Homemade Sin. With that one I have a South African publisher that commands markets in the UK, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand and those folks read more and love a dry, cynical sense of humor. It seems like in the US, unless you have the term "glistening loins" somewhere in the book you won't sell many.
AB: Your stories are comic, wild, and yet thoughtful. What do you do to balance comedy with insight?
Mark: Thank you. I think there is a natural balance between comedy and insight, you just have to see it. I see everything as potentially funny and it is my job to point to it and laugh and show other folks. I was asked to leave a funeral once because I was 'being funny." Hey, I knew the dead guy and he would have loved the comments, oh well. The first time I was expelled from school was in 5th grade, our math teacher was also the girl's basketball coach and she "lingered" in the locker room during shower-time. One day we were doing fractions and she pointed to the board and said, "Mark, what is our common denominator?" I said, "We both like little girls." The principal stopped laughing long enough to give me three days. Anyway, the more you see the true nature of the universe the more you will find hilariously funny. Einstein had a great sense of humor, so did Churchill. Queen Victoria coined the phrase "we are not amused," so there you go.