In my last post I was raving about the latest Kindeal - $0.99 for the eBook of Revenge by Mark Young - and now it's my pleasure to introduce the author himself. Please join me in welcoming a man of many talents of which writing is only one, Mark Young.
Hi Mark! Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get started as an author?
After combat in the Vietnam war, I returned to college to become a journalist and picked up a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls. His writing about war and human conflict resonated with me because I knew he was writing from experience. His writing started me thinking about writing fiction. Shortly thereafter, I took the next step—since I was already writing news—and began to think of writing a novel …someday in the future. Many years later, after writing two other novels, I decided to become an indie author/publisher and launch Revenge.
The intricate suspense story and the character development were wonderfully balanced in Revenge. Which of these aspects did you more enjoy crafting? Was either easier or more of a challenge for you?
I find writing suspenseful plots easier than creating believable characters. Story plot lines come easy to me, and I found my past career in law enforcement gave me ample material to work from as I created stories. Every writer, I imagine, has strong and weak points. Character development is one of my weaker points. So, I’ve tried to focus on developing my skills and knowledge to create solid, believable characters that readers can visualize and relate to in some fashion. My main characters—Travis Mays and Jessie White Eagle—are vividly alive in my own mind. In fact, they still talk to me from time to time—but that’s another story.
All my scenes in Revenge are from places I know well. This plot concept arose from my life-long goal to learn how to fly fish and where I honed my fishing skills along the Lochsa and Clearwater rivers in central Idaho. As I traversed those rivers and learned about the history and people of those mountains, the story began to unfold.
I really appreciated that your Native American characters were believable and not drawn as stereotypes. What prompted you to include characters from the Nez Perce tribe?
First, their land and history in Idaho intrigued me, a nation whose boundaries once extended into eastern Washington and western Oregon before the Treaty of 1861.
Also, I am part Cherokee on my mother’s side, and have always had an interest in Native American issues. Before I became a police officer, I worked on a number of newspapers. One publisher allowed me cover the 1973 takeover of Wounded Knee in South Dakota. I was able to sneak onto the reservation and interview American Indian Movement leaders Russel Means and Dennis Banks before federal authorities closed it off to outsiders.
Finally, I did not feel my main character—Travis Mays—could be involved in anything along the Clearwater tributaries without including characters from the Nez Perce nation. And Jessie White Eagle is quite a character.
|Photo from author's website|
I share Jessie’s love of the mountains and rivers. Though I like to kayak, I would not consider myself an expert. As part of my research for this novel, I signed up with a female guide from the Three Rivers rafting company to take me down the Lochsa River whitewater on a raft.
Confession time: I fell in the Lochsa River twice and my guide, Tasha Lyons, fished me out both times. She is an amazing athlete, who works on the river during the summer while working on her teaching credential the rest of the year. And, yes, the Three Rivers company in the novel actually exists, but all the characters are a figment of my imagination.
One of the more turbulent whitewater rapids, dubbed Grim Reaper in the novel, actually exists by that name. It’s aptly named. This was one of the two places I fell in, and it was from this experience that I could write so vividly. Hanging upside down in white turbulence is quite an adventure. One of the rookies on my raft—who thought she was helping—hung on to my legs as I was face down in the turbulence. I couldn’t get back up without smacking her. Fortunately, Tasha jumped in and told her to back off, then she helped me climb onboard. True story!
What authors or works would you say have inspired or influenced you?
Ernest Hemingway, of course, was one of the first authors to really inspire me about writing. I have been an avid reader all my life, hiding away in the library on Saturdays as a child after my chores were done. Though I’m more inclined to write police/mystery/action-adventure novels, I enjoy mixing up my reading choices. Among my favorite contemporary mystery suspense and thriller authors are Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritson, John Lescroart, David Balducci, Lee Childs, and James Scott Bell. These and other genre writers I read regularly to study their styles, techniques and writing craftsmanship.
The greatest challenge as an indie author is that everything falls on your shoulders once the novel is written—editing, formatting, cover design, marketing, and advertising. I pay others for editing services, because an author who self-edits is akin to an ailing medical patients performing surgery on themselves. But the indie author still needs to coordinate with others to get all these tasks done, or do it all themselves. Another big challenge is getting the word out to readers. An indie author generally does not have a large advertising budget, nor do they generally have access to other avenues of publicity open to traditional publishers. Sometimes you feel like David facing the Goliaths of the publishing world. Opportunities like this interview on your wonderful blog help indie authors connect with readers.
The greatest reward is that you don’t have to wait eighteen months to two years before your novel reaches readers. Once everything is in place, a few clicks and the novel is up and ready to be sold in a matter of a day or two. You have more control over price, distribution, and content. Once an indie author determines who their readers are and what those readers want, the writer does not need to water down or change their characters to meet a broader market as defined by traditional publishers. They have the freedom to write the kind of unique character their readers expect and want. Finally, an indie writer does not have to wade through hundreds of rejections from traditional publishers or agents as they try to get their works before the public.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am working on an international thriller titled Off The Grid, with an expected release date the first week of December. The main character is Gerrit O’Rourke, a Seattle cop with a doctorate in computers and nanotechnology, and a veteran from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He and a mysterious woman, Alena Shapiro, find that they must team up with others to live Off The Grid when they stumbled over a conspiracy that threatens national security. Their foes have unlimited resources, and Gerrit and his companions must learn to elude a highly-technological manhunt. And for Travis Mays and Jessie White Eagle fans, they make a limited appearance in this novel as well.
Which brings me to a point about the characters in my novels. From my own experiences as a cop for twenty-six years, I learned that the law enforcement community is relatively small. I’ve maintained friends and acquaintances in local, state and federal agencies, as well as contacts around the nation and other counties. So, in my novels it is not unusual for a Travis Mays character to have contact with a Gerrit O’Rourke, as well as other characters in my novels. You just never know when your favorite character might suddenly emerge in someone else’s novel.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Unfortunately, the only place right now is on my blog, Hook’em and Book’em. Before the release of Off The Grid in December, however, I will finally have my web sit up and running at MarkYoungBooks.com and a blog—connected to that web site—simply titled Mark Young. Meanwhile, you can connect with me on Twitter or Facebook, or shoot an email to me at MarkYoung@MarkYoungBooks.com.
The print version of Revenge should be out later this summer, and eBook version is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview!
Thanks for inviting me on this great blog, Lisa. It is a privilege to be able to share my passion for writing with your readers.