- Guest Author -
Today I welcome another author with many talents - Mark Biskeborn. Mark has serious marketing skills that most of us writers need. Not only, he is multi-lingual, fluent in English, French, German, and some Spanish. Welcome, Mark.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I grew up in Stockton, California, and graduated in French and Germany literature from the nearby college of UC Santa Cruz. I’ve had the extraordinary experience to live in Germany and France for a large part of my life.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
Since early teens I began to read a huge amount of important novels and other books. As a teenager, they inspired me to write a variety of things like a couple of plays, short stories and a pile of poetry. Only later did I really start to feel like taking it seriously. I dabbled for decades and eventually I developed some confidence.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Creativity and imagination constitute a big part of my personality and way of thinking.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Surviving while developing writing as a career that pays the bills.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
After college I taught English literature and language in France for a couple of years. Then I went back to get an MA in Comparative Literature and an MBA in Marketing. I worked some 15 years in the software industry while toying with writing all those years.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
My poetry, short stories, and my novels: Mojave Winds, A Sufi’s Ghost, and Mexican Trade. I put a lot of research, craft, and revising into my books. I’m always eager to obtain feedback and constructive suggestions. I’m always learning about the craft, it’s an endless body of knowledge mixed with creativity and imagination.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I just now have completed a manuscript for Mexican Trade and I’m revising it for release in a couple of months. Mexican Trade is a sequel to Mojave Winds.
A short story, Stay Frosty, in my collection of short stories, Californians and Other Cowboys, serves as a bridge between Mojave Winds and Mexican Trade. I’m thinking of a third novel to create a trilogy after Mexican Trade. This trilogy that I’m pulling together is an adventure-romance story.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
All those novels and other books that I’ve read or currently read, they all inspire me. And there’s a long list of great novels, histories, theatre plays that I’ve read. Also, just current events inspire me. Literature is a reflecting narrative for society and culture.
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
My stories are adventure-romance. I think my poetry is very modern.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Creative writing is something that grows on you. If it’s right for you, you’ll do it one way or another. I don’t think there are any rules about it. Sometimes it’s common sense, other times is just wild and everything in between.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
No. Some people do woodwork or gardening or science and enjoy it immensely without stopping. People take an interest in some activity. I take interest in literature.
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I like to start early in the morning. A great day contains no outside obligations or distractions. I can keep going at it. But life and good physical maintenance is also required.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I prefer to write early in the morning, as early as 5 a.m. at a cafe or a grocery store that has booths or tables. A little bit of music and people around works for me for some strange reason.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Getting everything just right...the dialog, the landscape, the place, the characters wrapped tightly to the overall plot.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I have a lot of favourites. Shakespeare and the Bible are great for language and the content. Otherwise my favourites would fill a long list.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
The positive reviews from people—people I don’t know personally—who enjoy and gain something from my stories.
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
I don’t really think I’ve received bad comments. But I’ve also developed a thick skin from the days when I was just learning the craft.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Sure. I use as much as possible from my life experiences. For example, Uncle Fred and Kris Klug in Mojave Winds—these two characters have aspects of my father.
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I really enjoy haute cuisine—fine food, great wines. I enjoy physical exercise and sometimes take it to the extremes of sweat and exhaustion. Cycling, swimming, and walking are fun. I like to go to the movies.
I work with good people before I go public with a book. It’s a great way to learn the craft. In Los Angeles there are some good writers’ meet-up clubs to exchange ideas and write each others’ manuscripts. But it doesn’t matter where you live. You can join writer groups online.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Get up a 5 a.m. go to my favourite cafe and work until lunch. Relax a little and then go back to reading and writing. Walk to the beach or cycle.
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
I’d want my favourite lady because she’s fun.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
Maintain a equitable economy. This means that the rich—the 2 percenters—have a limit to how much wealth they earn or own. This also includes that the remaining 98 percenters have opportunities to earn a quality lifestyle with healthcare, education, and decent retirement.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Establish a good career as a writer that earns a quality lifestyle with healthcare, education, and retirement.
WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
I envision heaven as a place where souls own no objects, no books, nothing.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
Yes. I can identify with my characters and I hope my readers do too. There are aspects of me in probably all the characters good and bad.
DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
Not really. It’s business and as in any type of business you have to develop customers and provide quality products that they need or enjoy. From my experience the traditional business model is becoming obsolete where signing up with an agent who finds a publisher to manage your book. Now writers are freer to manage their own business. And it appears that even if you do sign up with the traditional business model, the writer is still left with managing their own business. So what’s the point of an agent and a publisher? Having an agent and a publisher carries some social prestige. But even that is blowing in the winds.
DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
No. Writing is something I do like some people do crossword puzzles or knitting or woodworking in the garage. It’s an enjoyable, satisfying occupation...come rain or shine.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
I like each and every one of my novels. I enjoy rewriting them, too. I’ve rewritten Mojave Winds and A Sufi’s Ghost, each novel for a Second Edition. That is somewhat unusual I suppose. But unlike a lot of other products, writing, like software, can always be revised and improved somehow. When you produce a move or a play (like Shakespeare) or singing or poetry, you always have an opportunity to change the text to improve it or simply to update it.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
That happens when people enjoy reading the story because it somehow elevates or enriches or broadens a person’s view and helps to discover a new way of thinking and experiencing the world. That is success.
WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
I would hope that my stories somehow elevate people, help them to know more about other people, be more sensitive to their motivations, desires, and goals. I’d like people to feel refreshed by the sense that each person can help improve the world and despite that the world seems to be falling into pieces.
HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
No much really. But I do enjoy drawing little sketches that I place in the books. I like to think that my amateurish drawings add a little bit of simplicity to the book.
WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
That people enjoy my stories and gain many useful messages.
WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
Like I mentioned above, no matter how an author publishes, you still have to manage your own marketing. The irony in this publishing business is that once your books sell in the hundreds of thousands, then your publisher will be happy to invest in your marketing, but by then you, the author, won’t need their marketing.
Clancy's comment: Thanks, Mark. Now, grab your things and head down to that local cafe'.
Guys, this blog has been nominated in the Best Australian Blogs 2013 competition. Now it is the 'People's Choice' vote. Not sure how it will rate, but you can vote if you wish. It's up to you. Just click on the 'Vote for Me Now' logo in the top right hand corner ... and thanks for doing so.