Friday, June 24, 2011

Dishing it up with Marcus Sakey

Today I have the distinct pleasure of having thriller author Marcus Sakey on my blog. Marcus has worked as a landscaper, a theatrical carpenter, a 3D animator, a woefully unprepared movie reviewer, a tutor, and a graphic designer who couldn’t draw. In 2007 his first novel The Blade Itself was published to wide critical acclaim, and thank god, because nothing else seemed to be working.

His books have been nominated for more than a dozen awards, named to multiple “Year’s Best” lists, and translated into numerous languages. Three are currently in development as films.

JET: Can you tell us about The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes that came out earlier this month - June 9th to be precise?

Marcus: It starts with a man waking on a beach, naked and half-dead. He can’t remember how he got there, or even who he is. He’s haunted by a woman he sees on television, and sets out across America to find her. Meanwhile, the world is looking for him…

It’s a thriller, but it’s also an exploration of memory and identity and the stories we tell ourselves. It’s definitely my most ambitious book, and while it was a beast to write, I’m thrilled with the way it turned out.

JET: What drew you to writing thrillers?

Marcus: I’ve always been addicted to stories. I was the kid reading under the blanket with a flashlight. The main goal of a thriller is to keep someone up too late, so it kinda makes sense.

The best thing is that the thriller format lets you put people in the most desperate circumstances imaginable, which means you can explore the ideas with the heat turned all the way up. For me, thrillers that don’t take advantage of that are missing the point. It’s not about run, chase, shoot; it’s about everything that happens around that, the philosophies and relationships and beliefs that are tested amidst the running, chasing, and shooting.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Marcus: Writing the books. It’s a great job, the one I’ve always wanted, but it takes discipline, and when it’s going badly, it weighs on you. Especially around page two hundred, when everything seems to be falling apart and you’re contemplating suicide.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Marcus: Writing THE END. It was purest and most powerful on my first novel, THE BLADE ITSELF, but I get a rush every time I type those two words.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Marcus: Is it okay to say all of them? I was, and am, a voracious reader, and I tend to read in a bunch of different genres. I guess if I had to pick one name from young adulthood, I’d say Kurt Vonnegut. He was such a brilliant writer: a guy who could say so much with so little, who was troubled by mankind’s choices but honestly in love with people, who could blend the brutal and the awful and the hilarious.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Marcus: When I was four. I remember the moment I learned to read, and all of I sudden I could see Spot run. I just thought, “Man, that’s it. That’s the coolest thing in the world.” I still feel that way.

JET: I understand you’ve done a tremendous amount of research for your writing. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Marcus: I recently got pepper sprayed for research. It hurt.

The facts I love uncovering tend to be the little details, the things you couldn’t make up. They range from heart-breaking (a cop telling me that to gauge the power of a gang he counted the schools within their turf) to hilarious (tales of bumbling bad guys that you’d never believe if I wrote them) to exhilarating (shooting a fully automatic machine gun).

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

Marcus: My favorite novel is always whichever one I wrote last. But you love them all. You have to—you put so much of yourself into them. If the books aren’t you, they aren’t anything.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

Marcus: Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard. That’s how you get it done. The rest is window dressing.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with: Paper or Plastic?

Marcus: Cloth bags that we re-use.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Marcus: Ribeye, rubbed with good olive oil, lemon zest, and rosemary, flash-seared and served rare.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Marcus: Beach. I love mountains too, but the ocean is magical to me.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Marcus: Rock.

JET: Paper or Digital?

Marcus: Both.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

Marcus: Battlestar Galactica.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Marcus: Coffee.

JET: Salty or Sweet?

Marcus: Everything is better with salt. Salt is better with salt.

JET: Top 10 best seller or Unknown Back Shelf Find?

Marcus: There’s two kinds of literature, good and bad. I’ll take the former, and I don’t care where I find it.

JET: 2012 Mayan Prophecy Believer or Ain’t Gonna Happen?

Marcus: Let me consult the entrails of my enemy.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

Marcus: I can’t, really; it’s still taking shape. But I can say that I’m really excited about it, and that it’s unlike anything I’ve done before.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Marcus Sakey and his work at his website:

Next week it’s JULY! Woo-hoo, my birthday month. I’ll be highlighting some new July releases next Friday and then going on a much needed vacation before we get geared up with Tim Ellis, Pam Jenoff, Kiki Howell and Robert Gregory Brown. July’s a hot month. Stay tuned…

Until next week,



1 comment:

J. H. Bográn said...

Hi Marcus and JET,
Great interview. Interesting to learn a bit more about you.
I was also a movie critic myself; when certain people (you know the kind) asked for my qualifications I'd tell them I went to the same school as Quentin Tarantino :-).

I named my son Daniel, after a good friend, who's real name is in fact, Daniel Hayes. I´m considering your book as his birthday present next week!