Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Author Interview Series - V. Mark Covington

Today, I have the pleasure of having author V. Mark Covington on my blog.

JET: Can you tell us about your most recent book?

MARK:  Church of the Path of Least Resistance runaway romp with an eclectic cast of characters and hilarious twists and turns along the way. It is the modern day story of John Wye and Mike Compari, two old friends who travel cross-country to rescue a kidnapped child and uncover a clandestine cult with nefarious connections. Along the way meet a cast of colorful characters and enlist a company of civil war re-enactors to help them capture the cult compound. It is also the story of John’s ancestor, William Wye, Confederate ship’s captain and savior of the confederate gold and his journey into piracy and bordello ownership. After he dumps the confederate gold in the Caribbean and makes a map that is later the key to his great, great, great grandson bringing down the cult he sets out for a life on the high seas where he meets a lusty piratess, invents of margaritas, hush puppies, mud wrestling.

JET:  What drew you to absurdist fiction?

MARK:  I guess I’ve been interested in sci-fi and horror since I was kid, Bradbury, Asminov, Saki, Lovecraft. And I’ve always been the class smart-ass, making people laugh.  When I found absurdist fiction, like Tom Robbins or Kurt Vonnegut or paranormal humor like Terry Pratchett or Robert Ranking I just fell in love with the genre.

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

MARK:  My most challenging hurdle is time. I work full time as an IT Project Manager so my writing time is nights and weekends and finding time to write and edit and market is tough. Usually, the marketing and promotion take a back seat when I am in the throes of writing a novel. I’d love to be able to do more blogs, more facebook promotion, more tweets, speak at more conferences, get my books out to more reviewers but there are so many hours in the day.

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

MARK:   I think it was a person who inspired me more than a what, Tom Robbins.  I cut my teeth on Bradbury as a kid. I dove into Orwell, Flannery O’Connor, Faulkner, Vonnegut, Steinbeck, and Hemmingway. They all intimidated me. I thought I could never write as well as them.  Then, in college, I read Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins and thought, ‘I can do that. My twisted sense of humor and bizarre prose is very similar to Tom’s.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

MARK:  Most writers say it’s when they get the ‘golden letter’ that contract letter from a publisher, but my favorite moment was opening night, sitting the audience watching the folks who were watching my play. There was one lady about three rows in front of me that was laughing so much she must have gone through a box of tissues wiping tears out of her eyes.  I kept hearing one person laughing so loud you could hear him over everybody else and then I recognized him as a pretty famous NY director. That was a good night.

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

MARK I wrote my fist poem when I was seven. I wrote a play when I was twelve. I edited two literary magazines in high school and the school newspaper in college. Then I went to work a management consultant and college professor in business and I didn’t write for about 7 years. One day I had an idea, actually for Church of the Path of Least Resistance, and just jumped into writing my first novel. That was 5 novels ago and a very successful play ago.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered? 

MARK:   have done a few crazy things in the name of research but mostly fun stuff. I spent a few with a guide in the ruins of a Mayan village learning Mayan astronomy and magic for “2012 Montezuma’s Revenge.”  I dragged my wife to a string of roller derby matches for “Khamel Towing”. In researching Homemade Sin, I visited Cassadega small town located near Daytona, Florida named the "Psychic Capital of the World".  My research has taken me to Key West, New Orleans and St. Petersburg, and next will be Tangier Island, a sinking island in the Chesapeake Bay. I’m always learning something interesting when I do research. Writing Bullfish I learned a lot about Atlantis, the Marie Celeste, and genetic engineering.  In Heavenly Pleasure I learned all about living vampires and ice cream. In Homemade Sin I learned all about voodoo, restaurant reviews and cats. In 2012 Montezuma’s Revenge I learned Mayan astronomy, nanobot technology, Martian politics, and high tech surveillance. I also got to give Martian cities names like Bradbury and Asimov, which was fun. 

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

MARK:  My books are: Church of the Path of Least Resistance, Bullfish, Heavenly Pleasure, Homemade Sin and 2012 Montezuma’s Revenge, I have a yet unpublished novel called Khamel Towing and I am about ¾ finished a reimagining of the Wizard of Oz called “And Your Little Dog Too. And I have written one play- Shakespeare in the Trailer Park. I guess my favorite is Bullfish, it’s the most creative but the worst edited because I used a friend as editor instead of a professional- never, never do that.

JET:  Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?

MARK:  Read! Read everything you can get your hands on. If you aspire to be a sci-fi writer, read westerns and historical fiction, if you want to be a romance writer, read plays and sci-fi.  Don’t just read your genre, stretch out.  There is something to learn in every genre.  Build a literary toolbox from what you learn.  If you slam into a dead end, or your characters mutiny, or the plot just heads off in a different direction, you’ll have the right tools to build a bridge across it. But you have to have lots of different tools, if all you have is a hammer, all your problems will start looking like nails. Also, join a writer’s group if you can find one in your town, they are a great support system.  I’m a member of the James River Writers here in Richmond, and I really look forward to our once a month meetings at a local bar. You will find that a lot of people are facing the same writing hurdles you are and you can help each other get over them.

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?

MARK:  I live in a little city neighborhood so I can usually take a canvas bag and walk to the wine store, the butcher, the bakery, etc so the answer there is canvas.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

MARK -  2” thick Porterhouse

JET: Beach or Mountains?

MARK – Beach, absolutely.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

MARK: Rock and roll. I always say I don’t go to musicals but I can name about 10 off the top of my head that I love.

JET: Leather or Lace?

MARK: I ride a Harley. Lace wouldn’t work.

JET: Angels or Demons?

MARK:  Gotta have both. I’m scared if I exorcise my demons my angels might leave too.

JET: Paper or Digital?

MARK:  Paper, I have a kindle but I keep buying paper books.

JET:  Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

MARK:  Cheesy B rated horror.

JET: Twilight or True Blood

MARK:  Absolutely True Blood. Twilight is a soccer game, there is a lot of running around but nobody scores, and the fans keep saying “you just don’t understand”.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

MARK: Shot of tequila in a dirty, cracked shot glass with lipstick prints on it.  Preferably fire engine red lipstick stains.

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

MARK:  I am deep into the 3rd draft of a reimagining of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz called “And Your Little Dot Too. I have been fascinated with the Wizard of Oz since I was a kid. The Haunted Forest and the Flying Monkeys scared as hell out of me, but I watched it over and over. But as I began researching Frank Baum’s original work, I found so much more than just a simple children’s story. I discovered a rich social commentary with symbolism reflective of the economic and political aspects of the time in which it was written, the early 20th century.  So I wondered how different the book would be if it had been written in the early years of the 21st century instead of the 20th.  After all, the overlying issues and the American culture have changed. And Your Little Dog Too is my attempt at that book. Why did I take such a difficult challenge?  Well, just…because, because, because, because, because …

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog.  Folks, you can find out more about Mark Covington and his work at the following places: 

Thank you for swinging in today!
Until next time…

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