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Our Wednesday Writer's Spotlight this week features an interview with the author of Bewitched. Mark's book will be released on March 1st. Bewitched is a young adult story about a young man who learns that magic is real and must save the world. Let's find out more about Mark and his writing process.
When did you first start writing? What made you want to be a writer?
When I was a kid I loved writing. I think one of the reasons was because I felt like I didn’t have control over certain parts of my life. Writing let me take control. I could make things turn out the way I wanted them to. Later, that led to the simple joy of creating characters and situations. It became an important creative outlet to me.
For a long time I’ve known that I’ve wanted to be a professional author. Now I’m attempting to do just that. Other than Bewitched, I have several other projects which I plan on completing soon, including a sequel to Bewitched.
What inspired you to write your book?
The television show, Bewitched. I asked myself what it would be like if a guy actually did marry a witch. What if the in-laws were actually dangerous witches who wanted to kill him? As I began to further develop the story I decided I wanted the protagonists to be teenagers. From there the world of witches began to work itself out in my mind. The rest of the story developed as I continued to write based on my premise.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I’m not sure what a pantser is, although I believe the Germans had a division during WWII….
Okay, I’m kidding. I just find “pantser” a funny term for a person who creates on the fly. Usually I start with a premise of some sort and then kick around ideas, scenes and possibilities for a while and see where it all takes me. I slowly work the plot out. After awhile more ideas come. Eventually they all jell together. Sometimes I’m happily surprised at things that happen, sometimes I know what I want to happen and make it work out. Mainly, I like taking a character and putting him into a difficult situation and then seeing how he handles it. The whole thing is a very enjoyable experience.
Do you have any writing rituals or special processes you complete before sitting down to write?
None that come to mind. However, I have found that I get great ideas while in the shower. I let the water beat down on me and for some reason my mind opens up and I have a lot of ideas pour in. I don’t want you to think showering is a ritual or special process for me; I shower a bit more regularly than that. But perhaps when I’m really humming along on a book, I am also particularly clean.
What authors inspire you?
The first author I read that made me want to write similar to him was Dean Koontz. His story ideas and writing style were both so engaging I couldn’t put his books down. I have a few story ideas in the hopper I hope to get to one day that are more in the thriller vein like his. I’ve switched to Young Adult writing for now and love it. I can still bring the “thriller” elements I like from Koontz into my YA writing. I also like Stephen King, he has a great mind. Patterson has also been fun for me to read. I do read YA literature, but I also like these thriller- mystery writers as well. Every so often I delve into the past and read Dickens. The other day I finished reading “Frankenstein,” simply because the book was sitting on top of a box in our basement. Love it. It even inspired a change I’m going to make in another half-written book I plan on finishing one day.
If you could only write in one genre for the rest of your career, what genre would you choose? Why?
I think it would be YA. I enjoy paranormal, and in particular Urban Fantasy, but I don’t want to be tied down to just that, even though chances are I will write many more novels with Urban Fantasy features. But, I think I prefer YA because beyond any other element in writing I enjoy the “adventure” aspect of a tale. Fantasy and Paranormal lends itself well to adventure, but even more important I think is having a young protagonist. Since I was a kid watching Lost in Space, I decided that kids love adventure, and children as well as adults enjoy watching young protagonists survive and conquer against seemingly impossible odds. That doesn’t mean I don’t have some story ideas with adult protagonists; it just means I enjoy writing in the YA genre the most.
Which of the characters in your current release is your favorite? Why?
That’s easy. It would have to be Crissy. She was fun to write, she is fun to explore and she can do so many unexpected things. I like the fact that she is a total innocent, but is one of the “good guys” set against these truly frightening, evil bad guys. I also have some fun ideas regarding her evolution as I move on to a sequel of “Bewitched.” It was particularly fun writing her so that the reader suddenly discovers that Darren’s mentally handicapped sister is his “Oracle.” She is supposed to give him vital input and perspective, yet she struggles communicating in her day-to-day life. Plus, she’s just a cutie in my head and I think those reading her are similarly charmed by her. Exactly who/what she is has yet to be revealed…
Are any of your characters modeled after real people? If so, which ones?
Only in a general way. I’m working on another series called, “The Suburban Adventures of Gabriel Winston.” To help myself create a group of girls in Gabriel’s school, I pulled out some pictures from my old junior high yearbooks of some girls I knew growing up. I used some basic personality traits of these girls to help scaffold these characters. I would look at their pictures to get the personality in my head when I wrote.
As for “Bewitched,” I had two friends growing up I was very close to, Darren and Mike. However, neither character is based on either of these people. I think in the case of this book I started with some “stock” characters in my head and then refined them as I went along until hopefully, they became real and distinct in the mind of the reader.
What music was on your playlist while writing your novel?
I’ve always loved the Beatles. I also have a huge 80’s collection of music. Still, I can’t leave out some excellent music from the 70’s as well. And now, thanks to my kids, I listen to a lot of today’s pop music, loving Owl City, Salina Gomez, Smash Mouth, Cold Play, Plain White T’s – even some of the catchy ditties from “Phineas and Ferb.” But most of all, I’ve been really loving the old crooner sounds of Michael Buble.
Morning person or grumpy bear?
Not so much grumpy as catatonic.
Tell us one thing it would surprise us to know about you?
I’m actually not as handsome as I let on…..
What is next for you?
I’m going to finish “Where’s Cherry Soda,” a middle grade book about a 4th grader who gets into trouble/adventure with some wild Sci-Fi gadgets her brilliant but absent minded father creates.
Do you have any unique skills or talents? If so, what?
I can dance a jig like nobody’s mother….actually no. I do like reading to my kids. I have read almost all the Harry Potter books to my family. I love doing the voices. Hagrid kills my throat, but my kids won’t let me read him any differently.
If I were to look in your closet right now, would I find frills and lace or demin and tees?
I’m tempted to say frills and lace, purely for the comedic value. But I’ll answer this one straight and admit mainly frills and lace. (Yes this question was designed for our female authors but Mark has a wonderful sense of humor and answered it anyway. )
"Bewitched is spell-binding! A highly-unique page-turner that hooks you from the first paragraph. With complex characters and unexpected twists and turns, Harris delivers and leaves you hoping for more!" - Stephanie Keyes, author, The Star Child series
Is it love or is it witchcraft? He’ll never find out if he kills her first.
The first time Darren saw Samantha, she was floating above his high school gymnasium during a basketball game, invisible to everyone but him. Next time he sees her, she's sitting in front of him in class, wowing his friends and causing unexplainable things to happen that only he seems to notice. But things really get strange (and complicated) when his dying grandfather tells him that he is part of an ancient order, the “Pessum Ire,” whose duty is to destroy witches. What does he do now, since he’s almost positive Samantha is a witch…and he’s crushing on her pretty hard?
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