Sunday, 1 July 2012

AUTHOR INTERVIEW & PROMOTION - MARK ADAM KAPLAN



What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Mark Adam Kaplan.  I was born in Staten Island, NY, and currently live just outside of  Cucamonga, CA.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I've written my whole life.  Back in middle school, I'd scribble poems, crumple them up, and throw them into the desk.  I never actually thought anyone would be interested in my writing.

When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
I had had some success, produced some of my own plays, made a few short films, been paid as a co-writer, consultant, writer-for-hire, and even wrote a feature film that was a big deal in China, but I never really considered myself a "writer" (read, "having achieved a modicum of success"), until 2009, when Bewrite Books published my first  novel, A THOUSAND BEAUTIES.  Plays and movies are enormously impacted by the other artists who participate in their realization.  This novel was a major piece of work, and completely my own.  It's a beautiful book, and I am quite proud of the prose in it.

Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
The first draft of A THOUSAND BEAUTIES was completed in 2002.  It was published in 2009.  But if you count all of my stage plays and unproduced screenplays, the "real" date might go back as far as 1986.  I'd say that's a long time.

Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I am a public school teacher in Los Angeles, CA.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My most current book is DOWN.  DOWN follows 15-year old Leon Mendoza's struggle to do well enough in school to stay out of lock up.


BLURB from Goodreads


DOWN chronicles Leon Mendoza as he struggles to get his life back together before his upcoming court date. With his father in prison, and his mother in deep depression, Leon is on his own to handle the fallout from his arrest. His homeboys worry that he’ll testify against them, his teachers have little or no pity for his situation, and his mother buries herself in her room all day, or watches novellas, completely closing him out.

But there is hope. A caring teacher, a proactive Probation Officer, a part-time job at a Chinese restaurant, and the attention of a beautiful girl fight to balance out the hand that Heaven dealt Leon. 
Would it be enough to help him avoid his father’s fate? It all comes down to one terrible night, when all of Leon’s worlds collide in an explosion that threatens to take him DOWN.




Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
Both of my novels, to date, were published by Bewrite Books (www.bewritebooks.net).

Do you have a "lucky charm" or "lucky routine" you follow when waiting for your book to be accepted by a publisher?
No.  Sorry.  With two small children, and a full-time job (with homework), it's difficult to find time to worry about anything else.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
A THOUSAND BEAUTIES took about a year and a half to complete (first draft).  DOWN took me about 15 months.  For both of these books, the original ideas simmered in my head for years prior to writing.

Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
A THOUSAND BEAUTIES deals with some very difficult subject matter. It was an emotionally draining process to write it, and the readers seem to agree that it shows.

What can we expect from you in the future?  ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Each book I write is unique.  I guess that will make me difficult to "brand".  I enjoy the urban YA genre, and may write another.  Over the course of the last year, I founded a company with an old friend, Glenn Scano, called Monsters Unbound.  We began it with our first picture book, MONSTERS DO UGLY THINGS.  I also completed an Activity eBook for kids aged 4-9, as part of the Monsters Unbound series.  My next book is Romantic Farce, and I have already dipped my toes in its water.

What genre would you place your books into?
Both of the books I have written thus far, would best be characterized as "American Tragedy".

What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I didn't decide to write that genre as much as that is simply the genre that I write.  I enjoy feel-good, Hollywood movies, but feel that the reading experience should offer something different.  Because reading is such an intimate connection with a story, a book must offer different levels of enjoyment, the visceral and the intellectual.

Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
They are each so different...  A THOUSAND BEAUTIES is carefully carved prose that tells a story from a third person omniscient perspective.  DOWN is a first person account, told with a heavy dialect.  They serve entirely different audiences in different ways.  What's really important is the readers' experience.  Those experiences are so different, that I hesitate to qualify them with a preference.

Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
I don't have a favourite.  From time to time I love them all. 

Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
I always begin with an image, and a title.  The title may change, but that first image always starts it off.

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
With my schedule, I write whenever I can squeeze the time away from my other responsibilities.

Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
I have had friends, whose opinions I respect, give me feedback before I send a book out.  But I also hear from my mother, and my brother before I move forward.  I think it's important to get as much valuable input as possible once the book is ready to receive it. 

Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
I have in the past, and don't mind it at all.

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes.  It's interesting to discover whether or how a reader's experience differs from my expectations of it.

Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?    
Never.  But if someone wrote a positive review, I might ask them to plug one of my other interests.

How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
Bewrite Books provides the artists who design the covers for the novels, although I am intimately involved in all stages of the process.  The cover of A THOUSAND BEAUTIES was designed by Steve Upham, and DOWN's cover was put together by Tony Szmuk.  Glenn Scano designed the cover of MONSTERS DO UGLY THINGS, and I designed the cover of the Activity Book.



BLURB from Goodreads
Overweight and jaded, rich and lonely, Rupert Ruskin clings to an obsessive belief that if he can witness 1,000 beautiful sights in a single day, his shattered and sordid existence will turn to bliss, in this tale that navigates the peaks and troughs of codependency and mutual punishment.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I have a title in mind when I begin.  A THOUSAND BEAUTIES was initially called 'The Day of A Thousand Beauties'.  DOWN went through several transformations as I wrote the book.  It began as 'Leon's Play', was called 'Dangerous' for a while, and finally settled on DOWN after the third draft.  MONSTERS DO UGLY THINGS emerged whole and remains unchanged.

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
The places are based on places I know.  The characters spring to life in my head.  Many of the minor characters are based on real people I have known.  The major characters all seem to come out "of a piece".

Are character names and place names decided after their creation? or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
Places begin with names, characters begin with images and actions.

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I do it as I go along.  I find it a very organic process to realize a character as they experience the world I craft for them.  Some of my initial readers claim that they felt these characters were real to them.  That is because I do not want to 'handcuff' them.  Often, their instantaneous reactions to the events around them is far more interesting than what I might have laid out for them.  

Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
The plot has a basic structure before I begin.  Details may arise as they do, and be honed.  But the overall structure of the book is planned before work one.

How do you market/promote your books?
This is the most difficult part for me.  I'd rather be producing another project than sloughing through the review requests, emails, social media posting, postering, etc.  It's an area where I am improving, gradually.

What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?
Timing.

Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
Who doesn't?  
Usually I try to get at least something down.  Often it is edited out.  Sometimes, however, I have 'forced' out something really great that has a great impact on the book's overall experience.

What do you do to unwind and relax?Do you have a hobby?
Relax? I don't know what that is.
Me too, am always doing something or planning something I worry if i sit down and have nothing to do but relax lol! ~ Jeanz

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Ugh.  No.

Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
My list of authors who have influenced me is a mile long.  Brecht, Voltaire, Chekov, Dostoyevsky, Bond, Kundera, Bukowski, Donaldson, Dickens, Swift, Rabelais, Hardy, bla bla bla... Endless.

Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback?
It's funny, but I never thought I'd like eBooks until someone bought me an eReader.  I find it extremely convenient, and much easier on the eyes than I thought it would be. I love the smell of books, the sound, the feel of the paper, but I'm afraid I've gone over to the dark side.  It's eBooks for me from now on.  

What is your favourite book and Why?  Have you read it more than once?
There are many books I've read more than once. Candide has always been one of my favourites, as is Jude the Obscure, and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson.  They're a fantastic fantasy series.  I must have read all six of them all five times each. 

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst  book to movie transfer?
Certain books are transfer naturally to the screen.  But one can never truly experience the story the same way in the different formats.  The nature of the interface effects everything.  Books that are more action-oriented can make great movies, or brilliant adapters can make them work.  For the most part, it's really hit or miss.  I love Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films.  Even though I enjoyed the books, his films transfer the experience beautifully.  On the other hand. I thought that Snow Falls on Cedars missed the mark completely. 

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I'm currently reading a hard back edition of Stephen King's, Secret Windows.

Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
Unfortunately, yes.  Except as oddities, like old wax LP's, or 45's.

Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
Children are definitely encouraged to read.  But if they don't become readers early, there is a diminishing number of high interest books to bring them in as they move into middle school.  DOWN was actually designed to appeal to those readers, as well as everyone else.

Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I've always written.  I can't help myself.  I have nervous fits if I am unable to write for long periods of time, and become monstrous to be around.

Did you have a favourite author as a child?
I read so much, it's hard to determine which part of childhood to target.  
I always loved Maurice Sendak's books (and those he illustrated).

Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it?
None left, unfortunately.

Do you have a favourite genre of book?
I read everything.

Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
I've had a hard time getting through Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.  The book has caused such controversy, I feel the need to read it, but can't find the time to allot to it.

Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?
I like Ben Loory's short fiction.  His new book, Stories for Night and Some for Day is wildly imaginative and beautifully written.

Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
I would cut about ten more sentences out of DOWN.

What do you think about book trailers?
Love them.  Thinking of ways to make my own.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
First drafts are not final drafts.

Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
I tried once.  It felt too arrogant.  If I became 'branded' as an author, I might write under another name for the readers' sakes.


Where can readers follow you?
Twitter, Pinterest.

Your web site ?  
Your facebook page?  

Your Goodreads author page?

BLURB from Goodreads
Monsters Do Ugly Things contains 36 pictures of all things monstrous. A satire of social interactions, Monsters Do Ugly Things is a delight for all ages!

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