Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Holiday Horror: A Visit with Mark Parker
1. How did you get started writing horror?
Ans: When I was fourteen years old, I came across a tattered copy of Stephen King’s Carrie. For some reason I was absolutely fascinated by it. Not only was the whole ‘horror’ thing cool, but it amazed me that someone could create a world with words. It was love at first sight, and I never turned back.
2. Tell us about your story in Holiday Horror. What inspired you?
Ans: I have two stories featured in Holiday Horror. I recently wrote a Halloween-themed short story titled, Halloween Night, which I’ve tagged as, “not your average Halloween story,” because it isn’t what it seems on the surface. It’s based more on the ‘real life’ creeps that can confront us. Then I reworked a story I’d written several months back, Lucky You, which is a psycho-sexual short story that considers what might happen if someone accidentally kills another person through an act of exuberant sex, only to find out that the act of killing—accidental or otherwise—leads the killer to become even more sexually aroused after having committed the accidental crime. The rework was to shape it into a Saint Patrick’s Day-themed story.
3. You designed the cover for your anthology, Wrapped in Red. Tell us a little about the book and your story.
Ans: Wrapped in Red – Thirteen Tales of Vampiric Horror is not my anthology, but rather an anthology I have a story in (The Scarlet Galleon), which is a story set aboard a 17th century Spanish Galleon. The cover design was not made by me, but rather was based on a concept I proposed. The anthology title was something I came up with one day when several of the contributing authors were kicking around possible titles for the anthology with the publisher. It was later that day that I was told that my title had been chosen to represent the collection, which of course, was both a thrill and an honor. This spring, Sekhmet Press LLC will offer the second volume in this ongoing series: Wrapped in White – Thirteen Tales of Ghosts, Spirits, and Specters. It’s slated for a March 2014 publication, and promises to be a ghoulish read.
4. Plotter or pantster?
Ans: If you’re asking whether I plot my stories, or fly by the seat of my pants, I would have to admit to the latter. I generally go into a story with only a concept in mind. I know that many writers opt for a more organized approach, and perhaps they are right in doing so. For some reason the process, for me, has always been an organic one. I remember reading an interview with Stephen King years ago, where he was being asked the same question and replied, “I generally look for the whole in the page and fall in,” and that’s very much the same for me. I find myself saying, “I pull a string and see what unravels,” but they both equate to the same thing in the end. It is more of a surprise to me if I don’t know what’s going to happen until it does. The only drawback to this approach is that the rewrites tend to be a bit more complicated. I have to make sure all the bits make sense, which isn’t always a given...especially when a piece I’m writing is historically set. I am not the greatest researcher, so I oftentimes have to change things along the way do to the fact that certain details either didn’t exist yet in the period I’m writing about, or things happened in a different sequential fashion. Writing in a ‘see what happens’ manner is causing me to become better at researching, which isn’t a bad thing at all.
5. Have you done mostly short fiction or have you also taken a foray into novels/novellas? How are they different for you?
Ans: At the moment all of the pieces I have published are shorter in length. This hasn’t entirely been intentional, although there was a bit of method behind my madness, in entering the indie market as I have. I thought it would be a cool way for folks to become familiar with my writing, my style, my choice of subjects to cover, etc. I have several longer pieces ‘in-process,’ which include several full-length novels. I am working on a suspense thriller titled HINDSIGHT, and also a novel I’m tagging as a ‘psycho-spiritual thriller’ that is set against the backdrop of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Boston, where I studied for a time. That book will be titled PERFECT DARKNESS, and is only in its first draft at present. It is my hope to follow it up with a sequel, titled PERFECT LIGHT. There must be balance…always!
6. Name three things on your desk.
Ans: I have a Lucite angel in the corner of my desk that (for me) represents my mother watching over me. She passed during my senior year of college, and never got to see me published. In this way, she ‘sees’ the stories before anyone else does. Only seems fitting. I also have a copy of Stephen King’s Carrie close by, because it was that story after all that started this whole journey for me. And I also have a photo of my sister. She is generally the first person who reads anything I’ve written. She is a tough critic, and is brutally honest in her responses to my stories. If she likes it, I know it’s going to be a cool read. She isn’t afraid to tell me if it sucks.
7. Tell us one thing that most people don't know about you.
Ans: That I studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood.
8. What is your favorite holiday?
Ans: That’s a difficult one. On a spiritual level, I would have to say Christmas. But on a writing level, I would have to say Halloween. I have always loved the month of October, and the sights and sounds of Halloween have always had an enduring effect on me. The chills linger, you know what I mean? I don’t know why, but orange and black have always been two of my favorite colors. Purple and fluorescent green, too. When writing, it’s admittedly always the chill I go for. No screaming necessary…
9. Tell us about your favorite kind of character to write about.
Ans: I always come to characters for the enduring impression they leave. For me, it is always about someone’s motivation… what has made them the way they are or caused them to act in the manner they do. It’s always about the puzzle beneath the puzzle for me. Causation is everything—the cause that ‘causes’ the cause—if you will. For it is in the past that the deepest secrets are buried. I love characters like Stephen King’s Dolores Claiborne and Annie Wilkes…or even the devil in his novel, Needful Things, who, at his core, is such a coward. King got that character spot on!
10. What music do you listen to when you write?
Ans: I am mostly one of those writers who needs total silence when writing. But if I was to listen to music while writing, it would have to be something heavy. I like balls-to-the-walls rock with a sharp edge to it when writing. Takes me to that place of menace, where the truly awful things happen. (LOL)
Check out Mark's amazing story in Holiday Horror.
Join us for the Facebook Release Party on December 31st for a chance to win $850 in prizes!