To paraphrase Forrest Gump (and his momma): “twisted is as twisted does”- so grab your free copy of Twisted Tales, a Readers’ Choice selection of short fiction from Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park. Literary lies, epic yarns – it’s an eclectic collection of 15 stories by authors from around the globe.
In today’s Meet the Authors series I’m delighted to welcome to the blog Mark Fine. Mark was a label chief for PolyGram records. He has written the critically acclaimed novel ‘The Zebra Affaire.’ As research for his ‘Karmic Odds’ story, Fine immigrated to America from South Africa, in an effort to better appreciate being a stronger in a strange land.
Your story ‘Karmic Odds’ appears in t he Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park’s recent anthology ‘Twisted Tales.’ What made you decide on that story?
When the Grand Poobahs of Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park invited me to write something for ‘Twisted Tales’ I was delighted. By the way ‘Karmic Odds’ is not autobiographical; though there’s some truth at the heart of the story.
As an immigrant to the USA I’ve been amused by the way folks respond to my accent; to them my South African speech patterns seem so, well, let us say ‘exotic.’ In turn, they assume I’m far more interesting than I really am.
Obviously, back in South Africa the way I speak is downright dull. So let’s be honest, it’s still the same dull me no matter where I live. This duality intrigued me and lent itself to some great irony within my story.
Did you find writing a short story easier or harder to write than what you’ve written in the past?
I’d had this short story circulating in my mind, and it wanted out. This made the task relatively easy. I enjoy the efficiency of both writing and reading short stories so it was never about being easy or hard. Similar to a photograph that often looks better cropped, I felt a story can improve by being tightened.
Yet, I see songwriting as the ultimate short story. Consider the Rolling Stone’s ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ – two thousand years of human history is recited in rhythm and rhyme in only a few minutes. Now that’s what I consider to be truly difficult task.
Who has been an important influence on your journey as a writer?
I’m a fan of both O. Henry and Roald Dahl as masters of the short story, and relished the surprising sting-in-the-tail treats they provided us readers. As a homage to these two writers, I have a twist -in -the -tale, of sorts, lurking within ‘Karmic Odds.’
What is your next project?
Sub-Saharan Africa continues to intrigue me as setting for my novels. Fortunately my historical fiction book (with it’s generous dollops of romance and suspense) called The Zebra Affaire has been well received. Not a sequel, but continuing on the African theme, is a work I’ve tentatively titled The Hyena Axis. It’s set in 1978 Rhodesia as that country (now known as Zimbabwe) was being torn apart by the Bush War, as a consequence of the liberation struggle.
Please share a little more of your writing background.
As a music business executive and record producer I’ve always been a part of the creative process. As for books, my grandmother owned a library which elevated the value of the written word within our home. Growing up I had the honor of the legendary author, Alan Paton (‘Cry, the Beloved Country’) give a lecture to my high school English class.
Then, as friends of the family I was fortunate to know Wilbur Smith (I still have an autographed copy of his novel, Gold Mine, on my desk). His powerful historical fiction-based yarns of Africa have been a tremendous influence over the years. All this contributed to my love for writing, and reading.
Where can readers reach you?
Would welcome hearing from readers. Joe, as you well know writing is a “living process” and it’s vital as authors engage with the world at large. So the opinions of readers is crucial to the creation of better books, and to themes within our books. For example, I got a wonderful review from a reader. She applauded me for taking on the difficult subject of apartheid. But she chastised me for not confronting the issue of poaching–especially rhino and elephant. Thanks to her I’m now including this vital wildlife conservation theme in my future writings, and my current promotional efforts under the theme #RhinoProtector and #ElephantProtector. So feedback does a great service to both an authors work and the greater community at large.
Stay tuned for more Meet the Author interviews. If you like what you read in Twisted Tales you’re invited to leave a review on Amazon. Thanks!
Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Holmes, Poirot, and Japan Noir and you have a new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s Son, The Thief’s Mistake , or Traitors & Lies – and to read how it all began, download my prequel novella Tokyo Summer at josephmarkbrewer.com