During this last week I have had the opportunity to become familiar with Mark Covington, another author from Rebel ePublishing (spelled V. Mark Covington on his books). He has several books on the market and has had three plays produced. I asked him several questions in an effort to discover how his mind works. I thought you might enjoy the answers.
Me: Tell me a bit about your writing process. Do you work with a narrow premise, or perhaps a major theme? Maybe you simply sit down and start writing and see what pops out.
Mark: I start with a “what if” and go from there. I was looking at vacation spots on-line once and found an Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. And I wondered, “What if the legendary lost island of Atlantis was just this resort sent back in time” and my book Bullfish was born. From the what if, I create a time line. After that I outline what I want to happen in each chapter (just a couple of sentences each) and then it’s just a matter of filling in the blanks.
Me: I’m currently reading, Homemade Sin, and the muse is a large part of that. Do you have a muse?
Mark: Absolutely! She’s invisible, but in my head, she’s a beautiful woman in a long white gown. I’ve even written poems to her. When I get blocked, I take a stroll in the park and I usually find her there on a bench, waiting for me. She knows when I need to get up and get some fresh air so she blocks me on purpose to make me come to the park.
Me: Does your own personal view of life enter into your books, or do you make the worlds in your books from scratch? If from scratch, do you build it as you work or have it completed before you start?
Mark: I put my own personal views in, but I try not to say you should think this way, rather, I invite them to check out this way of looking at things. Then it gets weird.
Me: How about your endings? Do you know your ending before you start and work toward it? Or, do you work the ending out as you go? Is it a struggle to find the absolute right ending? Personally, I find the perfect ending almost torture to find.
Mark: I do know, basically, what will happen to my characters at the end when I start, but that can change as I go along. I strive for closure for all my characters, the good guys prevail in the end and the bad guys get their comeuppance. I killed off a main good character once, toward the end of the book, but I brought him back reincarnated in the epilogue and gave him a happy ending.
Me: What is the toughest part of the writing process for you? Why?
Mark: Like I said, I do a brief outline of each chapter at the beginning, then I jump to whatever chapter my muse wants me to do. I could write chapter 22 one day, then jump back to chapter 3 the next, then chapter 16 the following day, it depends. Once I get to the end, I have to go back and do a full “write-through” to make sure the chapters are seamless, make sure that if a character has green eyes in chapter 3, she still has green eyes in chapter 30. That write- through is the toughest part.
Me: Do you use settings and places from where you have actually been, or do you depend on research?
Mark: Both. I grew up on a farm in Virginia and live in Richmond so quite a few stories take place in Richmond. But if a story needs to include, say Voodoo, I will take a trip to New Orleans and seek out a voodoo shop, or if it includes a Mayan pyramid, I will head to Mexico and visit one. (All that travel is tax deductible by the way).
Me: I see you’ve written plays too. How much does your theatre experience effect your novels?
Mark: I think writers should approach writing like a gym workout, you don’t just keep working one group of muscles over and over. You should work all of your writing muscles for balance. If you write novels, try writing a play, write poetry, write non-fiction, etc. I know play writing has helped me get better at dialogue in my novels, in a play about 95% of it is dialogue, so it has to be good. Also, working with the limited space of a stage you have to focus on subtle movements. I convey that subtlety of movement to books. Writing poetry has taught me an economy of words, poetry has to be short so you have to use the perfect words.
Me: So, give me a quick rundown of your published books. Now the big question. What’s coming next?
2012 Montezuma’s Revenge
Church of the Path of Least Resistance
Shakespeare in the Trailer Park (comedy)
Writer’s Weekend (musical)
All In (psychological thriller)
“All In” is my latest work and it has been work-shopped and is ready for a full production. There are a few producers reading the script right now. Once it has had a full run, I’ll go back and tweak it as needed before I submit it for publication.
Well now, back to the blog –
That is quite a list of published and performed works outlined there. Each work translates to enormous pleasure; hours of reading and watching, experiencing plots and characters he’s woven through his stories, and everything to be absorbed by his audiences.
Good luck, Mark. Continue cranking them out. You can pick up on Amazon.com. Remember, it’s V. Mark Covington.