Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing today? I’m doing amazing, writing the opening salvo in the main battle of Operation Breakout. There isn’t a whole lot to say, since I’ve got the nose to the grind stone. Now, let’s get right to the point of my latest blog posting! Yes, I’ve gotten bit by the interview bug! I’ve started the Warrior Weekend Series, the Family Friday Series, and now the ‘SciFy Shenanigans’ series that only serves to talk with other authors of science fiction! Here goes nothing!
The plan here is to create a template to talk to authors about their latest books and their process. They’ll be able to pitch the other stuff too, of course, but when authors have deep back catalogues it’s hard to get into the weeds with them. Those weeds have grown too high, so I took a weed whacker to the mess. Here’s the final results! Now grab your popcorn and enjoy the ride!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages,……
First, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I’ve written my whole life. Since I was about 8 years old and read my first SF. The Rolling Stones, by Heinlein. I didn’t try making it a career until about 17 years ago, and not seriously until the last 5. My day job is a US Customs broker. I have a wife, an 18 year old son, and live in Rural Tennessee, not too far from Nashville.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I’d always dreamed about being a pilot. But since I was built like the hero in my most recent novel, that wasn’t going to happen.
I’ll go out on a limb and assume that if you write books you also enjoy reading them. What other genres do you enjoy reading, and how have they affected your writing?
I love the post apoc genre. From the 80’s men’s adventure like The Survivalist and Ashes series, to modern ZA like Day by Day Armageddon by JL Bourne. It influenced me enough to write a ZA book myself. It was the first one I wrote with any modest success.
Who are your biggest writing influences?
Robert Heinlein (as previously mentioned), Ayn Rand, Alan Dean Foster.
Who are your favorite authors and books?
All of the above, but include Greg Bear. He doesn’t influence my writing as much as serve as motivation. Favorite books include Alas Babylon, Lucifer’s Hammer, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Monster Hunter International.
What is your preferred writing style?
3rd person semi-omnipotent. I’ve been working on a 1st person book, but it’s still in development.
How did that lead you deep into the weeds of the writing life?
I can’t honestly say. I’ve just always wanted to be a writer.
When did you get serious about your writing?
As previously mentioned, about 5 years ago. I was getting older (pushing 50), and decided; if not now, when?
What is your current novel? Tell us a little bit about the premise?
My newest novel is Cartwright’s Cavaliers, Book One in the Revelations Cycle. I’m co-writing this with Chris Kennedy. He writes one, I write one. Four books.
Cartwright’s Cavaliers is obviously a series, where can we expect it to go?
The series will have 4 books, each about one of the Four Horsemen mercenary companies from earth. These are the decedents of the only 4 merc companies to survive the first off world contracts 100 years ago, just after earth’s first contact with the Galactic Union.
Where did you find the inspiration for Cartwright’s Cavaliers?
Fat kid does well. It’s a bit of me in there. That and 99% of military sci-fi is full of perfect people doing perfect things with perfect results. I think there is a hunger for reality.
Your characters from Cartwright’s Cavaliers are sent into a gladiatorial death match. Who wins?
Depends who they’re against. Jim Cartwright is a leader, he’d pick the right one to help win the battle. If he had to fight it himself, he’d fight. Until the end.
What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer silence?
Two Steps from Hell, on YouTube. I let it roll.
What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think the government has maybe flagged you for?
How to hijack an A-380, and ways to make it do things it isn’t supposed to do. I did that for A Time to Die, my zombie book.
What was your favorite part of writing Cartwright’s Cavaliers?
The chance to create a deep, and immersive mil-sf universe to play in. I’m looking forward to writing dozens of books here. It is literally a limitless playground.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from Cartwright’s Cavaliers?
I don’t honestly think any actor I know of could play a fat 18-year-old computer gaming geek. I think you’d need to find an unknown.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Every. Chance. I. Get.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
No, I just write. Some days 100 words is all I can manage. I do hope to do at least 2,000 words a day. My sweet spot is 5,000.
When you develop your characters, do you already have an idea of who they are before you write or do you let them develop as you go?
No, they evolve. I never force it, not even on essential characters.
How did writing Cartwright’s Cavaliers differ from your writing your previous novels?
This was written for a specific genre, and to create a new universe. Also, made for others to write in it as well (Chris Kennedy. I’ve never done it this way before, and it was a challenge).
If Cartwright’s Cavaliers had a theme song what would it be?
O Fortuna, Carminal Burana.
Cartwright’s Cavaliers is full of many amazingly talented characters and I imagine it was really fun to create some of them, but which one was your favorite and why?
Hargrave is one I like the most. He’s Jim’s mentor. A badass old merc with more than a few tricks left up his sleeve. I think writers will be more than a little amazed at what comes out of him before the end.
What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?
Write, every chance you get. Finish it, don’t stop and edit. Listen when more than one person says something is wrong. Don’t use personal friends as test readers.
I hope you enjoy this little conversation, and if you want to find out more about Mark Wandrey then follow the rabbit trail to their warren in the internet! If they don’t like it, beat ‘em with a carrot and keep on truckin’!
Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!
–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen shots taken by JR Handley and used under the Fair Use Doctrine.
–> Some of these interview questions were inspired by my good friend TeacherofYA, and are used with her permission. If you have kids who love to read, she’s the girl who’ll make the literary introductions! You should check her out, after a lifetime of reading, your kids will thank you.