Mark Venturini is the author of the mid-grade fantasy novel, Whispers from Forbidden Earth. Will you join him on a journey through the Place between Places, that fantastical place between here and there? Perhaps you've seen a few of his shorter stories or flash fiction pieces over the years. He lives in Southwestern PA, where he is happiest taking long walks with his wife, Kathy, and their dog, Bella. He loves kayaking and backpacking through the back-country with close friends ... and of course reading fantasy.
What inspired you to become a writer?
Since high school, I’ve been interested in writing. I truly believe God gives everyone gifts and talents. It’s up to us whether we use them or not. I believe my talent is writing. I remember working a midnight shift many years ago. I was in my 20s. I pictured myself as an old man sitting on a rocker and wondering what if . . . what if I had tried, what if I had followed my dream. I’m 55 now and still following the dream I feel God has placed in my heart.
Which of your books do you consider your “pride and joy”? Why?
Actually, I have three short stories that I’m most proud of:
- Away This is my first published flash fiction piece. I LOVE the challenge of writing flash fiction (Stories under 1000 words). This story touched so many emotions from my own personal life.
- The Passing of Things The idea intrigued me: the passing of a wizard’s staff to the next generation. More than that though, I wanted the voice, the narration, to be powerful. I wanted the reader to feel the story.
- Colony Zero – Volume 3 -- In the Midst of Sorrow This is my latest from Helping Hands Press. The whole Colony Zero premise is powerful: people who are less than whole shipped off to what amounts to a “leper colony” on another world. Colony Zero s a series of stories about acceptance and perseverance and hope. I loved exploring the lives of two characters: Lt. Christopher Ranson and Dr. William Riccon, their past and the demons each one carries.
Away and The Passing of Things have been republished in my short story compilation, Darker Passages, which is available on Amazon. DARKER PASSAGES LINK
Do you have any preparation rituals before you begin to write?
No. For my short stories, if the muse strikes, I start writing. It usually starts with an image or a single phrase. For my first novel, Whispers from Forbidden Earth, I just winged it. It started as a short story that eventually grew to a novel. I don’t recommend this approach. It took many rewrites to get to the final story. For my sequel, I plotted out the basic premise, storyline, characters, etc. The writing is going a bit smoother with this approach. At least I know where I’m headed this time (lol).
If you had to come up with a book title to describe your life, what would it be?
It’s not Easy to be Me. Actually, that comes from a pop song from a few years back that is essentially my life boiled down to a few stanzas: Superman (It’s Not Easy) by Five for Fighting. I’ll admit that I’m the most insecure person out there when it comes to my writing and my dreams for the future. I’m also a perfectionist with some obsessive/ compulsive tendencies thrown in. Yeah, it’s tough sometimes.
If you had a chance to have dinner with any author who would it be?
Neil Gaiman. I love his writing, along with the sense of humor and joy he always exhibits.
We all have family, work and other obligations...how do you maintain balance while in the middle of a writing project?
That’s a tough one. Writing is only a piece of the puzzle, too. There’s the marketing/promotional aspect of this whole writing life as well. For me, it comes down to organization and prioritization. Any author with an outside job and a family must be able to multitask. In my day job, I’m a software engineer. I usually have two or more concurrent projects I’m working on, each with its own delivery date. Add to that my writing, and add again my family obligations. It gets crazy at times. Thank God, I have a very understanding and supportive wife.
What is the one piece of advice you received about writing that helped you the most?
Rejection is a part of the writing life. Develop a thick skin.
Where can we purchase your books and how can we keep up with you?
My books are available on Amazon. You can also find links on my blog and Facebook page.
Last, but not least.....What and when is your next release? Provide a brief synopsis....
Colony Zero – Volume 3 -- In the Midst of Sorrow: available on Amazon April 3, 2014
The first installment of my sequel to Whispers from Forbidden Earth should be out the first half of 2014.