Sunday, July 12, 2009

Book-A-Week Challenge Interview with author Mark Rosendorf

Today's interview is with Mark Rosendorf, author of The Rasner Effect.

I'd like to thank Mark for giving us an opportunity to read The Rasner Effect as part of the Book-A-Week Challenge and for the interview you are about to read.

Please leave a comment or question and let Mark reply back.

On with the interview. . .

Are the experiences in the novel based on someone you know, or events in your life?

When I’m not writing, I work as a Guidance Counselor for a special needs school. Many of my students have emotional disabilities and anti-social tendencies. Working with them for years, I’ve come to understand the personalities and the thought-process. Many of the characters in The Rasner Effect are based on personality traits I have worked with. And much of the book is shown from the anti-social perspective.

How do you come up with your story ideas and your characters?

I take characteristics of people I know or have known and basically give them a fictional make-over. I exaggerate them, mash them up with other characteristics, insert them into the worlds I’ve created, and voila, I have my character.

One example is the Derrick character in The Rasner Effect, who many readers either love or hate. He is based on one of my best friends. And while my friend is not a killer, drug-user or part of a mercenary organization, he is cocky about his talents and always has his nose in a computer. Just like Derrick.

When do you find you are the most creative or write the most?

My ideas usually hit me at the most inopportune times. In the car, in bed, in the shower. In my head, I suddenly envision the scene and then the wording on paper. The problem is that my ideas work like lightening: one brilliant flash, then it’s gone Afterwards, I can’t recall exactly how I worded it. So I have to keep pen and paper handy, always. I even have a pen and pad hanging just outside my shower on the wall. I’m constantly reaching out the shower door and scribbling. Lucky for me, I’m left-handed since the shower door is on my left side.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

On a quick aside, I’ve found that when readers contact me about The Rasner Effect, they’re all fond of different Rasner Effect characters. Each character is unique and depending on who I’m talking to about the book, their focus can be on any of the characters. Everyone relates to someone in The Rasner Effect.

Personally, I’m partial to Rick Rasner because he’s the one I can relate to the most. Well, to some of his aspects, not so much the psychotic tendencies. At least not to the point I’d act on them.

How did you come up with the title, “The Rasner Effect?”

The original title was “Permanent Solutions” but everyone I pitched it to thought I was talking about a hair product. I went with “The Rasner Effect” because the book is not just about Rick Rasner, but also his effect on the other characters. Even the scenes Rick is not in, the story is still about his influence on the other characters and how his presence has affected them.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve been told that my writing is unique and very different from most books. I’m not really sure what I’m doing that makes it unique, I just try to write as passionately as I can and put as much of me in as I can. I try not to copy other author’s style because I figure it probably won’t work for me, it’s their style.

What I can tell you is that I write entirely from the characters’ perspective. I want the reader to feel the emotion and the drama the character is experiencing with each and every scene.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Comic books. I grew up on Comic books, in fact, they helped improve my reading at a point when I needed the help. I like a story that makes you want to come back for more. And comic books always make you want to come back for more. They’ve made me come back for more since I was eight.

What is your favorite way to take a break from writing?

I’d like to say when I’m not working or writing, I use my time to contemplate the meaning of life, but in truth I’m most likely watching a movie or playing a videogame. I also try to spend an hour every evening in my building’s gym on the elliptical and taking a swim. Oh, and I read, of course.

Who are some of your favorite authors? Have any of them influenced your work?

There are a lot of authors whose work I enjoy. I read Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Douglas Adams and Rob Grant to name a few. Stephen Baxter wrote one of my favorite books, “The Time Ships” which was written as a direct sequel to the original HG Well classic, The Time Machine. In “The Time Ships” Baxter uses small chapters, each one with a cliffhanger leading to the next. With someone who suffers from a short attention span, I liked the small chapters a lot. It influenced me to keep my chapters short. Many readers have told me it’s one of the things they prefer about my writing.

What are your current projects?

I have just submitted the sequel to The Rasner Effect, titled: “Without Hesitation: The Rasner Effect 2.” I expect it to come out around January. I have also recently started work on the third of the series. I have a short story coming out in L&L Dreamspell’s anthology: Cat in the Dreamspell. My entry is titled: “Cat in the cockpit” and it reads very different than The Rasner Effect. It’s more of a campy story with a Twilight Zone-like theme.

What motivated you to write The Rasner Effect?

I’ve always enjoyed action/adventure dealing with government cover-up. I particularly like stories taking everyday people and putting them in extraordinary situations. The Rasner Effect is a composite of this, while incorporating my own experiences as a counselor. There are therapy sessions within the pages of this novel, but also focuses on Rick Rasner’s dealings with the politics of an overbearing boss, something I have also had experience in dealing with in the past.

My goal with The Rasner Effect was to write a novel where everyone can find a character, a scene, a circumstance they could relate to. Based on reviews and reader comments, I believe I’ve succeeded in my goal. The Rasner Effect is a book that is for anyone who fits into one or more of the following four categories:

1) If you’ve ever worked with teenagers individually or in a group.

2) If you’ve ever watched the news and thought to yourself, “I don’t think they’re telling us everything.”

3) If you’ve ever imagined waking up one day and discovering you were someone else…particularly someone who doesn’t follow the “rules.”

4) If you’ve ever worked for a boss you wished would DIE a horrible but deserving death.

If you fit into any of these categories, then The Rasner Effect is for you.


Mark Rosendorf July 12, 2009 at 8:26 AM  

I'd like to thank Denise for a great interview and the opportunity to meet all of you. It was a lot of fun. Thanks, Denise.

Loretta Wheeler July 12, 2009 at 9:17 AM  

I enjoyed this interview:) I'll definitely have to consider reading the sequel to The Time Machine (I've never read that:)...And as for Mark's comment about who will enjoy the book, I don't know that I've felt or wondered about any of the things he lists that might make you want to read it...but, it does for me what a book must for me to purchase it, it tempts want to know who's doing what to whom (is it whom here? never can remember that!;)
It sounds like an excellent read:)
Great interview Mark and Denise!


Betty Gordon July 12, 2009 at 9:22 AM  

Good interview, Mark, AND Denise for asking pertinent questions. Best of luck with your sequel.

Betty Gordon

Denise July 12, 2009 at 9:30 AM  

Mark -

I know you said you related to the character Rick Rasner most, but I particularly liked Clara Blue.

Tell us about Clara. Where did she come from?

Anonymous July 12, 2009 at 10:03 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark Rosendorf July 12, 2009 at 10:04 AM  

Many of my students come from difficult backgrounds that hardens them up, but every so often you hit a few that have a soft side, yet are still stuck in their hard environments. This usually leaves them "beaten up" by life.

Clara is a composite of a few of those types of students I've worked with over the years.

Pauline July 12, 2009 at 10:31 AM  

Well, Mark, you know I have your book on my TBR and this interview tempts me terribly! But I have to finish my book first, so just back off. **g**

And I won't admit which of the four on your list I am. LOL!

Both interview and interviewee were excellent. :-)

Unknown July 12, 2009 at 10:57 AM  

I particularly liked the setting of the reformatory. I could see and even smell the rooms. Did you have a particular place in mind when you created it?

Mark Rosendorf July 12, 2009 at 11:07 AM  

No, Brookhill us bit based on any one particular place, although almost every teacher who has read The Rasner Effect was sure it was based on their school. :) Probably because the hallways in any school, residence or most old buildings look so similar.

Mark Rosendorf July 12, 2009 at 11:10 AM  

Err...that should say Brookhill "is not..." Sorry for typo

Denise July 12, 2009 at 11:22 AM  

Mark -

I don't want to give away too much (I'll leave that up to you), but just so you know, yes, I read the last line at the end of the book.

I have used that phrase for a very long time. Why did you include it in the book?

Mark Rosendorf July 12, 2009 at 11:41 AM  

Well, i also don't want to give the last line away to those who haven't read the book yet (lol) but the final line is in conjunction with the previous two paragraphs.

Hope that helps :-)

Denise July 12, 2009 at 11:50 AM  

That's mean and funny! :-)

Mark Rosendorf July 12, 2009 at 11:52 AM  

Okay, Denise just informed me she was referring to one of the quotes at the end of the book, "Perception is everything."

I feel this is a major point of The Rasner Effect, since we get very much into the heads of the characters, including many who have psychotic and antisocial tendencies. We see things from their perspective and why it makes sense (including a very dramatic scene for Clara later in the book when she's staring in a mirror and justifying her actions).

It shows you that our own perceptions determine the right and wrong in a situation. Very fitting for this book, particularly with The Duke Organization, a group of killers who have their own set of ethics and principles.

nora leduc July 12, 2009 at 2:04 PM  

I'd like to know your favorite Comic hero. My brothers collected comics and I know they can be very valuable. My son collected them for a short time but not to the fanatic degree of my siblings.

Mark Rosendorf July 12, 2009 at 2:21 PM  

I had two favorite characters growing up, Nora. Superman, however, was never one of them, I just couldn't relate to him coming from another planet and being so superior to all us regular people.

One of my favorites was Spider-Man, an normal teen with real problems who had his life completely changed by something extraordinary, the spider-bite that gave him amazing powers.

My second favorite was considered a villain, Magneto. Besides having a very cool power (control over magnetism), i completely understood where his perspective, defending mutantkind from mobs trying to suppress them. To me, he was just a victim of "bad press." That, by the way, is a theme that does creep into my characters' lives.

Unfortunately, the value of comic books has decreased dramatically, part because of the economy being what it is today, but mostly because over the last several years, collectors grabbed multiple issues, the companies made so many issues, they're just not rare anymore. It's killed the value.

Mark Rosendorf July 12, 2009 at 5:38 PM  

I also want to share with everyone that my friends laugh and poke fun at the pen and pen hanging on the wall outside my shower doors. :-)

Denise July 12, 2009 at 5:52 PM  

That's in case you get the inspiration inside the shower??

HA! That's terrific.

Mark Rosendorf July 12, 2009 at 6:04 PM  

You'd be surprised how often it happens...

Denise July 12, 2009 at 6:18 PM  

My ideas/brainstorms always happen when I'm driving.

Unknown July 12, 2009 at 9:26 PM  

Rasner dies, is reborn, dies, and is reincarnated. Which one did you feel was the real Rasner?

Mark Rosendorf July 12, 2009 at 9:43 PM  

Umm...I'm not sure but with the exception of the name "Rasner," you MIGHT have my book confused with another one. If not, then I'm afraid I don't understand the question. My fault, I'm still new to the whole interview process.

Anonymous July 13, 2009 at 12:34 AM  

Do you remember exactly what you were doing when you came up with the charachter of Rick Rasner and how did that make you fell?

Anonymous July 13, 2009 at 1:08 AM  

Feel, sorry!

Ana E Ross July 19, 2009 at 8:29 AM  

Great interview, Denise and Nora. I can't wait to read Murder Came Calling, because like Denise, Nora is a long-time friend and co-writer. I look forward to seeing you guys soon...

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