1. This is your first short story. Compared to the epics you've been working on, how did you find working in a shorter medium?
MP: I actually found working in a shorter medium to be a lot harder than my larger work. I wanted to tell much more 'story' before and after the bookends of the finished project. I'm used to being able to waste whole chapters to immerse the reader the events leading up to more critical events in the story. I found with the shorter medium, I had to cut a lot of content in order to make the story flow properly.
2. Is Bakster's proposition based on something you dream of doing one day?
MP: Partly. John and Kelly are both based on a blend of myself and my partner Nicola. We dream of moving to a small town some day and we've both wanted to start a business for a long time. If we had the money, we would certain be running a small café right now.
3. The resistance to literature in your story seems like it may have come from a personal experience. Can you describe one or two instances where you experienced such resistance, and how they affected you?
MP: The townsfolk are a caricature of stereotypical 'Albertan' culture. What I represent in the story as a resistance to literature, is more broadly a resistance to Liberal Culture. We live in a society that would rather pay for a jail than a school. Ideas and creativity are the future, and yet we collectively vote for a government that would see children, at the peak of their creative curiosity, educationally shoe-horned into "real work". They are told that they can be whatever they want when they grow up - but it better be practical.
I know grown men who do not read. If it's not a blueprint, they won't even pick it up. How is a society made of followers supposed to adapt and diversify during economic turmoil?
4. Who has inspired you as a writer?
MP: I HATED writing as a child. 100 words? I would rather give myself a haircut with a sand-blaster! I didn't know it at the time, but my very first influence was Sigmund Brower. I met him in the early 1990's, and even though I held my ground on non-writing, he said something to me that day that I still remember: "I was just like you."
Those words stewed inside me until 2004 when a scene popped into my head while I was on a walk. I ran home to write it down, and the predominate character was the start of Of Fire & Flesh, my longest running work-in-progress.
Shortly after meeting my partner Nicola, she bought me "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. Working through this book, as well as the amazing support of my partner have allowed my ideas to flow a little more freely. I'm very thankful and lucky.
5. When do you expect your next project to be finished? Can you tell us a little about it?
MP: Bill Watterson famously said, "Most of us discover where we are heading when we arrive." I add a little bit to one story, then move to another, then create an entry for a writing contest, then an article for local publications, then back to my stories. I'd like to say "maybe 2016" but I don't want to be called a liar.
Of Fire & Flesh is a Fantasy story that centers around a coupe gone wrong that leads to a power struggle with a mysterious evil. The Silent Dark Pentalogy is a secret Sci Fi project. Brothers is based on a true story of a Fraternity President and his struggle to turn the place around.
Check out Mark’s story “Bakster's Proposition” in Between the Shelves, available now on Amazon and Createspace!