Friday, July 5, 2013

Paul D. Marks - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on awarding-winning Author Paul D. Marks. He is an Author of noir, mysteries, satire & mainstream fiction.

Author Genre: Mysteries, Satire, Noir, Detective, Crime

Website: Paul D. Marks
Author's Blog: Cafe Noir
Blog: Google +
Twitter: @PaulDMarks
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:
A Los Angeles native, Paul Marks loves the city that L.A. was. Dodging bullets, he's not so sure about the city it is today.

Paul D. Marks is the author of over thirty published short stories in a variety genres, ranging from noir to straight mystery, satire to serious fiction. His work has received praise, including awards from Glimmer Train, The Lorian Hemingway International Short Story Competition, SouthWest Writers, and more. His work has appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Dime, the Deadly Ink 2010 Short Story Collection, Murder in La La Land, Murder Across the Map, LAndmarked for Murder, Hardboiled magazine and more. He has also published numerous magazine/periodical articles as well as having done film work.

In a former life, Paul was a script doctor, making his living from optioning screenplays of his own and rewriting other people's scripts or developing their ideas. He has also lectured on writing and screenwriting at UCLA, California State University, San Bernardino, Learning Tree University and at other seminars and conferences.

He is also the last person to have shot on the fabled MGM backlot before it bit the dust to make way for housing. According to Steven Bingen, one of the authors of the well-received book MGM: HOLLYWOOD'S GREATEST BACKLOT: "That 40 page chronological list I mentioned of films shot at the studio ends with his [Paul D. Marks'] name on it."

His book WHITE HEAT has just been nominated for a 2013 SHAMUS AWARD by the Private Eye Writers of America.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Do you have another book on the horizon? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I have two books on the horizon. One is a sequel to my noir-thriller White Heat which, by the way, has just been nominated for a 2013 Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America. The sequel is called Broken Windows and is the further adventures of Duke and Jack, the two main characters in White Heat. I'm not sure of the release date as of now. In the first book they find themselves in the middle of the Rodney King riots while trying to solve a case and also have to deal with all of the racial tensions and prejudices, including their own, that arise from that.

In Broken Windows they tackle the illegal immigration/undocumented worker issue (depending on where one comes from), while working on a case. The book that I'm just starting to shop around is called The Blues Don't Care and is a World War II home front mystery, set in L.A. Bobby Saxon, the main character, has been in three published stories. He's the only white musician in an all-black swing band...and that isn't even the most unique thing about him.

You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

I think it's more important than ever for a writer to have a good social media presence. Even if one has a major publisher, unless you're a huge name like John Grisham, Michael Connelly or Patricia Cornwell, you end up doing most of your PR yourself. So things like Twitter, Facebook and all the other usual suspects are great ways to get the word out and get word of mouth, which is what really sells books and gets attention for them and the author.

Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

I do. I think it's good to get out and meet people face to face, even with all the social media today. My short story Dead Man's Curve is coming out in the anthology Last Exit to Murder. And I'll be at some appearances for that. On July 20th at Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach. And July 27th at Mystery & Imagination Bookstore in Glendale. And I'm sure other things will be coming up too. People can check my website, for updates.

Today there is a buzz in the industry about high rankings on retailer’s lists because of the use of on-line advertising sites. Have you ever promoted your books with paid advertising? What has been your experience?

I have done this and, as with most things, it's a mixed bag. Some web ads have really paid off, while others were a complete bust. So it's sort of a trial and error thing. Luckily the cost for most of them is not prohibitive so you don't end up losing all that much even if they don't pay off. And then you learn which are good and which are less helpful.

You have great covers. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

Thank you. I have a hands-on approach. My wife and I like to pick out the themes and hopefully emphasize some aspect of the story on the cover. So far, I haven't had readers get involved in cover development, though it's an interesting idea.

Have you created a book trailer for any of your books to promote them online?

The answer to this would be a solid J. I come from a film background and did do a book trailer for White Heat, mainly to see if I could do it. And I liked what I came up with. So that's the "yes" part. The "no" part is that I never put it out anywhere because I didn't try to get the rights to the pictures or music I used so it was really just an exercise and not a marketing tool in that case. But I had fun doing it and might do a real one for the next book.

I noticed you belong to Murder, We Wrote and Sisters in Crime. What other writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I also belong to Mystery Writers of America and the Private Eye Writers of America. As with most things, you get out of them what you put in. It's nice to meet people and socialize and share tips or information.

And they do have meetings and newsletters that are helpful in various aspects of writing and research. The most valuable thing is having the support of other authors. And sometimes the organizations or just the individuals you meet there might form writing/critique groups that can be very helpful too.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

I'm a night person. I sleep during the day and write at night. So usually after my wife goes to bed I spend several hours at the computer...mostly writing. I'm pretty disciplined. My background is as a script doctor and I've mostly worked at home for years. I don't get distracted by a lot of stuff and, though I might sometimes work at different times of the day or night, I do manage to get a lot done because the key is just to sit down and do it every day.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

Amazon has a program called KDP Select where you can give away free downloads of the Kindle edition of your books. Thousands of people have downloaded my books and, while I would like to have sold all those, I think the key in doing this is to build up a readership, have people want to see your next book.

So it's a double-edged sword, but overall I think it works in the author's favor. On the other hand, I've also sold a fair amount of books, White Heat even making it into the Top 100 in a couple of Amazon categories. I think the freebies might help get the word out and hopefully generate paid sales, at least that's the theory.

You have had a diverse career ranging from writing screenplays, to lecturing about writing to writing your own books and materials. Have you considered taking White Heat and creating a screenplay?

Most of the things I write start out as screenplays even if they're not ultimately meant to be a screenplay. I hate outlining. I just don't have the patience, so the "screenplay" is my outline. And since I can write a script very quickly, moving from one location to the next with slug lines, as screenplays have, I can see who the characters are, where they take me, etc. And it doesn't matter how much of this draft I ultimately use. But it's my way of getting to know the characters, situations, locations, etc. As far as doing a real, finished screenplay from White Heat, I'd love to sell it to Hollywood and then, of course, a screenplay will be written...whether I write it or someone else does.

Author's Book List
White Heat - P.I. Duke Rogers Series - Book 1
WHITE HEAT begins where the "Rodney King" riots leave off. Recently released, it hit Number 1 on Amazon's Hot New Releases list. Available in both Kindle and paperback versions.

"WHITE HEAT BY AUTHOR PAUL D. MARKS is in a word, 'Intense'. This is a well-written book that's gripping, captivating and brings back memories of a bad time in L.A." - RJ Parker, True Crime Author, "Top Reviewer/Author"

"A gripping tale of prejudice and deceit, set against the tumultuous backdrop of the 1992 L.A. riots. White Heat is all the title promises it to be." - Darrell James, award-winning author of "Nazareth Child"

"The plot was interesting, and full of twists and turns. Duke's investigation felt realistic... The characters' interactions, mannerisms, and dialogue also felt realistic. I fell in love with Duke, Jack, and Rita. I also loved Teddie, even though we never met her alive." - Elizabeth Barone/Elizabeth Barone Reviews

"White Heat written by Paul D. Marks explodes on the page." - Gayle Bartos-Pool

"'White Heat' is a tough, tersely-written book featuring tough, complicated, and not always lovable characters who might push many readers to the very edge of their comfort zone. But it's honest and it's real, and it doesn't pander to its audience by providing pat or phony answers to the many complex issues it raises."

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
51-50 - a Noir Short Story
51-50 is a slightly different type of story for me. Very stripped down. It originally appeared in Dave Zeltserman's Hardboiled Fiction magazine, Psycho Noir edition. This is what Dave said about psycho noir and the stories in that edition:

"The term Psycho Noir seems to be used to refer to noirish films with a psychotic edge to them--Taxi Driver, for example. After spending a half-hour googling the expression, hell if I could come up with a definitive definition. To me, Psycho Noir is a natural way to describe Jim Thompson's best and most psychotic works: Hell of a Woman, Savage Night, Killer Inside Me, Swell-Looking Babe and Pop. 1280. These are books populated by characters whose perception of reality is just skewed and oft-kilter enough to screw them, as well as anyone with the misfortune of getting too close to them. Reading these books can be both a startling and exhilarating experience as it slowly dawns on you that these characters who are trying so hard to convince you that they're normal are actually mad, bad, and very dangerous. There's an energy that buzzes through these books that is hard to find any where else in crime fiction. Anyway, this was my definition of Psycho Noir, and this was the challenge I put out there--to write the type of stories that would make Jim Thompson proud--stories that are on the edge of madness--where the protagonists perceptions and rationalizations are just off center enough to send them to hell.

"In my opinion, the writers for this issue more than met the challenge. These stories are buzzing with the same sort of psychotic madness and energy that you find in the best of Thompson--and I can't think of higher praise. This is pure noir at its heart. Brutal. Hard-hitting. Nothing watered down. Characters dancing on the edge of madness and destined to slip down the wrong side. This is the stuff I love, and I hope all of you enjoy these stories--as well as Jean-Pierre Jacquet's perfect accompanying artwork--as much as I did."

Order the Book From: Amazon
Free Fall - A Noir Short Story
From the Award-Winning author of the noir thriller WHITE HEAT - 2013 SHAMUS NOMINEE (Private Eye Writers of America). Other nominees in various categories include Robert Crais, Jeffrey Deaver, Ace Atkins, Hank Phillippi Ryan, to name a few.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY says: WHITE HEAT is a "...taut crime yarn set in 1992 against the turmoil of the Los Angeles riots that followed the acquittal of the police officers charged with assaulting motorist Rodney King.... the author ably evokes the chaos that erupted after the Rodney King verdict."

FREE FALL: Fast paced, gripping noir tale of greed, deceit and murder.

If you're into noir, Free Fall is just what the doctor ordered...if the doctor is named Kevorkian.

Rick and Gloria. A match made in hell. Little did he know, as he cruised across the country on his motorcycle on old Route 66 that his journey would land him in the cold heart of Hollywood and the even colder heart of Gloria. And little did he know, as they watched "Double Indemnity," that, as in the movie, the scent of honeysuckle would also be the scent of murder...and his downfall.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Born Under A Bad Sign - A Noir Story
From the Award-Winning author of the noir thriller WHITE HEAT - 2013 SHAMUS NOMINEE (Private Eye Writers of America). Other nominees in various categories include Robert Crais, Jeffrey Deaver, Ace Atkins, Hank Phillippi Ryan, to name a few.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY says: WHITE HEAT is a "...taut crime yarn set in 1992 against the turmoil of the Los Angeles riots that followed the acquittal of the police officers charged with assaulting motorist Rodney King.... the author ably evokes the chaos that erupted after the Rodney King verdict."

BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN: Intense, Moody, Noir Tale - as Gripping, Sad and Lonely as an Edward Hopper painting.

If you're into noir, Born Under a Bad Sign is just what the doctor ordered...if the doctor is named Kevorkian.

Two brothers are haunted by their past and a mother they never really knew. Which one of the brothers will fall from grace in this dark Oedipal tale? Or will obsession and guilt destroy them both when the past rears its ugly head?

If you like dark, L.A. based noir mystery stories with neon pink flamingos, moody cafes and murder, check out award-winning author Paul D. Marks' story Born Under a Bad Sign.

Order the Book From: Amazon
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
eBook Author’s Corner and HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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