Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Talking Books with Mark Connelly, author of 'Wanna-be's'

Mark Connelly was born in Philadelphia and grew up in New Jersey.  He received a BA in English from Carroll College in Wisconsin and an MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  His books include The Diminished Self: Orwell and the Loss of Freedom, Orwell and Gissing, Deadly Closets:  The Fiction of Charles Jackson, and The IRA on Film and Television.  His fiction has appeared in The Ledge, Indiana Review, Cream City Review, Milwaukee Magazine, and Home Planet News.  In 2014 he received an Editor’s Choice Award in The Carve’s Raymond Carver Short Story Contest; in 2015 he received Third Place in Red Savina Review’s Albert Camus Prize for Short Fiction. His novella Fifteen Minutes received the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize and was published by Texas Review Press in 2005. 
Mark’s latest book is the literary fiction/humor/satire, Wanna-be’s.
Connect with Mark on Facebook and Twitter.

With his new girlfriend – a soccer mom with a taste for bondage – urging him to “go condo,” failed screenwriter Winfield Payton needs cash. Accepting a job offer from a college friend, he becomes the
lone white employee of a black S&L. As the firm’s token white, he poses as a Mafioso to intimidate skittish investors and woos a wealthy cougar to keep the firm afloat. Figure-skating between the worlds of white and black, gay and straight, male and female, Jew and Gentile, Yuppie and militant, Payton flies higher and higher until the inevitable crash. . .

Praise for Wanna-be’s:

This book right here! What can I say about Winfield Payton...is he the most unlucky pasty or most unlikely fall guy...what a schmuck...I laughed so hard at this,for this guy....with this guy....every character described in this book will immediately remind you of a real life joker in the in the 24 hour news cycle on all of the Major networks and cable television channels regurgitating skewed facts benefiting them and lining their pockets....it's hip and fresh writing which could easily become a HBO series....or Starz..maybe..anyway get this book....I laughed so hard...almost popping my recent stitches from surgery...Mr. Connelly...thanks for making my recuperation fun...this book is not for the faint of heart..or PC sensitive readers...

-- Lynda Garcia Review

For More Information

  • Wanna-be’s is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

     Teach, work out, read, travel, conduct research on George Orwell (I’m writing my 
      third book about him).

When did you start writing?

     I started writing poems and stories in junior high, but did not get anything published
     until I was in college.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

     Getting stopped in a restaurant by someone who recognized me from a magazine
     bio picture.   That was a pure ego rush for a struggling grad student.  More recently,
     getting a five-star review a week after Wanna-be’s appeared on Amazon.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

     Ireland.  Have to love the Old Sod.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

     Work on my next novel.  I have about half it completed.  Three chapters have been
      published, so I am eager to finish it.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

     San Francisco, one of my favorite cities.  I got a freelance job last year writing
     computer games for a San Francisco company but alas all my work was done by
     Skype and email.

Back to your present book, Wanna-be’s, how did you publish it?

     My agent considered it too short (50,000 words) to consider.  After the first
     chapter was published in a magazine, I decided to self-publish on Amazon.  This is
     my fourteenth book, but my first self-published one.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

      Episodes in the book take place in New Orleans, New Jersey, Chicago, and Houston –
      but these are places I have been to, so I just relied on memory.

Why was writing Wanna-be’s so important to you?

      I enjoy satire and tried to create a compelling character in Winfield Payton, the
      ultimate wanna-be.  He is mashup of Bellow’s Tommy Wilhelm in Seize the Day,
      F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Pat Hobby, and Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm character.
      Although the book is satire and meant to be funny, I did want to express some serious
      thoughts on race, gender, political correctness, and culture.  Sometimes a witty
      scene can communicate more than an essay.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

      My best ideas came from actual events that I expanded, exaggerated, and dramatized, taking an observation and turning it into a comic scene by adding dialogue – having
Winfield say things I just think about but am too cowardly to express myself.
Any final words?

    Satire is the mirror in which we supposedly see everyone else but ourselves.  I just hope people who read the book recognize themselves now and then and smile.

No comments:

Post a Comment