Monday, December 12, 2016

A Bookish Conversation 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.

About the Book:

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.

What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?

      I loved reading stories in school, and I just wanted to make up my own.  I loved the
      Hardy Boys and at one point dreamed of coming up with my own mystery series.
      Later I was inspired by writers like Orwell, Isherwood, and Bellow to pursue
      something more literary.

At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?

      When I thirteen I read All Quiet on the Western Front, a book that really stunned me
       with its brutal honesty.  It was the first book I read that did not have a happy ending.
       It showed me that literature could say something meaningful.  I wanted to write
       books that inspired and moved people.  I began reading plays and tried drama for
       a while, but returned to fiction.

Do you take notes when reading or watching a movie?


     If something strikes me as memorable.  Having written a book of film criticism, I
     developed a shorthand method of making notes while watching a film, keeping an eye
     on the counter, so I could locate a scene if needed.

Has writing always been a passion for you or did you discover it years later?

        It has been a passion.  If I let a day go by without writing, I feel guilty.

Do you have a day job?  What do you do?

        I teach college English.  I’m also a franchise writer for a textbook company and
        spend a lot of time writing and editing.

Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

        Write to your reader – make sure you visualize the people you are trying to reach.

        Write realistic dialogue – create a distinct voice, vocabulary, and rhythm for each
      character. Too many writers simply put quotation marks around their own words so
      all the characters sound alike.

      In editing, read your work aloud.  It is easier to “hear” than “see” grammar mistakes,
      missing words, and awkward phrases.

Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?

      I try not to.  Sometimes when I am stuck on something I will deliberately focus on
      household chores to give my mind a rest.

What hours do you write best?

      First thing in the morning.  I get up at four-thirty and write a few hours before
      working out and heading to school.

How often do you write?

      Almost every day.  Of course, some of my work is academic or freelance.  It’s
      writing work and often pays well, but it is not as creative as fiction.

Are you an avid reader?

      I really don’t have time to read for pleasure.  I am writing a series of literary
     companion books, so I have to focus on my topic.  Last year I read everything Saul
     Bellow wrote to complete a book about him.  Now I am rereading Orwell for the
     next volume.

What are you reading now?

      Orwell’s first novel Burmese Days.

What are you currently working on?

      My most important project right now is a novel called Newman’s Choice.  Two years
      ago I received an editor’s choice award in the Raymond Carver short story contest.  I
      decided to turn that story into the first chapter of a novel.  Two other portions have
      been published, one of which received an award.  I’m anxious to finish it.  I plan to
      send out sections to other contests.

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