Twilight Times Feature
with Mark Misercola
Interviewer: Lida Quillen
1. Does your creativity express itself in ways other than writing?
Writing is my main creative outlet. When I'm not writing I'm either writing or teaching writing. I teach advertising, copywriting and public relations writing at local colleges, so writing is the focal point of both of these outlets.
I'd like to take up painting someday (with something other than Benjamin Moore paint) but for the moment, I've got a fairly packed schedule with two kids, a full-time job and teaching. So I write for fun when I can and enjoy it tremendously.
2. Do you feel you were creative, even as a child?
Yes. I had imaginary friends. I read comic books at an early age. I wrote stories in grade school, mostly about superheroes.
I was a little like Ralph Philips, the Warner Brothers cartoon character who used to day dream in class about being a great hero and saving the day. The downside to that is I was not the world's greatest student -- particularly in math and science. But the world doesn't seem to be any worse for it.
The good part is I was able to constructively channel my creative side as a teenager and I started writing for local newspapers at an early age. I had my first newspaper internship at seventeen and I was working full time as a copy aide at a daily paper when I was in college. It really gave me a head start on my career.
3. Could you share with the story behind the story? In other words, how did your writing lead you to your first novel?
Actually, it was my love of comic books that led to my first novel. The writing was secondary. When I rediscovered comic books in the late eighties -- after I had moved to NY -- I became quite upset to see many of my favorite superheroes being killed off. It made me think about how upset someone might become at the sight of their childhood heroes being killed, and what they might do about it. I thought it would make a real compelling story and that's how my first novel came into being.
4. How did you prepare for the creation of your first novel? How much research was necessary?
A lifetime of research went into this -- nearly thirty-five years of reading comic books -- and every minute of it was sheer fun. Comic book history -- particularly the early years of Superman and Batman and other giants, as well as the people who created them -- play a big role in the novel. All of this stems from what I've read over the years. The emotions that many of my characters experience throughout the book are the same emotions that I've felt over the years when I've read these books.
5. What kind of reaction do people have to your writing?
Many who know me and my writing are surprised. They expect to read a business speech -- which is really what I've done for the past fifteen years -- and they don't know what to think when they see a work of fiction. They're also remarking about how well the story holds together and moves along quickly. That makes me feel good, because the story should really be the focal point, not the writing.
6. Do you find anything difficult in the writing process, and if so what?
Yes ... I can't stop rewriting. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and it just never ends for me. I'm not just editing for the page, I'm also editing for the ear (its the speech writer in me) and that's very difficult to do in fiction. If I put the manuscript down for two days and go back to it, I'm reworking it.
At some point, I have to put it down and say enough. But it takes a long time for me to be in a position where I can read it and feel completely satisified with how it's popping off the page.
7. Do you currently have any writing projects?
Everyday is a writing project as I'm in the public relations business and writing is what I do. However, I am kicking around a sequel to Death to the Centurion. (It's a natural.) And I've also got an idea for a lighter story -- one in which the greatest writer of our time is offered a chance at redemption.
8. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I'm very grateful to e-publishing, and Twilight Times in particular, for giving me a chance to bring this project to light.
Mark Misercola has a dual career. By day he is a mild-mannered public relations executive in New York. On weekends, he ducks into his favorite comic book store and reads comic books. (He is a comic book traditionalist, and prefers that his characters be served up over easy with plenty of super powers.)
During his career, Mr. Misercola has written speeches for senior executives at some of the world's largest companies, including IBM, PepsiCo, Avon Products, NYNEX, Union Carbide, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte & Touche. He began his career as a business reporter with the former Buffalo (N.Y.) Courier-Express.
He has also ghostwritten two books for management consultant Bill Morin: Silent Sabotage, Amacom, 1995, and Total Career Fitness, 2000, Wiley.
Mr. Misercola serves as an adjunct professor teaching advertising copywriting at Western Connecticut State University College in Danbury, CT., and marketing communications at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y.
He is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, and currently resides with his wife, Nancy, and two children – James and Regina -- in Norwalk, CT.