The Pamela Crane & Mark Fine Interview
Find out what secrets each author reveals in this author-to-author interview between Mark Fine, author of the romantic historical drama, The Zebra Affaire, and Pamela Crane, thriller writer of the best-selling The Admirer’s Secret.
Each an admirer of the other’s work, here are pictures of Pamela and Mark “presenting” each other’s respective novels:
A coin is flipped and Pamela agrees to be first questioned by Mark…
Mark: What inspired you to start writing your first novel, and what was your goal for it?
Pamela: My debut novel, The Admirer’s Secret, was initially therapy. I had endured a horrifying experience with a stalker, and my “inspiration” was to get through my own trauma, since the book was based on real events and real psychological disorders that I lived through. The reality is that so many people suffer from mental illness and don’t know it, but there is hope and there are treatment options out there, and writing my book was one such treatment.
Mark: The balance of busy family life juxtaposed to the needed solitary of writing is a writer’s conundrum. Where, when, and how do you get time to write?
Pamela: I’m a mother of three (with a fourth on the way) who runs a horse rescue while being a full-time editor on the side. To say life gets in the way of writing is an understatement. But writing releases a pressure valve in me, so I find a way to fit it in. What works best for me is to plan a writing retreat, since writing a little each day is impossible with my schedule. My long-suffering husband watches the kids, then I take off work and escape, usually to our RV in the backyard (think Cousin Eddie’s broken-down RV in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) where I take a weekend or longer to write, write, write all day, every day. I often need a couple of these focused getaways to finish a book, but eventually I cross the finish line.
Mark: Did you learn anything that surprised you when writing your book, whether from the research or the actual writing process?
Pamela: As a thriller writer, psychos often come with the territory. In order to deeply understand my characters, I research psychological disorders, which means I’m always learning something new about the way the brain works. In A Secondhand Life, I shed light on a scientific phenomenon called “organ memory,” which is a theory that organs have cellular memory. The idea came from a friend of mine who experienced odd memories that weren’t his own after receiving a lung transplant. I never realized that organ memory was real until I researched case studies. It’s quite fascinating to think about literally living in another person’s shoes while also wearing your own!
Mark: Do you have any future books in the works?
Pamela: Does a writer ever stop writing? Never! I’m excited to announce that the sequel to A Secondhand Life is in the works and should be out in late 2015. Using hidden clues left behind by a young murder victim, the story uncovers the details of what put a man—the character Landon’s father—wrongfully behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit.
Mark: Are your character relationships based on real relationships, or have they purely evolved from your imagination?
Pamela: My husband is the canvas on which I draw all of my romantic literary relationships. In A Secondhand Life, Mia and Brad have a strained relationship that eventually unfolds into a deeper love that wins against all odds. In a similar way, it took ten years of being torn in different directions, with obstacles pulling us apart at every turn, before my husband and I took a leap of faith to grasp our happily ever after and finally be together. I only hope all worthwhile relationships can discover the glory after the struggles.
Now, it’s Pamela’s turn to interrogate Mark…
Pamela: You were born in South Africa, which is also where your story takes place. Do any particular memories play a part in your book?
Mark: With the exception of the two lead characters, the white woman Elsa and her black lover Stanwell, both total products of my imagination, Zebra Affaire is chock-full of my memories from the esoteric flavors and smells of sub-Saharan Africa to the real historical figures (both good and evil) and shattering events that inhabit the novel. This intrinsic reality, I feel, has added to the novel’s authenticity—bringing further richness to the powerful romance at the heart of the book, which provides a thrilling fusion of drama and suspense laced with history.
Pamela: In a few sentences, describe your book.
Mark: Is there a right time and place to fall in love? Surely there is, but not if you cross the color divide in heartless 1976 South Africa. As an apartheid love story, The Zebra Affaire is about Elsa, a white woman, who dared to fall in love with Stanwell, a black man. For the crime of love they are hunted down by the racist regime’s security apparatus from the City of Gold (Johannesburg) to the exotic but dangerous wilds of the African bushveld. In cinematic terms think Romeo & Juliet meets To Kill a Mockingbird in Out of Africa with a twist of Born Free! That’s The Zebra Affaire, which I hope one day is also made into a film.
Pamela: What is your ultimate goal for your readers when writing a story?
Mark: My first mission is to entertain, but I also believe in a well-written story that makes the reader think. The best compliment is to be told that my book lingered in the reader’s mind long after they finished the final page; the greatest compliment’s when they choose to read it a second time! I’m all for any book that shakes the reader out of their slumber. The Zebra Affaire does this, but it’s truly a fun read.
Pamela: When you were a child, what did you imagine doing for the rest of your life as a career?
Mark: I hoped to be an architect. But pragmatism got in the way, and needing cash, I began to work in a record store in Johannesburg. There’s a scene in Zebra Affaire that’s partially autobiographical, with the Marcus character’s record bar being a kind of oasis for our leading lady, Elsa. Consequently I found myself spending the balance of my career in the music industry. Of course, I’m not complaining—I’ve worked with terrific talent such as Sheryl Crow, Sting, Bryan Adams, and Boyz II Men. In reflection, with my desire to write, I’m surprised that I never attempted to write a song—the opportunity was certainly there. But now I’m content being a published author.
Pamela: Picking just one person, who in your life has greatly inspired you, and in what way?
Mark: The patriarch in my book, known as DGF, is inspired by my father David Fine. Though most of my years growing up were in boarding school, hundreds of miles away from my home in Johannesburg, my dad and I were remarkably close. He had an amazing ability to reduce complex matters down to rational and moral win-win types of resolutions, a skill I so admired and aspired to achieve in a fractured society like South Africa. It was he who gave me Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War to read in my early teens, which went on to shape my interest in writing. My dad also introduced me to legendary adventure novelist and fellow South African, Wilbur Smith; that left an indelible impression on me. To this day I have Smith’s autograph in my office as motivation.
Thank you, Mark. Thank you, Pamela.
Author 2 Author bios:
Author Mark Fine was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has lived in New York, Minneapolis and Los Angeles since 1979. Through global music giant PolyGram, Mark founded Hammer & Lace Records. His label had a unique mandate: to be the industry’s only imprint dedicated to highlighting specific social or health issues by creating benefit albums that promoted life-saving awareness campaigns. For a decade Fine proved adept at uniting non-profit organizations, corporate and media sponsors, and world class musicians such as Sheryl Crow, Sting, Melissa Etheridge, Bryan Adams and Boyz ll Men in aid of breast cancer research and wildlife conservation. For his work Fine received several awards from both the music and oncology communities. He also contributed articles to entertainment publications and led speaking engagements at charity and industry events. Fine wrote The Zebra Affaire in the South Bay, where he lives with two sons, his “significant other” and Charlie the neighborhood dog that drops by from time to time. See more information about Mark at www.finewrites.blogspot.com and http://booklaunch.io/mjfine/markfineauthor
♦ GET YOURSELF A COPY of Mark’s critically acclaimed book at Amazon:
Amazon Worldwide: http://hyperurl.co/i958xl
Amazon United States: http://bit.ly/ZebraAffaireKindle
Pamela Crane is a North Carolinian writer of the best-selling psychological thriller “The Admirer’s Secret,” “A Fatal Affair,” and her latest release, “A Secondhand Life.” Along with being a wife and mom of three rugrats, she is a wannabe psychologist, though most people just think she needs to see one. She’s a member of the ITW, ACFW, and EFA, and has been involved in the ECPA, Christy Awards, and Romance Writers of America. Along with delving into people’s minds–or being the subject of their research–she enjoys being a literary reviewer and riding her proud Arabian horse, when he lets her. She has a passion for adventure, and her hopes are to keep earning enough from her writing to travel the world in search of more good story material. Grab a free book on her website at http://www.pamelacrane.com.
♦ YOU CAN PICK UP A COPY of Pamela’s books at the following retailers: