Saturday, January 17, 2009
An Interview with Mark Terence Chapman
Please welcome Mark Terence Chapman to my blog today.
Alisha: Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood? Favorite memories?
Mark: I was born in Manhattan, NYC. I don’t have many memories of those early years, but I do remember how crowded the sidewalks and street crossings were. I vaguely remember going up in the Empire State Building when I was perhaps five or six and the amazing view from there. My parents used to put me on a plane (alone, watched over by all the stewardesses) to Toronto every summer to spend a couple of weeks with my grandmother. We called her Baba (“old woman” in Polish). When I was seven we moved to Toronto. It was beautiful, but the coldest damn place I’ve ever lived. Twenty below and snow on the ground all winter long. (It’s right across Lake Ontario from Buffalo, so the weather is similar. Just watch the weather forecasts for Buffalo to get a feel.) It would be dark when I got up, dusky when I walked to school, and dusky when I walked home. (I remember it getting dark not long after 4 p.m. in the winter) When I was eleven, Dad drove all the way to Miami looking for work. A few months later he sent for us and we all moved there in February. What a difference! From snow and overcast skies to sunny Miami Beach. (Thanks, Dad!) Best thing he ever did for me.
Alisha: What a change! Tell us about the hero and heroine in your latest release.
Mark: In Sunrise Destiny, a near-future sci-fi thriller, Donatello Sunrise is a washed-up ex-cop struggling to get by as a private investigator. He's bitter and cynical after the murder of his wife and daughter. Lola is a prostitute and sometime confidential informer. She wears a hard shell to hide the abused little girl inside. What starts out as a simple missing-persons case turns into much more as the two find themselves on the run from the Mob, the cops, and even the kidnappers (who aren't what they seem). The two must depend on one another to stay alive. And through an extraordinary set of circumstances the two become bonded as no two humans have ever been before―their thoughts, their very souls―even as they struggle to save not only their own lives, but those of everyone on Earth as well.
Alisha: Okay..wow...this sounds GOOD...and very original. I'm adding this to my reading list! If you were granted three wishes by a genie, what would they be?
Mark: Presuming I couldn’t wish for more wishes, my first wish would be for enough money that I could devote full time to writing. Pay off the bills, hire people to do the yard work and other chores around the house, hire a publicist, etc. My second wish would be for a wife who wouldn’t mind me locking myself in my office all day writing. And my final wish would be for the perfect golf swing. (I think I’ll still be looking for that ten years after I’m dead.)
Alisha: If you could go anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?
Mark: Assuming I could control both time and space, I’d go to Mars in the future, to see what it’s like to live on another planet. Then I’d go to the western U.S. at the end of the Cretaceous period (c. 68-65 million years ago) to see real, live Tyrannosaurus Rexes and other sauropods of that time. Outer space and dinosaurs were two great passions of mine growing up. I suppose I should write a sci-fi book about dinosaurs one of these days.
Alisha: If you could see anyone tomorrow (dead or alive), who would it be?
Mark: I’d like to have a group discussion with Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Leonardo da Vinci. Can you imagine the brain power in that room? (I might even add a few flickers to that megawattage.)
Alisha: Wow, I'd like to be there too! If you could choose six people to spend one week with on a desert island, who would it be and why?
Mark: Let’s see—there’s the Professor, Ginger, Mary Ann... Oh, wait—wrong island. Sorry. I suppose Miss March, Miss April, Miss May… (Just kidding, sweetheart!) Okay, seriously, I’m not sure I could handle seven days with Einstein, Newton, and da Vinci (my head might explode), so I guess I should pick six people I’d have fun spending a week with. I’d have to go with my wife, my two daughters, my father-in-law, my best friend, Gary, and Miss April.
Alisha: You're a funny guy, Mark! What word or phrase tingles in all the right places for you?
Mark: “Come to bed, honey.” followed closely by “I am pleased to announce that we would like to publish your novel.”
Alisha: LOL...both of those are VERY SEXY. If you had one day to spoil yourself, what would you do?
Mark: Assuming I had the power to control the universe, I’d start out playing a round of golf with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, continue by watching the Miami Dolphins win another Super Bowl, and end it snuggling in bed with my wife, Barbara.
Alisha: You're such a man! If you could change one incident in your life, what would it be and how would you change it?
Mark: I’m sure there must be a hundred things I’d want to do over, but I try not to swell on the past. I’d rather concentrate on what I can do better in the future.
Alisha: What’s the sexiest thing a woman has ever done for you or said to you or both?
Mark: There was a certain bubble bath, with scented candles, mood music and my wife.
EXCERPT FROM Sunrise Destiny
A dark figure emerged from the cool water of the bay. It was a cloudless night, warm, muggy, and black as pitch. A moment later a second figure followed the first. Water sheeted from the pair, hardly seeming to register their presence. They crept up the rocky shore, past the grass strip to the street beyond.
The intruders chose this spot for two reasons: the burned-out streetlight made this stretch of road nearly as dark as the bay, and from observation they knew their intended victim always walked past this spot on her way to the bus stop twenty paces farther on.
The duo hunkered behind an abandoned car. There was no traffic to worry about. There never was at this time of night—not on this street of warehouses and dockyards. Their wait would be short. She passed this spot at nearly the same time each night, and that time was only moments away.
They tensed at the sound of leather scuffing the pavement nearby. Seconds later, a bright flare, quickly extinguished, marked the match she used to light a cigarette. Only yards now until she was within reach; only seconds to go. The glow from the cigarette tip might as well have been a neon sign blaring, “Here I am! Take me!”
Two more paces. One.
They pounced. She fell.
It was over before she had time to register their presence. One gripped her legs, the other her arms, as they struggled to carry her across the sand and back to the bay. They laid her out in shallow water near the shore. A ripple made her arm bob as if in benediction. Then a dark hand touched her face, almost seeming to caress it, leaving a momentary scintillation in its wake.
Each figure took an arm as they pulled her out into the bay, looking for all the world like two tugs towing a barge. Twenty yards out, they submerged, dragging her with them to the inky depths below.
June 14th began like most days, with me sitting in the corner booth of Carl’s Diner drinking the swill that passes for coffee. As I sipped, I scanned the day’s e-paper. No, I’m not an ambulance-chaser, but I have been known to find clients in the headlines.
My name’s Donatello Sunrise and I’m a private detective. Not the uptown, shake-hands-with-the-mayor, attend-charity-events, high-class P.I. type, but the fast-talking, gin-swilling, skirt-chasing, pound-the-pavement, work-for-a-living gumshoe kind. If you need compromising holos of your cheating spouse, or you’re being blackmailed by the sleaze next door, I’m your man. It’s not glamorous, but it’s a job that needs doing and I’m damn good at it.
Maybe someone’s daughter is missing and the cops—big surprise—are clueless. And maybe I read about it in the morning e-paper and offer to help find daddy’s little girl—for a nominal fee, of course. Hey, I’m not proud of it, but it’s a living, and sometimes I actually find the kid. So it’s a win-win.
On this particular Tuesday, nothing jumped out at me as the 48-point headlines crawled across the ‘paper. The mayor was stumping for re-election—so what else was new? The electronic ink on the plastic surface swirled and reformed to reflect the latest news. A woman had disappeared near a bus stop by the bay. Foul play was suspected. Same old same-old. I folded the ‘paper and stuck it in my jacket pocket.
I finished my third cup of coffee and tossed some bills on the table for Marge. I started to get up and leave, when a cloud blocked the bright sunlight streaming in through the window across the aisle. Except it wasn’t a cloud.
A ham hock of a hand slammed me back down into my seat and held me there by my shoulder. I looked up…and up…and up at an Everest of a man. He sneered the way a bully does when he’s about to pound a kid into the playground dirt. Across the table from me, a dapper and much less imposing man slid onto the bench seat.
“Long time no see, Sunrise.” His sneer matched that of the other goon. This didn’t look to be a social meeting.
“Not long enough, Weasel.”
“Always with the wisecracks, eh, Sunrise? And it’s Weisel. You’ll do well to remember that. My friend here,” he nodded at the man-mountain, “don’t take kindly to punks that insult me. Do ya, Tiny?”
The ham hock turned into a vise; steel fingers dug deep into my shoulder blade. I had to grit my teeth to keep from crying out. Weasel nodded sharply and the pressure ceased. Maybe Weasel didn’t like the nickname, but his hatchet face and beady eyes invited the comparison.
“Tough guy, eh, Sunrise?”
I fixed him with an acid glare and thought of all the things I’d like to do to the little rodent. He was the brains of the duo, which wasn’t saying much.
“Run outta wisecracks? That’s okay, you can think up some more on the way.” He nodded to Tiny, who yanked me out of the booth by my jacket collar.
“On the way? To where?” I had a pretty good idea.
“To see the boss. He wants to have a chat.”
That’s what I was afraid of.
Outside, Tiny shoved me into the backseat of a black sedan and climbed in after me. I dove for the far door, only to find myself face-to-face with the business end of a Glock 9mm. Weasel gestured me back to the middle of the seat and got in beside me. With an armed weasel on one side of me and a Grand Teton on the other, I felt like a sardine in a can—and just as dead.