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Interview with ‘Wanna’be’s’ Mark Connelly




mark-connellyMark 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 wanna-besblack 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.

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Mark.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Wanna-be’s is my fourteenth book, but it is the first one I’ve self-published. I have written mostly non-fiction, textbooks and literary criticism, but fiction is my first love.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

My first book was my dissertation about George Orwell.  I sent proposals to several university presses until Duquesne University Press accepted it.  For textbooks and academic books, I usually meet with editors at conventions.  I have published five books with Cengage and three with McFarland.  For fiction, I have relied on entering contests.  I wrote a short novel called Fifteen Minutes that won the Clay Reynolds Novella Award and was published by Texas Review Press ten years ago.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

About a year.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I was right out of grad school looking for a job, so just typing a book title on my resume was celebration enough.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I gave a series of lectures about George Orwell.  I also developed a mailing list and sent ads to Orwell scholars and college libraries.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I am more attentive to my readers, making sure my ideas come across.  It  led me to edit more carefully.  Too often writers forget that readers can’t read our minds; they only have the words on the page to go by.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I have found it easy to get non-fiction published.  At academic conventions, I meet editors at the book exhibits and get a chance to run ideas past them and within a minute or two I get an invitation to send in a proposal.  Once you publish one book, they are eager for more titles to add to their list.  Fiction, on the other hand, has been tougher.  I have novels that received honorable mentions in several contests but cannot find an agent or an editor willing to consider them.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Seeing your ideas in print.  It’s that simple.  Your name on the cover.  Even when you write an esoteric academic book that sells a few hundred copies, there is a feeling of accomplishment.  I like seeing my book listed in library catalogs around the world.  It makes me feel I have made a measurable contribution in my field.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Don’t fall in love with your stories or write to amuse yourself.  Writing is an exchange.  Think of your readers and how they will react to your ideas, characters, references, and style.




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