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Marc Phoenix Interview

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    Posted: Mar-10-2015 at 7:07am
an interview with Marc Phoenix
by Daniel E. Blackston
copyright © 2002 by Daniel E. Blackston

At thirty-one years of age, Marc Phoenix is determined to make himself a force to be reckoned with in the SF field--and an example for aspiring writers to follow.  We found his upbeat energy to be both powerful and contagious and his novel, "TASHAR: City of Mystery", reminded us how thrilling and fun SF novels are supposed to be....

With a deal for an animated feature film based on "TASHAR" underway, as well as a unique vision of both the creative and business aspects of the writer's trade, Marc demonstrates quite clearly that most barriers to a writer's success are self-imposed.  At the age of twelve, Marc wrote his first "picture book", "THE POWERS OF MERLIN THE FISH", which won a city-wide elementary school competition.  During the ensuing years he wrote songs and sang for commercials (once winning a Billboard songwriting competition), until recently turning his imagination back toward writing and SF.

  Though he is an energetic and successful writer and singer/songwriter, Marc prides himself equally on being a family man.  He's been married for over ten years and has three young children.  We're grateful to him for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with us--and shed some light on how it feels to be a self-made entertainer, on the brink of what promises to be an exciting career.

What should someone expect when they see a novel with your name on it?

Readers of my work should expect creative and original characters and scenes, suspense, action, and a healthy combination of science fiction and fantasy.  I know that's a lot to boast, but I'm ready for the examination!

What makes my writing stand out? I write what one media representative said so succinctly, "You walk on a very thin line that blurs young adult and adult science and fantasy fiction."

My writing reads as if you are watching a movie.  I think this is vital in luring youths, who are stimulated by video games and movies, and adults, who find themselves in hectic lifestyles, to enjoy a quick read.  Now when I say a quick read that may vary.  I've found that my first book takes about four to six hours on the average.

You show a keen sense of visual description in your writing -- a very tactile and colorful prose style.  How did this technique develop?

This technique is constantly developing!  I've found that I'm a pretty good story teller at campfires.  I just incorporate that style into my writing.  I want my readers to remember what they've read: who the characters are, what colors are prevalent, and where they've journeyed.

What writers or other artists influence you?

Much like the many foods in life, I've found that I like a variety of authors for differing reasons.  J.R.R. Tolkein's style of incorporating characters that express themselves flawlessly through situations is incredible!  Frank Herbert's complicated but believable worlds and myth are unmatchable!  R.A. Salvatore's detail in action is breathtaking, as is C.S. Lewis' subtle way of weaving his philosophies through the events of his creative characters....

Talk a little about Publish America and the reasons behind your decision to steer away from "big-name" publishers.After investigating the literary industry, I've come to the conclusion that Publish America is the best publisher for first time authors.  One main reason is that in their contract I still own the movie rights to my story!  The other is that while it funds the process of creating the book and a little of the marketing it forces you, the author, to get your feet wet in the literary community.  I've learned a great deal about "how" to market and to "who" and for "what" reason.

You've had some interest from MUV Studios in adapting "Tashar" for the screen as an animated feature.  What's the status of this project right now?

We--the studio writing staff and I--are adapting the story right from my book.  So far, everyone likes the detail I've painted and they hope that we will finish it by winter of this year so the 3D animators can start interpreting the scenes.

How close it is to coming to fruition?

It is at the beginning stages.  Let me give you step-by-step process on how a book is made into a movie, whether live or animated:  First, the story needs to find a studio willing to invest their time, staff, and money.  Then the writing adaptation needs to be completed so that it can be interpreted for animators, voice actors, and actors.  Also, additional partnership with studios and distributors may be needed depending on what countries it is planned to be marketed in.  After the talent is finished adding their skills, it is then edited for feature length time.  When the reel is finished everyone crosses their fingers and hopes the marketing teams use their magic like they've never used before!

Your bio and accomplishments suggest a man who "makes his own destiny", or at least his own luck.  What advice would you give to aspiring writers about self motivation and confidence?

Yes, I believe in making your own destiny!  I don't think anything happens by accident but that accidents are made.  I'm sure many have read the ramblings of others who try to give the magic formula to success.

What I can tell the readers is this: if you don't believe that you have something worth sharing, whether it is in writing or speaking, then why throw your hat in this volatile arena we call entertainment?  In other words, examine your motives for why you are writing.  Is it for fame?  Money?  Or is it because you have something to say?  Those who answer to the latter tend to stay in this business longer whether they stay poor or hit the motherlode.

Your success with "Tashar" -- from writing, to marketing, to promoting the venture happened pretty fast by conventional standards. Is there a secret to writing quickly?

Yes, there is one word that has helped me write quickly.  Focus!  I believe everyone should discipline themselves to focus.  Why at such a young age am I able to juggle so much?  I thank my mother for teaching me to be focused on the moment!

Had you lived with the story in your mind for very long before actually sitting down to write it?

No, the story was actually a combination of elements in a dream I had and incorporating some things that I hope to see in the future.

What's the easiest way for someone to get their hands on "Tashar"?

The Internet!  There's publishamerica.com, amazon.com, bn.com, walmart.com, and bamm.com.  That's the cool thing about the Internet, you can be in another country, state, or city, and purchase the book!  If you live in Oregon you can purchase it in Barnes & Nobles, Borders, Powells, Made in Oregon, Lamb's Thriftway, and Ancient Wonders, so far.

In addition to being a writer, you're also an accomplished musician and songwriter.  Is there a symbiotic relationship between these two aspects of creativity, or do you find the two mediums fighting for your creative time?

Good question!  I like the word "symbiotic".  Yes, I think that both my writer and musician selves merge well and help make each one a bit stronger.

Without going into specifics, has your experience with POD (print on demand) publishing been a positive one?Most definitely!  While this has both advantages and disadvantages, you will find that the advantages win out in the long run.  My book will be available all the time because it is printed when it is ordered.  Unlike the process of "Big Houses" where you find a shelf life for about one to two months and if it doesn't sell enough it is taken off the shelves and never heard of again.  This happens to about ninety-nine percent of books.

Would you recommend other aspiring novelists to take this route?Like everything in life, one way is not necessarily the best for another person.  If you are a first time author and are wired to communicate and not afraid of challenging the market machine, then POD is the way to go.  You will learn much about the business and yourself.  Or you can play an even harder lottery and hope that after twenty to forty years some "Big House" will discover you.

All cannot be sweetness and light....  What has been the most discouraging aspect of publishing and promotion for this project?

So far, trying to convince purchase agents to stock my book within their stores.  I find that this is a constant battle.  I hope that one day when my book is made into a movie the battle will become moot.

What else frustrates you as you try to get your name and work known?

I guess I'm frustrated most by my impatience.  At times I find myself getting angry that things are moving slower than I wanted.  But reality hits me across the face and I realize, after remembering the journey I'm having, that I'm fortunate to even be on this road.

What's is a dream project in your estimation?

Writing for a movie!  I hope I never wake from my dream but if I do I will dream another!

Your bio is conspicuously thin when it comes to short story publication and/or by-line credits other than "Tashar".  How were you able to skip over the usual hurdles that face aspiring writers?Again, a very perceptive question.  I like to tell others that I used my journalism techniques.  You basically have thirty seconds to keep someone interested.  So I wrote a cover letter that made you want to know more about "Tashar".  I think every aspiring writer should practice selling themselves by writing something that 'wows' the reader in thirty seconds and practice a speech that also 'wows' someone in thirty seconds.  It is sad to say but we live in a very short-attention society.  You can either curse at it or use it to your advantage.

Did you set out to write a novel cold, without any publishing experience?

Yes, I wanted to test the waters and see if I could do it when others kept saying that it is impossible.  I believe anything is possible!

But don't you think the steps for "paying dues" in the SF genre are necessary?

Oh, I think having as much experience to add in your literary resume can only help solidify you.  I plan to write for magazines when the opportunity arises.

What constitutes success for you, in regards to writing?

Success to me is writing the story in an entertaining way!  I put myself in the mind of a young adult and ask myself, "What will keep me from putting this book down and playing video games?"

Is it possible to be a successful writer in your eyes without monetary success?

I believe we all set our own goals and definition of success.  Ultimately, like I've said, entertaining a reader with my story is success.  But my definition is broader.  I want to be able to offer to many readers a new myth with characters they will never forget.  Until then I will not have success.

Do you hope to strike it rich as a writer?

I would hope to be able to make money off of my work so that I can stay focused on writing.  Only time will tell.

Thanks for talking with us.

Thank you for taking the time.  I enjoy interviews as it forces me to examine my heart and inspires me to continue on my creative journey.

Firebrand Fiction Reviews: all content © 2002,  Daniel  E. Blackston

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