Mark Scheel grew up in east-Kansas farm country. Prior to writing full time he served overseas in Vietnam, Thailand, West Germany, and England with the American Red Cross, taught in the English department at Emporia State University, was an information specialist with the Johnson County Library in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, and served on the editorial boards of Potpourri Publications and Kansas City Voices magazine. His short stories, poems, articles, and essays have appeared in numerous periodicals, and he was co-author of the book Of Youth and the River: The Mississippi Adventure of Raymond Kurtz, Sr.
His 1997 book, A Backward View: Stories and Poems, received the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award from the Kansas Authors Club. His blog series formerly appeared on The Grant Journal and Scriggler, and in 2015 sixty of the entries were collected in the book The Pebble: Life, Love, Politics and Geezer Wisdom. His most recent book, And Eve Said Yes: Seven Stories and a Novella, was launched in October, 2019, from Waldorf Publishing, and a collection of his poetry, titled Star Chaser, is forthcoming in the spring, 2020, from Anamcara Press. When not writing, he enjoys listening to talk radio, reading avidly, traveling with his wife, Dee, lending support to the FairTax movement and participating in interfaith activities.
What inspires you to write?
Some idea hatches in my brain and demands to be rendered on paper or online. As a young man fresh back from overseas, I haunted used bookshops and browsed the major authors' works on the shelves and dreamed one day of having my own there also. That dream finally came to fruition later in life. One motivator is actually guilt, which I feel if I refrain from writing too long. And I absolutely credit "spirit guides" (or the "muse," if one prefers) that participate in the thought process and crafting of text. I mean that seriously.
Tell us about your writing process.
I've used most of the methods out there in the past–outlining, character sketches, etc. But after years of writing, and now basing characters on composites of people I've known and relying heavily on personal experience, I basically sit down and let the words flow, sometimes revising a tad as I go. It's a collaboration of my thought process with the spirit guidance. And I tend to write of the past rather than current events because much of life today makes no logical sense to me.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Absolutely, I listen to their voices speak. And try to capture their individuality in dialogue. I also see them in my mind's eye. Their expressions, their movements, their attire. Often times memory plays a vital role if I'm describing someone I've actually known in the past.
Who are your favorite authors?
I lean toward the classics and time-tested authors: Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Joyce, Salinger, Henry James, Crane, Caldwell, Didion, Virginia Woolf, Hurston, James Jones, Emily Dickinson, Frost, McCullers and Welty. The titles of what they wrote are known to all, but some of my favorites are A Farewell to Arms, The Catcher in the Rye, From Here to Eternity, and the collected works of Frost.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
When I completed my first book manuscript (a novel still seeking publication), I desired pursuing the traditional commercial route. In those days, the eighties, the only options were that or "vanity." My first publication (a monograph), however, was done by an academic press at ESU. The next was co-authored with a man who set up his own press and self-published. The third was done by a writers' co-op. The fourth was self-published on CreateSpace. And finally I was able to acquire an agent, Stephanie Hansen of Metamorphosis Literary Agency, and have my book placed under a traditional royalty contact with a large publisher. The forthcoming poetry collection was brokered by my agent with a small literary press under a standard royalty contract.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Having been a library information specialist, I still love the feel of a good hardbound book. The rise of e-books, however, will stay with us, I'm sure. However, the proliferation in publishing options (Kindle Direct, for example) allows nearly everyone to become an author, and, as they say, everyone has a story to tell. That simply means that more and more books will be published and the difficulty in getting any specific one noticed will be greater and greater.
What genres do you write?
I write in nearly all: fiction, nonfiction, essay, poetry, academic, memoir, blog..
What formats are your books in?
All information is provided by the author and is presented as it was submitted so you the reader get to hear the author’s own “voice” in their interview.