Mark 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.
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 black 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. . .
For More Information
Q: Thank you for this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing background?
I have been writing since college, both fiction and non-fiction. I have published books about George Orwell, Saul Bellow, and the IRA, but my true love is fiction. I like satire. Ten years ago my novella Fifteen Minutes won the Clay Reynolds award and was published by Texas Review Press. The lead character George Sabro, a middle-aged dishwasher and devoted TV addict, takes hostages simply to appear on television to get his “fifteen minutes.” In my new book Wanna-be’s I wanted to do a broader satire about a range of social issues, so I needed to create a more sophisticated loser. Winfield Payton is a PhD, a college instructor, and failed screenwriter who has a greater range of motion. George Sabro was static, participating in a hostage standoff. In contrast, Winfield Payton flies to New Orleans and Houston, makes presentations, gives lectures, goes out on dates – giving him greater opportunities to interact with a range of characters and stumble through a series of politically-incorrect misadventures.
Q: What fact about yourself would really surprise people?
Like Winfield Payton, I once was the only white employee of a black company.
Q: How do you define success in regards to writing and publishing books?
Success is connecting with readers by creating scenes and characters they recognize. When you can put into words what others feel you know have succeeded.
Q: Can you tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
Wanna-be’s is a social satire about the American passion for power, money, and fame. Urged by his girlfriend to “go condo,” failed screenwriter Winfield Payton needs cash. He accepts a job offer from a college friend to become the lone white employee of a black savings and loan. As the firm’s token white, he poses as a Mafioso to intimidate skittish investors and woos a wealthy cougar to get capital. An urban renewal project sparks controversy and pits black venture capitalists against a corps of self-important community activists. Skating between the worlds of white and black, Yuppie and militant, fame and obscurity, Winfield soars higher and higher until the inevitable crash.
Q: When you are not writing, how do you relax?
I work out twice a day to take a break from my computer.
Q: Please tell us why we should read your book?
My first Amazon review summarizes the book better than I can:
“… 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.”
Q: What kind of advice would you give other authors just getting their feet wet?
Edit, edit, edit….Read your sentences aloud to hear how they sound.