The Staff of Rahgorra: Interview with Science Fiction Author Mark Oetjens

Mark Oetjens was born in 1971. He grew up in suburban Chicago. As a child he was diagnosed with Dystonia, a debilitating neuromuscular disorder. Though there is no cure for Dystonia, surgeries and rehabilitation allowed him to walk with only a slight limp by the time he started high school. He received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Anthropology, both from Northern Illinois University. As an adult a brain tumor, completely unrelated to his Dystonia, threatened to disable him a second time. Thanks to radiation therapy the tumor has disappeared. Mark currently lives in Phoenix, AZ.

Mark’s latest book is the science fiction novel, The Staff of Rahgorra.

You can visit his website at

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Mark. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, The Staff of Rahgorra?

I can remember being 8 or 9 and writing bad Star Wars fan-fic. I came up with the basic story for The Staff of Rahgorra back in high school, over 20 years ago. Over the years the story grew and matured. After 15 years of writing I think I had made it through Chapter 6. In 2002 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After I recovered I knew I had to finish it.

Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

The Staff of Rahgorra is the key to the whole novel. Thrull wants to find the Staff so he can build a Galactic Empire. Cam is trying to stop him by finding the Staff first. It seemed like a natural fit.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?

I wrote it. I think every author believes he or she should be published. Plus, it's a fun and entertaining story. I think people will really enjoy it.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

Conquer Publishing is a small company that I personally run, so essentially The Staff of Rahgorra is self-published. Other than our website,, I've listed the book on Goodreads, Shelfari and every other website I can think of. I have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I'm also blogging as Doina Sandu, one of the characters in the novel. And of course, I'm doing this virtual book tour.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

Ironically, I don't read a lot of science fiction, so I couldn't compare it to another book. I'm more of a sci-fi movie and TV buff. I guess The Staff of Rahgorra is sort of a mixture of Indiana Jones and Star wars.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

Page 93. Cam and Kayo are stranded on the jungle world Crannic III. They are in a network of tunnels trying to get to an ancient temple where water poachers have set up their operation. Cam plans on stealing the poachers' ship to get off the planet.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

Definitely. It's impossible to have a story idea brew in your mind for 20 years without developing backstories and tangents. I'm working on a sequel right now.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Mark. Do you have any final words?

Don't wait for a brain tumor to live your dreams.
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