Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Interview with Mark Connelly, author of 'Wanna-Be's'



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.

Connect with Mark on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Book:

Title: WANNA-BE’S
Author: Mark Connelly
Publisher: Mark Connelly Productions
Pages: 188
Genre: Literary Fiction/Humor/Satire

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. . .

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 The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

     As the only white employee in a black business, I had some amusing misadventures
     I thought would form the basis of a satire.  I invented the character Winfield Payton,
     a mash-up of Fitzgerald’s Pat Hobby, Bellow’s Augie March, and Curb Your
     Enthusiasm’s Larry David.  A failed screenwriter, Payton is the stereotypical self-
     absorbed amoral “wanna-be.”  I cast Winfield in a series of encounters that would
     play with our perceptions of race, class, gender, and political correctness.  I set the
     stories in Milwaukee for added humor.  The bar there for wanna-be’s is so low.
     To make it as an intellectual in New York you have to write a book -- in Milwaukee
     you just have to read one.


Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

     The individual episodes were fun and easy to write.  It did take work to assemble them
     into a smooth, flowing narrative.  I reviewed other novels to trace how writers created
     an arc of events.  I wanted, however, to keep each chapter a self-contained episode
     that could stand alone.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

       After getting the first chapter published as a short story, I decided to
       self-publish the novel as an experiment.  My agent considered it too short to
      consider.  I think satires should be short reads – so went with my 50,000 word
      version rather than add chapters.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

     This is my fourteenth book but my first self-published novel.  What surprised me most
     was my first Amazon review.  It summarized my book better than my promo copy:

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 other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

        I am working a novel called Newman’s Choice.  Three chapters have been
        published, so I am anxious to finish it. 

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

       The most cartoonish figure in the book Father Moses is based on a Milwaukee
        Alderman Michael McGee Sr. who called for “urban guerilla warfare” to
        “fight our way to the promised land.”  In Wanna-be’s Moses pelts people with
        Oreos. McGee once decried racism by lynching a black doll on a tree in the
        lobby of city hall.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

       Satire is the mirror in which we supposedly see everyone but ourselves.  I hope if
       people are honest, they will see a bit of themselves in Winfield and smile.
  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?


       I am dreaming up further adventures for Winfield, so this book could spin off a
       series.