Mark A. Carter - writer

WRITER: passions, research, and routine

World famous Canadian Science Fiction novelist Mark A. Carter discusses the motivations, obsessions and passions, research, and routine that helps him write.

Ironically, after playing with chemicals and looking through a microscope for years, I left Biology for English Language and Literature.

I earned an Honors B.A. and and M.A. in literature. Then, just as I was about to embark on my continued upward paper chase toward an M.Phil. with major scholarship in hand, and an eventual Ph.D. in literature with the goal of teaching at university, I asked myself what it was that I really wanted to do. And the answer was not teaching in any capacity. It was writing. Oops.

But before I felt confident enough to write full time, I felt that I needed more of a background in Drama to better understand how and why characters move in stories. I wanted to literally experience being characters, feeling characters, so I could crawl into the skins of the characters I wrote about. I also wanted a better comprehension of character motivation. These tools, as I saw them, were not taught in any banal creative writing course. So, I abandoned my upward climb and started at the bottom once again to learn more about Drama.

And while learning about acting, blocking, makeup, scoring, and stagecraft, I decided to take a few more Psychology courses as well. And before I knew it, I graduated with a double major in Drama and the pseudoscience of Psychology. Who would have thunk it? Can you say oligodendroglial? My big observation about Dramatic Arts Departments is that they're full of insecure mental lightweights with personality issues. My observation about Psychology Departments is that they're full of crazies. Warning, Will Robinson, warning ...

Then I turned my attention to writing full time. But before I could write I had to unlearn everything, or so it seemed, to forget the technical information I had accumulated because it overshadowed the creative part of me. It took a while. It literally took years, decades. Read: Writer's Block. Meanwhile, I drank copious amounts of coffee. I looked at the stars. I smelled the roses. I contemplated death, life, pain, and suffering. I worked on my writing every day, even if it went nowhere. And I grew older.

I gave up the security of a weekly wage for the idealistic notion of becoming a novelist because I thought it was a cool, laid-back, and sexy occupation; whereas, I have never worked harder in my life as author, novelist, scrivener, or writer, whatever name you put to it. Go figure. Right. Sure. You bet.

I have worked all kinds of demeaning jobs while navigating my way through life, and without a doubt my current position as Science Fiction author, aging boy genius, editor, guru, illustrator, man of letters, philosopher, poet, producer, publisher, researcher, scholar, troubled visionary, undiscovered talent, web designer, and writer extraordinaire is a dream job.

Music lies at the core of my writing. It moves me emotionally, intellectually, and visually. It stimulates the plot of a story, the development of characters, and the motivations behind their actions. Music allows me to see entire scenes. And I take detailed notes. But it is not until the voice, that part of me who is the narrator in my books, begins to speak to me, that the actual writing begins. Then it is only a matter of keeping up with the words that tumble out.

To me, writing has become an obsession and a passion. It is something I love to hate and hate to love, a twenty-four hour a day job that will not let me rest. I toil at the craft every waking day, and fight the demons that my work wretches up from my altogether too creative subconscious every night. I sit at my love seat every morning and write long hand into a red binder of blank white pages using my translucent red fountain pen. And during the afternoons I transpose my work onto my computer.

It beats working in the steam of a canning factory, grinding gear shift levers beneath a waterfall of carcinogens, cleaning washrooms as a custodian, or wearing hip waders and shoveling sauerkraut in a deep vat until you're ready to pass out from the fumes. Yes, I have done all of that and then some. Jack London would be proud. So, sitting and writing about aliens, angels, bug-eyed monsters, armageddon, and whatever else strikes my fancy in the comfort of my apartment is a little slice of Heaven. And I am grateful.

As I have said in the past, when I sit here and stare into middle distance, it isn't you. It's me. I'm working. And I can't help it. The writing comes when it comes, in snippets. I see my stories enacted on the screen in my mind as clearly as watching a movie at the theater. So, excuse me if I make a few notes on my napkin. I'll transfer them to my binder when I get home. And perhaps months from now, when I have enough notes and have done enough research, I'll get around to writing another novel. And imagine, you were there when it all began, and I zoned out.

A note to others who may be in the habit of zoning out too: Be careful when and where you do it, as if you can control it. I zoned out recently while sitting in my front room on a Saturday with my wife talking to me. And when my mouth hung open and I developed that blank stare, she was close to calling an ambulance because she thought I was having a stroke. Yikes. I was so inside my story too. But, of course, she broke my bubble, and I could not return. See: Fiction Bubble.

So, go ahead, buy my books. If my novels delight you, display them boldly on your coffee table and discuss the contents with your visitors. If you hate my novels, by all means, use them to balance a table leg, burn them, or toss them away with the coffee grounds and the orange peels. Whether you hate or love my literary creations, they will open your mind nonetheless. That much is certain.

And the sleeper shall awaken.

Finally, in the oh by the way department, because so many of you have contacted me and asked: the HTML code for was written with an abandoned website editor, on a defunct computer, running an ancient operating system, within sight of Heaven and Hell, in the outskirts of Canada, and in the shadow of so-called civilization. Right. Sure. You bet.

Read: Eye Candy
Fiction Bubble
Journal Infernal 
Killing Characters
Writer's Block
Writing Tips

Now you know.

from the imagination of Mark A. Carter - novelist

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