Interview with Mark Freeman

Jen: This weekend we welcome Mark Freeman to Book Talk. Mark, will you please share a short bio with us?
Mark: Sure. Well, I have my Bachelors and Masters in Wildlife Biology and have studied grizzles in Alberta, bobcats in Vermont, black bears in Connecticut, tracked cougars in Arizona, and most recently reintroduced an endangered species of grouse here in Vermont. However, I’ve also been writing since early high school. I’ve always been a big reader and a wonderful English teacher my sophomore year of high school really got me hooked on writing. I could sooner stop breathing than writing now. Now a days I find myself a stay at home dad taking care of my two daughters and write whenever they allow me a chance!

Jen: Tell us about The Kindling of GreenFyr and where it’s available.
Mark: The Kindling of GreenFyr is a YA fantasy novel in the vein of the Narnia books or Gregor the Overlander series. Owen McInish finds himself thrust into a conspiracy to reunite our world to a magical one separated from ours. Here’s the book’s synopsis:

The Kindling of GreenFyr is the story of Owen McInish, an awkward fourteen year old, bullied at school, and friendless except for his pet cat, Piper. That is, until a snow leopard is chased through the woods behind his house by three huge gray dogs with glowing green eyes.

Owen saves the leopard from her pursuers, but the animal escapes him as well, only to return later. The cat’s behavior is peculiar, nothing like a wild animal, making Owen even more curious as to its origin. But only when the animal finally allows Owen to touch it, does Owen’s adventure truly begin.

Owen finds himself experiencing friendships as he has never before, adventures as he has never imagined, and political intrigue as two worlds, long separated, begin to collide.

The Kindling of GreenFyr is available from all the major distributors, so it’s available online from Amazon or and also available through Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. Local independent shops can order it as well.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Mark: As I said before, I was in high school when I first started writing. I have published articles and papers in regional magazines and professional journals, but The Kindling of GreenFyr was my first fiction work to be published. It was released August 2008.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Mark: Awe So Me. Just kidding, you got me there, I don’t know if I could classify how or what I write in three words. Any of my readers will tell you, I tend to be verbose!

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Mark: Plot. I’m a pretty methodical outliner, but I will occasionally give way to persuasive characters wanting to stray from the plan.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Mark: Well, there are a few different languages that occur throughout The Kindling of GreenFyr, so I spent quite a bit of time working and researching languages. There is also an underlying theme in the book connecting mythology, theology, folklore, and fantasy fiction, so I did spend a fair amount of time reviewing many different stories in these areas.

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Mark: Time. It’s a limited resource around my house and not always easy to come by. Ideas and stories come pretty easily to me. I’m continuously jotting down ideas, characters, and plots to write later when I have time.

Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Mark: When I get a letter or email from a teacher or parent telling me their student or child picked up The Kindling of GreenFyr and couldn’t put it down, or the classes I’ve visited and listened as the students interpreted and dissected my own work. It’s a tremendous privilege to be allowed in the classroom like that.

Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Mark: I keep a file of names I like, especially odd or unique names I come across. It’s come in handy many times. I’ve also flipped through baby name books when my file has let me down.

Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Mark: I honestly can’t see myself ever writing romance. Not to say that I haven’t written romance into my stories, but I don’t think I’d ever write for a romance novel.

Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? And if you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
Mark: Yeah, sorry, but I always cheat on this one. I think going back in time would be a total let down. I think the real thing would be a complete let down from the idealized and romanticized versions we hold dear. Instead, I’d much rather go into the future! And what 3 things would I take? That’s easy, my wife and two daughters. Done.

Jen: If The Kindling of GreenFyr was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the hero and heroine?
Mark: I think Michael Angarano (Will Stronghold in Skyhigh) or Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson) in the forthcoming Lightning Thief would each make a good Owen. I think either Kathryn Newton (Louise on CBS’s Gary Unmarried) or Molly Quinn (Alexis on ABC’s Castle) would make a great Orla.

Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Mark: Well, in general, the comparisons to other authors, I guess. It always blows me away when someone compares The Kindling of GreenFyr to classics in the Fantasy genre, books I’ve long adored. It’s surreal, really.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Mark: I’m currently reading Paper Towns by John Green and think he’s phenomenal. I’m always willing to pick up a new author and try something new. I think Suzanne Collins is fantastic and can’t wait to the follow up to Catching Fire. Some of my favs are The Once and Future King, The Lord of the Rings (particularly Fellowship), Looking for Alaska, The Catcher in the Rye, and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Mark: Working on Book 2 of the ReUnification Conspiracy and putting the final touches on another project, an urban fantasy loose retelling of Beowulf.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Mark: You can follow me on twitter @GreenFyr, follow my blog at my website, or on Facebook.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Mark: You bet! Enough of this Team Jacob, Team Edward stuff, let’s talk about something important. Tootsie Pops or Blow Pops? That’s the real question.

Jen: Readers, Mark is giving away a copy of The Kindling of GreenFyr to a random commenter. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents only. To enter, you first need to leave a comment or question for Mark. Then to finish your entry, you must either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to The winner will be chosen on Friday, January 15.