Mark J Konkel – Disaster Park

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

Disaster Park. It’s about a new kind of “amusement” park, one that features 360 degree recreations of historic disasters, famous military battles, or grisly murders. Imagine that you could experience the greatest (or worst) disasters in human history, be on board the Titanic, or a visitor on the 92nd floor of the north tower on that fateful day at the World Trade Center. If there was absolutely no danger in experiencing first hand these disasters would you take part? Or would you consider it exploitative and voyeuristic, serving only sadistic interests?

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m as energetic as a litter of puppies, and as serene as the morning mist over the lake. I’ve been caught stopping for red lights at 2 a.m., and once arm wrestled a lobster. I’ve designed breathtakingly beautiful pergolas, proved that hummingbirds don’t really exist, and made packed elevators crack up in laughter. I’m a teacher, an accountant, an inventor, a companion, an entrepreneur, a passionate debater, and I’ve never been mistaken for a piece of cheese.

People smile whenever they see me, even if they owe me a lot of money. Once in a while, I lift the roof off my house and shop-vac my attic. I think outside the box, and box outside the think-tank.

I’m applauded whenever I visit the south pole, and I’ve memorized every episode of the Mod Squad. I’m a natural barometer, but decline all calls from meteorologists. I am currently involved in the world’s longest game of hide-n-seek, and when they find me, it’s over.

I’m an expert in mizzenmasts, a veteran of foreign affairs, and doomed by an asteroid. My socks always match. I chew quietly, I sing unflinchingly, I stride breezily. I don’t fart, and I know the difference between a semicolon and a colonoscopy.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted scientists and engineers to hurry up and invent recreational holographic technology.

How did you choose the title?

It seemed to fit.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

All the typical ones: making time for writing, figuring out the ending, interesting an agent. Etc.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I’m very talented. It’s a natural.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Yes. When I get an idea for a story, I’ll ruminate on it for a while until I have the major themes and scenes worked out in my head. Then I sit at the computer and type.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

I concentrate and the names pop into my head.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

Yes, don’t give up. And that the hard work was worth it. Also that in my prose, I tend to leave out necessary prepositions and conjunctions.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have started sooner and finished more quickly.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

I like Asimov and Crichton, books that explain what makes the world work in a dramatic context. Books that are iconoclastic without being gratuitous or pandering. Books that true to what is true, not what could be true.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

It’s a fascinating tale that combines all the best elements of “Huckleberry Finn,” “Absalom, Absalom” and “Moby Dick.” Actually, it’s a dramatization of the IRS tax code.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

A writer’s life is one of choices. Everyone feels the call from the administrative duties of life, laundry, housecleaning, etc., and the necessity of relationships: children, spouses, even such periodic things as weddings, funerals, sicknesses, etc.

But what makes you a writer is inside you. It’s part of who you are as much as the color of your eyes and shape of your shoulders. That creative/writer part of you knows nothing of relationships and responsibilities; it only knows that its creativity needs to be expressed. Not expressing the creative part of you will result in a melancholy and unsatisfying life. Being creative is part of who you are. You can either express it and be who you were designed to be, or you can ignore it.
All writers worry that they don’t have the talent to produce what they’d like to produce. We refer to this as writer’s block. But it’s actually fear. Fear that you’re not good enough. Usually that fear is reinforced after reviewing the crap that you’ve written. Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect. The benefit is in the process, not in the result.

This is the way it is for all writers. The way to meet fear is head on. Recognize that this is who you are. To ignore who you are is to accept a life of regret and sadness.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

Someone who wonders about the impact technology has on society and on each of one of us.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?