Book Nerd Interview
Daniel Marks writes young adult horror and fantasy, spends way too much time glued to the internets and collects books obsessively (occasionally reading them). He’s been a psychotherapist for children and adolescents, a Halloween store manager, a cafeteria janitor (gag) and has survived earthquakes, volcanoes and typhoons to get where he is today, which is to say, in his messy office surrounded by half empty coffee cups. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Caroline, and three furry monsters with no regard for quality carpeting.
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
No. I came to writing quite late, following too much education and twelve years as a child and family psychotherapist. I recognized that I had a distinctive voice before acknowledging a desire to write. A voice that was born from the kind of grim gallows humor that can only be derived from years dealing with horrible crises.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Storytelling is a means of sharing, whether it’s done through writing, song, food. It connects us as human beings. These days, that’s becoming more and more difficult. Technology seems to exist solely to isolate.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Jackie Morse Kessler (author of the Horseman of the Apocalypse series) told me that the best promotional activity an author can do is write a better next book. So, that’s what I strive for.
In your book; Velveteen, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
There’s a revolution brewing in the ashen world of purgatory, one that will have terrible consequences for both the afterlife and the world of the living. Velveteen Monroe, the victim of a monstrous killer, wants nothing more than to haunt her murderer to death, but doing so is becoming more and more difficult with so much turmoil going on. Distractions abound, and a hot new co-worker isn’t helping to keep her grim focus.
What part of Velveteen did you enjoy writing the most?
The banter is where my heart is. I love writing dialogue and I’m definitely proud of the back-and-forth that happens between Velvet and her “love” interest, Nick. A close second is the world building. Purgatory is a complex and dark place.
For those who are unfamiliar with Nick, how would you introduce him?
Nick is a cocky, jock-type of guy who ends up dead and indebted to Velvet. He’s consumed by thoughts of her and confuses his feelings for love. He’s a good guy and funny, but he’s no hero and that’s exactly why Velvet doesn’t shank him.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
Hmm. I’m hesitant to share anything until I can nail down exactly what I’ll be working on with my Delacorte editor. I can tell you this, it’s likely to be a straight-up YA horror book with no fantasy elements and lots of gore. At this point, a sequel to Velveteen is not looking like a reality, unless the book picks up more than its current cult following.
If you could introduce Luisa and Logan to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
That’s a tough one. It would have to be a character who needs someone to hold up a mirror and show them what everyone else already knows, a character that needs a friend who won’t filter out the bad stuff. I don’t know. Bella?
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
How are sales?
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
LIVE! More than studying writing or reading—both noble pursuits—living a life is the best way to amass the sort of experiences that create a unique voice. We all must create our own filter to pass the world through.
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
What is your favorite room in your home and outside environment?
The kitchen. I love to cook. Whether it’s my kitchen or someone else’s, that’s where I’m first drawn.
Which is the hardest thing you ever had to do?
Leave my career behind to pursue writing. It was a huge leap of faith into the darkest chasm of uncertainty. Ultimately, I didn’t give myself the option for failure. I wrote my first story approximately six months before I landed my first book deal. That was eight years ago, and I’m still making a living from writing, so it can be done.
Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
Tricky, because I hate talking on the phone, but I’ll do it for my parents. My father and I talked a couple of days ago.
Who was the last person you hugged?
That’s easy, my wife, every day.
What is the one, single food that you would never give up?
Mexican Cubana Tortas from the California Taco Truck. I’d cut anyone who stood in my way of that deliciousness!
Where can readers stalk you?
Lots of places.
The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.
Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.
It’ll be brutal... and awesome.
But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.
Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules... or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.
Velvet is an absolutely refreshing character. At the mere age of sixteen and although she forms this obsession with her killer, she’s the quick-wit and strong leader type. She leads a group of souls in purgatory that crosses over to the living to rescue kidnapped souls. When her team is forced to travel to daylight, she didn’t quite anticipate that the boy they are rescuing will be the one that questions her motives and feelings.
Daniel completely created one of the most original stories I have read in a while. Readers will find intrigue in the story and will be drawn in by the author’s hypnotic and beautiful writing etiquette. The shifting from Velvet’s revenge on Bonesaw to saving purgatory was done really well. The ability to write a point-of-view of the opposite sex can be quite difficult, but that didn’t stop Daniel from creating a total badass girl. Along with the other dynamic characters, world-building, and mind-blowing plot progression, the novel Velveteen is full of intrigue, excitement, and in-your-face adventure. Readers will rejoice when they discover that this is part of a series and more fun will continue.