Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mark David Gerson Author Interview

Photo Content from Mark David Gerson

Award-winning author of more than a dozen books whose readers span the globe, Mark David Gerson electrifies groups and individuals around the world with his inspiring stories and motivational talks, seminars, workshops and retreats. 

Mark David's books include critically acclaimed personal development and self-help titles, compelling memoirs and spellbinding fiction – all grounded in the same empowering principles and common sense philosophy that underlie his latest bestseller, The Way of the Fool: How to Stop Worrying About Life and Start Living 12½ Super-Simple Steps!, and the upcoming The Way of the Imperfect Fool: How to Bust the Addiction to Perfection That's Stifling Your 12½ Super-Simple Steps!

In addition, Mark David's books for writers are considered classics in the field and his screenplay adaptations of his Q'ntana fantasy novels are on their way to theaters as a trio of epic feature films.

As a personal growth coach and creativity catalyst and mentor, Mark David works with an international roster of clients to help them foster their intuition, connect with their inner wisdom, express their innate creativity and live more passion- and purpose-filled lives. Having overcome his own personal and creative blocks and challenges, Mark David is uniquely qualified to motivate and inspire individuals in all walks of life and from all backgrounds to unleash the power of their potential.

Passionate, inspiring, insightful and intuitive, Mark David Gerson is popular with readers and book clubs and is a highly sought-after speaker, media guest, coach and editorial consultant.


Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Montreal, but have lived in many places since leaving there in 1983, among them: Toronto, Nova Scotia, Hawaii, Santa Fe and Sedona, Arizona. I now hover between Albuquerque and L.A.

What inspired you to pen your first novel? Where did you get your information or ideas for The MoonQuest?
My guest blog post, “The Birth of a Book,” covers that story [] In short, I had no plans to write a MoonQuest, nor did I have a conscious desire to write a fantasy novel, let alone a trilogy. The MoonQuest birthed itself during a writing workshop I was facilitating when, in an unprecedented in-the-moment inspiration, I did the same exercise I had presented to participants. What I wrote that evening became the opening scene of the first draft of a novel I knew nothing about. From there, I just kept writing, discovering the story as I went along, until I was done. The StarQuest and SunQuest stories emerged similarly.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
An open heart and mind and a willingness to surrender to your story and travel wherever it takes you (and to break all the rules getting there).

How long have you been writing?
Perhaps the better question would be, “How long did I resist writing?” I joke that my Muse tricked me into writing, given that for most of my early life, I resisted anything remotely creative.

My first jobs out of university were in public relations, where I had to write, even if what I wrote at first was largely formulaic. However, that experience gave me the confidence to try my hand at freelance work and, before I knew it, I was a full-time (self-taught) freelance writer and editor, doing mostly magazine, newspaper, corporate and government work. However, it wasn’t until my early 30s, when the double-whammy of a creative and spiritual awakening knocked me over the head that I began to explore more creative avenues. And it wasn’t until I was 39 that The MoonQuest, my first foray into serious creative writing, began to have its way with me. I’ve been hooked ever since.

What is The MoonQuest about?
Imagine a land where storytelling is banned, where storytellers have been put to death, where dreams and visions are outlawed, where imagination has been stripped from the land and its people. This is the Q’ntana of The MoonQuest, a land where, as Toshar, the main character, puts it, “‘once upon a time’ is a forbidden phrase and fact is the only legal tender.” In this land, legend has it, the moon has been so saddened by the silence and tyranny, that she has cried tears that have extinguished her light. As a result, the moon has not been seen for many generations. The MoonQuest, then, is the journey undertaken by a reluctant Toshar and his three companions to restore story and vision to the land and to rekindle the light of the moon. 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Did you learn anything from writing The MoonQuest and what was it?
When I begin a project, I rarely know the story in advance. When I began The MoonQuest, for example, I knew nothing about it, except what emerged in each day’s writing. I didn’t have a title until about halfway through, and I had no idea of the ending until about two-thirds of the way through. It was an experience in surrender: in surrendering unconditional control to my Muse and to the story. And it was tough! It was tough to keep writing with no plot, no outline and not even the remotest clue where the story was taking me. But it taught me how to get out of the way and let the story have its way with me. That’s still how I write — regardless of the form, genre or project. And I do it with way less resistance than I did it on The MoonQuest. But it’s still, sometimes, the most challenging aspect of the work...even as it’s also the most exhilarating and is, for me, the key to the magic!

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I’d probably have to say Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time. I didn’t discover A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels until I was an adult, when I also discovered, through her nonfiction writings, L’Engle’s deep spirituality, one that informed her creativity and her life. While L’Engle’s spirituality found its expression through the Episcopal Church and mine is largely unstructured, she was a profound influence on my writing and my life. In a sense, she already was a mentor without me knowing it. Now, if she were still alive, I’d like to thank her for that.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
For the most part, I don’t believe in fixed routines. Rather, I operate intuitively — in my writing and in my life. I’m not one of those people who writes at the same time every day or who believes that you should sit down to write regardless of how you feel. While other coaches and instructors recommend applying a regular routine to creative production, that method never works for me for very long. Rather, I remain as in-the-moment as I can and follow wherever the inspiration leads me — in my life as well as in my writing. That way of living and writing is both exhilarating and, at times, terrifying. But it does keep things in an organic balance!

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating The MoonQuest?
Three things, I suppose. The first was that I was actually creative. The second, that the methods I had been teaching (writing nonstop, without thinking, without worrying about where the story was going) actually worked on something as long as novel. And the third, related to the second, that the story was, truly, way smarter than I was!

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have two books out: The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy and my book about writing, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write. And I have three books-in-progress: a memoir and The StarQuest and The SunQuest, the two sequels to The MoonQuest, which, together, form The Q’ntana Trilogy. (I also have the three Q’ntana screenplays, also in various stages of completion). But asking which is my favorite would be like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. Each is meaningful to me in particular ways and each is a favorite for particular reasons!

What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
When I opened the FedEx envelope and pulled out my advance copy of The MoonQuest, I burst into tears. I didn’t expect to have that same reaction with my second book, The Voice of the Muse....but I did!

If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?
“What took you so long to get our story out??!?” Seriously, I spoke to my characters while writing the book. And it was some of those conversations that led to some of the most surprising (to me) and powerful scenes in the book.

Are there any tips you would give a book club to better navigate their discussion of The MoonQuest?
I would invite readers not only to look at the book from the outside, as readers, but to look at the journey the main characters undertake in the book through the lens of their own life experience. In other words, where does The MoonQuest speak to you, personally, in your life?

Who is your favorite character in this book, and why?
I’ll answer this question as long as you don’t reveal my answer to the book’s main characters! My two favorite characters, I think, are the two quirkiest and the ones that always make me smile and sometimes make me laugh out loud: the Ferryman (he’s so minor that he has no name) and Pryma, a giant, turtle-like creature, who makes a return appearance in The SunQuest.

What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
Given that the first draft of the book was one 400-page chapter, that one’s impossible to answer! As I mentioned earlier, I had no idea what the story was or where it was taking me, so I just kept writing, with no chapter breaks, until the first draft was done. I only added chapter and section breaks in later drafts.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Any authors who claim that they don’t see aspects of themselves in all their characters are either lying, blind or woefully un-self-aware. I am in all my characters, even (I hate to admit) the nastiest! In The MoonQuest, though, the character I most identify with is Toshar, the main character whose first-person account the story is. This young man who discovers his stories and his storytelling ability through his MoonQuest journey was very much a metaphor for the creative deepening that writing the book represented for me at that time in my life.

Has a review or profile ever changed your perspective on your work?
I haven’t had that experience with a review. But I have had it with reader comments. Two experiences in particular were surprising, and gratifying. In the first, a reader told me why the most difficult scenes in the book supported the story’s theme. Those were scenes that had been challenging for me to write, were often challenging for readers and, although I intuitively knew they belonged in the book, I couldn’t explain why. In the second instance, a reader brought up a theme that I hadn’t known was there but that made perfect sense to me once he mentioned it. Truly, my books are smarter than I am!

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Although winning awards and getting great reviews for both books have been tremendously gratifying and validating, and although having a film producer ready to turn my books into movies is fabulously exciting, what’s most rewarding is when individual readers tell me how one or both of my books has affected them and, in some cases, changed their lives. This video, for example, was sent to me by one of my readers:

What are your current projects?
I’ve just completed a third draft of The StarQuest book and screenplay and a first draft of The SunQuest book and screenplay. My current project is Acts of Surrender, a memoir. I’m also an associate producer on The MoonQuest movie project and am beyond excited to see that move forward.

If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
My secret ambition would be to be a singer! More realistically, I’m also an artist and photographer and would be quite happy devoting more time to those creative pursuits. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
This is for all writers, not just aspiring ones! Trust the story, even if you don’t yet know what it is. Trust your innate creativity. Take it word by word and allow your pen or the keyboard to spell out the story for you. Allow yourself to be the passenger on your creative journey, not the driver. And, of course, get a copy of The MoonQuestand The Voice of the Muse book and CD! Seriously, if you can begin to believe that your story always knows best, you’ll never go wrong.

Where is your favorite place to read/write?
I’m a bit of a cafĂ© freak. I love reading and writing at Starbucks (as my Facebook friends/followers have discovered)!

One of your favorite quotes.
From The MoonQuest: “You either trust or you do not. There is no halfway in between.”

What book are you reading now?
I just finished The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, a fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife. It was great! I’m now zipping through The Jefferson Key by Steve Berry, one of my favorite thriller writers.


As black-clad armies terrorize the Q'ntana countryside, one young bard must come out of hiding to embark on The MoonQuest, the long-prophesied journey to end the tyranny...a journey guided only by stories...a journey that blurs the line between vision and reality. Only by trusting himself can Toshar rekindle the spirit of the land. Only by trusting his imagination can he reignite the light of its darkened moon.

A gripping and epic adventure rich with universal truth.

• Five-time award-winner
• Book I of Mark David Gerson's Q'ntana Trilogy
• Soon to be a major motion picture!

You can purchase The MoonQuest at these following retailers.

And now, The Giveaways. 
Thank you MARK DAVID GERSON for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive one Personalized copy of The MoonQuest by Mark David Gerson.


  1. What a great giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity!

    My favorite place to read is in my chair and a half, with my Dachshund on my lap. Heaven!

    Gena Robertson

  2. what a wicked giveaway, i cant wait to dive into this books world :)

    my fave place to read is in bed with my cats curled up next to me

  3. Amazing interview and these books sound amazing :)
    My favorite place to read well it used to be sitting by the chimmeny when the snow was falling, but alas I no longer have a chimmeny nor do I live in a place where it snows, but I like sitting under a tree to read providing the bugs don't eat me alive, or the weather doesn't change and suddenly it starts raining

  4. OMG thank you so much!!!!! i cannot wait to read this book, it sounds amazing!!!!!!! thank you jean and mark!!!!