Join us as we peek behind the scenes of our new anthology, ON TIME. Learn more about Mark Antokas in his featured interview.
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
The absolute salt of the Earth. Simple human beings. Those farming people who tend to take a wait and see attitude, until the facts are plain, and in face. And then action is required. There is only one life. And one death. Farming folk know everything there is to know about life and death…and a healthy dose of beer, hell, it was a good approach for Hemmingway, in a neighborhood watering hole in a one-horse town in Upstate New York. Part of being a writer is to observe human interactions, and record them for future use.
Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
He started out in first drafts being Greek. Mediterranean people throughout history have been an intermixed group, the line between Greeks and Jews can be ancestrally muddled. Borders between countries centuries ago were practically non-existent, religious borders, are more apparent. Moses is from another place. If nowhere else, it is NYC.
What is the most interesting thing about the world you’ve created?
It exists so far away from NYC that it shouldn’t been called New York anymore. “Upstate” is a kinder term than the generic slurs that big city people sometimes affix to rural areas.
What genre or mix of genres does your story fit into?
Sci-Fi a bit, but mainly Literary Fiction, whatever the hell that means. I do characters. Plot is secondary. Also, I love playing with tense.
How have your personal experiences influenced this story?
I was restoring a 200 year old farmhouse on a river, and dealing in antiques. I was the foreigner. I’ve made a personal Hajj out of visiting different places in the world, to work, and experience, my whole life. Great way to witness humanity in all it’s forms.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
The struggle between human foibles and desires will never perish.
What was your favorite part of the story to write and why?
I absolutely love my characters. Stanya was that reticent beauty whom you meet from time to time in the most unlikely places. As was the Jew. Birdy is the sort of man who can be found throughout our known universe who will survive regardless of circumstance. Like a cockroach.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When did you write your first story, how old were you, and what was it about?
I was an early reader. My teachers (and therapists) all noted that my reading level was always beyond my grade level. The first serious endeavor happened at a time that I was experimenting with my burgeoning creativity. I also did art. I wrote a book. It was a western. I was twelve. It was all of nine handwritten pages. In pencil, if I recall. Unfortunately, that August work did not survive.
What is your writing survival checklist? (Aka, what helps your write the best: music, snacks, coffee, complete silence, a stress ball, a cat, or an outline, etc.)
I can only write when I am at peace. Can’t play the starving artist. Which at times, I am. Usually, I wait until I am ready to burst. Dealing with the everyday chores that define our daily lives is enough to keep me occupied. Then, it’s like a giant orgasmic thing of beauty (if the work is good) or a super-rich organic plop of crap (if it’s not) that lays in a drawer and ferments until I attempt to resurrect.
What has influenced you most as a writer?
While I grew up reading a litany of American and International writers, I seem to have gotten stuck in the Thirties. Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner. And too, my uncle Charles. He was a poet and HS English teacher. He was of the greatest generation. I am of post-beat Hippie. He once told me the purpose of literature is to entertain. I said the purpose of literature is to educate the masses.
What font do you prefer to write in?
Times New Roman, 12 pt. It’s what editors want, isn’t it? Also, the NYT is the paper of record, no?
Do you have any writing blogs/vlogs/podcasts, etc. that you would recommend?
What is your favorite and least favorite word, and why?
Trump. It just brings up images of cruelty, and retribution. I don’t use that word anymore.
My favorite would be Philotimo, it’s Greek. It’s a way to treat others.
And Meanwhile. There is no other way to pronounce it other than Stephen Colbert has.
Author Mark Antokas has traveled the world in all manner of conveyances, on water, on land, and in the sky. Having in the past had altogether too many jobs, professionally and otherwise, there be too many hats for this rack. All grist for the mill. Experience. What we do. Write.
Spending time equally between the Greek Islands of the Aegean in the summers, the author winters in the U.S. and is currently restoring a 1977 Nautor Swan 43 in the Cape Canaveral, Florida area. See him on Facebook at Mark Antokas. His webpage is www.markantokas-raconteurandwriter.com He has two published novels on Amazon, “In the path of Exile, the Odyssey According to Homer, 1967-69,” and, “Another Noel.” Among other places, he has short stories published in 5thWallPress, ScryofLust, FleasontheDog, and Transmundane Press. Currently he is working on a short story collection which has a working title of “You Said We’d Be Friends Forever and I Believed You,” which should be published soon.