20 Questions with Mark Samojedny

1. So, what’s your book all about?

In A City for the Dying after a Mexican drug cartel steals eighteen million dollars’ worth of Oxycontin from a pharmaceutical manufacturer in Mexico City, it ends up on a truck headed for the Continental Freight terminal in Strickland, Illinois, setting off a chain of horrors that tears through not only Strickland and the nearby wealthy city of Vinings, but the entire United States. Trapped in the middle of it all is Eradicus Purify.

Eradicus Purify, pushed by his mother as a child to succeed in spite of the difficulties growing up in crime-riddled Strickland, expects to achieve all of his goals: To escape from his childhood city, to get away from the drugs and the violence, to have a chance at a real life, a successful life. Maybe even to date Alexa, if she’ll have him. He’s well on his way too. He’s earned his undergraduate degree; he’ s working toward his MBA in Finance; he’s on the cusp of earning an internship at a prestigious New York City investment bank; he’s even thinking of asking Alexa to dinner. But going to school during the day and working for Continental Freight at night has left him dead-tired. So when his uncle, a man who, along with Eradicus’ father, recently attempted to steal eighteen million dollars’ worth of Oxycontin from a Mexican drug cartel, offers him a job that would allow him to quit his day job, he’s too weak to refuse.

And then his life begins to unravel.

2. What inspired you to write this tale?
Years ago, I read an article on the DEA’s website about the theft of 18 million dollars’ worth of Oxycontin from a Mexico City pharmaceutical manufacturer. According to the article on the site, the Oxycontin was never recovered. Logically, it would make sense that it ended up in the hands of abusers who consumed it all. However, I asked myself a what-if question. I thought, “What if the drugs were smuggled into the United States and not only disrupted someone’s life but threatened to destroy his dreams?” Given the violence of the increasingly brazen drug cartels I also thought it would be interesting to play with the idea of another what-if question, which was what if the drug war violence spilled over the borders and cut all the way across the United States from Laredo to New Jersey? Ultimately, it was the combination of those two questions that inspired me to write the book.

3. Do you have a favorite quote about creativity/inspiration etc…? What is it?
“Leap and the net will appear.”  It is a great quote about taking creative risks and life in general.

4. What things do you keep in your “writing space”? Do they inspire you? Confound you? Hold wires in place?
Not a thing. My writing space is wherever my Mac (with Scrivener software) is although there are times I really like sketching out ideas with a fountain pen on heavy stationery. There is something about the tactile nature of it, the scratchy feeling of dragging the nib on the paper that I love. Too bad I lost my pen a few years ago.  Now that I have a book available for sale, however, I plan to ask my accountant if a new pen is tax deductible. Surely, a $1,000 Montblanc fountain pen is a necessary business expense, right?

5. What is your perfect “writing space”?
In my loft office when I need to really concentrate, a coffee shop when I am working on a more superficial level and am open to taking breaks in order to observe people for descriptive details. As you can tell, I don’t get too hung up on a “writing space.”

6. If your car horn could play any song, which would it be? Can’t say Dixie.
“I’m Into Something Good” by Herman’s Hermits. The song is perfect because it is catchy at first but soon after it grates on you to the point you want to go on a shooting spree, and if we can agree on one thing in this world it is that a car horn should be annoying.

7. What would you name the first permanent settlement on mars?
New Shangai. Or maybe that is more of a prediction than what I would name it. Regardless, I like it. New Shangai, home to an entire planet devoted to churning out Apple products for the people of Earth. Since gravity is 62% lower on Mars it also solves the issue China is having with Foxconn employees jumping out of factory windows to their death. Ultimately, it should reduce the number of successful suicides. Really, settling on Mars is a great PR move for China. Mind you I’m no scientist so this may not be true. I’m a fiction writer; I make stuff up.

8. How tall is the perfect sidekick? Please explain why it even matters.
Six inches shorter than the hero and it matters because I like things to be the opposite of Hollywood.

9. If you were to mess with the time stream, what would you change? Let’s assume a hundred other people already took care of Hitler so you don’t have to say, “Kill Hitler.”
For sure I would have internet be invented at the beginning of civilization. Imagine the Twitter handles of historic figures. For example, Jesus could be Walkin’onWater and for every “follow” he could offer to turn a jug of water into wine. But seriously, think about how many wars could have been avoided if there were video footage of every historical event. YouTube could settle any misunderstanding or debate before it escalated into war.  Also, wouldn’t it be fun to watch Cro-Magnons use a smartphone?

10. Let’s say your character has a pet brown bear. What’s the bear’s name?
Skitch McCutcheon. He likes to eat mayonnaise, chase squirrels and pee on birds.

11. If you had to give an antagonist an annoying trait, what would it be?
Speaking almost entirely in sports cliches.

12. What kind of car would your ultimate protagonist drive?
The ultimate protagonist doesn’t drive. Someone drives him or he walks his city like Don Fanucci in The Godfather II.

13. You’ve got a year to travel anywhere. Where?
On a global bar crawl. I’m going everywhere even if I don’t remember much of it.

14. You just bought a boat with your book fortune. What are you going to call it?
The Drunken Succubus. It doesn’t have anything to do with books. I just like the sound of it. If it needs to be about books, how about Sodden Pulp?

15. What kind of music, if any, gets you typing the fastest?
Anything without lyrics. Any lyrics in the music and I will focus on that instead of writing. Glenn Gould, Yo-Yo Ma and the soundtrack to MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA are a few I have been playing a lot lately.

16. What’s the punch line to your favorite joke?
Wrecked ‘em? Damn near killed him.

17. What lyric do you sing poorly, yet loudly?
You, you got what I need but you say he’s just a friend
And you say he’s just a friend, oh baby
You, you got what I need but you say he’s just a friend
But you say he’s just a friend, oh baby
You, you got what I need but you say he’s just a friend
But you say he’s just a friend
– “Just a Friend” by Biz Markie

18. You find a portal to another world in your sink’s drain. What is this other world called? And what is the best way to clean the portal so it doesn’t smell like old food?
Sinkubus, just to tie it in with the boat name. The way you clean it is you don’t because I’m thinking Sinkubus is going to be a pretty desirable world. The portal will remain dirty so it deters everyone but the most determined to traverse it. Actually, etched in Latin around the drain is a saying that captures this sentiment. The dirty drain is a form of Darwinism. Only the strongest get through.

19. Where can people learn more about you, your work or any pets you have?
Two dogs named Mason and Dixon. Since I’m from Chicago and my wife is from Georgia, my wife wanted names that reflected where we grew up. I really wanted the Yankee dog to be named Sherman as in Sherman’s March, but my wife shut me down on that one for some reason. People can learn more about me in a variety of places:

My website address: www.marksamojedny.com
My Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006NZ4TBW
Follow me on Twitter at Eradicus Purify.

“Friend” me on Facebook as well.
Or you can buy me beers at a bar as I pass through your city while on my global bar crawl.

20. What’s next?
Up next in the immediate short term is a pint of Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale or possibly a tumbler of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20-Year-Old Bourbon. In the next year, I hope that what is next is the publication of my second novel, tentatively titled THE CANTALOUPE GIRL. 

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