--World of Writing --
Author J. Mark Hart is an Alabama lawyer with more than thirty years’ experience handling civil litigation and appeals and has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America and Alabama Super Lawyers. Mark grew up in Birmingham during the Civil Rights and Vietnam eras dramatized in his first novel Fielder’s Choice, and he still resides there with his family.
Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I was an avid reader and dreamed of seeing a book I wrote in a book store one day; however, being a writer seemed something other people did, so I planned to pursue my other love, which was chemistry. Later in high school I became interested in the legal process and decided to be a lawyer. As an adult, I took creative writing classes, and once the idea for my novel came to me, I was driven to write the book and persevered over the years.
Q: What makes a good story?
A: Writing about what you care about, writing about that thing inside you that has to be expressed and then bringing readers along with you. Writing about truth is important. Stephen King said characters should tell the truth, and authors should tell the truth about their characters. The pursuit of truth creates meaning, and meaning draws others in.
Q: What makes you write in certain genres?
A: I enjoy writing fiction because it puts me in my own world where, at least when writing, nobody’s judging me or telling me what to do. I am free to sail where my mind and imagination take me. It’s total self-expression.
Q: Where do you get your plot concepts?A: That quest for self-expression led to the idea for my first novel “Fielder’s Choice.” I became interested in young people’s quest for self-expression and the cost from parents, teachers, and coaches from pursing that quest—and ironically, that the dearest cost often comes from those closest to them. I was also intrigued by the cultural changes in the sixties and my experience in those dramatic times in Birmingham. My young protagonist’s struggle for himself is set amidst the racism, anti-war activities, and generation gap of the times. The book I’m working on now is a look into time, intimacy, and love set amidst the currently obsessive American lifestyle. My plots arise from things I care about.
Q: Do you insert your own characteristics in your writing?
A: I think every writer does, I certainly do. The key for me was finding my personal style. “Fielder’s Choice” is written in the first person, and the key there was finding the voice of the teenage protagonist.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: Among them are Jack Kerouac, Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, Pat Conroy, Chad Harbach, and Malcolm Gladwell.
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