Friday, November 4, 2011

Firsts Fridays: Author, Mark Boliek and Giveaway!

Today’s Firsts Fridays guest Mark Boliek had a dream and went against the grain to follow it. He has recently published his first book, The Mahogany Door and his story is one I think can help any dreamer at heart.

DB: Mark, thanks so much for being here!

MB: Thank you for having me, Deana. I love following your escapades on your blog. I wish I had as much energy as you do!  Even with the little ones!
DB: HA! And here I am thinking I’m a lazy bum who just writes all the time. Thanks for the compliment.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your book, The Mahogany Door?
MB: I was born in North Carolina and have lived here most of my life. I’m 41 years old and am a SAS programmer by trade (Google “SAS” if you are interested). I was in the Navy during the later part of the 80’s and served during Operation Desert Storm. I have a pretty uneventful life – though I like to think that it is. I am married and live with twin orange tabby cats (they remind me of the two Valociraptors from Jurassic Park as I sometimes notice them – when they are not sleeping - thinking of ways to kill me), and a six month old Scottish Terrier (I thought I was stubborn).

The Mahogany Door is the first in a trilogy called “The Bruinduer Narrative.” It is a story of 3 friends separated by tragedy when they were younger and have to go back to the fantasy world called Bruinduer through a mahogany door and save it from collapse. It also comes with a cool original music soundtrack.

DB: I think this is the perfect opportunity to tell the world…or my readers at least that I read the book and listened to the sound track as well (which if I’m correct, Mark did most of too) and wow. This guys got some talent. The book carries you away on an adventure and you begin to really feel for the characters. I thought it was very interesting how Mark was able to mix adult lives into a children’s story and still make it relevant by the way the story was told.
The music I actually listened to before I read the book and it really geared me up and set the tone for this book. It was haunting and fun and I really enjoyed both the music and book!
Also, Mark will giving away a box set of his book and cd. As always, if you want it let me know in the comments section and I will pick the winner next Friday!
I read that it was published by Split Rail multimedia, which you are the founder. Can you tell us why you went this route rather than the get-an-agent-get-a-publisher or the e-pub route?
MB: There are 2 e-Book versions of the book. There is the ‘regular’ e-Book which can be found at Amazon, B&N, and iBooks, but there is also an enhanced version of the e-Book for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch at the iBook store that contains the embedded soundtrack (it is so cool – there is a video on my facebook page!/photo.php?v=2074203611925).

I went the self route – AT FIRST – because there are so many cool books and authors out there that it is very difficult to get your foot in the door with an agent. I created the publishing company so that I can get a name for myself (no matter how small that might be) and prove that I am willing to do what it takes to be a successful author (it is very difficult as you may well know). I have started locally and pushing the book out from there to create a reading base, and agents I think, may look a little longer at an author with a platform - maybe. Local indie bookstores are amazing and can really help a first time author get a little publicity. Check this pic out of my book on the shelf at “The Regulator” in my hometown of Durham, NC –

It’s right along there with some pretty cool and popular books, and sometimes seeing it there makes doing it by myself (of course I had a lot of help from others) worth it, because who knows if I will ever get an agent and see the book published in a major house otherwise. (I also like to think the quality is right there too – but I am biased)

DB: I commend you! This route is a ton of work I hear but really can pay off in the long run. I just finished reading the third book of a series that just went this route and she got an agent after the fact. It definitely does happen.
Do you see yourself sticking with this method of publishing?

MB: That is a big NO. The endgame is definitely to get an agent and go the “traditional” route – whatever that might be now-a-days.  I do, however, want to help other authors get a feel for what the publishing industry is like. If nothing else, I can answer a LOT of questions about how to get a book on the shelf.  As I work on the second book and soundtrack, my focus is now more on getting an agent – though I still love doing local book signings – I have 2 scheduled through Dec 10th.

DB: I’m rootin’ for you Mark!
I also read that you didn’t begin writing until after 9-11. Have you always wanted to write or was this the first time you tried it?

MB: I took creative writing classes in college and have been messing around with The Mahogany Door since about 1996, but wasn’t really serious about writing until after 9-11, that is when the story became a little more personal to me. I played football when I was growing up, so sports were more important to me. In a recent interview, the interviewer stated I look more like an NFL linebacker than a writer. That is very true, and I never expressed my creative side while playing sports – in some ways it was looked down upon by my fellow teammates. Writing, especially after 9-11, became a therapeutic exercise more than anything else – and I also learned not to care what others thought.

DB: Kudos to you for having the courage to do what you really loveJ
Your book is a great read as I said before, and I am wondering how you came up with your idea?

MB: Being from NC, we have been blessed with both the beach and the mountains – and I enjoy both, but love the beach more. I basically grew up on the North Carolina shore, and one day in 2002, I took a trip to the Biltmore House ( in the mountains and fell in love with the big old mansion – the only thing I could have wished more was that it was at the beach. I walked around and imagined what it must had been like to be a kid growing up in this wonderful house – WOW - the adventures they must have had. I dusted off my originals of the story, took the Biltmore House and stuck it on the beach and away I went with the story.
After 3 drafts about the beach, the mansion, and my characters, I realized that I was writing a story about my own life. It sort of just hit me that way. I could see that the tale was full of symbolism and things that had happened to me – forgetting about my childhood due to tragedy (the character JT), wanting to forget about some of the bad things that had happened to me (the character Kali), getting older and then wanting to go back to a more simpler when the responsibilities weren’t so tough (the character Michael), getting stuck and not able to move forward with my life due to some of the choices I had made (the character Charlie), and then realizing that I had pushed God out of my life and perceiving Him as a vindictive monster (the character Billy). I also put the events of 9-11 (allegorically of course) in the story because it had such a profound impact on me. Like the old cliché, I guess I wrote about what I knew.

DB: And that seems to be what we doJ
What can you tell us about the soundtrack?

MB: I got the idea for the soundtrack because I have a songwriting streak in me and a fascination with sound engineering. My wife also has a Master’s in Music. At first I just wanted a song to stick on the website just to have something besides a silent page, but after riding around with my brother-in-law Scott, who had a pivotal role in the project, we decided to put the album together. I think during the whole process this was the most fun we had. I would be lying if I told you there was no stress involved, but it was a great learning experience, and my family (including our wonderful friends) has some pretty cool music to play at parties and say, “that’s us singing and playing!” The reaction is always – “Really?” our answer – “really, really.”
“Goodbyes” is the most special song on the soundtrack. I wrote that song thirteen years ago after a terrible divorce and other things. I found a poem in my sister’s diary and put it to music. I really think just wanting to hear that song recorded motivated me to write the other songs for the book. It is also beautifully sung by Katie Basden, one of my wife’s former students. She also wrote, sings, and graciously allowed me to use “Rear View Mirror.” (you can listen to the full soundtrack here:  it is also on Spotify (just search “The Mahogany Door” and can be downloaded at iTunes, Amazon MP3, Walmart, Napster – and most other mp3 sites)

DB: Very cool!
Where do you see yourself and your writing five years from now?

MB: I would like to see myself as maybe the minor league of publishing and writing. Professional teams in baseball have their farm teams that develop their players. I’d really like to see myself maybe like that with authors. I’d love to help authors write and produce songs for their books if they want and maybe do enhanced e-Books – it is just going to be common that publishing is going more interactive. I’d also like to be finished with the trilogy and two more soundtracks – maybe with an agent – who knows – I might win the lottery and not worry about it. J
DB: You’re awesome Mark, thanks for the interview!

MB: Thank you Deana – I can’t express enough thanks to you for having me today!

People can buy the printed version in NC at (can call and order as well) The Regulator in Durham, NC, Quail Ridge Books (special box set $27.99) in Raleigh, NC The Moravian Book store in Winston Salem, NC and Chambers Arts in Cary, NC – people can also buy the book from my website at (the book and CD (included) will be on sale for $12.99 – free shipping) .

That’s a pic of me at a book signing posing with a reader and the box set (it is a handcrafted box that comes with the book, CD, and bookmarks) If you were interested.
And I think that about does it for this week!

Until next time…
Keep learning. Keep writing.


Kim Van Sickler said...

Hi Deanna and Mark,

Great interview! Mark I admire your drive and determination to get to where you want to go. The soundtrack to accompany your story sounds like a brilliant idea. In some ways Mark reminds me of fellow Swagger blogger Jon Egan, a big former Australian footy player who also went through a tough divorce.

Go ahead and sign me up for the story and CD. Sounds like fun
Kim Van Sickler

Emily R. King said...

It is so cool that he writes and does a soundtrack. That's something I've always wanted to do! Who needs a book trailer? Do a soundtrack! Great interview. Good luck finding and agent, Mark!

Angela Cothran said...

Mark's book sounds so fun! I also love the idea of a soundtrack. Great interview :) Thanks!

Ginger said...

So proud of you Mark! =) What an awesome insight to the background of what inspired your first novel...

Loree Huebner said...

Hi Deana and Mark!

The books sounds good, and what a neat thing...the sound track.

Great interview.

Donna K. Weaver said...

What a great idea, being a farm for writers.

Christa Desir said...

My hubs would love this book. Love the soundtrack part too. Good interview!

Mary Preston said...

Yes please!! I would love these. Congratulation on THE MAHOGANY DOOR. I'm still laughing at the image of the 'Valociraptors'. I will never look at Tabby Cats the same way again.


Leslie S. Rose said...

Wow, Mark. You are inventive and creative. I'm rooting for your success. The Mahogany Door sounds like a wonderful adventure and with music to boot. Again, Wow.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I love the cover for the Mahogany Door.

Coleen Patrick said...

Great interview, I always enjoy reading about an author's journey. Thanks Deana!

LisaAnn said...

Wow, what an awesome idea to have a soundtrack and an enhanced version. This is the first I've heard of this, and I really enjoyed meeting Mark! Great interview, Deana!

Janet Kerr said...

Hi Deanna and Mark,

I like your interview. I especially like the way you are bringing in sound to a book. This so original. Bringing in adult lives and linking them back to children for me is great because it is like getting all the backstory.
Thank you both,
Jan K.

Melodie Wright said...

Great interview - I always love reading about courageous writers willing to do whatever it takes to get published. Also the cover looks fascinating.

alexia said...

Thanks for the interview guys! Sounds like a fun book. The Biltmore is such a cool house.

Nora said...

The interview was great. A soundtrack sounds so wonderful.