Sometimes a book comes by and while it sounds quite cool, it’s just not the right moment. Mark Bacci’s A Simple Man is one of those books. I couldn’t commit to a timely review, but I did think some of my readers might be interested in it, especially given the current political situation in the States. Happily, Mark agreed to answer some questions for an Author Query and here we are. I hope you enjoy this interview and check out A Simple Man.
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Mark Bacci?
Hah! Loaded question. I guess simply put, I’m a writer. I started in TV and film, then turned my eye to books.
How would you introduce people to New America and Secans?
New America? Well for me New America represents an obvious extreme of what we’ve seen happen through out history. It is my futuristic version of oppression if we do not open our eyes to the world around us and realize we are all connected.
New America is when the voice of the people is silenced by the likes of a military regime, which are the Secans—merciless soldiers out to serve one man’s vision of what America should be. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? And I wrote this book before Trump was even running.
What draws you to writing dystopian fiction?
I’ve always been drawn to stories that take us to a different world, but have something in it that we can relate to. I live my personal life full of hope. Dystopian fiction allows me to express that hope, albeit through extreme circumstances. I have always been in love with the idea of creating new worlds, and dystopian allows me to do that.
What is the one dystopian trope you wanted to avoid in A Simple Man?
Funny, I think I tapped into all of them, but the difference is I tried to really ground the world in reality. I wanted it to be believable. That this shit could really happen. At the heart of A Simple Man, it’s a story of a father trying to save his two kids. It’s about how far one man would go to protect his family. The tropes are there. An oppressive military. The revolutionary. The dictator with extreme views. Total control over a population, but the difference for me at least is, I really do buy into the truth of it all.
You’re not just a fiction writer, you also write for the screen. Does writing for the page use different writing muscles than writing for the screen?
Does it ever. My joke is writing a novel is really writing. Writing for film and TV is what writers who can’t write novels do! It was very hard for me, plus I’m highly dyslexic. I am a very stark screenwriter; my characters come alive because of the dialogue in my screenplays. My grammar sucks, but thank God I have an amazing editor. It was the hardest writing I’ve ever done, but it taught me a lot about telling a story. At the end of the day, that’s what matters to me, no matter what format.
A Simple Man has already been optioned for the big screen. Is it tempting to want to do the adaptation yourself or do you think writers should never adapt their own novels for the screen?
I did do the adaption myself. NO way was I going to let anyone else do it. I wrote A Simple Man when my son was a year old, and I had just finished The Road. That book scared the crap out of me. It was then I said, “what’s my version of that story?” So, no way was I going to let anyone touch it. Plus it’s my craft, it’s what I’m really good at, and when it comes to screenwriting, I have no problems, “killing my babies!” That’s a term I like to use when describing cutting scenes you really want to keep, but you know they have to go.
What’s next for you? Any appearances or conventions planned?
I just finished a Netflix show called Between, and I’m working on a few pilots I’ve been commissioned to write. So very busy. Not sure about conventions this time around. I’m about to start book two of A Simple Man, so maybe after that.
Is there something else you’re passionate about other than writing and books?
Yes. Food. I own restaurants. Three of them. They are as much a love as writing. To me, it’s all storytelling. My life is always about telling a story and having people react. Good or bad.
As a book reviewer, I’m all about the book enabling; I can’t help but want to make people read all the good books out there. But I can always use help. What are your top recommendations of books we should look out for in the coming months?
I’m looking forward to End of Watch by Stephen King, and Don Delillo’s Zero K.
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
I have a very ingenious system… It’s called an iPAD! I gave all my books to my local library, except for my cookbooks. Because I read so many books at one time (around 10-15), I like to have it compact and handy. My books are a mess on my iPad. I like the randomness of it. I have about 3,000 books on the device. So I just scroll down, find something I’m interested in, and start reading.