It’s my pleasure to welcome Mark Canniff to my blog!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Seattle, Washington, where I spent the first twelve years of my life. After my mom remarried when I was 12 (having been divorced since I was about two years old), we moved to England where I spent the next thirteen years. (My step-father invited us over to his place, which was how we ended up over there.)
Finishing my education in Britain, obtaining an “A” Level in English Literature (which I feel is equivalent to an Associate Degree in the US), having enjoyed my time there I was ready to return to the Puget Sound. I felt the “calling” of home.
The kind of books that I’m drawn to write, currently, is the paranormal. Specifically, I like “Paranormal Mystery” style.
Essentially, I’m trying to explore the world of the supernatural, while injecting my own theories as to what may be taking place. I find fiction is the perfect place for that.
While I haven’t gone on any “ghost hunts” per se, my life has been filled with those experiences. From haunted locations, to demons, I’ve seen a fair bit during my time. I’m also a Reiki healer, first degree. (I’ve been doing that for the past seventeen years now.)
Professionally, I’ve been in Retail, Film and the aviation industries (where I’m currently employed, while I move into my writing career).
How long have you been writing for?
I’ve been creating in the written sense since I was a teenager. My “younger years” as I like to say. In the beginning, it was short stories, or concepts of possible book outlines to come. This grew to articles, which helped to teach me the importance of “cadence” (so for example, writing three to four pages a day is easy for me).
Finally, it was a natural evolution to turn to novels. The depth that I can go in there is far greater than any other form that I’ve done.
My first book finally took a total of eighteen years from concept to publication (which started out as a short screenplay for film). However, I wrote the first chapter back in 2012 and felt that I still didn’t have all the pieces just yet, even then.
So, in 2014 is when everything fell in place and I could figure the rest out. From there it took two years of actual writing, etc. that finally turned it into a book.
What is your writing process like?
When I’m writing, I work Monday through Friday (excluding the holidays) and turn in anywhere between 3-4 pages a day. Since I still must hold down a job while my new way of life begins, this is about as far as I can go.
However, it’s surprising what those small moves mean to my manuscript. What it looks like is something like this:
I’ll write 3 pages on Monday (for example) and then, no matter where I am (emotionally, etc.) with the story and characters, I stop.
Day two (Tuesday) would see me start my day by reading the previous work (for continuity and basic grammatical issues), then producing the next 3 or 4 pages. Picking up exactly where I left off from the previous day.
I repeat that until the book is done (for the first draft). After that, it progresses into editing.
Every novel of mine (in this series) has thirteen chapters. The manuscript is 20 pages long, in the original format. This helps me to know how “production” is going and approximately how long it’ll take. Structure is key for me.
Since I’m self-published (or an “Indie Author”) I’m constantly growing and learning better ways of working. I strongly feel that if I’m not doing that, then I can’t show the reader that I’m always thinking about them.
For example, if I say, “this is how I work, end of story” then my novels will become stale and I will lose any credibility I might have had with the first one.
So, I’m learning better ways to develop, write and edit my stories. Every one of those “categories” effects the other.
The better the plan, the better the tale.
The better the story, the better the editing, etc.
It all means that the reader’s experience should translate into a good one.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?
Yes. I do my writing in the morning, so I wake up around 9:30am five days a week and go to “the office” (my desk to do the next 3 or 4 pages of my new story).
My job (in aviation) has me work an afternoon/evening shift. This is perfect for me since I’ll get home anywhere from 12:50am to 2:50am (depending if I’m working overtime). No matter what I usually fall asleep around 3:30am to 4am.
This way of working has really helped me to find the time I need to tell my stories. Does it seem like I’m losing sleep? Well, that’s why I take the weekend off. I think it’s important, for me, to take a break.
Plus, when I finally go “full-time”, I’ll have designed the “structure” for my author career. (Less of course the aviation job.) Which will ultimately give me more time for writing.
What motivates you to write?
I feel this is what I was meant to do.
I want to tell stories that people will love. It should be something that readers will want to talk about to their family and/or friends saying, “you should read this, I think you’ll like it”.
If I’m doing my job right, then that means that the tale is somewhat complex but easy to follow. The characters are people the reader enjoys and will want to go on this ride with them. Plus, I want to make sure there is a theme that is subtle but there.
In short something that says, “this is awesome”.
I hope to entertain and show the world that I can produce good work. In short: If I can leave a lasting impact on people’s life for the better, even if it means they can escape their regular lives for a while, then that would be awesome.
What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?
Being “self-published” still meant that the idea of the book coming to life was exciting. Amazon has some amazing tools that help authors get their work into the public eye.
However, it didn’t really sink in until I saw the first “proof” copy. Eighteen years of moving through this process of bringing the story to life and it was becoming a reality.
I loved it. I could see one major hurdle being removed. Awesome!
(Next will be the movie. :))
Are you currently working on anything new?
Absolutely! “Dream, Recurring” is the first story in a four-part series. So, the next installment “When Night Has Fallen” is currently being written right now.
The series title is: “Island River Tales”. So, named because that’s the town the main characters live in.
If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?
Wow! Great question. I think I’d be in the film industry. When I was there, especially working on set, I loved it so much that it never really felt like “work”. Don’t get me wrong, we were doing a minimum of 12 hour days, which might be 6 to 7 days a week but there’s nothing like it.
If that didn’t happen, then I’m sure I would take up Reiki full-time and train to become a Master/Teacher. I already have 17 years as a “First Degree” healer. I love the way that makes me feel. The synchronicity that happens the more you do it… It’s magical.
Neither one of those are with an “employer” of course. Mainly because regular jobs, as I’ve come to learn, don’t even come close to what I’m really looking for in life.
What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?
The easiest part is the planning. That’s fun. I get to let my imagination wander when I begin the process. The next favorite step is the first draft. Even though that is never what the final book looks like, that’s when I’m able to go deep with my creativity. I love it.
The hardest part by far is marketing. Don’t get me wrong, connecting with my fans is awesome. I love that part. However, it is so fluid and ever changing. What works today, may not function in six months. It’s tough. Figuring out what works is the hard part for me. I’m not a “Marketer”.
In all its challenges, though, I love rising to meet it head on. There is only one way for me to grow and that is to push myself into areas that I’ve never been before. THAT I love.
What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?
The amount of effort it takes to bring a book into the public’s eye takes a team of people. Sure, the writer does the work of the story but there are so many others, some you will never meet in person, that are so critical to the process.
I wish I had that “team” from day one. The editors, the cover designer, the publicist, etc. Every one of them play such a vital role. (Hint: Some good ones can be found at “fiverr”.)
What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?
Terry Pratchett with his “Discworld” series really brought it home to me. “Mort” that was the first book I read of his and I was hooked. He is a large reason why I’m inspired to write. Pratchett showed me that you can craft stories that people love – and still do!
He is that spark for me.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
The first thing you want to do is write! You also must read. Those are the two things that you must do as a writer. Oh by the way, did I mention you need to read?
The more you do both, the more you learn. Every author has their unique way of telling a story. That’s why reading is so important. Find genres that you may not like either. Because what happens is that you always learn something from that author.
Once you have an idea, develop it. Run with it! Allow it to grow because you can turn that into something others will read. I promise you that. Someone will always be interested in what you do as a storyteller. (That’s true for both fiction and nonfiction.)
Once you have the concept, visualize the book already in your hands. Feel it, know it’s already there, then take the steps daily towards that goal.
It’s amazing how small moves can really take you up that mountain. Before you know it, you’ll be an author too and I hope to be learning about the tale that you chose to create.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
The reason why writers do what they do is so readers can enjoy their work. I’m humbled by that fact. Because in every case someone has chosen to buy “this copy or that copy”. It isn’t something they HAVE to do (like buying food, for example). They WANT to.
This means that for every author that has produced a novel, etc. they are asking the reader to “buy their book”. Of course, we all want people to validate us as writers and that they are enjoying what’s being created but no one “must” read it.
That’s what makes it so humbling. Besides hearing from your reviewers (which can be a whole other set of “humble” feelings), it really brings it home for me.
It ultimately means that someone has trusted me enough to try out this tale that I’ve woven. Especially if they don’t know me.
Which means I feel a great sense of responsibility to produce a good story. That’s why I always put my best effort in and why I’m always learning.
Mark Canniff was born and raised for the first twelve years in Seattle Washington. The next thirteen were spent in England.
His mother remarried after ten years of divorce, finding an Englishman, so moving the family to London (at least at first), felt natural. Finishing his education in the UK, obtaining an “A” Level in English Literature (which is about the equivalent to an Associate’s Degree in the US).
While he isn’t a paranormal ghost hunter, he has personally experienced: demons, haunted locations and many apparitions, plus much more. “It’s been unnerving at times” as he would say.
He started his writing career by creating short stories and article writing. (Realizing that he found his “Calling” in life), he began work on a short screenplay (when he was in the film industry) entitled “The Dream”.
Although the script was never produced, it did show him that he had something that people liked. So, the road to “Dream, Recurring”, his first novel, began.
Currently in the Aviation industry, he sees his future in writing. “This is the first book in a series totaling four stories.” He plans to write the first one as a screenplay once the series is written. Hopefully turning “Dream, Recurring” into a film. Where the others go from there, no one knows.
He has been married since 2004, to the love of his life. They have one son and together, he feels his life is complete.
Connect with Mark
About Mark’s Book
Can there be a mystery that goes back over a hundred years, that only the dead can reveal?
Lucy has been having a recurring dream. Night after night she finds herself driving on a winding road with her best friend Sam. She feels lost as this path seems to lead to nowhere. That is until she discovers a house. Curious, she goes up to investigate, discovering that the place is empty.
The mystery of the dream deepens when she realizes that she’s being haunted by an entity. Why is it attached to her?
Both Sam and her uncover a piece of history that only those that have passed on have kept secret. Why is it so important and does it have anything to do with the dark being?
It suddenly becomes a race against time as they grasp that their very lives might be at stake.
Can they uncover what is really going on in time, before it’s too late?
Is there a connection between the house, the uncovered past and the evil entity?