Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
My writing career actually started in 2009, but it stopped in 2014, only to begin again in 2020. At the time, burnout had taken over. I honestly thought book writing was in my rearview mirror…until the idea for “The Witches of Vegas” hit me in the middle of the night. I wrote the story, fell in love with my own characters, and reached out to publishers to see if this story would interest them. The Wild Rose Press was quick to pick it up. So, seven years after quitting, I am back in the writing business with a new story, a new genre, for a new audience, and I'm having more success than ever before. That’s why I call myself a “born again writer.”
What makes writing your passion?
I would say a huge part of it is my characters. They have a lot of personality and they're fun to write. Based on the reviews, I see they're fun to read about as well. Readers connect with them as if they were family or best friends. In fact, found family is a huge aspect of The Witches of Vegas series. That they happen to be witches, vampires, magicians, and they're trying to save the world...well, that's part of it too, but they're a family first.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been informally writing since I was in junior high school. I knew I had the gift when I wrote a three-page essay on World War One without a single fact and it received an “A” because the teacher loved the story I told about a soldier who experienced, then survived the war. (I made up the soldier and his entire story) My professional writing career started with The Rasner Effect series which came out in 2009. I’ve been writing ever since except for an almost seven-year break.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
I'm not a parent but there are definite similarities to parenthood. You spend nine months working on it, it's a huge moment when it becomes a book and you hold it in your hand, then you spend years taking every opportunity to make sure everyone knows it exists.
You even have to come up with a name (a title) before it exists in the real world.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
As I mentioned earlier, I had given up writing for what I thought would be forever. (I know, never say never, right?) Writing felt like it was a long distance in my rearview mirror, and I was sure I’d never get back to it again. I considered myself officially retired from writing. Sure, I still had ideas for great stories, but I was no longer motivated to put pen to paper. Then, one night at around 2 a.m., a thought hit me. I started thinking about witches. Imagine if they used their powers to put on a magic show. Most people wouldn’t know the difference, they’d just see it as amazing magic. For the witches, it would be a perfect way to hide in plain sight, because they could practice their powers without being discovered or persecuted.
I figured these witches would end up in Las Vegas because that’s the magic capital of the world. They’d amaze their audience. Plus, they wouldn’t incur the cost of the typical magic show since they’re using their powers to create the performance. But, how would this affect the rest of the Las Vegas magic community? They’d never be able to keep up; what would happen to them?
Over the next few nights, the characters popped into my head as if they were speaking to me from another reality, telling me their stories. I started asking my characters questions, like why they’re doing the show, what are their motivations? I asked them about their lives…and they answered all my questions. They spoke and I wrote it all down.
So, is The Witches of Vegas a fictional story I wrote? Or is it a true story from another reality where they are telling me about their adventures so I can share it with the world? Read The Witches of Vegas series and determine that for yourselves.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Writing a synopsis. Taking an eighty-thousand-word manuscript and explaining the entire thing, beginning to end, in only three thousand words while keeping all the emotion and excitement that will convince a publisher to consider the story for publication is one of the toughest things a writer has to do. They’re probably harder to write than the book itself.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
For me, it was taking a seven year vacation.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
My advice is to get ready for a long, frustrating, and exhausting process, and that’s after the book is written. Whether you’re looking for a traditional publisher or you want to self-publish, you have a lot of work ahead of you. But, remember, nothing in life worth doing is easy. When you finally see your book in print, when you look at your cover for the first time, all that hard work is well worth it.
One thing to keep in mind: when your book finally becomes real, understand that’s not the goal…that’s the starting line. It doesn’t mean you won your race, it means you are now entering the race, a race that never ends because there are always people out there that haven’t read your book yet and you want them to know about it.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Lay off all the desserts. Eventually, they catch up. Also, believe yourself and stuff like that, I guess.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
I do...all of them. I enjoy reading what people think of my work, but I also take them with a grain of salt. I don't pat myself on the back or cry myself to sleep each night depending on what the last review said.
Most of the reviews for The Witches of Vegas series have been positive, but there have been a few negative ones as well. When that happens, I remind myself of the famous line from Pirates of the Caribbean -
Norrington: You are without a doubt the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of.
Captain Jack Sparrow: But you have heard of me.
Just change "pirate" to "author" and it works just as well.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I certainly appreciate anyone who takes the time to read my work and enjoys it. A good review is a reader’s way of letting authors know that they enjoyed their book. I know there are many authors who do not read reviews, but if someone took the time to write one, good or bad, I will take the time read it.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
I think all writers take some aspect of real-life happenings, exaggerate them, and then incorporate them into their writing. I’m no different. Obviously, I’ve never been a witch or cast spells, but I’m sure there are events in my real life that have influenced my creative process.
One thing I can tell you is that when I decided to write The Witches of Vegas, my family and I took a trip to Las Vegas. We stayed in the heart of the strip and walked it every single day. Much of my experience on that trip can be seen in The Witches of Vegas series (particularly the first book). Las Vegas is practically another character in the story.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
I would say there’s a different part of me in each of my characters. But is there one particular character in The Witches of Vegas that has more of me than the others? I invite anyone who knows me to read their adventures and see if you can pick that character out. 😊
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
Absolutely. Although any story stands on its own, it's important to get people to want to read that story. The cover is the front line of sales. Most readers on any bookstore or online site look at the cover and the title, then decide whether to keep going or stop and look at more. You could have the best story in the world but without a catchy cover and title, few will stop and read it.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
It is a personal thrill when a reader reaches out wanting to discuss the world within my writing. In fact, I can be reached through my website, www.markrosendorf.com and I always respond (so long as it's not an advertisement).
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
It's a great feeling. It tells me that all the work I've put into those stories were worth it as I am not just writing for myself.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
It was never a specific author that has attracted me, but specific books. There were a lot of books that I loved reading while I was growing up and they were certainly influences towards my own writing.
Number one on my list would have to be “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. I found the story clever, funny, and well told. Not to mention, so many of the lines are quotable. The sequel, “Restaurant at the end of the galaxy” was just as good, if not even better. After that, the sequels started to drop in quality, but I’ve reread the first two books many times. (Truth be told, I gone though both books twice before realizing that one of the main character’s name was NOT Ford Perfect).
My next book is “The Time Machine” by HG Wells. The concept of travelling through time and witnessing the future is every fiction writer’s dream.
Last, and perhaps most important on my list was Stephen Baxter’s “The Time Ships,” which was a direct sequel to “The Time Machine.” It was one of the first non-classics I remember reading. It had short chapters and each one ended with a cliffhanger. The entire book kept my attention, especially since I never liked long chapters. I say “Time Ships” was the most important book I’ve ever read because it was the one that pushed me over the line and inspired me to become a writer.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
I don't compare myself to anyone else and I don't want to be the next anyone. I want to be the first Mark Rosendorf.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
No. I tried it once. The Rasner Effect was picked up by another publishing company. Once they contracted it, they hooked me up with an editor who asked for rewrites. Once the rewrites were done, the book hit the market…but it turned out many of the people who had an interest in reading it already did. It was really hard to market a rewritten work that’s already been out there. Plus, since this was six years later, the book felt dated. I had moved on in my writing while The Rasner Effect, although better written in its second edition, really hadn’t. I’d rather put those creative juices into new stories.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
I’d want to switch places with Stephen King or James Patterson so I could promote The Witches of Vegas. It could use the publicity from a big name author.
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
Amazon and many other book sites consider quantity of reviews, not quality, so I say knock yourselves out, trolls. Annoy me all you'd like, just keep making those review numbers go up.
What would you say to your readers?
I would tell them that the third book in The Witches of Vegas series will be out and it is one of my favorites. I always promised myself that if I could come up with an original concept regarding time travel and alternate realities, I'd write it. That concept leads the way for Witch's Gamble.
But the story doesn't end there, the adventures of Isis, Zack, and The Witches of Vegas will return.
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I'm from New York City (born and raised) where I live with my wife of seven years. No kids (that I know of).
What is your day job if you have one?
I'm a high school guidance counselor in the New York City Department of Education's Special Education district. It is my passion (along with my family and my writing).
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
Besides writing (obviously) I used to be a professional magician. I still love magic and teach it to my students. My experience on stage performing magic is clear for anyone who reads The Witches of Vegas.
Did you have a happy childhood?
My childhood, to be honest, was somewhat uninteresting, which left me a lot of time to fantasize. I’ve certainly had some difficulties growing up (getting bullied in school, etc) but in the end, it helped create the person I am today. So I have no complaints. I know many out there have had it worse…but without the rough times in life, you can’t appreciate the happy ones.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
Writing was something I always knew I wanted to do. As a child, I had a wild imagination, especially when playing with my toys. I used to create worlds which were detailed and followed a story that would continue each time I laid on the floor and played.
I was in the seventh grade when I knew writing was in my future. My social studies teacher gave us an assignment to interview a grandparent and then write up their story. Unfortunately, my grandparents had a 1960s sitcom ability to turn every single topic into an argument…and they both hit below the belt. The fact that they were married for 70 years is perhaps the eighth wonder of the world. I did take a shot at the assignment; I asked my grandfather to tell me about his life growing up during the depression. He told me about the girl from Ohio he wished he’d married instead of the woman he did marry. My grandmother jumped on the line and, of course, they ended up arguing. Even as I hung up the phone, they were still yelling at each other on the line.
I sat down and made up a story about my grandfather. In the story, I explained how, during the depression of the 1920’s, he left home at fourteen years old and survived by carrying bundles of hay for a nickel an hour. I talked about how he managed to save one nickel every other hour, which he used to open a business and become successful. Then he met my grandmother, and it was love at first sight. They settled down and lived happily ever after.
None of that was necessarily true, but my teacher loved the story. He gave it an “A” and asked me if I would bring my grandparents to school so they could talk about their lives and take questions from the class. Picturing what a disaster that would have been, I did some quick damage control and explained that my grandparents wouldn’t be able to make it.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
I do have a few ideas in the "vault" but right now my focus is on Isis Rivera, Zack Galloway, and The Witches of Vegas. They still have a lot more story to tell. But someday in the future...who knows?
One of those ideas in my vault revolves around the Nigerian scam. I'm sure we've all seen that e-mail that a Nigerian prince wants to use our account to transfer his funds to America at which point he'll split the money with you. "Just send me your account information."
My story idea is about a poor and naïve person who falls for this scam...and it turns out to be true. Now he's a millionaire and his best friend/business partner is a Nigerian prince.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
Funny you should ask considering I work in a public school. I remember learning new words was a main focus during my schooling days. Every Monday, we would receive 20 new words, assignments involving those words throughout the week (which included learning the definitions and how to use these words in sentences), then a spelling test on Friday. Schools don't do that anymore, which is a shame. This improved my vocabulary to the point I'm an author today. It is my hope they bring this back to the curriculum.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
The first would revolve around my family's health and safety. The second would that a producer or someone in the movie industry would discover The Witches of Vegas series and purchase the rights to make it into a movie.
After that, I wouldn't even need a third wish. I'm pretty happy with my life as is.
What is your favorite music?
I like 80's rock. But, as far as recent artists, my favorite is Train. My wife and I have seen Train in person three times in the last 4 years (at Madison Square Garden, Jones Beach Theater and the Foxwoods Theater).
Share a secret with us 🙂
My best ideas come while I'm in the shower. That's why I keep a notepad and pencil taped to the wall in the shower (just out of the water's range). Much of The Witches of Vegas series was figured out while I was getting hit in the face with water. Hey, you asked, right?