Now let’s keep the party going with today’s guest author! MARK FINE
Traci Sanders: “When I joined BooksGoSocial on Facebook (an awesome group of readers and authors), my world of reading and authorship was burst wide open. I met incredibly talented authors, such as today’s featured one.
I was blown away by the reviews I’d seen coming in for his novel, ‘The Zebra Affaire’, (read my 5-star review here), and just had to read it for myself. I was not disappointed! The love story within is fiction, but many of the other events in this story are, sadly, very real reminders of just how far we’ve come as humankind. The writing is intense, riveting, and beautiful.
It’s my pleasure to welcome…Mark Fine!!!
About The Author
Mark Fine was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has made the United States his home since 1979, living in New York, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles.
For four decades he has worked alongside world famous recording artists. He eventually launched his own award-winning record label, Hammer & Lace, with a mandate to produce benefit albums in support of such causes as breast cancer awareness, at-risk children, and wildlife conservation.
For these philanthropic initiatives Mark was voted by Variety magazine as the “Music Executive with 20/20 Vision.” He has also contributed articles to entertainment industry publications, and conducted public speaking engagements at multimedia events.
Now he resides in the South Bay, where he lives with his two sons, his “significant other” and Charlie, a neighborhood dog that drops in from time to time. There he wrote the historic romance novel, The Zebra Affaire. Set in apartheid South Africa, Mark brings an insider’s perspective to the gripping account of a bi-racial couple’s forbidden love.
Connect with Mark:
Twitter: @MarkFine_author or https://twitter.com/MarkFine_author
Launched anti-poaching campaign called “You! Yes you can be a Rhino Protector!” with the #RhinoProtector and this graphic:
IT’S THE SPRING OF ‘76. For Elsa, her affair with Stanwell may prove lethal, as she’s white and he’s black, and they dared to fall in love in apartheid South Africa. The terrified lovers are the prey in a deadly hunt from the golden city of Johannesburg to the exotic but dangerous wilds of the African bushveld.
The Zebra Affaire is a thrilling fusion of romance and suspense—laced with rich South African history. The tension is palpable as the persecuted couple race against time and bigotry. Reviewers rave about this intimate, yet dangerous love story; that’s set against a canvas that is both vividly authentic and powerfully provocative.
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING:
“INTENSELY DAZZLING…NOT A BLACK AND WHITE STORY, A RAINBOW STORY WITH THE RICH COLORS OF LIVES IN TURMOIL.” – Elizabeth Newton, author of ‘View from the Sixth Floor’
“Profound, provocative and powerful — a book EVERYONE must read!” – Michelle Medhat, author ‘Connected: The Call & The Shift’
“I can’t find words to express how deeply reading this book affected me. I would have given it ten stars if I could.” – Gloria Antypowich, author ‘The Second Time Around’
“A book to savor slowly…appreciating each moment. I found myself re-reading sentences and whole paragraphs; such was the quality of the writing. One of the best books I’ve read this year.” – Jean Gill, author of ‘Song at Dawn’
“The story of Stanwell and Elsa really touched me. Racial discrimination was so dehumanizing. This book took me to the days of the liberation struggle, and I experienced the hurt as I read. It was a real privilege to read the history, a period of pain and hope, as seen through Mark Fine’s eyes.” – Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe, Former Freedom Fighter & Senior South African Diplomat
“More than a daring, multiracial romance set in a racist 1976 South Africa, that nation on the turbulent cusp of collapsing due to apartheid; The Zebra Affaire grips your soul and won’t let go. Never mind zebras, think lions, raw and roar.” – Geoff Nelder, author of ‘ARIA: Left Luggage’
EARLY MORNINGS IN MID-JULY on the Highveld were gripped in the bracing chill of a Southern hemisphere winter. White frost dusted the parklands and lawns. These tiny ice crystals were destined to thaw as they faced a warming sun. However, in Pretoria’s corridors of power, matters had heated up considerably. The nation’s administrative capital was at full alert as a consequence of the Soweto upheaval. Though the mob violence had been contained, the threat still simmered.
The Soweto Riots had eroded the certainty of the ruling regime. They feared for their way of life. Despite their apparent insensitivity to the plight of other humans, the Afrikaners were great champions of wildlife conservation—and similar to the white rhino, a victim of senseless poaching, they too felt as if they were an endangered species.
An endangered animal is desperate. A cornered animal is dangerous. The ruling regime was both desperate and dangerous as they felt their grip over the nation loosening. The Soweto Riots invoked a regime dictate of zero tolerance. From on high, directives to the nation’s security apparatus adopted an apocalyptic tone—the end of the volk was imminent, and all threats must be stopped, now. No deviation from the law by anyone would be tolerated.
The Security Branch considered Stanwell and Elsa’s romantic entanglement a matter of national security; what was once considered a tawdry “domestic affair” became a public symbol of rebellion and had to be crushed. The couple had undermined a key principle of apartheid; the white minority’s dominance could not be eroded by the intermingling of the races. Another outrage was Stanwell’s status as a business executive. His authority over white employees signaled to the Bantu that they were the white man’s equal, and that was unacceptable.
The Security Branch’s first act in their campaign against the couple was plagiarism. They lifted the “Zebra Affaire” headline from the newspaper article that publicly exposed them, and made it the operation’s code name.
Their second action was to classify Stanwell as an enemy of the state.
Malan Zander was delighted. Finally he had his marching orders. The mixed-race couple was now fair game, and it was time they suffered the consequence of their actions. He felt the buzz of anticipation. Others chose to be doctors, teachers, or builders in order to heal, impart knowledge, or create. Zander never understood that mindset.
As a child he found it more gratifying to demolish things, and as an adult, annihilation was his guiding light. Fortune shone on him when he found an employer that regarded the destruction of people’s lives a virtue.
For Zander restraint was an anathema; he’d much prefer bludgeoning the miscreants into submission. But his orders were clear: the Zebra Affaire must be handled subtly, as the world was watching. No killings, no public trial, no questionable disappearances—just make it go away. But for now just one problematic life required his immediate attention; he would deal with the girl later. As Stanwell’s crimes against the State were twofold, in business and in the bedroom, Zander had fertile grounds to create mischief.
Stanwell initially dismissed the disruptions, strange repeated hang-ups or silence on his telephone at work, as a nuisance. But paranoia grew when he heard mysterious clicks and echoes on the company phone. It could only be the State’s Security Branch meddling in his business.
Then the threats started, and Stanwell’s worst fears were confirmed. Vulgar in content and vicious in implication, faceless voices with rasping accents vowed public exposure. All Stanwell’s claims of innocence to his invisible attacker were brushed aside with merciless laughter until he began to plead. At that point he was given a specific warning: Miss Elsa Marais would soon receive something in the mail. After that the calls stopped, but the pressure continued.
Two white men arrived unannounced at the warehouse facility. Their ill-fitting suits were a signal to Stanwell’s staff that they were members of the Security Branch. The visitors were seen speaking with Stanwell through the executive office’s glass wall. The three men leaned toward each other in a conspiratorial fashion. Their body language was clear—they wished not to be overheard.
After the men left, the warehouse swirled with rumors that Stanwell was a snitch working for the apartheid regime. In that cesspool of tribal mistrust, Stanwell’s coworkers happily accepted the allegations as fact. This placed Stanwell’s life in potential danger. A revenge killing by embittered colleagues was now a real threat.
Understandably, Stanwell was terrified.
Interview with Mark:
What/who inspired you to become a writer?
My paternal grandmother owned a private book library in a suburb of Johannesburg. Her shop was always busy with clients scrambling dibs for the latest read, as she (a copious reader) gave brief synopsis of new releases–all the while stamping return dates on the front leaf of the book in front of her. And I helped, opening boxes of new releases, or bringing some order to disheveled shelves. Only is such an environment, where the written word was so revered, would my first notion of becoming an author take seed
Where do you get your ideas from?
My unofficial mission is to make history come alive, by been relevant again, as there are lessons to be learned (and repeated mistakes avoided). Strangely the events of recent history seem to be the first forgotten, so I don’t tend to forage beyond 50 years from today, now. I specifically enjoy the African continent; it is so easily misunderstood (or written-off), but it’s a fertile source of inspiration for a writer such as me that delights placing fictional characters in the midst of real events and people from another time.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers (writing, getting published, etc.)?
A topic I do have an opinion or two. When writing, I have two basic rules. First, prepare a three page outline. This is the map that provides direction, keeps you on topic, and defines the universe you are creating. Second, write the closing of the book FIRST. Sounds counter intuitive, but I think of it as the “closing argument” by the prosecutor in a court case. It has to be tight, concise, clear, and dramatic. With that strategy in mind, the writer will have a final destination, a finish to write towards. Without it, the author will inevitably wander down extraneous paths; and this is the biggest obstacle that causes many to never complete their book.
Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known prior to getting published?
You must create an author platform by the date your book is released. This includes setting up a website or blog, garnering sufficient reviews, preparing your media kit with bio and book synopsis, readying the components for you Amazon Author Page, etc. etc. Unfortunately, I only began addressing these issues late in the process when “The Zebra Affaire” was going through the final editing process. It has certainly cost me wasted time and some opportunities. I’d suggest (though easier said than done), try wearing both your writer’s hat and entrepreneur hat simultaneously. This way I could have allowed fans to witness the writing process; the research, book jacket design, before and after drafts of the manuscript, and type setting in real time.
What’s next? Are you currently working on anything?
“The Zebra Affaire” remains in part a living document to me. No, not because of mistakes, but my interests have grown since the book’s release. The story’s big showdown takes place during a safari in the African veld. I would like to add an anti-poaching theme as a subset to the main narrative. I believe it would play very well. And fit elegantly in the story with the tragic, sad focus on a rhino, hacked to death for its horn. (More pathetic and pitiful knowing that alleged mystical/medical benefits of a rhino horn are no greater than the cuticles on our hands). Being an independent publisher, I am free to make this adjustment—and insert these passages—without requiring consent from a cast of thousands. As for the page or so added to my novel, I will feel so much better about the cause-driven component it will add to my historical novel, “The Zebra Affaire.”
Do you have a book tour planned? Will you be appearing anywhere?
I am a fan of Book Clubs. Really enjoy the conversation with readers whom are already well acquainted with my work. It makes the nature of our engagement more intimate, as, instead of trying to pitch the book, I’m able to get down to the emotional, political, and societal issues that influenced the actions of my characters. And most of all, relish the personal feedback they kindly provide.
That said, I’ve never attempted a book tour. Frankly, I’m not sure how to go about it–but I’m eager to try. Any suggestions?
What are you currently reading?
Alan Furst “The Spies of Warsaw”
Connect with Mark:
Twitter: @MarkFine_author or https://twitter.com/MarkFine_author
I would like to thank Mark Fine for joining us today! Go check out ‘The Zebra Affaire’!
PLEASE CHECK OUT “A WORD WITH TRACI” at this link: http://awordwithtraci.com/day-15-mark-fine/