Short Stories. It’s time to write ’em and read ’em. Mark Fine Interview.

TWISTED TALES & AUTHORS – The Mark Fine interview

ON 24/05/2016

The amazing author of the Zebra Affaire, and an all-around creative machine of a man, visits my blog today. The man who has been mingling with amazing world famous artists all of his life certainly has a lot to write about. It is a privilege to have him over as a guest.

Twisted Tales short story collection featuring author Mark Fine
Karmic Odds by Mark Fine


STORY: “Karmic Odds”–from Twisted Tales short story collection

1. Why did you accept to write a short story for Twisted Tales?

Hello there, Anita. A belief in the value of short stories in our busy 21st Century lives. I like the idea that a reader can enjoy the full arc of a complete story during those in-between moments in life; waiting for a bus, lunch break at work, and all those other gaps in time that would otherwise turn to impatience.

2. What is your story about and what made you write it?

Though I’ve lived in America for three decades, I still have an accent from my native South Africa. It’s amusing how people respond to it. Some regard it exotic. They project on me a level of worldliness that’s not, to be honest, correct. In ‘Karmic Odds’ I riff on this stranger in strange land theme of an ‘exotic’ foreigner that finds himself a beautiful bride. Will they live happily ever after in domestic bliss, or is there a twist? It’s up to the reader to find out…

Mark Fine short story, Karmic Odds
Karmic Odds by Mark Fine. Featured in Twisted Tales short story collection

3. What is the biggest challenge for you in writing short stories?

Never attempted it before, so it was the challenge itself I found so motivating. Short stories demand efficient craftsmanship. The ability to wedge into a few thousand words the richness of character, time, place and plot really pushed me; and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

4. What is your favourite famous traditional short story, or short story author and why?

Roald Dahl. A stunning story titled ‘A Fine Son’—I was drawn to it for egocentric reasons; the use of my name ‘Fine’ in the title. Wow! Not a typical surprise twist yarn but the revelation at the end is shocking. One heck of a fine story…just to let your readers know it was subsequently published under another title, ‘Genesis and Catastrophe’.

5. What did you like about writing for Readers Avenue Park?

Readers Avenue Park is international community of Readers, a kind of virtual book club…and that’s why I write; to be able to weave words into the minds of readers, everywhere. I appreciate the invitation from Readers Avenue Park to participate in this unique short story anthology.

6. What do you like most about the Twisted Tales?

The brief was liberal, as in not restrictive. As an author I was free to express myself freely, genuinely, without the constraints of some artificially imposed criteria. That’s rare in this exploitive, commercial environment.

7. Can you share a favourite quote from your TT story?

Sure, how about this one, ‘… the fragrance of her was breathtakingly real as it drifted toward me across the ocean breeze. And so there I stood with trousers rolled-up and damp, with my nude toes clawed in the sand, awaiting swift execution.’

8. Any message for TT readers or potential readers?

I must champion the short story format. For me they are like a hit single, rather than the full music album. As such they are easy to enjoy, especially in the context of our busy, busy lives.  Also, they provide a marvelous insight into the mechanics of an author’s mind. In other words short stories are the perfect ‘sampler’ when a reader is seeking out fresh author voices. By the way, download yourself a FREE copy HERE!


Mark Fine Author links

Book Trailer

Mimagey thanks to Anita Kovacevic for this interview originally posted on

Author: Mark Fine

Author Mark Fine was a record label chief for PolyGram. Variety magazine named him “Music Executive with 20/20 Vision”—good thing too as Fine is tone-deaf. His failed efforts to compose a song resulted in the critically acclaimed novel, “The Zebra Affaire.” As research for his writings (and opinions) Fine immigrated to America from South Africa, in an effort to better appreciate being a stranger in a strange land. Due to his African roots, he is a strong advocate for wildlife conservation and is an ardent #RhinoProtector. Readers may follow him at and

Twisted Tales: Meet the Authors – an interview with Mark Fine

To paraphrase Forrest Gump (and his momma): “twisted is as twisted does”- so grab your free copy of Twisted Tales, a Readers’ Choice selection of short fiction from Readers’ Choice selection of short fiction from Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park. Literary lies, epic yarns – it’s an eclectic collection of 15 stories by authors from around the globe.

In today’s Meet the Authors series I’m delighted to welcome to the blog Mark Fine. Mark was a label chief for PolyGram records. He has written the critically acclaimed novel ‘The Zebra Affaire.’ As research for his ‘Karmic Odds’ story, Fine immigrated to America from South Africa, in an effort to better appreciate being a stronger in a strange land.

Your story ‘Karmic Odds’ appears in t he Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park’s recent anthology ‘Twisted Tales.’ What made you decide on that story?

When the Grand Poobahs of Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park invited me to write something for ‘Twisted Tales’ I was delighted. By the way ‘Karmic Odds’ is not autobiographical; though there’s some truth at the heart of the story.

As an immigrant to the USA I’ve been amused by the way folks respond to my accent; to them my South African speech patterns seem so, well, let us say ‘exotic.’ In turn, they assume I’m far more interesting than I really am.

Obviously, back in South Africa the way I speak is downright dull. So let’s be honest, it’s still the same dull me no matter where I live. This duality intrigued me and lent itself to some great irony within my story.

Did you find writing a short story easier or harder to write than what you’ve written in the past?

I’d had this short story circulating in my mind, and it wanted out.  This made the task relatively easy. I enjoy the efficiency of both writing and reading short stories so it was never about being easy or hard. Similar to a photograph that often looks better cropped, I felt a story can improve by being tightened.

Yet, I see songwriting as the ultimate short story. Consider the Rolling Stone’s ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ – two thousand years of human history is recited in rhythm and rhyme in only a few minutes. Now that’s what I consider to be truly difficult task.

Who has been an important influence on your journey as a writer?

I’m a fan of both O. Henry and Roald Dahl as masters of the short story, and relished the surprising sting-in-the-tail treats they provided us readers. As a homage to these two writers, I have a twist -in -the -tale, of sorts, lurking within ‘Karmic Odds.’

What is your next project?

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to intrigue me as setting for my novels. Fortunately my historical fiction book (with it’s generous dollops of romance and suspense) called The Zebra Affaire   has been well received. Not a sequel, but continuing on the African theme, is a work I’ve tentatively titled The Hyena Axis. It’s set in 1978 Rhodesia as that country (now known as Zimbabwe) was being torn apart by  the Bush War, as a consequence of the liberation struggle.

Please share a little more of your writing background.

As a music business executive and record  producer I’ve always been a part of the creative process. As for books, my grandmother owned a library which elevated the value of the written word within our home. Growing up I had the honor of the legendary author, Alan Paton (‘Cry, the Beloved Country’) give a lecture to my high school English class.

Then, as friends of the family I was fortunate to know Wilbur Smith (I still have an autographed copy of his novel, Gold Mine, on my desk). His powerful historical fiction-based yarns of Africa have been a tremendous influence over the years. All this contributed to my love for writing, and reading.

Where can readers reach you?

Would welcome hearing from readers. Joe, as you well know writing is a “living process” and it’s vital as authors engage with the world at large. So the opinions of readers is crucial to the creation of better books, and to themes within our books. For example, I got a wonderful review from a reader. She applauded me for taking on the difficult subject of apartheid. But she chastised me for not confronting the issue of poaching–especially rhino and elephant.

Thanks to her I’m now including this vital wildlife conservation theme in my future writings, and my current promotional efforts under the theme #RhinoProtector and #ElephantProtector. So feedback does a great service to both an authors work and the greater community at large.

So please, reach out to me at:


Source: Twisted Tales: Meet the Authors – an interview with Mark Fine by Joseph Mark Brewer

Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Kurt Wallander and Japan Noir and you have a new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s Son and The Thief’s Mistake – and sign up for his monthly newsletter at