Between the Beats Review: “Mark of The Hyena: An Electric Eclectic Novelette” – By Mark Fine

“Mark of The Hyena: An Electric Eclectic Book” – By Mark Fine

mark of the Hyena
Available on Amazon

I’ve enjoyed Mark Fine’s writing since I read his novel, The Zebra Affaire.Delighted to find his Electric Eclectic novelette, Mark of the Hyena, I eagerly dove into reading it. Fine’s writing is almost poetic; his use of words musical. This short story captures all the beauty and harshness of sub-Sahara Africa. When the San Bushman of the Kalahari, N!xau, comes across the barely living Professor Werner, this cautionary tale of “civilized” man versus “savage” begins.

N!xau and his tribe have been pursuing an Oryx antelope when they discovered Werner, injured and dehydrated. Werner is in Africa fulfilling a bet; a bet he was confident he would win. The professor believes the San are “inept primitives.” However, it is the primitive San who provide Werner with some liquid which is acquired using fundamental skills; skills Werner, an egotistical American, knows nothing of. However, Werner views himself as superior to these diminutive people. Unable to communicate effectively, Werner is brought to the camp and cared for by N!xau and his wife, K/ora.

Instead of appreciating the skills of the people, Werner views them as ignorant. Judging himself as superior, the tall, pale man believes he is entitled to all they can offer. Neither aware of, or caring to understand, what the tribe values, he takes advantage of their generosity.

What Werner fails to appreciate is his lack of understanding of the ways of the people and the dangers of the situation show him to be the ignorant one. He is spied committing a heinous act by N!xau’s son, !Xi. Even a child in the desolate area is wiser than the well educated foreigner. The consequences of Werner’s false belief that he is the supreme being in this situation is proved wrong in a most delightful manner.

Fine’s ability to present characters as diverse as these is a tremendous skill. The Bushmen are simple; their wisdom born of generations of experience passed down orally. Werner’s education does him no good in the strange environment he has taken no time to familiarize himself with.

Fine educates the reader in this story. Set against the rich panorama of Africa, he reminds us that modern man is not always wiser or better equipped to survive in all settings. Sometimes it would be better to observe and listen; he might learn something valuable that can save his life. I highly recommend this well-written and profound story.



Mark Fine B&W (300dpi)Print

Mark Fine on Amazon

Mark Fine on Facebook

Mark Fine on Goodreads

Mark Fine on Twitter

Mark Fine Website


Win Amazon Vouchers in the Electric Eclectic Prize Draw

COMPETITIONS

Win Amazon vouchers in the Electric Eclectic Prize Draw 

This is a simple prize draw.

 Just leave your review of an Electric Eclectic book on Amazon and email Electric Eclectic a copy.

 That’s it. So easy to enter.

You will then be entered into a quarterly draw, giving you the chance to win a five pounds/dollars Amazon gift voucher.

 Prize draws take place each quarter, the next is June, followed bySeptember, the final one this year will be in December… a nice Christmas gift for the lucky winner.

 To qualify for entry into the any of the draws, reviews must be from verified purchases of an Electric Eclectic book and the review must be accepted by Amazon and shown on the relevant books page.

 The more Electric Eclectic books you buy the more chances you have of winning and with so many authors and so many books to choose from it will be easy peasy!

 Winners will be announced on the Electric Eclectic Facebook page

and other social media.

 Only one review, per purchase-per reader, will be accepted.

 The draw is independently undertaken by CQ International Publishing, their decisions are final.

Gift vouchers will be in the form of Amazon e-gift cards and electronically emailed to the winner to the same address their draw entry was made.

 No cash alternative is possible.

Please view the original article on Lizzi Newton’s Between the Beats blog:
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PRESS RELEASE: Apartheid Love Story Historical Fiction Novel Zebra Affaire Audiobook Released

The acclaimed apartheid historical fiction novel The Zebra Affaire where author Mark Fine chronicles the courageous and intense love story of a proud Zulu descendant and the daughter of a white farmer in 1976 South Africa has now been released in audiobook format on Audible.com.

Rancho Palos Verdes, United States – November 28, 2017 /PressCable/ —

The critically acclaimed apartheid novel The Zebra Affaire by South African author Mark Fine has been released in audiobook format on Audible.com, with narration by fellow countryman Dennis Kleinman.

More information is available at https://amazon.com/Zebra-Affaire-Apartheid-Saga/dp/1512321028.

The Zebra Affaire is an acclaimed historical fiction novel by Mark Fine set in 1976 Apartheid South Africa. It tells the courageous, forbidden love story of Stanwell Marunda, a descendent of the Zulu, and Elsa, the daughter of a white farmer, under an intolerant, racist regime.

The book is lauded for its authenticity and seamless fusion of romance and suspense within one hundred years of South African history. Recently described by critics as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ meets ‘Romeo & Juliet’ in ‘Out of Africa’, the novel is now available in audiobook format on Audible.com.

First released in July 2015, the novel is now being relaunched as an audiobook to meet renewed interest for its multicultural story and interracial romance with recent events unfolding in Zimbabwe, the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and the rise of white supremacy sentiments around the world.

The narration was performed by fellow South African Dennis Kleinman, chosen by Mr. Fine out of more than 50,000 voice actors on Audible’s database. Mr. Kleinman, while in studio producing the audiobook, read a scene on page 192 in the paperback. In the scene protagonists Sid and DGF discuss a painting by a South African artist named Ilse Kleinman. Narrator Kleinman realized the fictional characters in the novel were referring to his real mother.

Author Mark Fine reveals how “this was a stunning coincidence. The Ilse Kleinman that the patriarch DGF references is actually Dennis’ mother. Both she and the painting are real. Ilse’s personal story and paintings intrigued me, having survived both the Holocaust as child and witnessed apartheid as an adult. These two horrific experiences informed her art, so she rightfully had a place in my novel. That’s the wonderful thing about writing historical fiction/world literature, where threads of truth are woven throughout the story. Also, the character named Sid coincidently shares Dennis’ father’s name, and drives the same car.”

He adds “I am from Johannesburg, and Dennis is from Cape Town. We both immigrated to the US but had never met, until now, on this audiobook project. When I auditioned his tape, I felt he was perfect for my book. However, to discover our paths crossing in this fiction meets reality sense makes our collaboration all the more remarkable.”

Mr. Kleinman shared his thoughts. “This is an important book to experience because it tells a story of all the nameless lovers that must have struggled with the oppressive laws of apartheid as they found each other, regardless of the color of their skin. It was an honor to bring The Zebra Affaire to audio. I invite anyone who is interested in stories that impact us deeply, to read the book, or listen to the audiobook.”

The new Zebra Affaire audiobook has received sterling reviews by Senior South African Diplomat, Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe, fellow authors and hundreds of readers. For additional details about this courageous and relevant novel, and the forbidden love story it tells, visit the website link provided above or at https://audible.com/pd/Romance/The-Zebra-Affaire-Audiobook/B076C1CVNS.

Contact Info:
Email: pr@finebooks.co

For more information, please visit http://www.finebooks.co/

Source: PressCable

Fine Review: “Red Queen Check” by Elizabeth Horton-Newton [Short Story]

strategyVirtues of the short story told by an artful author

I’ve become extremely fond of the short story as a medium. Life is too busy, yet I enjoy a good read, so an enticing short story is a most satisfying treat. Being a fan of author, Elizabeth Horton-Newton—her two novels “The View from the Sixth Floor” and “Riddle” having provided hours of pleasure—I confidently chose her ‘Red Queen Check’ from the short story anthology, Crooked Tales. Glad I did.

The sheer glee in the author’s writing radiated from every paragraph. This doesn’t mean this is a cheerful, trivial read; in fact it is at times gritty. However, there is little doubt she wished for the reader to enjoy the delicious comeuppance she had in-store for the miserable sociopath (or, maybe psychopath) at the stories core. But, it is the recipe of the revenge fashioned that is most satisfying.

From the opening line, Horton-Newton teases the reader with sensual heat as she introduces the femme fatale. By the third paragraph we are repulsed by him, a contemptuous and possessive blowhard with deadly desires.  And so, in the best tradition of a fine short story the stage is set for a diabolical plot driven by an avenging heart.

Yet, despite the obvious pleasure in her writing there is little doubt that the author had earnest intent. Elizabeth Horton-Newton’s message is clear:  there is little use in society for those that abuse—no matter their power or position.

I applaud the writer’s craft exhibited by Horton-Newton; her ability to score such rich characters within such a satisfying story arc—and all this, with only 4,000 words used! No wonder I now find short stories so appealing…and hope for more from the artful Elizabeth Horton-Newton.

For more about CROOKED TALES short stories click here.

About Elizabeth Horton-Newton

elisabeth-horton-newtonElizabeth Horton-Newton was born and raised in New York City. She began writing when she was a child, writing stories for friends and family. In the 4th Grade at P.S. 151 in Manhattan, she wrote an essay about her dream job—she wanted to be an author. Elizabeth continued to write short stories over the following years as she raised a family. After attending Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY and East Tennessee State University, she worked in the social work field for thirteen years.

She currently lives in East Tennessee with her husband, author Neil Newton, and a collection of rescued dogs and cats. Her first book View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale was published in October 2014; a love story that revolves around the assassination of President John Kennedy on November 22, 1963—and the ensuing conspiracy theories. This was followed in June 2015 with the release of Riddle, a romantic thriller about a Native American convicted of killing his high school girlfriend. Elizabeth’s third novel, a somewhat erotic romance of one woman’s journey through love, loss, and resolution, will be released in the fall of 2016.

This mother of 4, grandmother of 5, and great grandmother of a newly arrived boy, loves serial killers and all things horror. She has been this way since early childhood, much to her mother’s dismay. Fascinated by the inner workings of the criminal mind, an interest strongly influenced by her father, she allowed her imagination to run wild in her tale for this anthology. You are invited to pay Elizabeth a visit at Between the Beats and her author website here or connect via Facebook and Twitter: @redqueenliz

“Mark of the Hyena” by Mark Fine [CROOKED TALES short story]

Review by Elizabeth Horton-Newton the author of ‘View From the Sixth Floor: An Oswald Tale’ and ‘Riddle’

“Mark of the Hyena” by Mark Fine

When civilizations collide N!xau’s click ticks tsk tsk tricks a surprising vultured culture.

Author Mark Fine provides a unique short story with his offering of “Mark of the Hyena”. Presenting the tale with two perspectives; N!xau an African San Bushman native and Werner, a smug European professor who sets out to prove his allegation that the San Bushmen were a “trivial people” because they had no written record of their history or culture.

 

‘CROOKED TALES’ gathers the talent of 15 of the hottest authors around to thrill you with their visions of mayhem, in places exotic, bucolic, other-worldly, or simply sinister.
CROOKED TALES: Deception & Revenge in 15 Short Stories (Short Story Tales Book 2)

From Fine’s artful descriptions of the native language of clicks and clacks to Werner’s attitude of superiority, the author creates vibrant characters. In spite of the turmoil the tribe is experiencing N!xau and the Bushmen rescue Werner and transport him to their village in order to save him from certain death. The professor is ill prepared to survive in the unfamiliar wilderness he had foolishly attempted to explore. On the other hand N!xau, his wife K/ora, and his son !Xi are likewise unprepared for the true savagery of the egocentric European.

This is a compelling story that highlights the conflict between two diverse cultures, with the best of one meeting the worst of the other. Incredibly insightful it provides a harsh look at the attitudes of the pseudo intellectual professor when offered the kindness of the natives. Fine’s ability to see through the eyes of different cultures shines through in this well written story. The unexpected climax is rewarding and beautifully handled. Mark Fine remains one of my favourite authors.

CROOKED TALES IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

Ulla Hakanson I just loved Elizabeth Noreen Newton’s review of Mark Fine’s fascinating story “Mark of the Hyena,” one of my favourites in the short story collection “Crooked Tales. Another favourite of mine is Anita Kovacevic’s “Beneath,” a truly unique story of the battle of wills! This whole book is filled with well-written suspenseful gems. Love it!

Thanks to Between the Beats for this article, for more great literary themed stories and reviews click here.

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 http://www.markfinebooks.com and http://www.facebook.com/ZebraAffaire.

Author Spotlight: Mark Fine Gets 5 Minutes for Fighting!

Jeremy – Welcome to the Penalty Box, Mark Fine! How are you doing today?

Mark: Fine thanks, or ‘well’ if the intent is not to confuse my state of health with my name.

Speaking about names, Jeremy, we share one—Jeremy. But it’s my middle name. As family legend goes, my mum and her best friend were both pregnant. They both loved the names Jeremy and Mark. So they struck a deal; the first to give birth would get naming rights!  So I became Mark Jeremy Fine, and out there somewhere is a Jeremy Mark…

Jeremy – The name Jeremy is a solid one. As a card carrying member of the Jeremy Club, please allow me to welcome you to the group.

First thing’s first, why don’t you tell everyone a bit about yourself. How did you end up getting suckered into this harsh reality that is “being an author?”

Mark: My true vocation is record industry exec and producer. Been around the music creative process my entire work-life, working with super successful artists. I’ve gone from physically pressing vinyl at the factory, to producing a hit single in a Manhattan studio. However, I never wrote a song…

Source: Author Spotlight: Mark Fine Get 5 Minutes for Fighting!

TWISTED TALES: 15 Literary Lies & Epic Yarns: “Karmic Odds” by Mark Fine

Short Story Review by Elizabeth Newton

Mark Fine B&W (72dpi)WebI must confess Mark Fine is one of my favorite indie author’s. I further confess his short story contribution to Twisted Tales, Karmic Odds, is one of my favorite stories in the collection. With the same adept use of prose he shows in his full length novel, The Zebra Affaire, Fine weaves a tale that is both compelling and disturbing.

Beginning with an easy pace, relating the trials and tribulations of a rather unpleasant marriage, Fine sets the tone for the story. From Roxanne’s first vitriolic outburst at long suffering Gerhard I wanted to smack her in the head. Unlike the poor man’s cheerful mother, Roxanne makes dinner time an Olympic event in castration by words; a contest Gerhard is doomed to lose. Escaping from her viper’s tongue Gerhard travels back in time to a memory that begins pleasantly before turning to a more disturbing recollection.

This is where Mark Fine spins his best magic web. He has a knack for bringing the past to life, embracing the reader with vibrant historic events, making his reader comfortable in the membrane of notable occurrences. Gerhard may have had loving parents in post war Germany but his happy if simple life is turned upside down when he is forced to leave his family behind and travel across the sea to the United States. It is in the golden west, with its sunny beaches and fifties rock and roll that Gerhard meets his future bride, Roxanne.

Roxanne’s “chameleonesque” personality may have sent up warning flags but like many men who have succumbed to beauty and the attentiveness of a stunning woman, Gerhard pushed his reservations aside.  He made the “beach-tinted” “breath of fresh air” his wife.

It would seem at this point the story would have a happily ever after conclusion but that is not to be. This is the story of a woman who is both superstitious and greedily demanding and her foreign born brow beaten spouse. It is the tale of lucky numbers and lottery tickets. It is the account of a man who sets a juicy trap for a conniving bitch. The conclusion of this story is as delicious and sweet as the Slurpee Gerhard consumes at the local 7-11.

Kudos to Mark Fine for not only driving the knife in to the hilt but twisting it skillfully and making me almost jump up and shout out “hurray”! Upon completion of reading this short story I was able to sit back and smile with the satisfying comment, “Karma is a bitch”.

TT Free

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FiNE REVIEW: “Unsevered” by Traci Sanders. An emotional, yet hopeful Love Story.

This book’s loving message is meaningful: that in the most unexpected way second chances are always possible.

An unconventional tile: “Unsevered”

51lfwjT9lNL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Let me first address the book title, “Unsevered”. An unconventional word that’s both awkward to say and discordant to hear. Why not, for example “Unbroken” or “Unbowed”? Curious, I had to read the book, and in doing so, I’m impressed how with a single word author Traci Sanders was able to capture the complexity of the human condition.

The antonym to “severed” suggests amputation.

Forgive me for being personal here, but I lost my wife to breast cancer, and the emotional tear of feelings was akin to “amputation”–not only the permanent loss of a loved one, but also the knowledge that the future life we had hoped to live together was forever destroyed.

This is what Jewel experienced when she lost her dear husband Harley to the unkindness of war. But Sanders use of “UNsevered” is a clear indication that there is always hope, and that loss need not mean “severed”.

A glimpse into the full life of a woman.

To this reader (taken from my distinctly male perspective) it was a forthright glimpse into a wife, lover, widow, friend, daughter, mother and bride.

In doing so I sensed the quiet of an anti-war song, the pang of a love letter, the grief of a widow, the camaraderie of a friend, the undying gratitude of a daughter, the selfless love of a new mother, and the wisdom and courage to fall in love, again.

Is there an enriching life after grief?

Though it is a universal experience it’s amazing how ill-equipped we are when it comes to grieving; and then moving forward beyond those bleak days. There is no formula. However, many of us are crippled by the notion that we are destined to have only one single “great love” in our lives. This prevents us from moving forward with optimism, and hope. And that, for me, is the significance of this love story; it is author Traci Sanders’ valiant message of hope.

It tells us to keep our hearts open for the unexpected (Yes, that’s another possible title for this book “Unexpected”) because in the cycle of life we do get do-overs.

“Unsevered” is well worth the read. Get it HERE from Amazon 🙂

FINE REVIEW: “Bride Without a Groom” by Amy Lynch ~ Great Fun & Highly Amusing

Bride Without a GroomBride Without a Groom by Amy Lynch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Man, I loved this book! I chortled and giggled my way through all 300 odd pages. How could I not after floating in the head of one self-absorbed, dilettante named Rebecca on a mission to land herself a husband. As for the target of her ambitions, Barry the lawyer, well, he was simply outgunned. The poor man had to beat a hasty retreat to Bangkok, (or was it Hong Kong, or Taiwan?) in order to muster his defense against Rebecca’s ‘you have to marry me’ onslaught. In Barry’s absence there’s hope that Rebecca would see the light, which she attempts through a veil of self-indulgence, fried-foods and gin & tonics. But Rebecca isn’t alone in her quest as she has the unwavering support of her BFF, the wealthy Emer.

Every dastardly challenge is rewarded with a mani-pedi, spa retreat, body wax, spray-on tan, and another gin & tonic; in other words Rebecca’s world is deliciously superficial. And that’s the brilliance of author Lynch’s writing, because as a reader you still wish for Rebecca to get her man despite her obvious failings.

As for writing style, it’s so successful rendered in the first person, from Rebecca’s perspective, that I could not help but become fully engaged in her trials and tribulations. The dialog was sassy, snappy and spot on in a British/Irish kind of way (which I found thoroughly refreshing). I especially enjoyed it when Amy Lynch lifted the lid on the inner workings of Rebecca’s mind; I so enjoyed the ruminations and rationales made by this hopeful bride in her effort pursue her life’s single purpose–to get herself a husband. Poor Barry never had a chance! There is no doubt I’d be delighted to read Amy Lynch’s next book because of her ability to both charm and amuse me. A fun, fun read.

View all my reviews

FINE REVIEW: The China Pandemic by A.R. Shaw ~ A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller with a Humanist Heart

The China Pandemic (Graham's Resolution #1)The China Pandemic by A.R. Shaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I totally enjoyed it, surprisingly so, as I’m typically leery of post-apocalyptic material. It is the gratuitous nihilism of the genre that tends to numb me. However, with A.R. Shaw’s “The China Pandemic” the caricature of dystopian mayhem is displaced, instead the reader is treated to a well-developed humanist portrayal of individual and community survival despite awful odds. The sense of responsibility borne on the shoulders of the main protagonist Graham, is palpable. His cautious generosity, taking care of a motley crew of survivors at great personal risk–some being children, is admirable to witness. Seeing the personal growth of all the characters as the narrative unfolds is satisfying; they are at times pitiful, vulnerable and cruel, yet, at other times they are resourceful, compassionate and selfless. This all seems plausible to me considering the extraordinary pressures everyone was living under.

Adding to the tension of this well-written novel is the unseen presence of a well-organized compound of Preppers. The addition of this group leads to further intriguing plot lines; and raises questions about the amazing lengths ordinary men and women are prepared to go in order to survive. Appropriately, the reader is consciously aware that all the resources of civil society have been eviscerated by the pandemic, and that the threat of anarchy, lawlessness and death remains a constant in every chapter. For instance, any chance meeting with a stranger may well have dire consequences, whether it be contagion, assault, abduction or even execution. Then there is the change in the social order; a segregation between the Carriers (those immune, but carrying the virus) and the Preppers who are understandably struggling to remain disease free. I found this to be immensely provocative…and emotionally powerful.

I’m looking forward to reading A.R. Shaw’s next book in the Graham’s Resolution series now that my misgivings of the genre have been so effectively allayed.

Review by Mark Fine of THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE: An Apartheid Love Story

View all my reviews

A WORD WITH TRACI #AWWTBLOG TOUR: featuring MARK FINE

awwt seal

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!!!
Mark Fine (300dpi) Print

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

BLOG: https://markfineauthor.wordpress.com

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/ZebraAffaire

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/markfine37/the-zebra-affaire/

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markfineauthor

WEBSITE: http://www.markfinebooks.com/


Accomplishments

Launched anti-poaching campaign called “You! Yes you can be a Rhino Protector!” with the #RhinoProtector and this graphic:

rhino

ZEBRAAFFAIRE Cover613

BLURB:

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’

BOOK LINKS:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B011PXSEWG

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Zebra-Affaire-Apartheid-Love-Story/dp/1512321028/


BOOK EXCERPT:

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.

Mark’s book is available for just $2.99 on Amazon Kindle!


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”


BOOK LINKS:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B011PXSEWG

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Zebra-Affaire-Apartheid-Love-Story/dp/1512321028/


Connect with Mark:

Twitter: @MarkFine_author or https://twitter.com/MarkFine_author

BLOG: https://markfineauthor.wordpress.com

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/ZebraAffaire

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/markfine37/the-zebra-affaire/

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markfineauthor

WEBSITE: http://www.markfinebooks.com/

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/