Author Interview: Mark Canniff

Welcome to TRB’s Author Interview Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome, Mark Canniff, author of Dream, Recurring.

About the author:

Mark Canniff was born and raised for the first twelve years of his life in Seattle Washington. The next thirteen years were spent in England. (Beginning in London, then moving to Cornwall, finally settling in Somerset.) He arrived there because his mother remarried after being divorced for about ten years. His step-father was English, asking the family “why don’t you come over to my place?”.

And so Mark’s journey into the paranormal began. Finishing his education in England, obtaining an “A” Level in English Literature (which he feels is about the equivalent to an Associates Degree in the US), his adventure led him to discover an interest in things that go “bump in the night”.

While he hasn’t been on a paranormal ghost hunt, he has personally experienced: demons, haunted locations and many apparitions, plus much more. “It’s not for the faint of heart”, as he would later say referring to his experiences. This fueled a passion to create 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. 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.” The plan being that each one will have their own screenplay (written by him). Plus much more to follow.

Personally, he has been married to the most amazing woman he knows, since 2004. They have one son. He’s said many times how complete his life feels because of both of them. They are the best thing that has ever happened to him.

You can reach him at:
Twitter: @mark_canniff

Hello, Mark. Thank you for being here today.

Can you please tell my readers about your ambitions for your writing career?

Absolutely! My ambitions are to grow into a full-time writing career. Quite simply, I feel this is my calling, I have this strong sense that I can author some fantastic stories that readers will like with messages they will appreciate.

Which writers inspire you?

Dr. Wayne Dyer and Terry Pratchett.

Interestingly they aren’t in my genre (obviously), however those two have inspired me the most. Not only as an “author” from their own work but helped me to constantly drive towards the one thing that I love to do.

Which I think we all have a special gift to give. Discovering what that is can sometimes take years. The funny thing is, for the longest time I wanted to become a pilot. Flying a 747 or a helicopter was a dream of mine. Neither one of those things I could do.

Going from “pilot” to “author” is I’m sure a curiosity. I’m certain there’s a story there somewhere.

Tell us about your book?

“Dream, Recurring” is a paranormal mystery. The short description which I think describes it well is:

“Cynical by nature, a photographer discovers that she’s haunted by a being after she starts having a recurring dream. Revealing a secret that only the dead know – with the entity bent on keeping it.”

How long did it take you to write it?

Okay, so here’s the fun part…

It took a total of 18 years from concept to publication. The genesis of this novel began life as a short screenplay when I was in the film industry. The name of that script was called “The Dream”.

During that time, I let my friends read it and they all really loved it. Then I had a Producer read it (he really enjoyed it too). So much so that he said if I could make it a full-length feature, he would fund the movie. I laughed when he said it, so he repeated it. He was very serious.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t turn it into a full two-hour film at the time. I didn’t have all the pieces together.

Then I thought what better way to bring the story to life than a novel? This was where the idea was really born.

I thought, at the time, if I could do that, I’ll be able to “reverse engineer” it back into a screenplay for film later.

Now that the book is here, I fully intend doing that.

However, little did I realize what that really meant at the time. It’s been an incredible journey of ups and downs as I put the pieces together. Of course, it still isn’t over because it ultimately needs to be turned into a movie. Which I believe will eventually happen.

The actual “writing” of the book began in 2012 when I wrote the first chapter. I still didn’t have the final “sections” together even then. However, in 2014 is when I really had everything that I needed and two years after that was when I could publish it as a self-published novel.

I’ve learned so much during this whole process and I continue to gain more insight into this journey daily.

Are you working on any other project(s) right now? If yes, what are they?

Oh yes! The great thing about creating a story is that you can do with it whatever you want. The one book has grown into a four-part series. All of them will be under the banner “Island River Tales”.

The second novel, which I’m currently working on is called: “When Night Has Fallen”.

When the series is done is when I will focus on the script of the first one. I don’t aim to do any more than that from that set of stories. (From a film perspective.) Because I’ll want to devote my time in creating another novel.

Why have you chosen this genre?

Great question! For me, this genre allows my imagination to wander. I’ve had countless paranormal experiences, starting when I was about six years old (but really “kicked” in when I became a teenager) that it just seems a natural fit.

I like to explore what “could be” and fiction allows me the leeway to do that. So, putting the story in that kind of setting really worked for me.

If you put those two together what you get is a tale that hopefully the reader will enjoy.

When did you decide to become a writer?

Oh wow. Well, I think a part of me has always known. In my younger years, I would write short stories, or outlines to possible concepts that might become novels one day.

However, it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I became drawn to writing articles, which were about things I felt I needed to say.

What I learned there was the “cadence”. For example, writing three or four pages a day is of very little effort for me. Plus, I always make sure the story is moving forward in that time-frame.

This I learned from writing articles.

Novels became the next “natural” step as I wanted to create something in-depth. After writing the screenplay for “The Dream”, putting two-and-two together was something I absolutely needed to do.

Why do you write? 

I want to tell a tale that leaves you thinking about it long after you’ve read it. There is always a subtle message underlining the book. Each theme is different for every novel.

It would be my hope that as my writing career grows, I’m able to have a body of work that people will want to read more and more.

At the end of the day, if I can resonate with one person, then I will have done my job.

Where do your ideas come from?

That’s kind of a multilayered answer. I pull from my life’s experience, imagination and sometimes even my dreams become the outline for the story. (In the case of the latter, for example, the fourth book in this series came from a “vision” I had while I was sleeping.)

I often feel that there is no “one” source for storytelling. If you are to really find inspiration then you should let it flow. You have no idea how the next concept is going to come.

How do you prefer to write? On computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?

I used to write longhand then transfer to computer but once I started writing novels (I’m currently working on my second), I found that it was better for me to just go straight for the computer.

The writing flows easier for me that way, plus I don’t have to transfer it to the “electronic medium”. It ultimately saves a lot of time.

What are your 5 favorite books and 5 favorite authors?

I love this question. Here goes:

  1. Terry Pratchett: “Mort.” This was my first introduction into the “Discworld” series and I loved it! Basically, it’s about Death taking on an apprentice, whose name is Mort.
    It was a great introduction to the Discworld series. It’s funny, imaginative, tells an incredible fable and kept me thinking too. I think from an “author’s” perspective, he was a huge inspiration in becoming a writer for me.
  2. Dr. Wayne Dyer: “The Power of Intention.” Anything from this man I love but what I really enjoyed about this book was that it introduced me to the concept of “The Law of Attraction”.
    This law has become a guiding principle for me over the years and I have him to thank for planting the seed, as it were.
  3. Maurice Sendak: “Where the Wild Things Are.” This was the first book I ever read. I poured over it again and again. I loved it. I imagined their world, through the eyes of the story and couldn’t get enough of it.
    It showed me what the power of a great book could do to your own creativity.
  4. Anne Frank: “The Diary of a Young Girl.” This was just so powerful. It was hard to read in places but was so inspiring at the same time.
    It impacted my life in many ways. Mostly, it showed me the power of the written word and how it could draw the reader into real life. At a time when I had little insight from “inside” that world, she enlightened me to her experiences. Wow!
  5. Stephen Hawking: “A Brief History of Time.” I loved this. It was easy for me to read and understand the concepts being discussed. I obviously couldn’t get the mathematics but that didn’t matter. Stephen put it in a way for the reader (in this case, me) to explore Quantum Mechanics. I had read the “very large” from Albert Einstein and now I read the world of the “very small”. Totally awesome.
    It was just pure enjoyment from the very beginning.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?

Uh… hmm… let me see…

Sometimes I simply do nothing. I walk away for a while, taking a break for as long as I feel. (It’s surprising what “distance” can do to a story.) In instances like that I would make sure that I’m not thinking about it. In fact, the less I do wonder about where I’m headed next, the better it becomes when I do go back.

Other times I push through with only one page at a time. Doing that, helps me to drive my story forward at a faster pace than “stepping back”. Sometimes that’s what’s needed though.

In either case breakthroughs happen and I can drive on. It really depends on how fast I want to go.

They both teach me something about myself, as an “author”. I love that process as much as I enjoy the writing.

What advice would you give to new aspiring authors?

If you are considering a writing career because you feel it’s something you should do, then do it!

Everyone has a good story in them. Relatively few can sit down and do the work.

The best advice I could give is to make sure you are reading too. It is amazing how much you learn from other authors. I would also say practice. Just get in there and write something. Doing that action leads to more.

Once you have an idea, then enjoy it as you see your story come to life. (From concept to synopsis to finally a novel), it is a beautiful process.

Finally, once as you are seeing it develop, switch your thinking to holding the book in your hands. Visualize that so completely that you can feel it there. It’s especially at that point that doors really start opening. Inspiration comes from goodness knows where but you can see it. Maybe no one else can, however you don’t need anyone else for this task in the beginning (for the first draft anyway).

It’s that movement that will really bring the “Author” out in you. Then there’s no stopping you!

I look forward to hearing about the tale(s) that you can bring to life.

Thank you, Mark, for all your interesting as well as deeply insightful answers!

About The 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?

For more author interviews, click here.

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