What should you do if you want to write across genres? And how can you sustain a rewarding and lasting creative career? Perhaps writing across genres is the way to do it.
I spend a lot of time thinking about what genre to write in. Like many readers, I like to consume lots of different genres. What you read usually informs what you write, so if you find yourself reading multiple genres, that may explain why you want to write across more than one genre. And it can be rewarding to do so because you learn what readers expect from different genres and enjoy different kinds of stories.
Of course, the key challenge with writing across genres is that readers from genre A may not necessarily follow you to genre B.
From a purely pragmatic and business decision, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to try writing across different genres because you could potentially split your audience, and you’ll have to work a little harder to promote your books. But, from a creative process, writing across genres is a lot more rewarding. Plus, it’s fun too.
So, I’m still interested in tackling new genres and approaching various forms of storytelling, and I always love catching up with authors who have successfully done this.
One of those authors is Mark Leslie Lefebvre. He’s an author, professional speaker, and bookseller, and he’s written everything from paranormal romance to horror to thrillers to nonfiction and so on.
He’s got over a quarter of a century of experience in the bookselling industry.
In this episode, we discuss:
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Mark: In my mind, those are a lot easier to narrow in on who the reader is, and it sounds counterintuitive, but the more you can narrow in on who specifically your target audience, the better you’re going to be at your marketing because you’re not wasting your time pushing it to the wrong people.
Welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you’ll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.
Bryan: What should you do if you want to write across genres? And how can you sustain a rewarding and lasting creative career? Perhaps writing across genres is the way to do it. Hi, there. My name is Bryan Collins and welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast.
I spend a lot of time thinking about what genre to write in. Like many readers, I like to consume lots of different genres. Usually, I tend to focus or obsess about a genre for a year or two before moving on to a different one. So I spent a year or two reading all the great science fiction books and science fiction classics, then I spent another year or two reading a lot of business books and self-help books when I was starting my own business and, lately, I’ve spent a lot of time reading narrative nonfiction, biography, and memoir. The thing is, what you read usually informs what you write, so if you find yourself reading lots of different genres or multiple genres, that may explain why you want to write across more than one genre. And it can be rewarding to write across more than one genre because you get to learn about what different types of readers expect from different genres and also get to enjoy different types of stories.
Of course, the key challenge with writing across genre is that readers from genre A may not necessarily follow you over to genre B. So, for example, on the Become a Writer Today email list, for a few years, I talked mostly about the books about the craft of writing that I’d written and self-published. Then, one year, because I was also working as a freelance writer for Forbes, I turned the ideas for many of my freelance articles about business productivity into a book called This Is Working, and I found when I started talking about this particular book to subscribers of the Become a Writer Today email list that there wasn’t as much interest from those readers because subscribers were mostly interested in advice about the craft of writing and not about how to get things done at work. I guess that was a painful lesson in writing across genres, and since then, I’ve also relied on other ways of promoting books when I try new genres, such as using Amazon ads and taking part in podcast interviews.
Now, from a purely pragmatic and business decision, it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense to try writing across different genres because you could potentially split your audience like I just described, and you’re going to have to work a little bit harder to promote your books. But, from a creative process, it’s a lot more rewarding to write across genres for all the reasons that I mentioned a few moments ago. Plus, it’s fun too. So, I’m still interested in tackling new different genres and in approaching different forms of storytelling, and I always love catching up with authors who have successfully done just this.
One of those authors, his name is Mark Leslie Lefebvre. He’s an author, professional speaker, and bookseller, and he’s written everything from paranormal romance to horror to thrillers to nonfiction and so on. He’s got over a quarter of a century in the bookselling industry. And my key takeaway from talking to Mark is that it’s actually okay to write across genres, and you can still earn a living from it and find readers if you’re a little bit patient and if you’re clever about how you’re going to go about promoting your books. He also advocates being patient. So, some of the marketing activities that you spent time or resources on this week or this month may not pay off for six months or even a year, so don’t expect to get hundreds or thousands of sales when you write a new genre because it may take some time for some of your readers to carry over or even for you to find new readers for your work. There’s loads we talk about in this week’s interview. Mark also gets into how he uses his email list to communicate with readers, and he describes his process for collaborating with both fiction and nonfiction authors, including Joanna Penn, who I interviewed a year or two ago for the Become a Writer Today Podcast.
So I hope you enjoy this week’s interview with Mark. If you do, please consider leaving a short review on iTunes. You can also share the show with another writer or friend on Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you’re listening because more reviews, stars, and ratings will help more writers find the show.
Now, let’s go over to this week’s interview with Mark.
Bryan: Welcome to the show, Mark.
Mark: Hey, Bryan, it’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Bryan: Mark, I’ve been familiar with your work for a few years now. I’ve heard you interviewed and talk about self-publishing on multiple different podcasts, including The Creative Podcast, and I know you’re actively involved with Draft2Digital, so you have some fantastic insights into self-publishing and how authors can sell books, but I always like to start by asking guests to describe how they got into writing and what their writing journey has looked like.
Mark: Yeah, great question. So, I mean, I’ve been fascinated by writing and storytelling since I was little. I used to tell myself stories with little characters that I would play with, and I loved to play. I had little finger puppet characters; little Fisher Price characters as I got a little bit older. And then it wasn’t until I think I discovered, through school assignments, the magic of when you put words on paper, and you can walk away, and someone else could come there and read them and enjoy them, and that was magic to me, so I found my mom’s Underwood typewriter in the closet, I think, when I was 14 years old, pulled it out, I’m of the age, this is before the computers existed, and started writing. I got my first rejection at the age of 15 because I was writing my stories and sending them off, and I’ve just always wanted to be a writer. So when I was in university, just leaving, I got a part-time job as a bookseller, and I also got bit by the book bug because I was a huge reader my entire life, started with comic books and reading, and just working in the book industry was — now, it didn’t pay well, initially, didn’t pay well, working as a bookseller, but over the years, as I’ve worked throughout the industry, honestly, I’ve worked really hard, but it’s never really felt like I’ve worked because I always so look forward to the things I get to do every day.
Bryan: You certainly have worked hard. You have a huge back catalog. So, how many books have you written to date?
Bryan: 30, so that’s more than one a year.
Mark: I should really count.
Bryan: Yeah. Well, what genres — I’ll list some genres here to give listeners a flavor so you’ve written paranormal nonfiction, which I’m going to ask you about in a few moments. You’ve written paranormal romance. You’ve also written short stories, you’ve written thrillers, nonfiction, guides to self-publishing. I’m sure there’s loads I’ve left out, but what particular genre attracts you the most?
Mark: I’ve always been fascinated by the speculative genres. One of the challenges I had is I always loved Twilight Zone stories, I always liked those creepy sort of what if stories, maybe Black Mirror and that type of thing, and you can never call it fantasy because fantasy, at least when I was starting out, was epic fantasy and Tolkien and stuff like that. You couldn’t call it science fiction because science fiction was Star Trek or more science-heavy, space, that sort of thing, so I always called it horror because I didn’t have a place to go, so horror accepted me, and I did always like the dark. I always liked to ask what if and ask really disturbing things, so I’d always associated my writing with horror. So even in the short fiction, most of my credits were to horror magazines. Again, I started before self-publishing was even an option or a thing, and you would send your submissions in to magazines and try to build a name for yourself in the hopes that maybe one day an agent or an editor would take you on. And so speculative literature is maybe a highbrow way of saying, well, it’s just horror, but when I say horror, a lot of people think about horror movies, and my fiction tends not to go in that direction, even though we do focus on the macabre and fear of the dark and all those things that happen in horror.
Bryan: So Mark has his video turned on for this podcast interview, and you can see some props from his books, including some skulls in the background, so you’re living what you write —
Mark: It’s on brand. There’s a skeleton standing in the window right there. The kids, there’s a school that goes by, and the kids just love seeing him — I dress him up in different tops and hats and stuff like that every day when they walk by going to school. That’s Barnaby, and he comes with me to book signings because part of the branding is really interesting is if I’ve got Barnaby with me at a book signing, people know one of two things, either, (a), avoid eye contact with the crazy bald man with a skeleton, or, (b), the people who run up and know exactly what they’re going to get. They’re like, “Oh, my God, I bet you I’m gonna like what books you have.” So he’s sort of a warning to some people to stay away, but, to the right readers, it draws them in because they think, “Okay, this guy is gonna be writing some dark stuff, obviously,” so that’s where I have the true ghost stories and even the paranormal and the horror and stuff like that.
Bryan: So I know you best from your advocacy for self-publishing through Draft2Digital and some previous roles that you had. Have you always been self-publishing books, or did you explore the traditional route at some point?
Mark: Yeah, no, I mean, I started in traditional, so I started off submitting stories, mailing them to magazines and anthologies. I didn’t — well, I mean, I self-published my very first book in 2004, so it was probably about 10 years before all the cool kids started doing it.
Bryan: It must have been very difficult back 20-plus years ago.
Mark: It was print. I used Ingram Lightning Source, there were no easy ways of getting books out there, but I had found myself in a position where I had all of these stories published in a small press magazine, and then the rights would come back to me, and I had all these stories, I didn’t know what to do with them, and so I thought I’ll create a collection of my previously published short horror stories and I called it One Hand Screaming. I bought a case of beer for my friend, who was a graphic designer. He did the cover design for me. I used Ingram Lightning Source to get the book printed. I was even able — I made it fully returnable, and because I worked in the book industry, I was able to work it out with bookstores where bookstores would be able to order my book in from Ingram, and I did get injured by some of the returns that did happen with that afterwards. I learned — well, you think I would have learned my lesson, I’ve been injured by returns multiple times. And that was 2004. That was my first venture into self-publishing. It wasn’t until about 2010, 2011 when KDP and Smashwords were available, that I said, hey, maybe I should make my print book an eBook and give this a shot. And I also learned that an eBook doesn’t have to be 300 pages bound between two pieces of cloth, that an eBook could be any length. And so I took some of the stories I had not been able to get published because, (a), I refuse to send them to a market that paid less than pro rates, because I got to a certain point, there’s not as many of those, but I also knew it was a good story that was between genres. It was a ghost love story. And I remember publishing it on KDP directly for 99 cents and Smashwords because that was the only other option you had available for 99 cents, and I was so excited to do my virtual book launch for this short story where I read the short story for free anyways, and I think I sold 35 copies and I was so excited because, previously, I had not been able to sell the story. Now, ironically, I was holding out for pro rates for this 6,000-word short story. It would have been $250 US. And, for years, I would submit it and submit it, submit it. Ironically, I didn’t make a lot of money when I first launched the book, but then I revised the cover a year or so later and, over the years, the short story for 99 cents has earned me well over $250 US. No, it’s not getting me on the New York Times Bestseller List, it’s not bringing in scads of cash, but my goal was to get readers, and my goal was to earn $250 for it. So, it took a longer time, which taught me patience, which I already had from years of traditional manuscript rejections and things like that. And so it just reminded me that sometimes the long haul is the best haul.
Bryan: So, do you rely on your back catalog to sell your books?
Mark: I think what happens is when somebody discovers something that I’ve newly written in whatever genre, because I write in multiple different genres, if they enjoy it, they’ll often go back and buy my other one. So, sometimes I can see — and with traditionally published books, you can’t really see the patterns because you get a statement once a year, printed statement, but on some of the online, with the Draft2Digital dashboard or the Smashwords draft dashboard or the Kindle or Kobo dashboards, I can see, “Oh, wow, it looks like somebody bought one of everything.” And then maybe that was somebody — I don’t know if it’s the same person, but suddenly if you see like a single sale of every book in the series, you’re wondering, “Hmm, I wonder if they’ve finished book one and decided to buy everything?”
Bryan: Yes. So I write nonfiction, and I’ve tried different types of nonfiction writing. Haven’t quite been going as long as you have, but I sometimes do wonder about how to engage readers when you’re trying different genres. So, do you worry about that anymore, or do you just write a book that you want to write and keep going?
Mark: I usually write the book that I want to write, assuming that there’s probably people who want to read those books. Now, I should probably worry more about market but I do. When I go to pitch a book to a publisher, I obviously look at the market to see does this fill a hole in the market? Does this meet the needs? I think with nonfiction, it’s so much easier for us to be able to identify who the readers are. So, the nonfiction is people who are wanting to learn this, people who want to understand that, people who want to be better at this, so it’s a lot easier than fiction where it’s people want to enjoy themselves for a few hours and this is the kind of story they like. It’s a lot harder. So I think with nonfiction, we have an easier time. So, for example, with my nonfiction traditionally published books that are the true ghost stories, well, people who like ghost stories, there’s my audience. It’s relatively easy to define. Do you like history? Do you like ghosts? Great, we’re going to have a good time together. With my nonfiction books for writers, well, they’re very specific. Killing It on Kobo is about learning about Kobo. Wide for the Win is about understanding wide publishing from all the platforms. An Author’s Guide to Working with Bookstores and Libraries is very specifically prescriptive in the title. So, in my mind, those are a lot easier to narrow in on who the reader is. And it sounds counterintuitive, but the more you can narrow in on who specifically your target audience, the better you’re going to be at your marketing because you’re not wasting your time pushing it to the wrong people. Like the reason I have Barnaby with me when I’m doing book signings, now he doesn’t come to my book signings when I do books for writers, but he comes to my book signings when it’s the spooky stuff, because that’s a sign, either avoid this guy or come running, and you’ve got to look for something. Obviously not a skeleton, but you’ve got to look for something that’s going to ideally draw the right people to you and your books or tell them, “No, not my cup of tea, keep walking, nothing to see here.”
Bryan: So when a reader visits your website, Mark, and they’re joining in to get your monthly updates, do you just talk about your fiction and nonfiction or have you broken your listing to different segments?
Mark: I am not good at that yet. I still have a lot to learn. I’ve experimented over the years. I’ve considered — I do actually, I’ve broken down. I have a newsletter specifically for writers that’s based on my podcast, Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing, and that’s very specifically stuff for writers. For my people who sign up for my author newsletter, I’m trying to discourage writers from signing up for it because there’s really — yes, I will talk about my books for writers there but very rarely. I’m just going to talk about my life as a writer for readers who may be interested in the behind-the-scenes and I’ll talk a lot more about my fiction. I’ll talk a lot more about my entertaining nonfiction stuff rather than my prescriptive how-to nonfiction. So I’ve taken that approach. The other thing I’ve done with the newsletter is I’ve really tried to follow a lot of Tammi Labrecque’s advice, Newsletter Ninja, and really just write it as if I was writing to a good friend and sharing an update with them and try to keep it concise. I have trouble with conciseness if you haven’t already noticed.
Bryan: Well, it’s playing in your favor considering you have so many books out there. So, when you’re promoting your books, do you invest in advertising these days? And, again, the reason I’m asking this question is, I mean, I started self-publishing in 2014, probably a little bit after the gold rush but, back then, you could have put a book up and just sold it. Now I have to do email campaigns and set up Amazon ads, and even Amazon ads have gotten a lot trickier, and I have to think about publishing wide. So do you find, because you have so many books, it can help sell each other or do you rely on advertising?
Mark: Yeah, I think the more content you have out there that when you focus on promoting one particular piece, that can always lead the right people to more, so that’s always a benefit to authors. So if you only have one or two books, it’s more difficult to make your return back on that investment. Again, you’re thinking longer term. Somebody reads — and people don’t necessarily read very fast, so you may be doing marketing efforts in January that you don’t see the results from in May, and nobody ever really tracks beyond the week, the day, the month. When you’re looking at your ads, you’re looking at your click-through rate now live while it’s live. You’re not thinking about the long-term effect. And so, suddenly, you see these weird spikes. Those weird spikes are probably from these things we can’t measure. Somebody bought your book in January, for example, when you advertised it, when you ran a newsletter campaign when you did an Amazon ad. They didn’t read it until June, and that’s why, for no reason whatsoever, suddenly, you saw a spike, like a little bit of a spike in every other one of your books, probably that reader that went, “Ooh, I like this person, let’s just binge them,” or, “Let’s just get everything.” So, marketing is really, really challenging, but I am constantly working with the newsletters. One of the other things that I think, especially for nonfiction, is one of the challenges with Facebook ads and Amazon ads is while you’re feeding the beast, while you’re feeding that, let’s call it, that casino slot machine, that Las Vegas casino slot machine, you’re feeding coins into the machine, and there’s a chance you may get some money out of it. There’s 100 percent chance that the machine will always get your money. But when you stop feeding the machine, your book cover stops showing up anywhere. It’s not visible, so it’s only visible while you’re paying the beast. I’ve been looking at a lot more marketing related to printing physical copies of my books and getting them into the hands of influencers or getting them out into the wild. If somebody’s reading one of my books on a Kindle or a Kobo or a Nook or whatever the device is, all you see is the device. You can’t see what book they’re reading. If somebody is reading one of my books in a physical, that book is visible. This is physical. I learned this from Dean Wesley Smith is that a physical book is, on average, handled by seven different people. An eBook, on average, is handled by 1.2 people because, typically, people don’t share accounts and stuff like that. So it’s like one person usually handles an eBook but multiple people handle a print book. Your print book is an advertisement, a physical walking advertisement, and so I think of them as a long-term marketing play where that can actually help authors. But, again, how do you measure that? That’s one of the challenges is when you can’t measure it, when you can’t see it, so, for example, cigarettes kill people but it’s not like you put a cigarette in your mouth and your head blows off. If that happened, people would probably not smoke, because it’s a long-term thing where you develop cancer over years, different kinds of cancer, so how do you measure that? And it’s difficult to measure that. So, same thing with marketing. And that’s one of the things I think authors often will fall into is, yes, marketing is powerful, yes, marketing is good, but we tend to only measure through this really, really limited window as opposed to thinking about the long-term effect of the marketing.
Bryan: Yeah, I’m certainly guilty of looking at the sales dashboard and looking at the past 30, 60, 90 days.
Mark: We all are.
Bryan: Don’t tend to go much further back than that.
Mark: No, but we’re all guilty of that. I mean, it’s human nature. I get excited and go like I launched a book a couple of weeks ago, and every morning, I want to log in and check my dashboard and realized I haven’t really done much to promote it yet, I bet you there’s not going to be much action on it.
Bryan: So the fact that you’ve written so many books and you’ve been so involved in the book publishing industry, what does your writing routine look like these days?
Mark: I typically designate the early morning to writing. I get up, I feed the dogs and cats, I put on the coffee, button chair, and I try to get my writing done first thing before I open email, before I do any administrative tasks, before I end up engaging in networking with other people and helping other authors and doing my work with Draft2Digital, any of that stuff. So I try really, really hard to get that done first thing. Doesn’t always work. Sometimes, deadlines are looming, you’ve got your editor waiting for a manuscript or a deadline with a publisher, and sometimes those call for staying up all night or doing that on the weekends or whatever, ’til noon, or, I mean, I’m lucky I can flex my work around where I can work weird hours so that often happens, but usually, it starts off with a dedicated hour or two in the morning to try and just get some writing done.
Bryan: Do you plan out what books you want to write on a given year?
Mark: Sometimes. Yeah, I often have an idea of what I’m going to write. Last year was a surprise. I published at least two books last year that I had no intention of writing when the year started. So, The Relaxed Author that Joanna Penn and I released, neither one of us had that on our radar until we were chatting and made a joke, and one of her listeners said, “Hey, that would be a good book. You guys should write it.” So Jo and I looked at it and went, “Yeah, we should write it. What a good idea,” so we did it. So that sometimes happens too. But I like to leave room, in my mind, at least, for the possibility of things I have no idea that I plan on writing.
Bryan: Do you plan out your series even when you start one? Or, again, does that emerge organically?
Mark: I’m a pantser. So, I mean, I have planned out an understanding of what’s going to happen over time. I’m not sure when it’s going to happen, more specifically, but I did do that a few times. I have the next book in my Canadian Werewolf Series already up for preorder because I have an idea of what is going to happen. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen yet. I actually have to book some meetings with a few of the developmental editor-type people that I’ve worked with in the past where I just book a session with them and say, “All right, I’ve got all these ideas here. I’m just gonna throw them out here. Let’s talk through it, and you can help me figure out what are the pieces I should pick up,” and I find that a really valuable process.
Bryan: I interviewed a nonfiction author, and she also writes thrillers recently and she cited some book statistics, and she said that it’s really difficult for a new author to self-publish and sell a book these days and her approach is to serialize her trailer on Substack as a newsletter and she said she’s reaching far more readers doing it that way.
Mark: Oh, I bet she is. Yeah, I bet she is. And I love that there are authors doing ingenious, new inventive ways to reach readers. For example, Lover’s Moon is the latest novel that has romance to romantic urban fantasy, romantic comedy with a werewolf and Julie and I are releasing it as a podcast partially because we really loved writing this book together, and the other reason is, normally, I would have the audiobook with the hardcover, the paperback, and the eBook, but my main narrator, who normally does the series, was on vacation and the female narrator that we want to do the female parts, she’s on her honeymoon, so the timing didn’t work out right to get it so they’re working on the book now but Julie and I thought, “Yeah, let’s do our version.” So the free version is the authors reading it, because we’re not professional narrators. There will be a paid version that will probably come out later this summer from real narrators that you’ll have to pay for. And we’ve been serializing that so I think Chapter 2 just went live today and, every Tuesday, there’ll be a new chapter over the course of 20 weeks. And, again, it’s an experiment and it’s great to see people are listening, and maybe they’ll never buy the book but if they enjoy it, then maybe they talk to other people about it and that’s part of using Substack or trying different ways to get in front of the right readers.
Bryan: I guess there’s more tools these days and more ways of reaching readers in different formats than there was even 10 years ago.
Mark: Oh, for sure. We’ve never had access to more tools as writers. So, I mean, I love the creativity that writers can come up with on how to get their books in front of the right people.
Bryan: You mentioned that you co-wrote this book and you also co-wrote with Joanna for The Relaxed Author. Was that your first experience co-writing or is that something that you’ve done before?
Mark: No, I did it before. So I have three traditionally published books that were co-authored and those were relatively easy, Spooky Sudbury, Haunted Hospitals, and Macabre Montreal. So the Sudbury and Montreal ones are based on Canadian cities so their location-based ghost stories, and that’s relatively easy. We kind of divide up a spreadsheet and say, “You do this location about this ghost, I’ll do that one, I’ll do that one,” and we tag teamed the book and write 50/50. So that was sort of a different process, because they’re all like many essays that are all compiled then you have to put them together and figure out an overall story arc. So that’s a fun process. With Joanna, it was just, honestly, the way we wrote the first draft was we had Zoom chats. We did about six plus hours of Zoom chats where we had very specific targeted topics and we just talked. We transcribed it and that was our first draft. With Julie and I, because it was a romance, we had to hit all the romance tropes. We — and I never outline, but we outlined the entire book, chapter by chapter what’s going to happen in each chapter and we modified it along as we went, but then we just tag teamed and over the course of a month, I wrote chapter one, she wrote chapter two the next day, I wrote chapter three the day after, and we just tag teamed throughout the month of March to get that first draft done. I love the experience of being inspired by seeing what my co-author has done because I read what they do, I go, “Oh, man, they’re so good. So good,” and then I feel impostor syndrome, like why am I — yeah, who am I to dare write with this awesome writer? And that’s a good feeling to have when you really respect the person you’re writing with. And then coming back and stepping up, because then it feels like they raised the bar, I’m going to try and measure up to what they can do, and I always find I become a better writer for those collaborations. Every single collaboration that I do it’s because my co-author brought something valuable to the table that I can learn from.
Bryan: Yeah. It’s also writing, as you know, you’re in a room by yourself, so it is good to spend time with other creatives and other writers and learn from them and their processes.
Mark: It’s an excuse to hang out with the cool person.
Bryan: Yeah, not just talk to the postman.
Bryan: So you also write nonfiction paranormal books. Would you be able to talk a little bit about what type of genre that is and your process?
Mark: Yeah, so these are the true ghost story books or tales told as true. So, the approach is usually location based, so Haunted Hospitals, the locations would be around the world but they’re hospitals and prisons, and Tomes of Terror would be libraries and bookstores, but the other ones I did were Canadian cities and Canadian cities that I’ve lived in. So, I always had sort of a personal connection to each of the locations and they’re just basically going and researching the true ghost stories. Research is done through going on ghost walks, which are so much fun and when I travel, I love to see if I can get in a local ghost walk because then I can learn about the local history. It’s a really great way to experience a new place and understand it. And I read books, articles, I interview people, I talk to them, and then we compile the stories we’re going to share. And they’re each about maybe 1,000 to 3,000 words, chapters, and they’re all sort of self-contained so you can jump around in the book if you want but then you put those out — and I try to take — I’m a true believer, I’m scared of the dark, I’m scared of the monster under my bed, I still believe in the Boogeyman, and I’m the biggest chicken you’ll ever meet but I love writing about this because it’s this high I get, this energy. It’s kind of like this thrill ride, like going on a roller coaster. So when I’m researching ghost stories, I get scared and I feel that if I’m scared while writing or researching then, hopefully, that fear can be transmitted to the reader and they feel scared. And so I compile them, but I do take an open-minded skeptic’s view. I try to apply journalistic integrity where —
Bryan: I was going to say your process is very much like what a journalist would do.
Mark: Yeah, but I try to take that point of view of, okay, I’m going to share the facts as I heard them, as I read them, as I learned them from however, whatever the source was, then I’m going to question things. For example, when I was writing Tomes of Terror, there were a lot of chapters I didn’t include in the book because somebody says, “Well, the books fell off the bookshelves all on their own.” And I go, well, I’ve worked in the book industry for long enough so in the summer here in Canada, we get really humid summers, well, paper absorbs water and so the mass market paperbacks on the shelf, those pocket books on the shelf, they’ll expand and they’ll just fall over because they don’t sit properly. That’s not a ghost. That’s physics. And so I will often, if that’s in a story, I’ll probably try to explain what I think it could be, or in other cases, I’ll say, “Well, it could be this, it could be that, but who knows?” and I try to approach it so that the true believers have a good time but also that skeptics could pick it up and not go, “Come on. He’s just grasping at straws here.”
Bryan: Definitely, you can tell that you’re fascinated by the topic. Probably wouldn’t have gone that extra level deep to understand that it’s physics. What are you working on today, Mark?
Mark: I am working on a short story in my Canadian Werewolf collection that is going to be sold direct to readers, or it will be available in a box set so that way, people have a choice. I am working on a book — Planes, Trains And Automobiles, you ever seen the movie?
Bryan: I have.
Mark: There’s a book that Del Griffith is reading in the airport called The Canadian Mounted and it’s an erotica book that was used as a prop in the movie but it’s actually a real book that had been published from an erotic published back in the 80s and it was used again in Deadpool 2, Ryan Reynolds was a big fan of John Candy, the actor, Canadian actor, and I was fascinated by this prop book that came up multiple times so I thought I’m going to release a book called The Canadian Mounted which is nothing but trivia about Planes, Trains And Automobiles. So that’s a passion project.
Bryan: Nice. That’s a fun project. Passion project.
Mark: Passion project. I just love it so much and it’s so funny to see how many preorders have come in for it because there are so many other fans of Planes, Trains And Automobiles, and this year, the movie will be 35 years old.
Bryan: Wow, 35 years. Making me feel old. So, Mark, where can listeners go if they want to read any of your books or learn more about you?
Mark: If you go to markleslie.ca, I have links to all of the bookstores you can buy them, or you can go to bookstoread.com/markleslie, or Mark Leslie Lefebvre, if you’re looking for my books for writers. Those are the places you can find all my stuff.
Bryan: Thanks, Mark.
Mark: Thanks so much, Bryan.
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