For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed author Marcus McGowan. He has written four books (Hell’s Embrace, A Fox’s Choice, A Fox’s Lament, and When The Demons Mourn) and also
writes the Hell’s Embrace comic book series. Marc has a strong following in the United States and Europe, as well as Australia. He has worked in the field of criminal justice for over 20 years specifically with high risk juvenile offenders. A Masters level martial artist, Marc has trained for nearly 30 years and has earned a black belt ranking in four different combat systems. He currently holds the rank of 5th degree black belt in the Banzenkan Aiki-Ninjutsu system, and is recognized as the highest ranking person of color within that elite organization.
Q. What are you currently working on? Tell us about it.
I am currently working on my next book, it’s actually a short story about a supernatural assassin named Mandrake. I normally write stories about angels, demons, and the undead, so I think this will be a good change of pace for me.
Sometimes when you write about certain things too often, you can find yourself getting into a rut, so I wanted to switch things up just a bit. Mandrake is a character that fans have asked me about quite a bit at conventions and horror fests, which is surprising since he is such a new character. So I guess, in essence this story I’m doing with him as the lead is a bit of fan service to everyone who has shown me and the character support along the way.
Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?
Unfortunately, I work with juveniles who have made some questionable choices and have ended up in the criminal justice system. So while the world is in a state of flux right now, one of the roles that I find myself in is that of the strict “big brother.” A lot of these kids have never really had to live in a structured environment, which is why so many of them have ended up in the system. Sometimes, it can be a difficult job but rewarding when it goes right.
Q: Who are your artistic heroes who have had an impact on you and your work?
James O’Barr and Erik Larsen are my literary influences. I find their work to be very enjoyable to read, and they both have a unique art style. I had actually hoped to work with Erik Larsen someday, but nothing has come of it thus far.
Q: What keeps you motivated and inspired as an artist?
I enjoy telling stories of the supernatural, and I find that writing, even if the subject matter is at times, sinister… to be very relaxing. However, I am a very competitive person, but I don’t compete with others, I compete against myself. So I try to make sure that each successive book is written better than the one before it. I will never reach perfection, but I can strive for excellence in everything I produce. I still have many stories to tell, and hopefully those people who have joined me on my journey thus far will stay connected and supportive.
Q: What other projects would you like to tell us about?
My books are part of an ongoing series that I call the Hell’s Awakening Saga. I still have a few more to finish before the entire saga is complete, so I would like to keep bringing those stories to print for the immediate future. I would also love to see my 2nd book, Hell’s Embrace, come to either the big or small screen. It’s a cool story with a great female hero that I think would translate well to cinema.
Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?
Every time I get to sign a book for a fan.
Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?
I would love to do more MMA fights, but I am 46 years old now, and my prime is long gone! Still, the desire to fight is there. Who knows what the future holds…I may still have one good fight left in me.
Q: What has been big your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?
I’m not a household name, even though many people (myself included) feel as though my work is fit for the screen. Getting my name out there and showing people what I have to offer has been difficult. But as time goes on, I think that the quality of the stories will shine through, and those looking for entertaining stories to read will consider what I have to offer.
Q: What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?
I sometimes release little snippets of upcoming stories that I am working on. If the response is positive, I know I am on the right track. If it’s lukewarm, then I know I have to get back to the drawing board. I like to push myself… if I don’t, then not only have I let myself down but the readers as well.
Q: If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be?
Guilt. A woman whom I wanted to marry years ago, passed away a few years back. We were not together when she died, but we had recently started speaking to each other again. It was like I had found my best friend again after years of being apart. When we were a couple, I was so driven by my job and working my way up the ladder that I found time for everything my employer needed, but no time for her. I was so selfish and I must have put her through such hard times. Eventually, my absence wore thin and she left. When she passed, it was a sudden thing that came out of the blue, and while I grieved as much as any man could, a part of me still believes that had we remained a couple, she would still be here today. I know that it is not productive to think this way, but nonetheless, it’s something that seems to linger in my mind.
Q: What is your favorite piece of art?
That’s a tough question! I am going to open it up a bit and interpret art as something done by any type of artist, not just those who can draw, sculpt and paint. So I would have to say watching Kazushi Sakuraba, a Japanese martial artist, work his magic while in his prime was truly a sight to behold. He was a genius of physical movement and adaption, and I doubt we will ever see someone like him again.
Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?
There are so many amazing people out there, be it living or dead, but I have always admired Eddie Vedder, the lead singer of Pearl Jam.
Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?
People love being called the toughest…or the smartest, or the wealthiest… I would love to be known for simply being kind.
Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
I’m a big fan of old-school NWA wrestling, anime, and Japanese pop music.
Q If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?
Stop building walls. While they may stop you from getting hurt, they also block any joy from getting in as well.
Q: Where would you most like to live?
To be honest, I am happy where I am at! Although I wish I had more garage space.
Q: What is your idea of success?
When people look to you for guidance.
Q: What is your idea of happiness?
Being content with what you have.
Q: Final thoughts?
Life is such a wonderful experience, enjoy it… so often, we spend our time making goals that we fail to make memories.