Author Interview: Mark Mynheir
Today, Mark shares with us another passion—writing.
Mark has four published novels with a common thread—cops as protagonists. Take the time to check out his web site at www.MarkMynheir.com for more information about his writing: Rolling Thunder, From the Belly of the Dragon, The Void, and his latest, The Night Watchman.
Q: Mark, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with us your writing life. First, tell us about your latest novel, The Night Watchman.
Mynheir: Thanks for having me, Mark. In The Night Watchman, the protagonist, Ray Quinn, is an Orlando homicide detective who is severely wounded in an ambush and forced to medically retire from the force.
Ray battles the haunting guilt for his partner’s death and the nagging physical injuries from the attack. Numbing the pain with alcohol and attitude, he takes a job as a night watchman at a swanky Orlando condo.
But when a pastor and an exotic dancer are found dead in one of the condos in an apparent murder-suicide, Ray can no longer linger in the shadows. The pastor’s sister is convinced her brother was framed and begs Ray to take on an impossible case–to challenge the evidence and clear her brother’s name.
Crawling from the wreckage of his former life, Ray struggles to find healing and purpose again. But when the case of a lifetime is thrust upon him, Ray must decide whether he’ll succumb to his depression and pain or use the God-given gifts he still has inside him to catch a madman.
Q: Interesting story. Mystery readers are often interested how the author came upon the idea for the story. So … how did you come up with this idea?
Mynheir: I saw an interview with a severely wounded police officer who was trying to rebuild his life after a violent assault that crippled him. I wondered what would happen if I, like him, lost everything in an instant—my health, my strength, and my job, as well as the love of my life. That idea blossomed into The Night Watchman.
Mynheir: I imagined a police officer experiencing all the terrible things that Ray Quinn had but without the framework of faith to work from. He’s trying to do it all on his own (like I used to do), and it’s not working out so well for him.
Q: Holding down two careers must be tough. In your forthcoming interview on March 22nd, you will talk about how you became a police officer. Now, tell us a little about how you become a writer? Many writers struggle to cross that threshold into the publishing world. Your web site explains the struggles you endured to become a writer and to acquire an education. Would you mind sharing a part of that story here?
Mynheir: When I was growing up, writing was the worst thing imaginable to me. I loathed putting words to paper. I’m Dyslexic and the very reason (I believe) that God invented spell check. But soon after I became a Christian, I felt the Lord leading me to write. It didn’t make much sense to me and seemed impossible. I shared with my wife what I thought God was doing, and she encouraged me to go to school and learn the skills I needed to write.
So, it took about ten years of classes, writing, and more classes. I met my agent at a writer’s conference. He shopped my first novel, which got some good reviews but didn’t sell. I wrote the proposal for Rolling Thunder, my first published novel. He sent it out. I expected it to take six months or so before I heard anything. But about a week later, I got an e-mail from Multnomah, asking if I would be interested in writing a series. I had to wake my wife up to read the e-mail, just to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind.
To say the least, I got kind of weepy when I held my first book. But don’t tell anyone.
Q: How do you manage to balance two careers?
Mynheir: I still work as a homicide/violent crimes detective as my day job. I mostly write at night and on weekends. Since I have a wife and three children who actually like me, I have to divide my time carefully. Sometimes I wonder how everything gets done.
Even when I’m working at the police thing, I’m still churning the stories in my head until I can get home and commit them to paper. I’m sick, I know. But what can I say, I’m a writer.
Q: Do you have a normal writing day? What does it look like? Where do you write?
Mynheir: I have an office at our house, but it’s a rare day when I get to use it. I have to run my kids out of there to get any work done. I sometimes write on our patio. It depends on the weather and what’s going on.
Q: Now that you have many novels sitting on book shelves across the country, could you share with aspiring novelists some of the things you learned that worked for you? Some mistakes you made that others might learn from?
Mynheir: I don’t know about mistakes, but there are some things I should have done before seeking publication. I wish I’d have read a few more books on novel writing. I’ve had to play some catch up. There are a lot of subtleties and techniques to make stories stronger, particularly with regard to structure and point-of-view usage.
In publishing itself, I should have taken the time to talk with experienced authors about the business end and expectations. It would have saved me some unnecessary aggravation.
Q: What are some of the books currently on your to-be-read shelf?
Mynheir: Davis Bunn’s All Through the Night, Glenn Beck’s Arguing with Idiots, Freakonomics, Terri Blackstocks’ Double Minds, and Harry Kraus’ Salty Like Blood.
Q: Which books have had a profound influence on your writing?
Mynheir: The Bible, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Eureka, by William Diehl, 1984, The Lord of the Flies, and The Great Divide, by Davis Bunn. Just to name a few.
Q: Who helped you along this writing journey?
Mynheir: Without a doubt, my wife has been my biggest supporter and cheerleader. When I felt God leading me to write, it made no sense to me. I was a high school dropout and struggled to even write my name. How in the world was I going to write books? But when I told my wife what I felt God was leading me to do, she encouraged me and sacrificed our money and time so I could go to school and build my writing skills. It’s been a very long journey (about sixteen-years now), but she’s always been an encouragement to me. I wouldn’t have tried this without her help.
Q: What do you do as far as getting the word out once your novel is scheduled for release,? Do you have any time left for marketing and publicity? Do you just move on to the next WIP,? Or, is there a combination of marketing and writing?
Mynheir: I’ve been fortunate to have been able to do a lot of radio and television interviews, mainly because of my day job, I think. I use my website and Facebook, but other than that, I just don’t have a lot of time to do marketing.
Q: What things do you like to do when you’re not writing or policing? Or is there any time left?
Mynheir: I really enjoy martial arts training. I’ve been involved in one style of martial art or another since I was ten. My three kids and I all train together now. My wife’s not really into it, so she doesn’t go with us. But she is gracious enough to give me the time for my hobby. It helps to keep me sane and focused, too.
Q: Lastly, what is one word of advice you might give an aspiring novelist?
Mynheir: Stick with it! Many a great manuscript or talented writer will never be discovered because the author didn’t show the fortitude to stick it out through the tough times—and there will be tough times. If you’re called to be a writer, write. Learn your craft, read books about writing, go to conferences, and write, write, write. Don’t let negative voices around you derail the dream God has planted.
Join us on March 22nd, as Detective Mynheir tells us about his role as a homicide investigator and his experiences in law enforcement.
Next Monday, March 8th, gang expert Brian Parry will return for our Part II—Gang Investigations interview. Mr. Parry is currently a consultant to the FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, Mr. Parry was the Assistant Director of California’s Department of Corrections (CDC), serving with that department for thirty years. He will share with us the history of prison gangs, their control over gangs in our communities, and the fight to protect us from their violence.
On March 15th, best-selling novelist Brandilyn Collins joins us to discuss her latest novel, Exposure. Brandilyn, known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®, again brings her readers to the edge of their seats with another psychological suspense thriller. Kaycee Raye, a syndicated newspaper columnist, believes she is being stalked in her home town of Wilmore, Kentucky. Police appear skeptical as the story unfolds until the lives of several people are threatened. Kaycee must finally learn whether the threats are real or whether she is losing her mind. And, of course, time is running out. Join us as Brandilyn talks about the art of writing.