Interview with Mark Davidson

What are your five favorite books, and why?
When it comes to favourites, five is a lot. Bertram Gross's Friendly Fascism is definitely one of the greatest exposes of modern fascism. It shows how fascism can exist alongside basic human rights and 'democracy' so long as the people who make the decisions are shielded from the public. Sound familiar? Another book I like is Madame Bovary by Falubert, or similarly, any short story by Guy de Maupassant. Madame Bovary is a heart wrenching story about a woman who strives to live fully, but....I don't want to ruin the story for you so I'll stop. Maupassant wrote mostly short stories and they're super short but so so powerful. It's kinda like stepping into a boxing ring and just after the first bell rings you find yourself on the floor having been hit by a lightening fast punch. They always end badly, tragically, which is part of what the French Realists were trying to accomplish politically. They saw themselves as documenting the living conditions of the poor in their time and they did so with incredible detail. I also enjoy reading the collected speeches of Adolf Hitler. I'm Jewish, and proud to be Jewish, but when I read those speeches I get totally sucked in. He's was such an amazing speaker and writer, and it's clear if you read his speeches that our modern leaders have taken really good notes.
What do you read for pleasure?
I love my job as an academic so much that what I read for work I consider pleasure reading. I enjoy reading anything that exposes the way people in power get away with harming others. Most of us don't realise how much harm our leaders' leaders are causing around the world and it's inspiring to read work by people who have put so much effort into exposing it. It's also an honour to be able to contribute to that body of work. It's humbling.
Describe your desk
My desk changes from moment to moment but there's one aspect that's consistent: it's always messy. I have a rubber ball in my top drawer in case I need to bounce something. I've got headphones, speakers, hand sanitizer, blue light blocking clip-ons, and books that resemble the game called 'Topple'.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in London and in Toronto, Ontario. I can't say the location influenced my writing per se, but it did give me lots of wonderful experiences of being marginalised and outcast. Even among youth the thoughtful and sensitive are dominated by the thoughtless and barbaric, just like politics today.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm a Canadian and for the last ten years we've had a federal government that's been transforming our country's self image so that we now perceive ourselves as mighty warriors. Canada was like a Pomeranian on the world battle field ten years ago, and now we're like a Cocker Spaniel with an inflated sense of alpha-ness. Our government has convinced us that the country is on the verge of an all out war with Islam and that we have to shred our civil rights protections in order to survive. It's like an online Stazi or KGB. So Stephanie and I wrote this to show Canadians that our chances of being killed by causes other than terrorism are so much massively greater than being killed by terrorism. And by implication, if you're afraid of being killed by a terrorist, you better be that much more afraid of being killed by those other more prevalent causes.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Desperation. Greed.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Um, what success?
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The part where people give me money to read my work. No, that's a joke, honestly. I enjoy being able to articulate ideas clearly in a way that helps people liberate their thinking from the dominant stories. I also like the act of writing, the craft of using words to....say stuff?
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. Especially in the summer when the AC is broken.
What are you working on next?
I'm writing a book about the death penalty coming back to Canada. It's an academic piece and won't be published on Smashwords because it needs to be published by a peer-reviewed academic press so that other academics will take it seriously. Academics are like that. My book applies to all countries/states that have or might have the death penalty because it looks at the connections between capital punishment and other social phenomena that align with and support oppressive social forces. I use a lot of Buddhism in my analyses because it provides a vocabulary for discussing personal experience in great detail.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Caffeine.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I spend most of my time working, either writing, researching, or teaching which involves a lot of communication with students. I sincerely care about my students and their educational experiences, and I really open myself up to them emotionally. I'm not saying I share my darkest secrets with them or break down into tears during class, but that I show my humanity as a way of encouraging them to engage authentically with scholarship. My hobbies include trail running, furniture refinishing, collecting antique bottles from old garbage dumps (which I run over when I'm on the trails) and I also work as a Traditional Japanese Reiki practitioner.
What is your writing process?
It depends what I'm writing. If it's academic stuff, then I research a lot first and when I feel like I know enough about a topic to start writing, I give it a shot. I usually get a paragraph down and realise that my knowledge about the topic is woefully inadequate, so I do more research. Eventually I end up with a piece of writing I can publish.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I asked my daughter to send a link for the book out on Facebook. Oh, I convinced my wife to buy a copy.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing bad poetry when I was a teenager, and it just got worse from there. Eventually I started writing academic material in my late twenties when I went back to university as a mature student. I did well there, I think, because my profs didn't expect my essays to rhyme. As a kid I used to write little love notes to girls in class, and I'd sign the teacher's name if he was a jerk. Just kidding, though it's a damn good idea.
Who are your favorite authors?
Eduardo Galeano for non-fiction. Ted Hughes for poetry. Matt Johnson for music. Nicola Lacey for academics.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I don't read ebooks, though I'm hesitant to say that given I'm answering all these questions to make myself appear interesting so that you'll buy my book.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I never wrote a first story. I started with the third one, then wrote the second, followed by the fourth, fifth, and so on. One day I'll get back to writing my first story.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I like reading over people's shoulders on the subway when they have e-readers, that's my favourite.
If you could change one thing about anything, what would it be?
I'd make kindness a stronger contagion than fear.
If you could marry any celebrity, who would it be?
I'd love to marry The Rock and Susan Sarandon. It think they would make a lovely couple.
What is your favourite meal, including desert?
The question is redundant because I can't conceive of a meal without desert. Details? I'd start with soda water and frozen juice, cranberry, with ice. The appetizer would be a baguette with olive oil and fresh garlic served with a mixed green salad with balsamic dressing. The main course would be an el dante pasta with fresh tomato sauce and lightly steamed or raw broccoli. Now, desert. Dark chocolate chunk vegan ice cream with chocolate sauce in a chocolate cup with rainbow sprinkles. No cherry, just lots of coloured sprinkles.
What's the biggest problem facing the earth right now and how would solve it?
The biggest problem is that fear is more contagious than love. It's easier to make people feel fear than to feel love, and once afraid, you can get them to agree to anything. I wish I know how to fix it, but I don't think one person can. But, I also think that 'random acts of kindness and love' are politically relevant and potentially revolutionary.
Published 2015-10-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

If You're Afraid of Being Killed by a Terrorist...
You set the price! Words: 9,900. Language: English. Published: October 5, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Law » Criminal
Remember the 'Emperor has no clothes' story? This book is like that story, but instead of confronting the emperor's naked body we're confronting the irrational fear of terrorism that has altered Canada's political culture. If your politics are shaped by your fear of terrorism, you're about to get....well, read the book.