Interview with Mark James Wooding

Published 2019-01-10.
When did you first start writing?
To answer that question, we have to go back to one of my past lives.

It was more than five thousand years ago. I was farming somewhere between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and I kept losing track of the number of bundles of hay that I'd harvested during the day. The next day, after tying each bundle I then immediately made a charcoal mark on the back of one of my kids. That was when I first started writing. The rest is history.

Everything before that is prehistory.
What is your writing process?
I start with the beginning, then I move on to the middle. Whatever point I'm at when I get tired of writing that story, that's the end.
What inspires you to keep writing?
1. Poverty
2. Desperately not wanting to be anyone else's employee ever again.
Making a financially successful career out of writing fiction is a longshot. Do you really think success is likely?
I don't know, but I'm in my fifties now, so the struggle is coming closer to its end, one way or another.
What is the hardest part about writing?
I've been taking care of my mother, who has Alzheimer's, for the last few years. After changing her diapers multiple times per day, the notion that there is anything difficult about writing seems absurd.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
The consensus is that I haven't grown up yet. According to the few people who have read any part of my stories, my immaturity is evident on every page.
How do you spend your free time?
I don't spend it. I save it so I can live longer.
What is the highlight of your life?
My two wonderful daughters have been and continue to be the highlights of my life.
Why did you become a vegetarian?
Members of other animal species seem to want to stay alive just as much as I do. If I needed to eat them for my own survival, I would do so without qualms. It's the circle of life, and all that sort of thing. But if I can survive and let them live too, then why not let them live?
Do you think you're always right, and everyone else is always wrong?
No, of course not. When other people agree with me, then obviously they're right too.
What are your favorite bumper stickers?
1. Jesus is coming, and man is He pissed.
2. If a man is alone in the woods, and there are no women around, is he still wrong?
3. Married men don't live longer, it just seems like it.
Are you politically active?
Not without a condom. Politics are icky.
Are you a dog person or a cat person?
If someone else takes care of them, then I love both dogs and cats. They're wonderful animals.

However, if I have to clean up after them myself, and feed them, and let them in and out, or walk them, then I can happily live without them. Tropical fish are much less trouble.
If you could be anyone in the world at any point in time, who would you want to be?
I'd want to be me in 2003 so that I could raise my kids all over again.
What do you think is necessary for a marriage to succeed?
There are a lot of variables, and there are no guarantees. However, my opinion is that the following are necessary for a long term relationship to endure:

1. Each person must respect the other. If they sincerely enjoy each other's company, that's a plus, but it isn't strictly necessary.
2. Each person must have the same goals for the relationship. If one person wants to have kids and the other doesn't, or one person wants to give their possessions to charity but the other wants to accumulate stuff, or one person thinks they should be monogamous but the other person doesn't, they're going to have a very serious problem. The single most important goal is wanting the relationship to work. If one person is indifferent to the relationship's success, it is not likely to endure.
3. All parties must be in agreement with regard to each person's role in the relationship. Are one or both of you going to provide income? Does one of you expect to stay home with the kids? Is one person going to do all the housework, or will it be shared? These things should be clearly understood before making a long-term commitment.
4. Each person must fulfill that person's expected role in the relationship. It's not enough to agree on the role you are to play, you must be able to fulfill it.

Like I said, there are no guarantees, but if the four points mentioned above are met, the odds of success are good, in my opinion.
What is the meaning of life?
Life has multiple meanings. Take your pick.
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