Happily married since 1992 and a father since 2003, Mark has been a writer for as long as he can remember. He was born in Toronto and grew up in London, Canada. He was the first winner of the Lillian Kroll Prize for Creative Writing at Western University, where he also completed a degree in English Literature. He has published novels, poetry, short fiction, feature articles, comic strips and book reviews in various media.
He lives with his wife and daughter in London.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Writing, actually. I get up each morning and work on one of my projects and I look forward it to it every day. But in terms of motivation and inspiration, it's my family, of course.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
While on vacation with my family early in the year, the original “Author Earnings Report” came out. I found it quite persuasive. I also have a few friends who have been enjoying some success with their own indie publishing efforts—the key word being “enjoying.” It looked like a lot of fun.
So, while we lounged poolside, my wife and I cooked up a plan to begin our own publishing collaboration. These ongoing discussions eventually turned into “Hanton House Creative Media,” a platform for our future creative projects and publishing ventures. I don’t know whether it’s “The Workers have Taken Over the Means of Production” or “The Lunatics have Taken Over the Asylum,” but both sound like a blast.
They're just a couple of ordinary Joes from London, Canada who dreamed of being comic book artists. Now they've got the editor-in-chief tied up in their basement. If they pull off a successful launch, their dreams are back on track. If they get caught, they go to jail. Nothing like a little motivation.
on March 18, 2011
Well-written, intelligent, gripping in parts and quite emotional in others. The book opens with an almost Mike Hammer style of describing the main character's law firm and his participation in an online gaming alter-ego as a private detective. His good-natured banter with his legal assistant, his ex-lover and his prospective clients was quite funny, but also effective at telling us this character is working hard at keeping up a sense of ironic detachment and emotional distance. But then along came the case that broke apart his barriers.
First he falls for his client, then for her chimps, as he takes an unwinnable case and then becomes caught up in the whole thing. The book does an excellent job of portraying the argument for animal sentience and against animal testing and use by humans. The legalese is clear and explained where necessary and the courtroom segments were great. We really come to know the main characters well and even the "villains" in the piece are human and not just all hated, all the time.
Not specifically an animal rights book, nor exclusively a courtroom drama or romantic comedy, this novel is able to blend all these elements in a really great read that keeps you turning pages.
on May 11, 2011
A lot of funny, quirky characters in search of a Shakespearean play in a highbrow romp of a sci-fi story. There's an evil megacorp and a devolving humanoid author as well as many minor dramatic players who find themselves caught up in a midsummer night's kidnapping plot. Very witty narration and a lot of action and amusing banter make this a quick read from about a quarter of the way through to the end.
Many of the characters are taken directly from Midsummer Night's Dream. Robin Goodfellow (Puck) becomes Rob Goodman whose good friend Helena works at the megacorp which is doing evil experiments on their other friend Nick Motbot (Really? Bottom just mixed up? What kind of name is that?) who slowly begins turning into a monkey instead of an ass.
The fairies are all here: Peaceblossom is "Blossom," Mustardseed is "Seedy" Besterdson the drug dealer and Mrs. Moth and Starveling are themselves (and what else could they be?). Peter, Francis and Tom of "The Mechanicals" theatre group are mechanical engineers. Poor Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies, are here turned into a weather satellite and laptop computer respectively. Sad, really.
I consider the last three quarters of this book to be five star worthy. But then there's that confusing, scattershot mindf**k of the first quarter. Perhaps it's a necessary dissociation from our world which has to occur to really prepare you for the book's alternate reality. The story opens at a wedding at a rather breakneck pace where madness and monkeys rule the day and we don't know why or who to care about or what's going on.
Despite the really intimate first person narration, we don't really know anything about Rob Goodman or how he relates to the story until several chapters in, despite the fact that he seems omniscient somehow and narrates events in which he took no part. I still don't really get what the crazed wedding scene had to do with the rest of the plot. Maybe it was like a bad dream and I should think but that and all will be mended. Maybe it was just to get us thinking about the destructive power of monkeys, I don't know.
One piece of help the book offers is a list of characters or "Dramatis Personae" in the opening pages to which the reader can refer if confused, as I was. Unfortunately, I read this book on my e-reader and discovered a limitation of the medium: it's not easy to flick back and forth from a map or list in one part of the book to another. I know it can be done and maybe that kind of facility will come with time, but it was a limiting factor for my enjoyment of the book (not the author's fault) in the beginning. Also, I'll just mention copy editing is a problem in a lot of books these days, whether professionally or independently published. Nuff said.
Once I got into it, however, all quibbles aside, this book really moved and was funny and absorbing and a great read overall. I look forward to reading some of Rayner's other books.