Marco Etheridge has published with The Yard: Crime Blog on a couple of occasions. He has published with other magazines and book sellers as well. He is a wonderful writer, and we wanted to get him to answer some questions for us, and our readers.
The Yard: Crime Blog — When did you realize or decide that you wanted to write? How did that happen?
M.E. — I come from a family of story tellers, scattered and strange though they may be. Tolstoy tells us “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” and so it was with mine. I discovered that books were a great hiding place. Between having my nose in a book and hearing wild tales, it wasn’t much of a leap to writing my own crazy stories. By high school I was hooked on the idea of writing, but I became a road bum before I became a graduate. Writing in the sense of published work had to wait a few decades.
The Yard: Crime Blog — What led you to write crime? Do you write on other things?
M.E. — I love writing crime because the conflict is so easy to come by. That’s not to say that great plots are waiting to be plucked from low-hanging branches, but the initial conflict is believable, part of what we see in the news. Someone kills someone and the survivors have to deal with the consequences. The perfect heist comes off but… there is that one pesky detail. What I mean is that the setup and back story are easier with crime fiction than they are with, say, Sci-Fi or Lit-Fiction.I write all sorts of crazy stuff, including novels, novellas, and short stories. I love to take on new genres and tweak the ‘accepted’ boundaries right to the edge, right to that point where the genre police start issuing citations. The only subjects I shy away from are spaceship Sci-Fi and bodice-busting Romance. No slam on either of those, I just don’t write them. Readers who are interested in my other work can check it out at my website:https://www.marcoetheridgefiction.com/
The Yard: Crime Blog — Who are your influences or other writers you enjoy reading?
M.E. — This is a desert island question: difficult to answer and the response I give tomorrow may be totally different from what I answer today. I love Chuck Palahniuk for bizarre plot lines and very creepy views on human nature. Richard Russo is a master of well-paced and crafted character development. Haruki Murakami never fails with the dreamy and surreal interior worlds that his characters inhabit. Raymond Carver is the godfather for short fiction.
The Yard: Crime Blog — What inspires you, or how do you become inspired?
Stephen King writes about inspiration in “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” The first time I read this book—which should be on every writer’s reference shelf, by the way—I discovered King’s ideas about a character and a circumstance colliding. I remember thinking: Whew, I’m not as crazy as I thought, because that’s exactly the method that I use. I read or hear or think of a crazy event or circumstance and it sticks in my head. Then a character begins to take shape in my noggin. When the two bang together, the story starts to happen. It doesn’t matter which comes first, circumstance or character.
The Yard: Crime Blog — Do you ever experience writers block? How do you deal with it?
M.E. — I do not suffer from writers block in the sense of lacking ideas or subjects to write about. For me, it is the opposite; I don’t have time to scribble down all of my ideas. If I get stuck in the middle of a particular story, I listen to what my characters have to say. The characters will invariably tell me what they would, or, more importantly, what they would not do or say. I ignore them at my own peril.
The Yard: Crime Blog — How much do you write a week?
M.E. — My normal writing days are Tuesday through Friday. That is based more on my wife’s work schedule than anything else, because I need a quiet apartment to work in. I do write on the weekend if something is gnawing at me, but that is bonus time. When I’m working on a novel, I’m happy with two thousand words in a day. With a short story, it is often far less. Short stories are picky little buggers.
The Yard: Crime Blog — Do you have any advice for writers on the writing life? Or on how to get published or self-publishing?
M.E — I have no advice on the writing life except to suggest that keeping a tentative grip on one’s sanity is a good idea. How one goes about that is wild subjective. I do have some advice on the pitfalls of getting published. My first bit of advice would be to grow a very, very thick skin, as thick as those nasty Vogons in Douglas Adams’ “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Literary agents are busy people who are mostly busy making money. Agents like proven authors who rake in sales. Debut authors seeking a traditional publishing contract need to do their homework and be prepared for a very long haul. I wrote a blog post on traditional publishing. For the full rant, go here: https://www.marcoetheridgefiction.com/956-2/
The salad days of self-publishing have long come and gone. It is easy to self-publish. To illustrate that, one only need look at the five million (And growing!) different titles for sale on Amazon. Publishing is not the problem. Promoting your new book is the problem. Your perfect new novel is one tiny fish in an enormous school of fishes. The world is probably not going to beat a path to a new author’s electronic doorway. Self-publishing, or rather self-marketing requires a great deal of work on the author’s part. For my rant on the pitfalls of this folly, go here:https://www.marcoetheridgefiction.com/the-sword-in-the-stone-part-two/
Thanks for giving me this opportunity to ramble on, and a big shout-out to The Yard: Crime Blog for continuing to support and publish my work. You Guys Rock!
Marco Etheridge lives and writes in Vienna, Austria. His short fiction has been featured in many reviews and journals in Canada, the UK, and the USA. Notable recent credits include: Underwood Magazine, Prime Number Magazine, Smokey Blue Literary & Arts, The Yard: Crime Blog, Coffin Bell, In Parentheses, The Thieving Magpie, Cobalt Press, Literally Stories, and Blue Moon Review, amongst many others. His non-fiction work has been featured at Jonah Magazine, The Metaworker, and Route 7. Marco’s third novel, “Breaking the Bundles,” isavailable at fine online booksellers.
We would like to thank Marco for taking the time to answer these questions, and to lay everything out the way he did. He practically did most of the work on this piece. He has supported The Yard: Crime Blog and we appreciate him.